The book is divided into four parts: ‘The Question of the Arab-Jew,’ ‘Between Palestine and Israel,’ ‘Cultural Politics of the Middle East,’ and ‘Muslims, Jews, and Diasporic Readings’. The chapters address a wide range of topics, from ‘Mizrahi Feminism: The Politics of Gender, Race, and Multiculturalism’ and ‘In Defence of Mordechai Vanunu: Nuclear Threat in the Middle East,’ to ‘On Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation’ and ‘Reflections on September 11’.
Shohat, born in Israel to an Iraqi-Jewish family, is of course most famous for her work on “the question of the Arab-Jew,” as she puts it in the book’s introduction, and this collection of her writings does justice to her unique – perhaps foundational – contribution to an interdisciplinary shaped field of Mizrahi studies. As she writes in the book, Shohat has pursued “a relational network approach” that takes into account “imperial history, partition remappings, and post/colonial dislocations”. This work, she adds, attempts to “demystify the ethnocentric self-idealisations typical of the dominant narrative, without a) prettifying the Jewish experience in Muslim/Arab spaces, or b) glorifying Arab nationalism, or c) idealising Arab Jews/Mizrahim themselves, some of whom played a very ambiguous role in this convoluted story”.