Article by Noémie Issan-Benchimol et Elie Beressi

The identity of Jews from Arab countries is the object of a conflict of legitimacy between the State of Israel and the supporters of the Palestinian cause. This article proposes a contextualization and reflection on the concept of “Arab Jew” and its political uses, following the controversy that erupted at the end of 2021 around the Institut du Monde Arabe’s exhibition “Jews of the Orient, a multi-millennial history”. 

“Israel was born a Jewish state, that was the decision of the people, and the question is not what is the identity of the state — it was born this way and it will remain this way.” This little sentence was said on December 22, 2021 by Mansour Abbas, an Arab member of parliament of an Islamist party and Minister Delegate in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. Noémie Issan-Benchimol and Elie Beressi give us the context and analyze it as a watershed moment in the history of Israeli political life.

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