“Ana Yahudi Arabi” – Reflections from an Arab Jew: Professor Ella Shohat


For those of us that grew up in homes suffused with Arabic, and “ku-lu-lu-lus,” with brown eggs and fried eggplants for breakfast, and stories of the suk in Baghdad, we’ve often wrestled with the unease of many in our Jewish communities with “Arabs.” This Arab-phobia was counterintuitive to us – or at least to me – as I understood my own heritage in part to be Arab. While I take care not to  romanticize the Arab world – if one can speak in such huge generalizations – there is deep resonance on certain cultural aspects: language, food, music, passion, and a deep appreciation of “the East.”

Indeed – this is true for so many of us. We still talk in broken Arabic to our grandmother, and memories of Baba are inseparable from sounds of Arabic. We joke with cousins and aunts in Israel calling one another names (profanity excluded here) in Arabic. “Ana b’chibuk,” Nana always says. “I love you,” and of course, “B’frachik,” which basically means – “at your simcha.” (Even Nana is still pushing for a wedding!)

Ella Shohat a Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU has written about the nature of Arab-Jewish heritage and its ‘replacement’ in a sense, by a European-Jewish vision of Zionism at length. Ella is also of Iraqi descent. Click here to read another, and less heard perspective: “Reflections by an Arab Jew.”

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