web site hit counter We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel's Jews from Arab Lands - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel's Jews from Arab Lands

Availability: Ready to download

"There is a class split," writes Rachel Shabi, "that runs on ethnic lines"—specifically, between Jews of European origin and those whose ancestral homes were Arab countries. Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab lands make up nearly half of Israel's population. Yet European or "Ashkenazi" Jews have historically disparaged them because the emi "There is a class split," writes Rachel Shabi, "that runs on ethnic lines"—specifically, between Jews of European origin and those whose ancestral homes were Arab countries. Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab lands make up nearly half of Israel's population. Yet European or "Ashkenazi" Jews have historically disparaged them because the emigrants looked Arab, spoke Arabic, and brought with them what was viewed as a "backward" Middle Eastern culture. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, called them "human dust with no Jewish or human culture." Such opinions permeated Israeli society. Middle Eastern or "Mizrahi" emigrants were kept in transit camp longer than Ashkenazi Jews and had poorer housing, educational, and occupational opportunities. Shabi returned to Israel for a year to investigate the tense relations that still exist between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. She traces the history of this split, starting with the centuries-old story of the Jewish Diaspora, then discussing how Mizrahi figured in the founding and building of Israel, protests by the Mizrahi Black Panther Party in 1971—"the first clash of Jew against Jew in Israel"—and a successful campaign in the 1990s to get the Israeli Ministry of Education to remove negative stereotyping of Yemenites in a textbook. Internalizing such stereotypes led a Moroccan Israeli university professor to begin passing for Ashkenazi when she was only eight years old, even though it meant "destroying, down to the roots, the identity that my parents gave me…rejecting everything: their past, their language, their values." Israel's striving to be a European country and demeaning the culture of its Mizrahi citizens has dislocated those citizens from their own Judeo-Arab identities, and has helped make Israel a misfit state in the Middle East. Shabi combines historical research with intimate oral interviews to shed light on ethnic injustice within Israel, past and present. Her passionate, personal connection and the heartfelt stories told by other Mizrahis make "We Looked Like the Enemy" a stunning, unforgettable book.


Compare

"There is a class split," writes Rachel Shabi, "that runs on ethnic lines"—specifically, between Jews of European origin and those whose ancestral homes were Arab countries. Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab lands make up nearly half of Israel's population. Yet European or "Ashkenazi" Jews have historically disparaged them because the emi "There is a class split," writes Rachel Shabi, "that runs on ethnic lines"—specifically, between Jews of European origin and those whose ancestral homes were Arab countries. Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab lands make up nearly half of Israel's population. Yet European or "Ashkenazi" Jews have historically disparaged them because the emigrants looked Arab, spoke Arabic, and brought with them what was viewed as a "backward" Middle Eastern culture. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, called them "human dust with no Jewish or human culture." Such opinions permeated Israeli society. Middle Eastern or "Mizrahi" emigrants were kept in transit camp longer than Ashkenazi Jews and had poorer housing, educational, and occupational opportunities. Shabi returned to Israel for a year to investigate the tense relations that still exist between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. She traces the history of this split, starting with the centuries-old story of the Jewish Diaspora, then discussing how Mizrahi figured in the founding and building of Israel, protests by the Mizrahi Black Panther Party in 1971—"the first clash of Jew against Jew in Israel"—and a successful campaign in the 1990s to get the Israeli Ministry of Education to remove negative stereotyping of Yemenites in a textbook. Internalizing such stereotypes led a Moroccan Israeli university professor to begin passing for Ashkenazi when she was only eight years old, even though it meant "destroying, down to the roots, the identity that my parents gave me…rejecting everything: their past, their language, their values." Israel's striving to be a European country and demeaning the culture of its Mizrahi citizens has dislocated those citizens from their own Judeo-Arab identities, and has helped make Israel a misfit state in the Middle East. Shabi combines historical research with intimate oral interviews to shed light on ethnic injustice within Israel, past and present. Her passionate, personal connection and the heartfelt stories told by other Mizrahis make "We Looked Like the Enemy" a stunning, unforgettable book.

