... an absorbing family history that spans continents and epochs ... With a clear point of view, Hayoun weaves in his family history with the politics that shaped their lives. When We Were Arabs is a nostalgic celebration of a rich, diverse heritage. It is also a diatribe against white supremacy in the form of European oppression ... In a sweeping gesture, [Hayoun] proudly proclaims his identity ... Perhaps that declaration of love is his most important takeaway.
While Hayoun is himself present in When We Were Arabs, the book’s tone is less personal than that of most contemporary memoir ... Light on scenes and bereft of dialogue, this well researched and timely family history will appeal foremost to history lovers, serious amateur genealogists, and those with a particular interest in Jewish Arab identity.