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Ethnicity and National Memory: The World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) in the Context of the Palestinian National Struggle

Yehouda Shenhav
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Vol. 29, No. 1 (May, 2002), pp. 27-56
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/826147
Page Count: 30
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Ethnicity and National Memory: The World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) in the Context of the Palestinian National Struggle
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Abstract

The article examines the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) as a community of memory, operating within the realms of Israeli national memory, endeavouring to refurbish them but dismantling them instead. A central thrust of the analysis (which refers to the period 1975-1999) concerns the anomalous relationship between nationalism and ethnicity. WOJAC's aspiration was to operate in the national arena, to counterbalance the claims of the Palestinian leadership on the right to the Land and on the refugee question. But to its chagrin the State institutions construe its activity as ethnic subversion. The fluid transition from national to ethnic interpretation reflects the contradiction that underlies Jewish nationalism and its ambivalence towards practising 'Mizrahi ethnicity'. Deriving from this contradiction, and from the praxis of construction and dismantlement that characterizes the activity of WOJAC, a contingent examination is undertaken of analytical categories such as 'national identity', 'Zionism', 'history', 'place', and 'territory' in the Middle East.

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