Sunday, June 7, 2015

On teaching Mizrahi history

Sar Shalom

At Israel Hayom, Edy Cohen has an article about the need to include the Farhud and other aspects of Mizrahi history in Israel's curriculum. Cohen is right that it is long overdue to teach about the history of the Mizrahim and appalling that European Jewish history is treated as though it is synonymous with Jewish history and that the half of Israel's Jewish population from the Middle East deserves to have its history taught. However, Cohen misses another reason why it is critical to teach Mizrahi history.

One of the memes that our enemies spread is that even if we have an ancient history in the Levant and even if we built a state there recently producing so much of value to the world, in between we have abandoned and forgotten that region. Further, they acknowledge the horrible things that Europe has done to its Jews, with the Holocaust merely being the worst of a long chain of atrocities, but turn around and complain that the "innocent" Palestinians are paying the price to expiate Europe's guilt. This meme is critical for their claim that we "stole" the land from the Palestinians because if the Jews both have an ancient history on the land and maintained a continuous connection to the land between that ancient history and modern times, then there would be no pretense under which to say that the Arabs were anything other than an imperial power over the centuries.

In addition to demonstrating the continuity of Jewry's connection to the southwest Levant, Mizrahi history would also convey a different explanation for the persistence of Arab rejectionism of the State of Israel. The popular view is that Arab rejectionism is just bluster obscuring the "fact" that they only want to provide to the Palestinians what is their due and that this bluster would disappear once the Palestinians do receive their "due." However, an alternate view would be that the Arabs are irredentist for the social order that existed prior to the emergence of Zionism. Mizrahi history provides the details of the social order for which they are irredentist.


  1. Nice.


    And to the point.

    This is an idea that needs to be understood, and articulated, by anyone speaking on behalf of Israel.

    In fact, pro-Jewish advocacy is worthless without it, because without this truth there is no case to be made.

    If the Jews are occupying Arab land then the argument is over.

    It never fails to amaze me, despite the history of the Jewish people, that so many Jews can start the discussion by agreeing that Israel is occupying an allegedly indigenous population.

  2. On the first day of the 6 Day War, Egypt arrested all male Jews and tossed them into a concentration camp.

    1. Arab mistreatment of the Jews who lived under their jurisdiction for centuries did not begin with the Arab wars against Israel. Unfortunately, too many Ashkenazim see that as about as relevant to their lives as they do the history of the Ainus. The reasons raised by Edy Cohen are adequate for why this should change. However, it is also critical to raise this history to demonstrate that the Palestinians are not "innocent victims" of Europe's assuaging its guilt for what happened to the Jews during World War II.

    2. Are the any non Ashkenazim reading this blog? It is my impression that all the regular commenters are.