Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands

Rachel Shabi, Ian Black

22/02/2009 11:00 am

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.

In association with the New Israel Fund.

Rachel Shabi

Rachel Shabi has written for a variety of national and international newspapers such as The Guardian, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, the Independent on Sunday, Al-Jazeera English online, the National, Jane’s and She was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. She received a National Jewish Book Award for Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands published in 2009

Ian Black

Ian Black was Middle East editor of The Guardian until 2016. In 36 years on the paper he was also Jerusalem Correspondent, Diplomatic Editor, European Editor and Chief Foreign Editorial Writer. He has covered major events in the Middle East, from the Iran-Iraq War to the Palestinian Intifadas and the uprisings of the Arab Spring. He has also written for The Washington Post and The Economist. He is now a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics.