If i forget thee, o baghdad: The demise of arab-jewish identity and culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the emergence of the modern Arabic literary writing of the Jews of Iraq and, after only a few decades, the start of its demise, in both Iraq and outside it, and then the switch to writing in Hebrew in Israel. The high point of such writing in Arabic was during the 1920s when Iraqi-Jews started to produce literary works that “were Arabic in essence and expression.” It was a secular literature, inspired by a cultural vision whose most eloquent dictum was “religion is for God, the fatherland is for everyone.” However, during recent decades the Arabic literature that 20th-century Iraqi-Jews have produced has been totally relegated to the margins of Arabic culture. This development was due not only to political and national circumstances but also to the aesthetic and cultural norms of both Arabic-Muslim and Hebrew-Jewish cultural systems. The vision embedded in the aforementioned dictum was the product of a very limited period, a very confined space, and a very singular history. It lived to the age of a sturdy human being, by this rare combination of time, space and history, before disappearing and being forgotten, at least for the foreseeable future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalAsian and African Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Institute of Oriental Studies, Slovak Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Arab-Jewish culture
  • Arabic literature
  • Babylon
  • Baghdad
  • Hebrew literature
  • Zionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'If i forget thee, o baghdad: The demise of arab-jewish identity and culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this