!!> BOOKS ✶ When We Were Arabs ✬ Author Massoud Hayoun – Terrapin-info.co.uk

When We Were Arabs The Stunning Debut Of A Brilliant Nonfiction Writer Whose Vivid Account Of His Grandparents Lives In Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, And Los Angeles Reclaims His Family S Jewish Arab IdentityThere Was A Time When Being An Arab Didn T Mean You Were Necessarily Muslim It Was A Time When Oscar Hayoun, A Jewish Arab, Strode Along The Nile In A Fashionable Suit After Shabbat Services On His Way To Bring Tobacco To His Dying Grandfather, Long Before Oscar And His Father Arrived At The Port Of Haifa To Join The Zionist State Only To Find Themselves First Hosed Down With DDT Then Left Unemployed On The Margins Of Society In That Time, Arabness Was A Mark Of Diverse Cosmopolitanism, Of Intellectualism Today, In The Age Of The Likud And ISIS, Massoud Hayoun, The Jewish Arab Journalist That Oscar Raised In Los Angeles, Finds His Voice By Telling His Family S StoryTo Reclaim A Cosmopolitan, Nuanced Arab Identity Is, For Hayoun, Part Of The Larger Project To Recall A World Before Ethnic Identity Was Mangled For Political Ends It Is Also A Journey Deep Into A Lost Age Of Sophisticated Innocence In The Arab World An Age That Until Now Could Be Witnessed Only In The Films His Family Treasured But That Are Now Nearly Lost Amid The Flood Of CultureWhen We Were Arabs, A Stunning Debut That Showcases The Gorgeous Prose Of Writer Massoud Hayoun, Tells The Stories Of Oscar And Daida, Bringing Their Worlds Alive In Vivid Poetic Prose, And In So Doing Shattering Our Contemporary Understanding Of What Makes An Arab, What Makes A Jew, And How We Draw The Lines Between Us Over Which We Do Battle

  • Hardcover
  • 336 pages
  • When We Were Arabs
  • Massoud Hayoun
  • 06 January 2018
  • 9781620974162

About the Author: Massoud Hayoun

Massoud Hayoun is a journalist who lives in Los Angeles He has reported for Al Jazeera, Pacific Standard Magazine, Anthony Bourdain s Parts Unknown online, The Atlantic, and Agence France Presse He speaks and works in several languages.



10 thoughts on “When We Were Arabs

  1. says:

    Fascinating This was a real education for me about Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African Jewry and the mass expulsion from their homelands The author, who identifies as Jewish Arab American, goes in search of himself through his family s North African heritage and subsequent displacement He lambasts French and British colonialism, Zionism, modern Israeli politics, white supremacy and in particular European Jewish white supremacy, for creating the separation, disenfranchisement, and statelessness of this people To me this is a definitive contribution to the cause of raising awareness of this somewhat overlooked aspect of history While not particularly well written, and not particularly sophisticated, I give it a 4 because of its educational and impactful content.

  2. says:

    This was a near unreadable mess of polemic, history, family history, and memoir It s poorly organized and written, jumps around in a scattered and unedited way, and ultimately is a chore to get through I think the author has a story to tell and a point or several to make, but those aren t served well in the current state this book is in.

  3. says:

    We Arabs have a saying t3ishoo w traboo, which serves as the ultimate compliment one can give about the parenting of a child When We Were Arabs, is testimony to the young man that Oscar, Daida, and Nadia raised to be this sweet, kind, generous, humble, delightful, intelligent, cultured young man who by writing this celebratory love story to his family embraces their teaching of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam Hayoun writes a thoughtful, empowering story that serves to make this world a harmonious place No longer the separation of Arab and Jew, we have an engrossing understanding of the Jewish Arab This is a definite must read Hayyoun2019 WhenWeWereArabs

  4. says:

    I don t understand the negative reviews A beautifully written memoir about the Hayoun family that lived throughout the Middle East and Europe Massoud Hayoun s book demonstrates how Arabs of different religions most people automatically associate Arab with Islam were able to co exist I was easily transported back in time to Alexandria and Tunis Lovely book would highly recommend.

  5. says:

    A memoir with a bite, in which Massoud Hayoun, a member of the Arab diaspora and a Jew, chronicles his family history in a tale that spans continents and epochs, and weaves that history with politics He uses his grandparents stories to explore the history of a once thriving Arab Jewish community It s very much a celebration of a rich and diverse heritage but it s also a diatribe against colonialism and Zionism, of which he is a fierce critic He documents the suppression of native culture by both the British and French and he is particularly angry when it comes to Israel and Zionism The book is a well researched and intelligent history of the complex situation in the Middle East, but not particularly well written It jumps about too much in time and place, and the lack of structure makes the narrative difficult to follow at times Hayoun is an angry man, with justification, but a polemic doesn t always make for good reading However, I did enjoy the book overall, and particularly appreciated being made aware that being Arab doesn t automatically mean being Muslim, and that there are many Jewish Arabs as well.

