Whether you’re looking to educate yourself or are simply curious, you can find a wealth of information and resources freely available on Instagram from organizations and individual activists alike. From @dastaangoi to @letstalkpalestine, there are a number of existing accounts using their online platforms to shed light on important issues and offer crucial resources on the lesser-known or marginalized segments of society. One of our favorite socially-conscious accounts that we stumbled upon recently is @TheMizrahiStory, a page dedicated to unearthing and uplifting all the lost and often forgotten history, culture, traditions, and customs of Jewish-Arabs that hail from our region.
The account, which has been active for six-months, shared its first post in November 2022, and has since managed to rack up a loyal following of almost 20K followers, intriguing users with a slate of thought-provoking content, unique perspectives, and engaging storytelling. In essence, the social media page delves into the different Jewish communities that once resided on our side of the world, but that unfortunately had to flee for a slew of reasons all as political and personal as the other.
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For those that may be unaware, allow us to give you a quick crash course on Jewish history: The term “Sephardim” refers to the Jewish people that formerly lived in Al Andalus, which would approximately equate to present-day Spain and Portugal, and who were forcibly expelled, primarily to North Africa, amongst other locations, following the Spanish reconquista of 1492 alongside their Muslims counterparts. On the other hand, “Mizrahi” refers to Oriental Jewish communities, that mainly lived across the Mashreq and Mesopotamian sub-divisions of the Arab World.
As history went on to do its thing and with the advent of globalization, these indigenous communities have had to relocate for several endogenous and exogenous reasons, unfortunately leaving their customs and cultures behind, and which have now practically vanished from most of our collective consciousnesses — an almost total erasure that @TheMizrahiStory is trying to revive with its platform.
From book recommendations to first-hand accounts of what life was like as a Jewish person in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, and beyond, as well as quick vocabulary lessons on some of the local languages that used to exist, the profile serves as a catalog and refuge to all Jewish identities that have been marginalized, not to say purposefully buried, and is reminiscent of an entire era of life that is often over-looked and/or completely dismissed in curriculums and memories of the past.
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Coming in the form of bite-sized Instagram Reels, which are also shared with the founder’s 76.2K TikTok followers, the myriad of discoveries and information gleaned from the account are both informative and captivating, reminding us of the very clear nuance there is between Judaism and Zionism.
As the world continues to be polarized on the Palestine-Israel conflict, it’s important to remember that Jewish-Arabs tend to suffer from collateral damage of the ongoing conflict, being essentialized and brought back to a group that have little in common with the established Jewish communities that have been residing in North Africa and parts of the Middle East for thousands of years.
Those interested in learning more about the region’s diverse heritage, in particular about a piece of history that has been muted for too long, @TheMizrahiStory is a must-follow account on Instagram for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding of the Arab world.