New Babylonians

New Babylonians : A History of Jews in Modern Iraq

By (author) Orit Bashkin

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Although Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi patriots, their community - which had existed in Iraq for more than 2,500 years - was displaced following the establishment of the state of Israel. New Babylonians chronicles the lives of these Jews, their urban Arab culture, and their hopes for a democratic nation-state. It studies their ideas about Judaism, Islam, secularism, modernity, and reform, focusing on Iraqi Jews who internalized narratives of Arab and Iraqi nationalisms and on those who turned to communism in the 1940s. As the book reveals, the ultimate displacement of this community was not the result of a perpetual persecution on the part of their Iraqi compatriots, but rather the outcome of misguided state policies during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Sadly, from a dominant mood of coexistence, friendship, and partnership, the impossibility of Arab-Jewish coexistence became the prevailing narrative in the region - and the dominant narrative we have come to know today.

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  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 22.86mm | 362.87g
  • 12 Sep 2012
  • Stanford University Press
  • Palo Alto
  • English
  • 0804778752
  • 9780804778756
  • 519,138

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Author Information

Orit Bashkin is Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Chicago. She is the author of "The Other Iraq: Pluralism and Culture in Hashemite Iraq" (Stanford, 2008).

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Review quote

"Altogether, Bashkin's book greatly enhances our understanding of the history of this vibrant and deep-rooted community, which flourished in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society for centuries: its contribution to modern Iraq, its cultural and intellectual achievements, and its global economic and trade exposure and success in Iraq and elsewhere in the diaspora. Her book is honest, well-balanced and well-documented, and she approaches her subject with an open, sympathetic mind." - Abbas Shiblak, Journal of Levantine Studies "Pluralism and Culture in Hashemite Iraq est a la fois un approfondissement de sa contribution a l'histoire intellectuelle de l'Irak contemporain - son champ de recherche d'origine - et une incursion dans une histoire specifique, celle des communautes juives du monde arabe, avant et apres la creation de l'Etat d'Israel." - Leyla Dakhili, Le Mouvement "This is a major contribution to the study of Iraqi Jews in modern times, shedding light on Jewish involvement in Iraqi intellectual and political life as part of the Iraqi nation until regional politics forced an abrupt breach and the annihilation of the community. The book is recommended for academic libraries with collections on Middle Eastern, Jewish and minorities' studies." - Rachel Simon, Association of Jewish Libraries "Bashkin recounts the last chapter in the history of the oldest Jewish Diaspora community in the Arab world, in Baghdad... Recommended." - M. Gershovich, CHOICE "New Babylonians is a meticulously researched and path-breaking treatment of a topic engaging several interlocking contested histories - Jews of Arab countries, the Arab-Israeli conflict, democracy and post-colonialism, and the Communist Parties of Iraq and Israel." - Joel Beinin, Middle East Journal

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