Mapai Expels Three Ben-gurionists Who Raise Racist Issue in Israel

The secretariat of Premier Levi Eshkol’s Mapai Party today expelled three Ashdod members of former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s new rival group, because they “conduct a slander campaign inside Mapai.” The rival group is called the National Workers List, or Rafi.

One of the three expelled members, Meir Evenhaim, touched off a violent controversy by reading a statement that the Mapai central committee was fighting Rafi in Ashdod because “central committee members are whites, while Ashdod inhabitants are brown.” Evenhaim also charged that members of the Mapai secretariat had been “educated” to hate Israelis of Oriental origin.

“Mapai regards Oriental Israelis as people whose task it is to build marble houses for Mapai leaders, and to furnish those houses with expensively upholstered armchairs” he declared, and he warned the secretariat to avoid repeating in Israel the “tragedies” of racial conflict in Alabama and Los Angeles.

The openly racist attack was the most violent in the deepening cleft in Israel’s dominant labor party, touched off when Mr. Ben-Gurion assailed Premier Eshkol’s leadership of the party and the country, and announced an independent list to compete against Mapai in local and Parliamentary elections on November 3.

Mapai secretary Reuven Barkatt, reacting to the attack, expressed “indignation and shock.” He added that those who backed Evenhaim “must realize the horrible conclusions of their deeds.” He challenged Evenhaim to publish his statement in full “so that every citizen will realize what dangers we face.” The two other Ashdod members expelled were Andrew Barness and Avraham Hadar.

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