In this historiographical article, we wish to explore the multiple meanings associated with the concept of the Arab Jew, and its representations in political, cultural, and academic discourses in Israel. This article is written as a response to the claims raised by Reuven Snir in this issue. We call attention to the multiplicity of Arab Jewish identities, which enrich our understanding of the concept in both the past and the present. We further contend that Arab Jewish identities are modern, national, transnational, and fluid, and that their meanings change according to different economic, political, and social experiences. These identities are expressed in the print media, but also in modern oral and popular cultures mediated by radio, television, and cinema. These identities are articulated in classical and modern standard Arabic (fusha); and in local Arabic dialects such as the Iraqi, the Shami, the Egyptian, the Moroccan (darija), and so on. Furthermore, we consider these identities in multilingual and imperial settings: we take note of the multicultural societies whose Jewish subjects spoke Ladino, French, English, Ottoman-Turkish, Persian, Aramaic, and other languages, as well as various Iranian, Ottoman, and European contexts. In our closing section, we analyze the relationships between the past and the present, and suggest that Arab Jewish identities are echoed in modern Hebrew literature, as translation permits the fusion of Arabic texts into the Hebrew literary canon and into its margins. The discussion about the relationships between Hebrew and Arabic, and about Arab Jewish identities, inform the formations of new Mizrahi identities, in which writers, artists, and filmmakers commemorate the Arab culture of the past in order to change the present. We wish to analyze, and are inspired by, the writings of Middle Eastern intellectuals, the Muslims, Jews, and Christians who adopted inclusive, rather than exclusive identities; to respect local languages and dialects; and to understand the cultures of Jews of Middle Eastern and Islamic lands in the widest contexts possible, rather than subjugating them to an elitist, monolingual, national model.
|Translated title of the contribution
|The Philologists’ Sorrow and the Failure to Bury Arab-Jewish Identity and Culture
|Number of pages
|Published - 2020