Mizrahi Jews or Oriental Jews (מזרחי "eastern", Standard Hebrew Mizraḥi, Tiberian Hebrew Mizrāḥî; plural מזרחים "easterners", Standard Hebrew Mizraḥim, Tiberian Hebrew Mizrāḥîm) are those Jews of Middle Eastern origin; that is to say, their ancestors never left the Middle East.
Though many Mizrahim now follow the liturgical traditions of the Sephardim, and although in modern Israel they may be colloquially referred to as Sephardic Jews, the Mizrahim are not Sephardic since they have never lived in Sepharad (Spain and Portugal) nor are they descended of those who were expelled from the Iberian peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition. Many Mizrahim may consider it culturally insensitive or ignorant not to distinguish between the two communities, even if some Mizrahi may themselves have come to accept the generalized label, despite its erroneous application.
Prior to the emergence of the term "Mizrahi", which dates from their transportation and incorporation into the newly created state of Israel—Arab Jews was a commonly used designation, though not by Mizrahi Jews. The term, however, is rarely used today, and Mizrahi Jews generally self-identify by their country of origin, e.g. "Iraqi Jew". Compare with the synonymity of Ashkenazi and European Jew, or Sephardi and Iberian Jew.
Unlike the terms Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Mizrahi is simply a convenient way to refer collectively to a wide range of Jewish communities, most of which are as unrelated to each other as they are to either the Sephardi or Ashkenazi communities. See also: Jewish ethnic divisions.
Table of contents
The most prominent language associated with the Mizrahim are the various Judæo-Arabic dialects. A number of notable philosophical, religious, and grammatical works were written in the Arabic language which was modified with the employment of Hebrew characters, and often incorporating Arabic vowel marks.
See also: Mizrahi Hebrew language.
Post 1948 Dispersal
Most Mizrahi Jews fled their countries of birth when, in reaction to the events leading up to and following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, citizens of Arab countries acted violently against their local Jewish populations in what they viewed as retaliation for both the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, and for their non-Jewish Arab brethren being turned into refugees as a result. Further anti-Jewish actions by Arab governments in the 1950s and 1960s, including the expulsion of 25,000 Mizrahi Jews from Egypt following the 1956 Suez Crisis, led to the overwhelming majority of Mizrahim becoming refugees. Most of these refugees fled to Israel.
Today, from the few remaining Mizrahi communities still existing throughout the Arab world—with a combined population of fewer than 1,000 individuals—a trickle of emigration continues, mainly to Israel and the United States. An additional 11,000 Mizrahi Jews still reside in Iran. Many there feel actively persecuted, and a number have been arrested, mostly for alleged connections with Israel and/or the United States. Some have even been executed, religious intolerance mainly being cited as the contributing factor. 
Mizrahim in modern Israel
From their initial transition to Israel, the Mizrahim have distinguished themselves from their Ashkenazi and Sephardi counterparts, in culture, customs and language. Arabic was their mother tongue (or Farsi for those of Iran), and for some it still is. Hebrew was mainly considered a language of prayer.
The Mizrahim were at first moved into rudimentary and hastily erected tent cities, and later sent to development towns. Moshavim (communal farms) were also trialed, however, the Mizrahim had been mainly craftsmen and merchants, with very few having been farmers. Furthermore, while most Ashkenazi pioneers were secular and many were socialists, most Mizrahim were neither.
Distinguished Mizrahi personalities
- Moshe Katsav, current President of Israel.
- Ofra Haza, popular Temani vocalist.
- Dana International, Israeli pop singer of Yemeni ancestry.
- Why Jews fled Arab countries – Analysis by Ya'akov Meron.
- Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
- The Middle East's Forgetten Refugees
- Reflections by an Arab Jew – A personal perspective on what it means to be Mizrahi.
- My life in Iraq – A personal perspective on what it means to be Mizrahi.
- Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrachit – An organization of Mizrahi Jews in Israel
- Jewish Multicultural Project
- Loolwa Khazzoom – Jewish Multicultural Arts & Education.