An Egyptian Goes to Israel

(Wall Street Journal) Haisam Hassanein - As a child in Egypt, my image of my Jewish countrymen was shaped by the numerous Egyptian television dramas that depicted them as spies, thieves and fifth columnists. It came as a shock when, during my first visit to Israel in 2014, I met a man who spoke to me in perfect Iraqi Arabic. For more than a thousand years, Mizrahi Jews from eastern lands lived and thrived from Morocco to India and Central Asia. This story came to a crushing end for most Jews in 1948, when Arab states responded to the creation of Israel by forcing out their Jewish populations. Today, as Israeli society becomes more inclusive, eastern Jewish culture is honored. Intermarriage between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim is a nonissue. A Mizrahi Jew, Avi Gabbay, heads the Israeli Labor Party, the historic domain of Ashkenazi Jews. As a Muslim, I am acutely aware of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who have been left to languish in camps for decades, unwelcome in the lands of their Arab and Muslim neighbors. The successful absorption of Jews from eastern countries in Israel is a modern-day success story that deserves to be remembered, celebrated and emulated. The writer is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2017-11-24 00:00:00

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