To talk of 'Jewish Arabs' is to assume that the Middle East was ethnically homogenous when in fact it was made up of a patchwork of different ethno-religious groups many of whom spoke Arabic or were Arabic in culture, but were not Arab. A more correct term would would be ' pre-Arab' Jews, as the Jews, like Christian groups, were indigenous to the region long before the 7th century Arab-Muslim invasion.
Here's what Head Heeb had to say:
"Two ways to be an Arab Jew:Until the pogrom of 1941, Iraqi Jews were a largely middle-class community and one of the most assimilated in the Arab world, so it is probably no accident that Iraqi Jews were among the few who really considered themselves Arabs. Two professors, one Israeli and one American, demonstrate that for some this identity has died hard. In the United States, we have Ella Shohat, a cultural studies professor at the City University of New York who has questioned the "Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew." Israel has Professor Sasson Somekh, who has followed a similar career path in Arabic literary studies and calls himself "the last Arabic Jew."
Being an Arab Jew is something very different for the two professors. For Shohat, it is a matter of identity politics, a means of opposing what she sees as the subjugation of the Mizrahi identity by the politics of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Somekh appears much more comfortable with the synthesis of the two cultures, and has made a life's work of making Arabic literature accessible to Hebrew-speaking Israelis. Shohat is an anti-Zionist, while Somekh has come to regard his Arab heritage as part of his Israeli identity.
The difference between the two may be a matter of age as much as personality. Somekh is 70 years old, Iraqi-born and educated in the 1950s, while Shohat was educated in the 1980s at a time when identity politics held greater sway in academia. Shohat is also a second-generation, Israeli-born immigrant at one remove from the political conflict between Iraqi Jews and Muslims, and has a more idealized view of the the prewar Iraqi Jewish middle class. To a certain extent, Shohat's Arab Jewish identity is something she reinvented as a political statement while Somekh's was part of him from birth. The very process of reinvention by the second generation, however, shows that it's premature for Somekh to call himself the last of anything.Click here to read the comments thread.