30 review for We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel's Jews from Arab Lands

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hamza

    Don't let the average rating on here fool you; most of the other reviews are from butthurt Zionists who didn't expect the book to be so "critical" of Israel. Truth be told, I considered giving it five stars, but it wasn't quite at classic status. Regardless, it's a very informative history book that showcases very real discrimination in Israel, and not the obvious form against Palestinians. Even many Jews themselves have felt out-of-place due to a pro-Ashkenazi narrative about Israel's origin an Don't let the average rating on here fool you; most of the other reviews are from butthurt Zionists who didn't expect the book to be so "critical" of Israel. Truth be told, I considered giving it five stars, but it wasn't quite at classic status. Regardless, it's a very informative history book that showcases very real discrimination in Israel, and not the obvious form against Palestinians. Even many Jews themselves have felt out-of-place due to a pro-Ashkenazi narrative about Israel's origin and current nature. Don't hesitate to read this book if you have an open mind and feel like learning something.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathlyn

    Excellent book and an insight into the racial hatred that is deeply embedded into Israeli culture and psyche. Ironic - the very people that give Israel its ties to the land are those they want to silence and hide.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    the author seems to have huge bias for Iraqi jews, might because she is decendant from them, but she seems rather narrow minded when she makes broad generalizations about the differences between ashkenazi and mizrahi, maybe because I was raised with little of both cultures it seems strange to look at them as seperate, slight differences yes, but not alien to each other. Glad I read to be more informed, just wish I could ask her some questions, I need some clarification.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sabah

    Revelatory book on racism in Israel by a Jewess. Arab Jews 'hate' European ones! From Israel's founding, Euro Jews stereotyped Arab Jews as backward and 'fake', & systematically segregated, pushed into ghettos, & removed them from academic & political life. They were wrongly lured from a peaceful coexistence in Arab lands, a decision that has impoverished and devastated their culture. However, her writing is vague, elementary, and often biased. Revelatory book on racism in Israel by a Jewess. Arab Jews 'hate' European ones! From Israel's founding, Euro Jews stereotyped Arab Jews as backward and 'fake', & systematically segregated, pushed into ghettos, & removed them from academic & political life. They were wrongly lured from a peaceful coexistence in Arab lands, a decision that has impoverished and devastated their culture. However, her writing is vague, elementary, and often biased.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    yeah....couldn't finish this one. i could not handle the writing style. it sounded like such an interesting topic, but i didn't enjoy a single paragraph. i never would have guessed this was written by someone who actually writes for a living. i thought for a long time i might come back to it, and give it another shot. but now it's at the thrift store, so that's that. yeah....couldn't finish this one. i could not handle the writing style. it sounded like such an interesting topic, but i didn't enjoy a single paragraph. i never would have guessed this was written by someone who actually writes for a living. i thought for a long time i might come back to it, and give it another shot. but now it's at the thrift store, so that's that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I knew very little about Jews from Arab countries like Iraq and ethnic and cultural diversity among Jews in Israel prior to reading this book--and I'd previously taken a class on Modern Judaism. It really enriched and complicated my understanding of Israel's founding and Palestinian-Israeli tensions. I knew very little about Jews from Arab countries like Iraq and ethnic and cultural diversity among Jews in Israel prior to reading this book--and I'd previously taken a class on Modern Judaism. It really enriched and complicated my understanding of Israel's founding and Palestinian-Israeli tensions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Sabin

    The topic is extremely interesting, especially as an American Sephardic/Mizrahi Jew. It taught me about the intra-religious tensions in Israel, which I knew existed but not about in detail. For people already familiar with Sephardic/Mizrahi history, you will not likely learn very much in this book. The author focuses heavily on Moroccan and Iraqi perspectives, but does not do much to distinguish between the Jewish cultures within the various middle eastern countries (i.e. Syrians have a very dif The topic is extremely interesting, especially as an American Sephardic/Mizrahi Jew. It taught me about the intra-religious tensions in Israel, which I knew existed but not about in detail. For people already familiar with Sephardic/Mizrahi history, you will not likely learn very much in this book. The author focuses heavily on Moroccan and Iraqi perspectives, but does not do much to distinguish between the Jewish cultures within the various middle eastern countries (i.e. Syrians have a very different view of their historical relationship with Arab muslims than do Iraqis). She highlights Jewish nostalgia for pre-Israeli life, and contrasts it with the current strong anti-Arab sentiment in Mizrahi communities, but does almost nothing to explain how or why these feelings would coexist. She certainly glosses over the cultural differences between Arab Muslims and Mizrahi Jews in their pre-Israeli homes - they lived in separate neighborhoods for the most part, spoke different dialects, went to different schools, had different professions, etc. I am loath to believe that she is unaware of these facts, but instead think that these facts are inconvenient to her narrative. The best chapters are easily "Talk This Way" and "Everyone Deserves Music." If I were to recommend this book, I would recommend only reading those two chapters, as they can stand on their own. Aside from the content, I found the quality of writing to be mediocre.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Figueiredo

