Ari Afilalo, a law professor specializing on trade who has co-authored ‘The New Global Trading Order: The Evolving State and the Future of Trade’ with Dennis Patterson, a book published by the Cambridge University Press. He has for many years nurtured an interest in the social and economic integration of Sephardic Jews in Israel and their patterns of political allegiance.
As a senior writing his thesis at Harvard in 1988, Ari Afilalo studied in depth the causes of the overwhelming Sephardic support for Menahem Begin and his Likud Party, who won for the first time in 1977 the Israeli elections after decades of Labor dominance. Ari Afilalo had previously studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and he was able to access at Harvard archives containing a rich collection of materials pertaining to Sephardic voting.
Ari debunked at the time the commonly held view that Sephardic voters, hailing from Arab countries where they had faced a politically turbulent if culturally rich history, were attracted to the more hawkish policy of the Likud. He instead traced the voting patterns to the initial clashes between the Labor establishment “anti-Levantinization” policies and the Sephardic immigrants, and the more traditional outlook of Prime Minister Begin, as distinguished from the secular Labor leaders.
Today, Ari Afilalo examines social, economic and political issues affecting the children and grand-children of the 1977 Sephardic first Likud wave.