Biting Jewish Press article by Steve Plaut about the academic Menachem Klein, who is ressucitating the 'Stalinist' myth of peaceful coexistence prior to the creation of Israel. Klein claims that Jews considered themselves 'Arab Jews' and were in the forefront of local national movements. While Jews took part in the Iraqi cultural renaissance or Nahda (and some, like Leon Castro in Egypt, were nationalists) they were, unlike Arab Christians, not prominent and their nationalism was soon torpedoed by the rampant antisemitism practised by the emerging Arab states.
In recent years Klein (pictured) has devoted his energies to resuscitating the
old Stalinist myth about Arab-Jewish euphoria before the rise of Zionism
and especially the silly pseudo-history around the notion of the “Arab
Jew.” Invented by a small group of Israeli Stalinists led by Tel Aviv
University sociologist Yehouda Shenhav, these people claim that Oriental
Jews are actually Arabs of the Mosaic persuasion. Never mind the
proportion who would slap you silly if they hear you calling them Arabs
of any sort. Shenhav has promoted his view that Asian Jews are Arabs in
numerous articles and his book, The Arab Jews: Nationality, Religion and
Ethnicity, won rave reviews from Arab extremists and from PLO front
Shenhav considers Zionism to be a form of colonialism. Indeed,
Shenhav has long argued that Asian Jews and Arabs need to unite to fight
Zionism, that old “common cause” of the communist party in Iraq and
“Palestine” from the 1920s onward. Asian Jews and Arabs are, in his
view, two wings of the same struggle in absolutely everything – except
that Shenhav has staunchly opposed the idea of compensation for Asian
Jews from Arab countries for their property stolen.
Now years later, Klein tries to steal the anti-Zionist thunder from
the Stalinists, but by beating the same old tune. The only difference is
that Klein rewrites Jewish-Arab relations based upon the supposed
euphoria in “Palestine” before Israel’s creation – not in Iraq – when
the local Jews were supposedly Jewish Arabs. This tooth fairy historic
revisionism is the focus of his book, ‘Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews
in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron.’ It is in effect science fiction focused
upon the past.
Countless murders of Jews and pogroms against them notwithstanding,
Klein’s proof is that in Hebron in 1929, almost half the Jews there were
not massacred by the local Arabs. Klein then argues that not only were
pre-Independence relations among Jews and Arabs in “Palestine” idyllic,
but that the Jews considered themselves Arabs in all things. Something even Shenhav never claims. The problems only
began when “nationalism” made its appearance on the scene, and you will
not be disappointed to learn that he does NOT mean Arab nationalism,
something presumably Jewish Arabs could embrace and join.
From the toady Haaretz review of his book:
Arab-Jewish identity, writes Klein, did not only develop in
Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron. “It was a fact of life throughout the Arab
world. By the end of the 19th century it was a self-conscious identity
in the major cities of the east, such as Cairo, Beirut and Baghdad. In
these urban centers Jews took part in the Arab cultural renaissance and
local national movements.” …
Yet even then, in the midst of the looming nationalist conflict, the
lines remained fluid. Jewish women worked in Jaffa’s cafes and
restaurants as waitresses, singers and dancers. Jaffa’s young men
flocked to Tel Aviv’s cafes and beaches, wide-eyed at the sight of
scantily dressed women, unimaginable in Jaffa itself, and the Hebrew
city’s atmosphere of sexual licentiousness. Older Arab men courted
middle-aged Jewish women at the Casino Café, on the beach, which offered
live music, weekly formal dance nights and a crèche.
Like a Graham Greene novel.
The fatal death blow to the bucolic paradise came in 1948, when those
accursed Zionists declared Israeli independence. Clearly Klein, who
wants Jerusalem to belong to the “Palestinians,” thinks the solution is
for the Jews to go back to being obedient and easily-massacred Jewish
Read article in full
"Arab Jew'? - it's like saying 'Hispanic countryside'