‘Arab Jew’ invention erases Mizrahi history and identity

The narrative branding Mizrahi Jews as ‘Arab’ is part of the ‘colonialism’ lie, intended to distort their identity and deligitimise the state of Israel, writes Adiel Cohen in the Jerusalem Post (with thanks: Yoel, Lily):
Adiel Cohen
Truth be told, Jews in Arab and Muslim societies kept their Jewish identity while not consider themselves Arabs, but rather Iraqi-Jew, Moroccan-Jew,  Egyptian-Jew, etc. This distinction is made clear in early Islamic writings, which refer to the Jewish tribes of the Hejaz (Saudi Arabia) as foreigners, whereas the Christian Arab tribes were considered as fellow Arabs.
For example, in Yemen, where my family spent the diaspora, Jews were prohibited from wearing their traditional headdress, because it was considered “too fancy”. They spoke a dialect of Judeo-Yemenite, which incorporated biblical Hebrew phrases and were prohibited from learning how to read and write in Arabic. Their cuisine was distinctly different from the Arab-Yemeni one, and they considered themselves nothing but Jewish.
The status of Jews under Islamic rule varied between different regions, but generally, they did not enjoy the same rights as their Arab neighbors and were often persecuted. When the State of Israel was established, those same Jews were not “Arab enough” to their neighbors to be spared from violence and expulsion. Even the Jews of Iraq, who somewhat managed to integrate into the local society, were the targets of a violent pogrom in 1941, which became known as the Farhud.
These very same struggles are often erased by anti-Zionist organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). In 2019, a coalition of Mizrahi organizations issued a statement against the appropriation and distortion of the history of the Jewish communities of the Middle East by JVP, who seek to strip the Jewish people of their indigenous origins.
However, why are anti-Israel media outlets like Al-Jazeera and antizionist groups like JVP trying to push this false narrative?
This false narrative is part of their bigger “Colonialism” lie. Anti-Israel forces have tried to delegitimize the Jewish State by calling it a colonialist project, claiming that Zionism is a Jewish-European colonialism project, despite it being a project of indigenous awakening.
Since more than 50% of Jewish-Israeli citizens are originally from families that have lived in the Middle East and North Africa, and not Europe, these anti-Israel forces had to make up a story to isolate the European Ashkenazi Jews from the broader Israeli-Jewish population, to fit their “colonialism” sham. They have totally falsified history and are spreading lies, to push their narrative of delegitimization and that the State of Israel shouldn’t exist.
Attempts to strip Jews of their Jewish identity and homeland always result in historical revisionism.
The existence of Jews in Arab societies has always been conditional, much like the existence of Jews in European societies has, not only in the 20th century, but throughout the entire history of the diaspora. Now that Jews finally have a place to rest, where we can feel safe in our indigenous homeland, we won’t let our adversaries distort our identity and history, just to delegitimize our very own existence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About

This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.