The Possibilities of Arab-Jewish Thought
Participants: Ella Shohat, Elias Khoury, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Reif Zreik, Yehouda Shenhav, Moshe Behar, Zvi Ben-Dor, and others
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin
The question of the Arab Jew evoked a growing amount of attention in recent years, both in popular and in academic circles, in Israel and Palestine, and in the Arab World. Dozens of academic works, novels, memoirs and documentaries have been written and produced in the past few years - creating a growing body of knowledge that sheds light on the history of Jewish presence in the Middle East before and beyond 1948.
Revisiting this multifaceted history of the Mizrahi, the oriental Jews, offers perspectives beyond the conceptual limits of modern Jewish and Arab historiography, cultural and political imagination, and the binary logic of “Jews” and “Arabs”.
The recent collection of essays, “Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought” edited by Zvi Ben Dor and Moshe Behar is the first volume to include a larger variety of writings by Jewish intellectuals from the Eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire that emerged in a period where the contemporary boundaries in the Middle East have taken shape. The volume offers the opportunity to revisit some of the main aspects of the distinctions and connections of the Jew and the Arab in modern History.
The term ‘Arab Jew’ was introduced into the Israeli debate by figures like Shimon Balas, Ella Shohat, Sami Shalom Shetrit and Yehuda Shenhav, and was subject to multiple interpretations and various conceptual frameworks, representing different and sometimes contradictory political agendas.
The workshop "The Possibilities of Arab Jewish Thought" started on Wednesday, June 25 at 5 p.m. with the regular EUME Berliner seminar. Yuval Evri presented on “Translating Arab-Jewish” Tradition: From al-Andalus to Palestine”. This seminar session and the workshop were introduced by Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin.
For three days, from June 25 – 27, 2014, a group of scholars and intellectuals that included Najat Abdulhaq, Moshe Behar, Zvi Ben-Dor, Elias Khoury, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Yehouda Shenhav, Ella Shohat, Yasir Sulaiman, Raif Zreik and others discussed aspects of the modern history of Arab Jewish thought, the idea of the Arab Jew, and the possibilities that Arab-Jewish thinking offers for the future of Palestine and Israel.
Wednesday, 25 June: EUME Berliner Seminar
5 pm – 7 pm Yuval Evri (Tel Aviv University / EUME Fellow 2013-14)
Translating Arab-Jewish Tradition: From Al-Andalus to Palestine
Chair: Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin (Ben Gurion University of the Negev / EUME)
Thursday, 26 June: Workshop
10 am – 12.30
Panel: Arab Jewish Worlds
Islam Dayeh (Zukunftsphilologie / Freie Universität Berlin), Taha Hussein, Israel Wolfensohn and the Construction of the Arab Jew
Zvi Ben-Dor (NYU), Between Muhammad 'Abduh and Rabindranath Tagore: The Connected Worlds of Hayyim Ben-Kiki, an Arab-Jew
Haya Bambaji-Sasportas (Ben-Gurion University), Elie Kedourie and the Criticism of Imperialism
Chair: Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME)
1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
The Possibility of Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought
Moshe Behar (University of Manchester)
Zvi Ben-Dor (NYU)
An article on their book "Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893-1958"
Chair: Refqa Abu-Rumeileh (EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung)
2.45 pm –3.45 pm
Yehouda Shenhav (Tel Aviv University), The Political Implications of the Arab-Jewish Identity
Chair: Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin
Friday, 27 June: Workshop & Panel Discussion
10 am – 11.30 am
Viola Shafiq (Kairo/Berlin), Eastern Jews in Contemporary Arab Filmmaking
Najat Abdulhaq (Berlin), Rethinking Narratives: The Emergence of the “Arab Jew“ in Contemporary Arabic Literature; Review
Chair: Yuval Evri
11.30 am – 1.00 pm
Ella Shohat (NYU), The Question of Judeo-Arabic(s): Itineraries of Belonging
Chair: Yasir Suleiman (University of Cambridge)
2 pm – 4 pm
The Arab/Jew and the Question of Israel/Palestine
Moshe Behar (Manchester)
Elias Khoury (Beirut)
Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin (Ber Sheva)
Ella Shohat (NYU)
Raif Zreik (Haifa University)