Rachel Shabi was born in Israel to Jewish immigrants from Iraq, who came to Israel during the mass immigration of the early 1950’s but soon after moved to England, where she grew up and became a journalist. Shabi returned to Israel in order to investigate the current relations in Israel between Mizrahim (i.e. Jews from the Middle East and North Africa) and Ashkenazim (i.e. most Jews from Europe and the Americas). Her book is based on conversations with family members and other Mizrahi individuals she encountered in Israel as well as selected studies relating to the subject. Based on these sources Shabi describes life in Iraq, the mass immigration, life in development towns in Israel, and attitudes to Mizrahi culture and to Arabs. She sees as the source for the Mizrahi- Ashkenazi relations in Israel the fact that the veteran Jews — mainly Ashkenazim — shaped Israel’s character to resemble Europe, and viewed Mizrahim as both primitive and similar to Arabs, the state’s enemies. The importance of this very personal book is in the insights it provides to feelings and attitudes of both groups toward social, cultural, and political conditions in Israel rather than in providing new data. Index, map, notes.
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.