• When We Were Arabs

  • A Jewish Family's Forgotten History
  • By: Massoud Hayoun
  • Narrated by: Massoud Hayoun
  • Length: 7 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
When We Were Arabs  By  cover art

When We Were Arabs

By: Massoud Hayoun
Narrated by: Massoud Hayoun
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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 identity

There 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, long before he and his father arrived at the port of Haifa to join the Zionist state only to find themselves hosed down with DDT and then left unemployed on the margins of society. In that time, Arabness was a mark of cosmopolitanism, of intellectualism. Today, in the age of the Likud and ISIS, Oscar's son, the Jewish Arab journalist Massoud Hayoun whom Oscar raised in Los Angeles, finds his voice by telling his family's story.

To reclaim a worldly, nuanced Arab identity is, for Hayoun, part of the larger project to recall a time 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 is now nearly lost.

When We Were Arabs showcases the gorgeous prose of the Eppy Award-winning writer Massoud Hayoun, bringing the worlds of his grandparents alive, vividly shattering our contemporary understanding of what makes an Arab, what makes a Jew, and how we draw the lines over which we do battle.

©2019 Massoud Hayoun (P)2020 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about When We Were Arabs

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

painful to read.

A misguided hateful youth that spews his venom as a form of self induced psychoanalysis. Like Elizabeth Warren who used her "high cheek bones" as a portal to the privileges of America Indians, Massiud Hayoun attempts to gain his bone fide with the Arab community (and Al Jazeera) by reciting his grandfather's love for Egyptian culture.
wish I could get my money back... At best he is an Egyptian Jew at worst he is an opportunist...

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Reclamation of a valuable history

The author has performed an important service. I was unaware of this corner of Jewish history and Arabic history. I am reminded once again that prejudice is all too universal. Thank you to the author for sharing this very personal family memoir.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

When we were Arabs

For anyone struggling with the mix of identities that this author addresses will ‘speak to their condition’ in his book. What is unsaid but needed is to take this analysis from the focus solely on Arab and Jewish to how Palestinians and any person of color subsists in modern day Israel with respect for differences, equality and justice. Next book maybe

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Terrible performance

The best performances are those that sound as if you & the author are sitting together over a (beverage of your choice) & they are telling you a story. This was nothing like that. Hayoun rushed through his book as if there were a bonus for covering it in the shortest amount of time, did not correct mistakes, his tone was mechanical, as if his involvement in the material were only superficial. The historical/political information could have been made to sound relevant & interesting. Instead, it was only filler in the family story, which was thin. He labored to make 2 (regrettably) obvious points: 1.) the Arab world is incredibly diverse. 2.) Jews are frequently mistreated. Listening to this wasn't a complete waste of time, but it came close.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Why Authors Shouldnt Read

I do not doubt the authenticity of the author's experience. And I certainly did learn a few things from this book. But his bitterness and negativity overflowed.
And from a performance you point, well it was just seriously disappointing.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An important perspective, beautifully told

I loved this book. Hayoun invites the listener to experience the kind of story one usually hears unfold around a kitchen table - into the wee hours, over many cups of tea. Hayoun is wonderfully talented and his voice and perspective exemplify the richness of what it is to be Arab.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disturbing anti-Zionist propaganda

As a Jew from an Arab country I could not recognize the people in this saga. Truth and the most despicable antisemitism are mixed liberaly to describe recent history.
In this book, Arabs and Jews lived in perfect harmony until white supremacist Zionist murdered the native Palestinians in droves and exiled the rest while at the same time the Mossad fomenting terror in all Arab countries so that the Arabs had no choice but to expel their Jewish population.
He compared Zionists to ISIS and claims that they even performed medical experiments on children of dark skin Jews
One can disagree with Israel but the writers disturbing hatred for Israel is something most Arab nations have overcome but not this angry self-hating Jew whose dream of living amount Arabs was ruined by European colonialism, and Zionist

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Rich and eye-opening

I enjoyed learning about this part of history , colonization, culture, and nationality through the lived experiences of this family. I heard about the book on the Palestine Pod and the length of time it took me to finish is only due to my own distraction.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful window into Jewish Arab identity

This book was really hit home. As a Palestinian of the diaspora, the story of the Hayoun’s deeply resonated with me, particularly Massoud’s longing for his homeland and journey towards identity.

I really appreciated hearing a Jewish-Arab perspective, and Massoud’s book was eye opening to me on the importance of inter-solidarity with middle eastern Jews. Much work is needed in reclaiming our shared heritage and decolonizing our minds of what made us “enemies” opposed to brothers, neighbours and children of the same lands.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible testimony written with compassion

I recommend this book for anyone looking to expand their understanding of Arab Jewish people and colonization’s impact on their past, present and future.

The writer is a poetic gift to this world.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-25-21

A piece of brilliance

A pleasure to read / listen and soul touching gem 💎.
100% recommended. Gives you a splendid and deeper look into 'oriental' jewellery.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sarah Soboh
  • Sarah Soboh
  • 07-11-21

The history of a jewish Arab family in the light of Western colonialism

Hayoun tells the story of his grandparents Daida and Oscar who were at some point seamlessly woven into North African Arab society until they weren’t. Daida, had an upbringing that was almost tailored by the French colonizers in Tunisia. Oscar was born and raised in Alexandria until the rise of Zionism in the region and the founding of Israel. He once lived in Alexandria until he didn’t; however, Alexandria never stopped living in him. Throughout the book, Daida and Oscar’s bodies travel to France, Israel, and then settle in the USA whilst leaving their minds to wander through memory lane back home.

The narration was emotional and very personal. WWWA easily reserves a spot in my top 10 favorite audiobooks. I enjoyed it a little too much that I wish it was a bit longer.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 04-07-20

searching for a past

the seeming never ending struggle to find a place that honors his past. I wish him well