The Arab Jews: A Post­colo­nial Read­ing of Nation­al­ism, Reli­gion, and Ethnicity

Yehou­da Shenhav
  • Review
By – May 14, 2012
Yehou­da Shen­hav, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of soci­ol­o­gy and anthro­pol­o­gy at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty, sets out to pro­vide a social his­to­ry of the Arab Jews, begin­ning in their coun­tries of ori­gin and fol­low­ing their set­tle­ment in Israel. The term Arab Jews” for those Jews usu­al­ly referred to as Mizrahim (Ori­en­tals), is used more by aca­d­e­mics than by the indi­vid­u­als con­cerned or by politi­cians, and empha­sizes the Arab­ness” of these Jews and chal­lenges the polit­i­cal divi­sion between Jews and Arabs. The book deals with the dis­cov­ery” of the Arab Jews and the encounter between them and the Zion­ist estab­lish­ment and its emis­saries. It also dis­cuss­es issues relat­ed to Pales­tini­ans and Arab Jews, main­ly pop­u­la­tion exchange, the refugee prob­lem, and prop­er­ty repa­ra­tions. The­o­ret­i­cal analy­sis and pro­fes­sion­al ter­mi­nol­o­gy abound, and read­ing will be dif­fi­cult for those out­side the dis­ci­pline and not accus­tomed to post­colo­nial writ­ings. Shen­hav pro­vides a chal­leng­ing and very opin­ion­at­ed approach to the study of Jews from Arab coun­tries, Zion­ist ide­ol­o­gy and pol­i­tics and intra-Jew­ish rela­tions. Notes, bib­li­og­ra­phy, index.

Rachel Simon, a librar­i­an at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, does research on Jews in the mod­ern Mid­dle East and North Africa, with spe­cial ref­er­ence to Libya, Ottoman Empire, women, and education.

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