Home is ever-changing
I think in many ways, as someone with Jewish Iraqi heritage, I would describe my identity as featuring many dislocations, which I think many other Mizrahi/Sephardic Jews from the Arab world face. We know that our grandparents and past generations were in Iraq, Morocco, and Yemen, but this almost feels like a fictional past. This past is rarely discussed, and when it is, it's a history what most of us aren’t able, let alone allowed, to access and connect to. The cultures and stories of our ancestors were violently suppressed in many of us, with new generations dissociating from their Middle Easter heritage in favor of a new “Jewish” identity, as if they are mutually exclusive. Most of us don’t speak Arabic, often the closest cultural connection we have being through food. Can we identify as Arab in any way? Are we just Jewish, or is it more complicated than that? Can only Mizrahi Jews whose families resisted to preserve and pass down their ancestral culture claim that identity? These are the difficult questions we must face. It scares me to think that if we don’t discuss these issues, it will grow even harder to convince our children, as Ella Shohat put it, that we were “there”, and some of us are *still* there, although not many.
Home is ever changing.