Massoud Hayoun: When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History

Ure of Arab people of Jewish faith Hayoun challenges the Eurocentric constructions of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish identities centring his point of reference on his randparents roots in North Africa and not the imagined East His political stance oes however further than that by declaring solidarity with all other peoples who are oppressed and subjected to structural violence of racism and exclusion This author has a big problem and his problem is with Israel His intense hatred for Israel begins to be revealed about 23ds of the way through the book and builds from that point on He makes outrageous unfounded claims against Israel such as Zionists instigated attacks against Jews in the Middle East in order to frighten them into moving to Israel His statements about the peaceful protests in Gaza without mentioning the flaming kites condoms with IEDs and Palestinian children sent to the front with weapons destroys any credibility he might have hadI am so sorry that I wasted my money and time on this biased untruthful boo. To recall a time before ethnic identity was mangled for political ends It is also a journey deep into a lost age of sophisticated innocence in the Arab world; an age that is now nearly lost When We Were Arabs showcases the orgeous prose of the Eppy Award winning writer Massoud Hayoun bringing the worlds of his randparents alive vividly shattering our contemporary understanding of what makes an Arab what makes a Jew and how we draw the lines over which we do battle.

Ind the phrase In these days of Likud and ISIS which implies absurdly that the two are morally euivalent and Likud is perhaps the larger problem The author identifies as both Arab and Jewish but stresses the former over the latter and writes from a bitter and maximally anti Israeli perspectiveIsrael haters will love it but if you re looking for a Chanukah ift for your uncle who enjoys reading about Jewish history you should look elsewhere Whilst When We were Arabs is a fascinating autobiographical story about Hayoun s family it also poses an important uestion of how one can champion an ethnic identity without falling into the pit of tribal nationalism For Hayoun one of the possible answers is through coining a term mirroring Senghor s Negritude Arabetude which he defines as a total sum of the intellectual cultural and spiritual labour of the Arabs The concept is also deeply anti colonial as the Arab heritages are celebrated in reaction to their denigration by the white supremacist West In response to the Zionist eras. Ed at the port of Haifa to join the Zionist state only to find themselves hosed down with DDT and then left unemployed on the margins of society In that time Arabness was a mark of cosmopolitanism of intellectualism Today in the age of the Likud and ISIS Oscar's son the Jewish Arab journalist Massoud Hayoun whom Oscar raised in Los Angeles finds his voice by telling his family's story To reclaim a worldly nuanced Arab identity is for Hayoun part of the larger project.

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Massoud Hayoun has written a beautiful at times poetic book Though his book is pleasant to read it is not a novel and though it is centered around his own family s painful experience of having to leave their homeland it is not a nostalgic look back at some paradis This book shares a perspective that the world so desperately needs to hear I am usually not inclined towards reading memoirs but Massoud s telling of his family s history is not simply a fond recalling it is an act of resistance in the face of erasure For that reason this book is bold unapologetic and honest The depth of analysis and passion in each page is evident from the first to the very last This book is always within reach on my bookshelf and meticulously tabbed and noted up so I can refer to passages and thoughts whenever I need I recommend this book to anyone and everyone inclined towards experiencing how beautifully and powerfully an author create the waves of a revolution in just 258 pages You will not regret it On the inside book jacket you ll WINNER OF THE ARAB AMERICAN BOOK AWARD NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPRThe stunning debut of a brilliant nonfiction writer whose vivid account of his randparents' lives in Egypt Tunisia Palestine and Los Angeles reclaims his family's Jewish Arab identity There was a time when being an Arab didn't mean you were necessarily Muslim It was a time when Oscar Hayoun a Jewish Arab strode along the Nile in a fashionable suit long before he and his father arriv.

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