    I don’t feel I know enough about this to write an extensive review, but Shabi’s book calls attention to a group often erased from Israel’s identity—its Mizrahi population. I’ve been involved in Israel advocacy for a while and visited the country for an educational trip and was not aware of the extent to which assimilation became the dominant narrative. One of my favorite things about Israel is how many backgrounds if Judaism it brings together. For highlighting the Middle Eastern Jews, this is a I don’t feel I know enough about this to write an extensive review, but Shabi’s book calls attention to a group often erased from Israel’s identity—its Mizrahi population. I’ve been involved in Israel advocacy for a while and visited the country for an educational trip and was not aware of the extent to which assimilation became the dominant narrative. One of my favorite things about Israel is how many backgrounds if Judaism it brings together. For highlighting the Middle Eastern Jews, this is an important read. Shabi proves perhaps too critical of Zionism and less so regarding pogroms that happened in Iraq, etc even before the formation of Israel, but her book is pretty illuminating nonetheless. EDIT: Took off a star because I did some more research and feel like Shabi whitewashed what Mizrahim went through in Arab countries.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rasha

    Really interesting view on Arab Jews and discrimination against them in Israel. Their identity struggle and hate for Arabs along with low social status and Ashkenazi Jews looking down on them specifically because they're Arabs. Not something I thought of before. Really interesting view on Arab Jews and discrimination against them in Israel. Their identity struggle and hate for Arabs along with low social status and Ashkenazi Jews looking down on them specifically because they're Arabs. Not something I thought of before.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Cran

    Written by an Iraqi Jewess who was born in Israel and lateer on was raised in London. She writes for the Guardian and Al Jazeera. She returns to Israels and offeres a critical look at the history of the Middle Eastern Jews in the Ashkenazi dominated country called Israel. The first chapter documnts the aliya of the Yemenite Jews. It tells how rough it was coming to Israel how some of the Israeli guard took advantage of their naivete and stole torah scolls and Jewellry from them. THe yemenite Jew Written by an Iraqi Jewess who was born in Israel and lateer on was raised in London. She writes for the Guardian and Al Jazeera. She returns to Israels and offeres a critical look at the history of the Middle Eastern Jews in the Ashkenazi dominated country called Israel. The first chapter documnts the aliya of the Yemenite Jews. It tells how rough it was coming to Israel how some of the Israeli guard took advantage of their naivete and stole torah scolls and Jewellry from them. THe yemenite Jews had to live in teents as did most jews from Middle Easteern countries while thee Europeans were offered better housing. The Yemenite Jews served as laborers and helped one kibbut in teh Galillee till the land when the Kibbutz did not ned them anymore theey kicked them off the land by shtting off their water supplies, depriving them of ffood and some measures of brutality. The Morrocan were part of theeir country living well and protectdd by king Hassan. With the advent of Zionism the Jews of Morrocco becaame scred. Despite King Hassans urgig the Jews fled. Most wnet to France. Some came to Israel. Those that wnet to Israel had to wait in France for three years bfore coming to Israel. Once in Israel theey were brought to Places like Ofakim which were teent cities. In Ofkim they have no chance of advancement and feel alientated from the Jewish state. The author goes on to documet the History of the Iraq Jews in a town caled Or Yehida whcih is suituated on a former Palestinian villagee. Many were comfortable in Iraq and many wished they hd stayed there. Israel is an Ashkenazi run state with a history of preujudice toward s Middle Eastern Jews. Many think the prejudice was long buried but it is not. The education system is failing Jewish children from the Middle East. tehy do not have the smae opportunities for advancesment as do th European Ashkenazis. They are still discriminatd agaainst in fields such as enterntainment, news and music wwhere they are pressured to Ashkenzify. They are dissuaded from using theeir accents, and inti recnetly their music woulld not geet airplay on the radio. Iarel copied and favored Europen sounds. This book is a document of an open wound that has not healed.

