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Mashriq & Mahjar 6, no. 2 (2019), 173–177 ISSN 2169-4435 ELLA SHOHAT, On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings (London: Pluto Press, 2017). Pp. 464 pages. $115.00 cloth, $28.00 paper, $28.00 e-book. ISBN 9780745399508. REVIEWED BY JENNIFER LYNN KELLY, University of California, Santa Cruz, email: jlkelly@ucsc.edu On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements is, in many ways, an archive of the labor Ella Shohat has undertaken to theorize the multiple kinds of displacements that accompany partition. In this collection of essays, talks, and interviews, she constructs meaningful parallels between dislocated Arab-Jews and displaced Palestinians with the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948; however, she does so not to collapse differences between them, but to point to the multiple violences that animate life in the wake of occupation and exile. The collection catalogs decades of Shohat’s thinking (the earliest essay was penned in 1982) and makes a case for the continuing relevance of placing the Arab-Jew, Palestine, displacement, and diaspora within the same analytic frame. It draws us into a world of scholarship, conferences, and intellectual production crafted in symposia, across dinner tables, and while crossing streets. The author describes, for example, her participation in the historic summer 1989 meeting of Mizrahim and Palestinians in Toledo (200–22), but also devotes narrative space to recounting a conversation with Edward Said on the streets of Manhattan. Shohat relates that when she joked that Said should start wearing a bulletproof vest in the wake of threats to his life, he paused and gestured to his beautifully tailored suit—the kind he was so known for—as if to ask: Where would it possibly go (199)? Moments like these pepper the text, inviting the reader into the kind of analyses—and the friendships forged in struggle—that have unfolded over many years, via many collaborations across disciplinary and geographic borders. Shohat’s writing on the erasure of the Arab-Jew appears in this volume alongside and in relation to her critique of Jewish History, Mashriq & Mahjar 6, no. 2 (2019) 174 written in the singular, with a capital H. Jewish History, Shohat argues, fails to account for the multiplicity of Jewish histories by focusing solely on European Jews, cleaving Arab-Jews from the Arab world in order to rationalize and justify Zionist discourse. Shohat’s words bely claims that sever Arab from Jew, as do the images and ephemera accompanying many of the essays. There are images of the Iraqi-issued laissez-passer of Shohat’s parents, of Shohat’s mother, smiling, on a roof in Baghdad in 1947, evidencing the nostalgia that was foreclosed to them in 1948 (79–81); there are images of the displaced Yemeni Jews arriving in Israel alongside stories of their children being stolen from them and sold for adoption to Ashkenazi families (115). There are also images of Mizrahi Black Panther meetings and demonstrations decrying the racism that structured Israeli society and continued to oppress Palestinians, and images of those demonstrations being violently policed (120). There are images of Shohat alongside Mira Eliezer and Tikva Levi as panelists announcing their split from the women’s movement, demanding an anti-racist feminist movement that doesn’t ask them to renounce their Arabic names and sever their ties to Palestinians. There are also the images that Shohat paints with her words: Shohat as a child, scolded by teachers for speaking Arabic and, in turn, scolding her parents for the same; Shohat as a child, helpful and obedient, telling an Israeli soldier where her uncle is, and then running for the cover of a backyard fig tree, feeling hot tears of shame, learning the difference between translator and traitor, and negotiating the newly acquired knowledge that, to the state, her family was the enemy (122–28). On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements archives both Shohat’s own work and debates across postcolonial studies, and analyzes how those debates have traveled, metamorphosed, and shape-shifted in different contexts. She describes the arrival of postcolonial theory in 1990s Israel and the subsequent celebration of Homi Bhabha’s hybridity over Edward Said’s “rigid” analysis of colonial...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2169-4435
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-13
Open Access
Yes
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