The aftermath of an anti-Jewish riot in Yemen
Nathan Weinstock's groundbreaking book on Jews from Arab lands is now out in Hebrew translation. Here's the official English version of Adi Schwartz's interview with the ex-anti-Zionist Trotskyist in Haaretz, reproduced in the Forward. Now we await the book in English translation:
(Haaretz) — Nathan Weinstock hadn’t planned to write a book about the
Jews of Arab lands. But when he looked for information about the modern
history of Moroccan or Iraqi Jewry, he was surprised to discover that
there was no book in French that told the story of the elimination of
the Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa in the
“In the end,” he says, “I decided to write it myself.”
One of the surprising discoveries he made was about
the powerful bond with their roots felt by many of the roughly 1 million
Jews in North Africa and the Middle East who left their homes in the
decade after the creation of Israel.
“The story I knew,” Weinstock relates in a Skype
interview from his home in Nice, in the south of France, “was that the
Jews were happy to leave the Arab countries the moment they were given
the opportunity to do so. We were not told anything about the Jews’ deep
connection with Arab culture, for example. It was only later that I
learned that Jewish writers were the foundation of Iraqi literature. And
that in mid-19th-century Egypt, the man who invented the nationalist
slogan ‘Egypt for the Egyptians,’ and was known as ‘the Egyptian
Molière,’ was a Jew named Jacob Sanua.
“In the course of my research,” he continues, “I
found out that the story we had been told – that the Jews left the Arab
countries because they were Zionists – was for the most part wrong.
True, they had an affinity for the Land of Israel – that is certainly
correct – but the organized Zionist movement was very weak in the Arab
countries. The great mass of Jews left under duress. They were expelled.
They were subjected to such enormous pressure that they had no choice
but to leave.”
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Nathan Weinstock's groundbreaker, now out in Hebrew
Weinstock: mass Jewish was flight unprecedented