Nov. 23, 2017
Thousands of years ago, Abraham and Sarah went from Israel to Egypt. So did Jacob and his sons. In my lifetime, I have made the reverse journey, traveling from Egypt to Israel by way of the U.S. During my travels I quickly discovered that the presence of the Jewish people in Arab lands did not end with the Exodus.
As a child in Egypt, my image of my Jewish countrymen was shaped by the numerous Egyptian television dramas that depicted them as spies, thieves and fifth columnists. I never knew any Jewish people personally. Naturally it came as a shock when, during my first visit to Israel in 2014, I met a man who spoke to me in perfect Iraqi Arabic, laced generously with profanity. He introduced me to the concept of “ Mizrahi Jews,” or those from the eastern lands.