Monday, July 19, 2010
"Once upon a time not so long ago, an Arab could be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc… Up until the 1950s, the Jewish community was an integral part of the fabric of Arab society. They spoke Arabic and contributed to the arts and sciences. They had been rooted in countries in like Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen for millenia. Growing up, my grandparents would recount fond memories of their Jewish neighbors and colleagues in the golden days of Basra and Baghdad, insisting that they were always considered – and considered themselves- Iraqi first. They would attend their weddings and parties and my paternal grandfather worked with them in municipal affairs during his career as the Mayor of Basra. And stories abound from Iraqi family friends, about how they, Muslim Iraqis, held their Jewish friends’ possessions for safekeeping when they had to flee. Theirs was a bond that seemed to go beyond friendship. For sure the history of Jews in the Arab World is a complex one that had its ups and downs, but once upon a time, they were brothers and sisters."