Synopses & Reviews
Ethnic bias against Middle Eastern Jews within Israel has far-reaching implications for the whole region.
Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab or Muslim lands—“Mizrahis”—make up nearly half of Israels population. Yet European or “Ashkenazi” Jews have historically disparaged them for looking like Arabs, speaking Arabic, and bringing with them what was viewed as a “backward” Middle Eastern culture. Journalist Rachel Shabi, who was born in Israel to Iraqi Jews and grew up in England, returned to investigate the subtle discrimination and tense relations that still exist between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. She combines historical research, her own familys story, and the heartfelt oral history of several other Mizrahis to make We Look Like the Enemy a stunning, unforgettable book.
“The importance of this very personal book is in the insights it provides to feelings and attitudes of both groups toward social, cultural, and political conditions in Israel rather than in providing new data.”—Jewish Book World
“Shabi explores the contentious questions of how these Jews arrived, the experiences they endured, and the lingering issue of where they fit into Israeli society. We Look Like the Enemy combines the authors own personal story with academic studies, cultural analysis, and on-the-street interviews in order to paint a full picture of this often overlooked population.”—Middle East Journal
“Shabi hits hard and effectively in pointing out the fissures in contemporary Israeli society that belie some of the comforting Zionist myths.”—Booklist
“A finely calibrated, intimate portrait of a diverse people, imbued with authenticity sympathy.”—Kirkus Reviews
Shabi returned to Israel for a year to investigate the tense relations that still exist between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. The author combines historical research with intimate oral interviews to shed light on ethnic injustice within Israel, past and present.
About the Author
Rachel Shabi has been published in the Guardian, the London Sunday Times, the English Aljazeera online, Janes Intelligence Digest, and Salon.com. This is her first book. She lives in Tel Aviv.