Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands
That tensions exist within Israeli society is not headline news. However, in her original book, Rachel Shabi steers away from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead, she turns her gaze on the complexities within Jewish society and the bitterness that many Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews, originally from Arab countries, experience towards Ashkenazi Jews of European origin, tracing it back to the early days of the newly created state. In this society – steadfast in its identification with Europe – immigrants who spoke Arabic and practised Middle Eastern customs were often regarded as inferior; and, sixty years on such attitudes still persist.
Shabi argues that discrimination within Israeli society has impaired many Mizrahi lives and dreams, and that it also reflects a pervasive prejudice within Israel against Middle Eastern cultures and societies.
Rachel Shabi has written on social and campaigning issues for The Guardian Weekend magazine, G2 and Comment. She was born in Israel to Iraqi parents, and grew up in the UK but now lives in Israel.
Ian Black is the Guardian's Middle East editor. In more than 25 years on the paper he has also been its European editor, diplomatic editor, foreign leader writer and Middle East correspondent.
In association with the New Israel Fund