Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Al Arabiya has an op-ed by Naava Mashiah asking "Are 'Arab Jews" extinct?"

Is it an oxymoron to be an Arab Jew? An Arab Jew refers either to a Jew living in the Arab world or whose ancestors came from Arab countries. This term flourished once in the Middle East but is not widely known today. Not long ago there were Jews living in the cities of the Middle East who were integrated into their societies and held influential roles in their communities and economies.

My grandfather, Baba Yona Mashiah, was such a figure in Baghdad. He was, I would say, an Arab Jew. My childhood was sprinkled with stories of his grand personality, power and business acumen. He was a prominent land and real-estate developer and in the 1940s contributed to building “Baghdad el Jedidah”, a chic neighborhood in the Baghdad suburbs. His partners were mostly Muslim and some were prominent government officials.

In the 1950s the Jews of Baghdad experienced an exodus from Iraq. A reluctant exodus, I would claim, which was brought about by a combination of increasing Zionism, anti-Semitic propaganda, envy of the privileged life Jews had when Iraq was under British control and the creation of Israel. The displacement of thousands of Palestinians and the humiliating defeat of the Arab armies were the final blow.

Life had become unbearable for the Jews and even those who had wanted to stay were compelled to leave. Jews were assumed to be a fifth column and turned into scapegoats following the defeat of Arab armies by the Israeli Defense Forces. Baba Yona watched his empire crumble. His peer and neighbor, Mr. Addas, another influential Jew, was hung in the square. He himself was imprisoned for three months, accused of having Zionist connections.

At a certain point the Iraqi government offered a deal for Jews, inviting them to escape to Israel if they would renounce their citizenship and relinquish their property. Baba Yona was forced to leave Baghdad with over 100,000 other Jews to the one country that would accept them at the time – Israel. Ironically, the Zionists, whose movement played a part in alienating Muslims from their Jewish compatriots, were there to save them.

I asked the blogger from Point of No Return to comment, and she kindly responded with a full post:

Naava Mashiah’s article is doing the rounds of the Arab media, gaining prominence in Arab News. Much of what she writes is only partially true, and is designed to ingratiate herself with her Arab Muslim readership.

Is there such a creature as an Arab Jew? Even Naava’s own father says there is no such thing. We agree.

Very few Jews from Arab countries self-define as ‘Arab Jews’, unless they are far-leftists. The ‘Arab world’ is itself a modern false construct, defining identity by language and culture. It’s like saying that a Spaniard and a Peruvian are both bound by a ‘Hispanic’ identity. But whereas a Spaniard and a Peruvian might have the same ancestry, religious communities in the Middle East always kept apart from each other; there was limited social interaction and almost no intermarriage.

Moreover - If you scratch away at an ‘Arab’’s identity, you will often find that he or she is not Arab at all. The region is a kaleidoscope of sects, religions and ethnicities. There is no such thing as ‘Arab’ culture. The famous singer Farid al-Atrash was not Arab but Druze, and many of the stars of Egyptian 20th century cinema were Jews or Copts. The roots of 20th popular ‘Arab’ musical culture in Iraq - the Jewish al-Kuwaity brothers had a powerful influence – could be said to be Jewish.

When she tries to explain why Jews left Arab countries, Na’ava Mashia assigns equal blame to Zionism and antisemitic propaganda. In fact antisemitism alienated Muslims from Jews. Miss Mashiah makes no mention of the 1941 Farhud pogrom, seven years before Israel was established, and the rise of pro-Nazi feeling in the 1930s. Zionist activity in Iraq was a response to the Farhud, not the other way around.

Miss Mashiah’s allegation that Israel ‘effaced’ the identity of Jews from Arab countries is a charge commonly levelled by radical leftists and anti-Zionists. It is true that in its zeal to create a new Israeli, the establishment disparaged ‘Arab culture’, in the same way as it did ‘Yiddish culture’. But whatever the situation in the 1950s – and there was real discrimination then – Mizrahi culture has come back with a vengeance in Israel today.

In the final paragraph, Miss Mashiah herself gives the reason for writing her article: ‘my interest in my Arab roots grew about 10 years ago when I established my business which focuses on economic cooperation between Israel and the Middle East.”

So now we know. Being an ‘Arab Jew’, and downplaying the impact of Arab antisemitism, is good for business.



EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz

Loading...

comments

Speaking

follow me

Follow by Email

translate

Share on Whatsapp


E-Book

For $18 donation








Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever

Hasbys!

Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

Donate!

Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options


One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Tweets

Compliments

The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs

Categories

Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review breaking the silence Cardozo Chanukah Christians conspiracy theories Cyprus Daphne Anson Davis report DCI-P double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada EoZNews eoztv Erekat EU Euro-Mid Observer Fake Civilians 2014 Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian gunness Haaretz hamas Hamas war crimes hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Kairos Karl Vick ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Miftah Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Natural gas Nazi News nftp NGO NIF norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peter Beinart Petra MB poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist purimshpiel Qaradawi Qassam calendar Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Yemen zahran zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive