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The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora [Paperback]

By Joel Beinin (Author)
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Item description for The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora by Joel Beinin...

Egypt's indigenous Jewish population comprised Arabic-speaking Rabbanite and Karaite Jews, some of whom had been in the country since the early Islamic era. The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 took refuge in Egypt, and Sephardic immigrants augmented their numbers in the midnineteenth century. Originally welcomed elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire, these Spanish Jews came to Egypt seeking economic opportunity in the era of Suez Canal construction and the cotton boom. The late nineteenth century brought Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe. The different groups formed a heterogeneous community of cosmopolitan hybrids, which were both an element of strength and a factor in its eventual demise.

The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry examines the history of the Egyptian Jewish community after 1948. It focuses on three major areas: the life of the majority of the community, which remained in Egypt from the1948 Arab-Israeli War until the aftermath of the 1956 Suez/Sinai War; the dispersion and reestablishment of Egyptian Jewish communities in the United States, France, and Israel; and contested memories of Jewish life in Egypt since President Anwar al-Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977. Fusing history, ethnography, literary analysis, and autobiography, Joel Beinin conducts an interdisciplinary investigation into identity, dispersion, and the retrieval of identity that is relevant for anyone interested in Egypt, the Jewish Diaspora, or the formation of cultures and identities.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: American University in Cairo Press
Pages   342
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   American University in Cairo Press
ISBN  9774248902  
ISBN13  9789774248900  

Availability  0 units.

More About Joel Beinin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joel Beinin is Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. His publications include The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora (1998) and Was the Red Flag Flying There? Marxist Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Egypt and Israel, 1948 65 (1990).

Joel Beinin currently resides in Stanford, in the state of California. Joel Beinin was born in 1948 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Stanford University, California.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Africa > Egypt > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Africa > Egypt
3Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Jewish
5Books > Subjects > History > Middle East > Egypt
6Books > Subjects > History > World > General
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Anthropology > Cultural
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Reviews - What do customers think about The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora?

An excellent work on heated subject  Oct 9, 2006
This is a great piece of scholarship on Egypt and its Jewish minorities during a period of great change, 1930-1960. I am graduate student in Middle Eastern studies and have lived in Egypt for two years where I made the acquaintance of the some of the remaining Jewish community. It was only after reading this book that I understood the historical situation of Jews in Egypt with clarity and depth.

This is a well-written academic book that is accessible to most readers. It rejects both the Zionist conception that Jews were eternal victims in Egypt and left after 1948 AND the Arab nationalist conception that Jews were not subject to discrimination and oppression. Unlike many other writers, Beinin writes about his subject, Egyptian Jews, with respect and dignity, and does not use them as some sort of political football to be kicked back in forth in order to prove a point about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The book is well research and deals with English, Hebrew, and Arabic sources about Egyptian Jews. He does not end his narrative in the 1960s though, but traces the remaining communties of Egyptian Jews throughout the world. I found his chapters on the lingering influence of dhimmi conceptions in the 1950s and the interplay between Marxist and Zionist affiliations particulary enlightening.

I wasn't going to write this review until I saw all the other reviews that have unfairly smeared this great book. If you look over them, it is obvious that they were based of a template and are self-conflicting, and it seems that most of the reviewers have not actually read the book. I hope this review will help potential readers to realize how great of a book this is.
False assertions  Jul 31, 2006
There are at least two false assertions in this book: 1) There was no anti-semitism in Egypt prior to the rise of the Zionist movement, and 2) Egyptian Jews were not Zionists.

Regarding anti-semitism in Egypt: In fact, until the European power dominated Egypt, both Jews and Christians had inferior status, known as the Dhimmi status. They had to pay special taxes (guizyah), they had to wear special dresses that identify them, etc. So both Jews and Christians were humiliated. With the coming of the nation-state age, Christians and Jews were still legally discriminated against. For instance, Moslem men can marry Christian and Jewish women, but Christian and Jewish men may not marry MOslem women. Jews were denied citizenship. Today, the Jews left, but Christians are being killed and harassed. As a Christian, I feel estranged from my own society. Two better books on the subject are: Chirstians vs. Muslims in Modern Egypt by Sana'a Hassan, a Muslim, and The Jews of Islam by Bernard Lewis (Chapter 1 talks about Islam and Other Religions).

Regarding 2), the Zionism of Egyptian Jews, Jews in Egypt supported the idea of a Jewish state like Jews all over the world, even if they did not choose to live there. Not only Jews were Zionists, but many Christians in Egypt were sympathetic to Israel. My own family was very happy to see Israel win in 1967. Why should every country in the Middle East be Arab and Muslim?

The author's leftist leanings motivated him to distort the reality of the situation for Egyptian Jews. He tried to blame Israel, but even Christians who are anti-Israel are persecuted in Egypt. The complaints by other reviewers that he did not mention the incarcerations and torture of all Egyptian Jewish men between 1967 and 1970 is indeed a denial of their suffering.
Poor scholarship  Jul 27, 2006
This book is poor scholarship. For instance, the author is trying to convince the reader that Egyptian Jews were not Zionists. Apart from a few, like Minister Kattaoui Pasha, and the Jewish communists like Eric Rouleau, Haroun Chehatah and Youssef Derwish, and they numbered no more than a few dozens, Egyptian Jews were and still are very sympathetic towards the Jewish state. They support it and pray for it. Haim Nahum, the Chief Rabbi, was only publicly anti-Zionist; he welcomed Zionists delegations and leaders like Haim Weizman, and one conld feel that his anti-Zionism is nothing but a facade.

Also, 45 percent of Egyptian Jews immigrated to Israel. This is a large percentage, much larger than those who went to the US (30 percent), France (20 percent), and elsewhere. The number is particularly remarkable given two facts: 1) Egyptian Jews speak on average four languages and they were well disposed to European culture, and 2) Israel was the poorest country, yet it got the largest percentage when they could have gone anywhere. Also, even those who do not go to Israel are very supportive.

It seems that the book contradicts its own facts. For instance, it states that the Karaites were "an Arab Jewish community", and were not Zionists. Yet 85 percent of karaites went to Israel, even though they were multilingual (contrary to what the book implies -- I have known several karaite families who used to rent flats from us during the summer in Alexandria, and they all spoke French). It si unfortunate that the author's marxist bias blinded him. The book covers Murad Farag, but does not say he is a Zionist.

It is unfortunate that the author's Marxist conviction blinded him from the truth.
Political filtered, if not outright dishonest  Jul 12, 2006
The book suppresses a lot of unfortunate injustices that happened to our Jewish neighbors and friends in Cairo. To this day, I remember clearly how our neighbors' two sons from across the street were dragged by the police into a van. My mother and I were watching out of the window, and I recall my mother crying. Within a few days, we learned that all Egyptian Jewish men were incarcerated in Abu Za'abal prison and tortured. Our neighbors left the country a few months later, and we never knew what happened to their son. None of this is mentioned in the book. The period 1967-70 is omitted, and that is dishonest.
Politically filtered and poor scholarship.  Jun 27, 2006
This is a work of poor scholarship. The author's account of Egyptian Jewry is politically filtered. First, he claims that Egyptian Jews were not supportive of Zionism. Every Zionist movement was representated in Egypt, and active. He also suppresses evidence that some prominent Egyptian Jewish personalities were Zionists. For example, he talks at length about Mourad Farag, but does not mention that he was a passionate Zionist. Farag's work, Al Kudsiyat, goes unmentioned.

MOreover the largest percentage of Egyptian Jews (45%) went to Israel. The remainder were scattered between the U.S., France, and other countries, so Israel got the lion's share

The author also trivializes the anti-semitism that existed in Egypt long before the Zionist movement. There were at least 10 cases of blood libels in the second half of the 19th century. Moreover, even Egyptian Jews who lived in Egypt for generations were denied citizenship. He only briefly mentions the Company Law that denied Eygptian JEws their livelihood. Though he mentioned the three massacres of 1948 in which nearly 90 Jews were murdered, he forgets to tell the reader that no serious trial took place.

The author dwells extensively in the Lavon affair, but only because he can blame Israel. He does not tell the reader that not one Egyptian or foreign soul was killed or hurt during the sabotage operation. He also refuses to admit that Egypt committed a crime by condemning two of the ring leaders to death.

The author's political bias blinded him and turned him into a poor scholar

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