  6. says:

    As interesting as the topic was, I really did not enjoy reading this book I think it could have benefited from much editing and structure It jumped back and forth between Tunisia and Egypt and between his family s stories and general history Some details were repeated unnecessarily at different points in the book I enjoyed the stories of the author s family much than the general historical information, which was a slog to get through While I m happy to have learned about Jewish Arab identity and the history of the region, I think the author could have done a better job of integrating the information with his telling of his own family history Thank you to NetGalley and The New Press for providing me with an early review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  7. says:

    Young author Massoud Hayoun has an interesting background, he s traveled the world, grown up hearing stories from family members from many corners of the earth, and as a freelance journalist he presumably has researching skills I like his usage of film and fashion to describe Arab Jewry throughout place and time, and I learned the meanings of many Arabic and Jewish words I ve heard before but without context Sephardi is Hebrew for Spanish, Mizrahi is Hebrew term for Eastern, the Berbers are the Amazigh meaning Free People, the Jewish Bible is called Tanakh, HamdelA means Thank God, qaid is an official or chieftan, Scots were known as Jock and the Welsh as Taffy, Mabrouk means May it be blessed The sad theme of this book seems to be that every race has a biological proclivity toward racism and megalomania What this collection of vast and impressive facts and first hand experiences is in need of, is editing I felt this opened as a barrage of definitions and historical data, followed by a section that would make several great essays with some editing, and then at the end there were questions posed that answered my wondering, what is this book about trying to accomplish that would have been useful presented in the beginning, or even used throughout as a unifying premise I basically felt like this book had been written without an outline.

  8. says:

    I was so looking forward to reading this book, but alas, when I finally retrieved it from the library and began reading it, I was dismayed I could barely get through the first chapter The prose is impenetrable, dense, laborious, and boring I never skip any section, normally, but I did with this book, and went ahead to read one chapter about his family Needless to say, after being turned off by the writing, immediately, I lost interest completely, closed the book and brought it back to the library Too bad I almost feel like somebody else should write about Massoud Hayoun s life and present it in a palatable and pleasing way I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

  9. says:

    This history family history memoir actually reads like a manifesto then a mashup of events It lacks structure and finesse although I agree with his purpose and his disdain for these home dna kits that are so popular right now The last thing the wold needs is another method of separating groups of individuals into us and them in the name of pseudoscience Particularly as these false divisions echo early colonization of North Africa and again of Palestine when the allies relocated displaced Jews to populate the land This is basically his rationale for identifying as Arab culturally through language, music, food, ceremony and Jew spiritually I recognize that some Jews will define their Jewishness as their culture and that is good too Why can t it be that everyone identify as they do culturally, spiritually, by gender, or sexuality and let them be Aside from the author s primary thesis, the history of North Africa and Israel was interesting to me and his family story was less interesting The whole book is well summarized in the introduction Here are some quotes that explain his premise I am an Arab because that is the legacy I inherit from Daida and Oscar It is how they remain, for me, immortal My Arabness is cultural It is African My Arabness is Jewish It is also retaliatory I am Arab because it is what I and my parents have been told not to be, for generations, to stop us from living in solidarity with other Arabs Why would I claim Arabness in this way right now Large swaths of North Africa and the Middle East have been devastated by war and dictatorship, and the majority of the countries that the Donald Trump White House sought to ban from entering the United States are Arab In this context, to revive the Jewish Arab is to demand dignity for an Arab people continuously derided by the West s self fulfilling prophecies for the East America simultaneously funds dictatorship and drops bombs over much of the Arab world, p9 There are several ways for me to prove to you the existence of the Jewish Arab I could endeavor to prove to you, using DNA, that Jewish Arabs are related to Arab non Jews But I won t, because racial science for that s what it is that AncestryDNA and other DNA testing products are peddling should terrify you, as it does me Not only have we seen emerging concerns over how that data is stored and used by companies, but the data also serves to popularize what academia agrees are false and potentially eugenic concepts of race I could also observe that Jewish Arabs are often physically indistinguishable from their Muslim and Christian Arab counterparts p 10 The fact is, humankind s very definitions of race and ethnicity are nebulous This book is an unbraiding of the colonial manipulations of identity, first in my family s homelands in North Africa under the French and the British, then in Israel, and ultimately in their search for home in France and the United States P 14 my intention is to reclaim the Jewish Arab identity for me and to recuperate it as a stolen asset of the Arab world P17 Arabness is a personal identity it is my politics, my inheritance, how I was raised, my relationship and bond to others who share in that legacy, the soil from which I emerge Judaism is my faith and my understanding of metaphysical things Matters of the here and now are urgent in this dour moment of history than matters of the spirit I do pray for the deliverance of humanity from so much injustice but realize that isn t nearly enough In this world, I am Arab first and last Judaism is an adjective that modifies my Arabness P51

  10. says:

    I got a email from the author to read the book and wrote him back apologizing for taking so long in reading his book Well that was yesterday and so I started reading and reading and halfway through the book so sorry,just couldn t read any I really wasn t sure what the holiness about cause I didn t re read what the story was about again yesterday when I started I am so sorry but I got so confused and tried to concentrate on what I was reading and I would understand a sentence or so then didn t understand and so on All I got was about his grandparents,the different religion and that s about it Just couldn t finish and I really did try Not to hurt anyone s feelings This if the book is rewritten it may make sense I kept waiting on a story about his grandparents,him growing up all I seem to get us a bunch of facts thrown at me I consider myself a pretty well educated person but even if this was taught in a school all the difference in religion they would fail the class

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