Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands

From the publisher:

‘Shabi’s important book is a wake-up call to modern Israeli society’ Jewish Chronicle Mention Israel and internal conflict, and most people immediately think of the seemingly insoluble Palestinian problem. However, as Rachel Shabi explains in this acclaimed book, there is another crucial division within Israeli society: between Ashkenazi Jews, whose families come from Europe, and Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews, who come from the Arab countries of the Middle East. Herself from an Iraqi Jewish family, Shabi explores the history of this relationship, tracing it back to the first days of the new state of Israel. In a society desperate to identify itself with Europe, immigrants who spoke Arabic and followed Middle Eastern customs were seen as inferior. Sixty years later, such prejudices are still in force. As Shabi demonstrates, Mizrahis are strikingly less successful than Ashkenazis, condemned, often, to substandard education, low-quality housing and mockery for their accents, tastes and lifestyles. Not only does this damage Mizrahi lives and hopes; it also reflects a wider Israeli rejection of the Middle East and its culture that makes it impossible for Israel ever to become integrated within its own region. ‘an eye-opening book ... ‘Not the Enemy’ is a disturbing and important document, which should be read by everyone worried about what its author calls the ‘corrosive, entrenched polarity’ of the Middle East.’ Gerald Jacobs, Daily Telegraph ‘Shabi’s account of the Mizrahis’ vibrant culture is fascinating. So too is her investigation of the discrimination Mizrahis have suffered.’ Financial Times Winner of the Sephardic Culture Mimi S. Frank Award, US National Jewish Book Awards Rachel Shabi was born in Israel to Iraqi parents and grew up in England. A journalist, she has written for a variety of national and international newspapers, including the Guardian, the Sunday Times, and the Independent.