Monday, March 02, 2009

Another positive review of a divisive book

The Daily Telegraph, Britain's centre-right mass-circulation newspaper, today carries a review of Rachel Shabi's new book - unpromisingly titled 'Israel's humiliating discrimination against Arab Jews' - about the discrimination faced in Israel by Jews from Arab countries, Not the enemy.

The reviewer calls the book 'eye-opening', 'sobering' and 'disturbing and important'. He seems to nod in horrified agreement at Shabi's catalogue of humilations inflicted on Mizrahi Jews by Ashkenazim (European Jews). They were made to feel 'excluded' and 'inferior.'

What's more, Ms Shabi must know what she is writing about: she is after all the descendant of Iraqi Jews herself.

But this is no ordinary reviewer. This is Gerald Jacobs, literary editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

He hardly attempts to challenge Shabi's narrative that the Mizrahi migration to Israel was 'imposed by Zionist pressure and even acts of sabotage' (Ah yes, those Zionist bombs).

One would have expected of a man in Jacobs' shoes to know that, as I have already pointed out, Israeli popular culture is today dominated by Mizrahi influences. The stories of discrimination belong in the 1950s. Intermarriage is rife, and Mizrahim have reached the highest echelons of power. Jacobs does not even sniff a whiff of tendentiousness in Shabi's anti-Zionism and her downplaying of Arab antisemitism - curiously it largely seems to begin in 1948 - nor does he question her spurious assumption that Jews from the Middle East are really Arabs.

If this is what we can expect from an editor of the leading organ of British Jewry, Lord help us.

Crossposted at Z-word blog.

Adam Kirsh's review at the New Republic

Benjamin Balint in the National

Miriam Halahmy in the Jewish Chronicle

A hidden story with preconceived notions

Richard Crowley in the Irish Times

Daphna Baram in the Guardian


Anonymous said...

I'm debating someone about the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. This person claims that Jews themselves terrorized fellow Jews in order to get them to flee to Israel. He cites this book: 'the gun and the olive branch'. Will you help me debunk this garbage?

bataween said...
There is another post in the sidebar here called 'Muslims threw 1951 bomb'

LEL said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

as a moroccan jew, i would like to ask what this woman is smoking?

the ashkenazy discrimination is a thing of the past. i mean helllooo, we make up half of the population, and not to mention the high intermarriage rate between the groups. i wonder if this woman has ever been to israel at all? i will gladly welcome her in my home and show her around!

Anonymous said...

Avivit, Shabi is a loon like Giladi and Atzmon. Two days after Lyn Julius succeeded in publishing the Guardian's first piece on the Jewish Nakba, Shabi willingly served as the Guardian's "house Jew" to oppose justice for Jews from Arab countries - which includes her own ancestors: "Rachel Shabi is a Guardian contributor. She currently lives in Tel Aviv and has written a book on Israel's Oriental Jews, to be published early next year. She was born in Israel to Iraqi parents, and grew up in the UK."