Why this book?
Until two decades ago, the historiographical school of Jewish pasts in the Middle East was broadly aligned with what we call the neo-lachrymose approach. This approach usually examines the Jewish communities in the MENA region as if they lived in isolation from the non-Jewish majority society. Beinin’s book paved the way to profoundly different directions in studying the Jewish communities of Egypt and the region. Beinin analyzed the various Jewish communities that existed in Egypt (primarily prior to 1956), placed them in the context of global, regional, and Egyptian national history. Moreover, he forever dismantled the notion that we can essentialize the life, experience, and narratives of almost 1 million MENA Jews and have one simple account in the output.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
In this provocative and wide-ranging history, Joel Beinin examines fundamental questions of ethnic identity by focusing on the Egyptian Jewish community since 1948. A complex and heterogeneous people, Egyptian Jews have become even more diverse as their diaspora continues to the present day. Central to Beinin's study is the question of how people handle multiple identities and loyalties that are dislocated and reformed by turbulent political and cultural processes. It is a question he grapples with himself, and his reflections on his experiences as an American Jew in Israel and Egypt offer a candid, personal perspective on the hazards of…