Jewish identities in the arab middle east: The case of Egypt in retrospect

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Much work has been done in recent decades on the histories of the Jews of Arab lands across a variety of time periods, reflecting an increasing interest in the historical past of the Jews of the Orient. While diverse, this literature may be divided into several general groups. The first comprises studies written by Western and Israeli scholars and encompasses a broad spectrum of Arabic-speaking countries. This literature has explored, among other things, issues relating to the way of life and administration of ethnically and culturally diverse Jewish communities, their approaches to Zionism and the question of their national identities, their positions regarding the Zionist-Israeli-Arab conflict in its various phases, and the phenomena of anti-Semitism, particularly in light of the increasing escalation of the conflict. It includes works by Israeli intellectuals of Mizrahi heritage, some of whom came together in the late 1990s in a sociopolitical dissident movement known as the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition. The target audience of this movement was Mizrahi Jews: refugees and emigrants from Arab countries as well as their second-and third-generation offspring. The movement, which was not ideologically homogeneous (particularly regarding approaches to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), took a postcolonialist approach to the Zionist narrative and enterprise, and was critical of the entrenchment of the Ashkenazi (European-extraction) Jews among the elites of the emerging Israeli society. The movement had scant success in reaching its target population: the majority of Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews living in Israel. Nevertheless, it brought to the fore the historical socioeconomic injustices that many Jews from Arab countries had experienced since arriving in Israel, whether reluctantly or acquiescently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-596
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Middle East Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014


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