An Unspoken Agreement: The Demise of Arab-Jewish Culture and Identity

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We are currently witnessing the demise of Arab-Jewish culture – a tradition that started more than fifteen hundred years ago is vanishing before our eyes. Until the twentieth century, the great majority of the Jews under the rule of Islam used Arabic as their language but after the establishment of the State of Israel, Arabic has been gradually disappearing as a language mastered by Jews. They have been deliberately excluded from Arabism to the point that we can now assume an unspoken agreement between Zionism and Arab nationalism to carry out a total cleansing of Arab-Jewish culture. The present article focuses on the changes in the concept of identity and belonging among the Arabized Jews, especially the Iraqi-Baghdadi intellectuals among them. My main argument is that due to some processes that those Jews had experienced during the twentieth century and because of some global developments, they gradually developed a negative sensitivity toward the notion of stable identity, whatever identity. Instead of that, they started to assert, explicitly and implicitly, their particular singularities and to search for alternative forms of identification, mostly various kinds of inessential solidarity and belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-154
JournalMediterranean Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


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