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Oriental Neighbors
Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine
Abigail Jacobson, Moshe Naor

The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies

2016 • 286 pp. 6 x 9"
History of Israel & Palestine / Jewish Studies

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-5126-0006-3
$95.00 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0005-6

$29.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0007-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“Jacobson and Naor assert that what united the Mizrahi Jews during this period “was their deep confidence that they could serve as mediators between Jews and Arabs.” One of the... [continued in Reviews below]”—The Jewish News of Northern California

A fresh look at Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine under the British Mandate

Focusing on Oriental Jews and their relations with their Arab neighbors in Mandatory Palestine, this book analyzes the meaning of the hybrid Arab-Jewish identity that existed among Oriental Jews, and discusses their unique role as political, social, and cultural mediators between Jews and Arabs. Integrating Mandatory Palestine and its inhabitants into the contemporary Semitic-Levantine surroundings, Oriental Neighbors illuminates broad areas of cooperation and coexistence, which coincided with conflict and friction, between Oriental and Sephardi Jews and their Arab neighbors. The book brings the Oriental Jewish community to the fore, examines its role in the Zionist nation-building process, and studies its diverse and complex links with the Arab community in Palestine.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Jacobson and Naor assert that what united the Mizrahi Jews during this period “was their deep confidence that they could serve as mediators between Jews and Arabs.” One of the factors was their fluency in Arabic. . . . The shared language enabled Mizrahi Jews to maintain meaningful relationships with Muslim and Christian Arabs; and, achieving quite different purposes, it also afforded them opportunities to collect intelligence and play a strategic role as the drive for Jewish statehood intensified.”
The Jewish News of Northern California

“[Oriental Neighbors] contains a wealth of examples of attempts at dialogue between Arabs and Mizrahi Jews – efforts that emphasized their ethnic, linguistic, cultural and geographical closeness, despite tensions between the Zionist and Palestinian movements.”

“[Oriental Neighbors] tackles the issue of coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine; more accurately, between Arabs and Sephardic and Oriental Jews. They had a culture, a language and a way of life very close to those of the Arabs, with they lived in close contact. The authors analyze the close relations, coexistence and co-operation between the two communities, without neglecting the points of tension and friction between the two parties.”

“Interesting and scholarly. It works on one level as a straightforward history of Oriental Jews in Palestine but is equally a story both of Zionism and of the unfolding Jewish–Palestinian conflict within Mandate Palestine. The detail is fascinating. The authors feel the texture of the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine and in doing so they challenge notions of Jewishness among the Jews who lived alongside Palestinians and who articulated hybrid identities.”—Middle Eastern Studies

“An excellent example of a collaborative effort by two historians from different fields, bridging the gap between them, and is a most welcome contribution to the research on Jewish–Arab relations, the history of Palestine under the Mandate, and the Arab–Israeli conflict.”
Bustan: The Middle East Book Review

Oriental Neighbors, in presenting a group often regarded as being outside the history of Zionism, presents them as a central component in the making of that movement and the internal negotiation of that movement’s role within the Middle East.”
Journal of Jewish Identities

“This valuable study highlights the unique political and cultural role played in Mandatory Palestine by Oriental Jews (or Jews of Middle Eastern descent) in relations with the country’s Arab majority. It makes a significant contribution by emphasizing the cultural links that these Jews had with their Arab neighbors, while also stressing their overall commitment to Zionism and the inevitable split from these neighbors that this commitment eventually produced. The book adds to our understanding of these distinct communities and adds nuance to the depiction of Zionist attitudes toward the so-called ‘Arab Question.’”—Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University

“This beautiful book dismantles—in meaningful and productive ways—the binaries and assumptions we have become accustomed to accepting as the cornerstones of the Arab–Israeli conflict. Presenting a fascinating history of the relationships between Mizrahi Jews and Palestinians, it uncovers forgotten histories of friendships, dialogues, and conversations that today seem impossible. It is a must-read for anyone who wishes to think differently about possible, and better, futures for Israelis, Palestinians, and the entire Middle East.”—Orit Bashkin, Professor of Modern Arab History, University of Chicago


Winner of the Shapiro Prize for best book of 2016
Winner of the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines (2018)

ABIGAIL JACOBSON is academic director of the Mediterranean Neighbors program, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is author of From Empire to Empire: Jerusalem between Ottoman and British Rule. MOSHE NAOR is assistant professor in the department of Israel Studies at the University of Haifa. He is the author of Social Mobilization in the Arab/Israeli War of 1948: On the Israeli Home Front.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:29 -0500