  11. 4 out of 5

    dgw

    I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways. I'm still in the middle of reading it, but my review will be published as soon as possible. Disclaimer: I won this book from First Reads We Look Like the Enemy is a well-researched, in-depth book. In some ways, I feel like comparing it to fill-in-id because both are written in a similar heavily-cited, journalistic style. Like Start-Up Nation, this book was a very informative read. However, I found it hard to keep reading. I expect to have to push myself I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways. I'm still in the middle of reading it, but my review will be published as soon as possible. Disclaimer: I won this book from First Reads We Look Like the Enemy is a well-researched, in-depth book. In some ways, I feel like comparing it to fill-in-id because both are written in a similar heavily-cited, journalistic style. Like Start-Up Nation, this book was a very informative read. However, I found it hard to keep reading. I expect to have to push myself through the first 50 or 100 pages of a book, no matter what the genre, but I had to push myself through the middle of this one. The first few chapters and the last chapter read the easiest; the rest of the book seemed to move slowly. No, this book is not a narrative, though the subtitle—"the hidden story of Israel's Jews from Arab lands"—might suggest it. The organizational structure eluded me. The chapter titles did cover the main topic of each chapter, but a lot of times the text would refer to something from a few chapters before without any restatement. I found such references hard to follow. Really, the whole book was a bit hard to follow. I expect that a richer background in Israeli politics, history, and culture would have helped me to better understand the book, but I selected this book from the giveaway list in large part because I expected to learn about Israel's culture. I was probably mistaken in my expectation that I would learn about Israel as a whole from a book focused on a subset of the country's population. When I've had a chance to learn more about Israel as a nation, and as a culture, I will try reading this book again and hopefully comprehend more of what it has to say.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Scott

    Enemy notes Racism exists in every country. This book documents that fact for Israel. Rachel Shani aims to document this racism that exists between the Ashkenazi (more western European jews) and the Mizrahi ( Jews of Arab descent, of which the author identifies herself). In the creation of the state of Israel the Mizrahi were the last to be settled and their treatment much resembled the concept of redlining in the united states. A practice in which members from an undesired population are forced Enemy notes Racism exists in every country. This book documents that fact for Israel. Rachel Shani aims to document this racism that exists between the Ashkenazi (more western European jews) and the Mizrahi ( Jews of Arab descent, of which the author identifies herself). In the creation of the state of Israel the Mizrahi were the last to be settled and their treatment much resembled the concept of redlining in the united states. A practice in which members from an undesired population are forced to areas by a variety of means and then resources are drained from that. It's not a ghetto, but it acts that. In the united states those that were able to break out of these areas and end redlining could pass for white. The author does an exellent job describing the situation. She creates scenarios that are controversial and effective, such as using the analogy of the creation of Israel in the Middle East is like sticking a European country there. It's also implied that if the country was not predominantly settled by Ashkensazi, would the treatment of Israel be different? Some sections are a bit of a stretch. A bombing to scare Jews into leaving iraq for Israel by Jews came off thin. Overall, the author does an excellent job dealing with discrimination in Israel, weaving personal stories with known historical incidents. The stories here are parellel to stories in the United States, the discrimination, the redlining, the protests and the riots. In the end an Arab Jew in Israel is the same as an Arab treated anywhere in a post 9/11.  It's a tricky topic considering the constant threat to Israel from Arab countries, but she handles it well. A story that needs to be told.

  13. 4 out of 5

    George Mills

    This is not an easy book to read irrespective of the author's strong research, passion for the subject, and excellent story telling abilities. She also maintains a truly brutal degree of objectivity that is all the more amazing given all she, her family, and community lost because of 'a European solution to a European problem.' I tried to maintain objectivity as I read the book, but my anger and disgust reached almost uncontrollable levels and I was forced to stop reading for days at a time as I This is not an easy book to read irrespective of the author's strong research, passion for the subject, and excellent story telling abilities. She also maintains a truly brutal degree of objectivity that is all the more amazing given all she, her family, and community lost because of 'a European solution to a European problem.' I tried to maintain objectivity as I read the book, but my anger and disgust reached almost uncontrollable levels and I was forced to stop reading for days at a time as I realized how many people have died and how many vibrant and creative cultures were destroyed all in the name of a solution that is as inherently wrong as the problems it seeks to correct. It is for this reason that this is a trenchant work that should be required reading for every political leader (irrespective of the kinds of groups they lead). Furthermore, organizations that influence the public's reading habits (such as Oprah, Reader's Digest, New York Times Review of Books etc.) should also strongly recommend it. I do not want to say anything more about its contents as I do not want to potential readers to think it is merely an anti-Zionist or pro-Zionist treatise. The author takes her and her readers past such knee-jerk reactions and seeks to address a much more fundamental question; How can these very different groups of people (who, in what is one of history's greatest ironies, are all Semites) whom history and geography have brought together find a way of living with each other? Because it is an inescapable fact that their destinies and, perhaps, that of the rest of the world, are completely entwined.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    Yeah, another book won on Goodreads... I'm excited to read this history book. I love history. I think this history will be important to understand in light of the global problems we have. This book deals in detail with the racism between Iraqi (and other Middle Eastern Jews) and European-returning to the homeland Jews. I was of course ignorant about these factions. I think that if you look deeply into any society you will see a split however. In my town, for example, there is a major rift. Does i Yeah, another book won on Goodreads... I'm excited to read this history book. I love history. I think this history will be important to understand in light of the global problems we have. This book deals in detail with the racism between Iraqi (and other Middle Eastern Jews) and European-returning to the homeland Jews. I was of course ignorant about these factions. I think that if you look deeply into any society you will see a split however. In my town, for example, there is a major rift. Does it matter though? Does it matter when bigger things are at stake? The relevance of the subject to the world at large is the question I have. The author does a great job presenting her Iraqi-Jew point that they are oppressed. She uses examples from language, television and music for example. For those interested in serious modern Jewish History this would be a good read. I could have gotten by with just an essay on the subject and been just fine though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    This was a thought-provoking book on the issue of racism between European and Oriental Jews. I found this one especially intriguing due to my love of Arab/Israeli history. I never thought for a moment that there would be issues amongst the Jewish nation, yet there is. I recommend that the reader be familiar with Israeli history to understand some of the historical references discussed (Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, Balfour Declaration, etc.). A quick and enjoyable study that broadened my understa This was a thought-provoking book on the issue of racism between European and Oriental Jews. I found this one especially intriguing due to my love of Arab/Israeli history. I never thought for a moment that there would be issues amongst the Jewish nation, yet there is. I recommend that the reader be familiar with Israeli history to understand some of the historical references discussed (Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, Balfour Declaration, etc.). A quick and enjoyable study that broadened my understanding of the Middle East.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Won on first reads. As the world lost a great lady when my wonderful friend, Ramona, just passed away, this review will serve for her. She will be dearly missed and cancer will be cursed for taking her from us so young. This is a very good book for those interested in what our world is like and how others live. It is truly a sad issue that more people can not be accepting of others.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tiz

    Painful to read as it didn't show Israel in the best light. She didn't balance her book with both sides...she only showed the side she wanted to show, and that was a negative. Would like to read more books on this topic...but just from a better writer/better balanced topic. It's basically what America did a few decades ago...we have since gotten better. I think!!?? Painful to read as it didn't show Israel in the best light. She didn't balance her book with both sides...she only showed the side she wanted to show, and that was a negative. Would like to read more books on this topic...but just from a better writer/better balanced topic. It's basically what America did a few decades ago...we have since gotten better. I think!!??

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    A Goodreads First Reads win. This book sounded intriguing to me and I was looking forward to reading it but the more I read the book more I found it difficult to get through it. I think for me the book was too lengthy, however, I think someone that is more interested in the subject or wants go know great details about racism within the Jewish culture would enjoy this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was disappointing. The main points - that Israel looked to Europe as a model both culturally and politically and the country's conflicted relationship with mizrahis affects and colors the relationship with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are well taken, but probably could have been made in one thoughtful article. The writing is very uneven which doesn't help. This was disappointing. The main points - that Israel looked to Europe as a model both culturally and politically and the country's conflicted relationship with mizrahis affects and colors the relationship with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are well taken, but probably could have been made in one thoughtful article. The writing is very uneven which doesn't help.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I loved this book. I had no idea of the intricacies of this subject. The Rachel's writing invited me into this world, and the reader feels as if they are a part it. It is a delicate area of the world in which to live. I learned so much from this book. I highly recommend it. I loved this book. I had no idea of the intricacies of this subject. The Rachel's writing invited me into this world, and the reader feels as if they are a part it. It is a delicate area of the world in which to live. I learned so much from this book. I highly recommend it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

    Won this on first reads. Please check my friend Melissa Murphy's review for this book. Won this on first reads. Please check my friend Melissa Murphy's review for this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    An interesting, provocative book - makes me want to learn more about Israeli history. Definitely worth a read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Gheis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  25. 5 out of 5

    Owen Harris

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Owen Hatherley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tess

  30. 5 out of 5

    Johan Lettink

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.