Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Arab Jews: like 'mice of the feline persuasion'

Ironically enough, it takes an Ashkenazi Jew like Ami Isseroff to come up with a clear-sighted analysis of 'So-called Arab Jews' - a propaganda term which the majority of Jews from Arab countries reject (via Zionation):

"Arab Jews" might have been a logical possibility 200 years ago, when "Arab" referred only to culture and language, just as "German Jews" were German speaking Jews who lived in the various principalities where German was spoken, but that is no longer a reality."Arab Jews" as a term today seems to have a logic similar to "mice of the feline persuasion." The mice are not invited to the cat party except as dinner, and the Jews are not invited to the Arab party except in a capacity analogous to that of the mice.

Whatever the connotation of "Arab Jews" might have been two or three centuries ago, today the term must represent something between a fiction and an oxymoron. Through my admittedly non-Mizrachi Jewish eyes, it seems to be an absurd attempt at make believe, no less absurd and dangerous than the term "Germans of the Mosaic faith" coined by Reform Jews in 19th century Germany. Just as there are Jews who insist that they are "Arab Jews," so there are Jews who insist, even after all the horrible history of the last century, that they want to be Germans or Poles who are incidentally "of Jewish origin." It is their right to call themselves whatever they like. At best, it will mean giving up and forgetting their Jewish origin. At worst, it will end in tragedy. The tuition for understanding the depth of that folly was prohibitively high, and should not be paid again.

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1 comment:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

speaking of Theodore Herzl and Rabbi Yehuda Hai Alkalai and the origins of Zionism:
The rabbi lived in Jerusalem in his childhood, if I am not mistaken, then was brought to Semlin [or Zemun?] in what is now Serbia, outside Belgrad, still part of the Ottoman Empire at that time. But Herzl's father or grandfather lived in that same area. So it is likely that Herzl's progenitor knew of Rabbi Alkalai's Zionist thinking.

Furthermore, Professor Netanyahu, the prime minister's father, wrote of Herzl that he was of mixed Sefardi and Ashkenazi background, and Max Nordau likewise. [this is in BenZion Netanyahu, The Five Fathers of Zionism, חמשת אבות הציונות as yet unpublished in English. Some essays in the book go back many years and were recently brought together].