Israel's Place in the Middle East: A Pluralist Perspective / Edition 1

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"An important book. . . . No other is available in English with both the information and the perspective provided by Nissim Rejwan. . . . He sets out to demystify prevailing assumptions and attitudes regarding Israel’s geopolitical, historical and cultural relationship to Arabs, Islam, and the Middle East in general. He does so brilliantly. . . . Elegantly articulate."--Ammiel Alcalay, Queens College

To many, Jews and Arabs stand in permanent opposition, representing two clashing cultures, mentalities, and temperaments. In this book, Nissim Rejwan maintains that this perception is historically inaccurate. From the standpoint of culture, ethnicity, and religion, he says, Israel is an integral part of the Middle East.

 As a nation Israel consists largely of Middle Eastern and North African Jews, native-born Israelis of European origin, and Arabs. Rejwan shows that peaceful and neighborly relations among these groups have always prevailed and that the lot of the Jews has been better in the realm of Islam than in the West.

 Using Arabic, Hebrew, and English sources, the book traces the course of Arab-Jewish relations from their beginnings in pre-Islamic times to the present, and it offers a survey of Judeo-Arabic culture and literature. It also describes the ideological and cultural origins of Israel and demonstrates the way these roots shape the country’s attitudes toward its surroundings.

Nissim Rejwan is a research fellow at the Harry S Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of Arabs Face the Modern World: Religious, Cultural, and Political Responses to the West (UPF, 1998) and The Jews of Iraq: 3,000 Years of History and Culture. He is currently writing his memoirs of Baghdad, where he was born and grew up.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813016016
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I The Jews and Their Neighbors 1
Retrospect: Then and Now 3
1 Jews and Arabs: Past and Present 7
Claims and Counterclaims 8
The Historical Record 17
The Myth of "Arab Anti-Semitism" 21
Christianity's Inroads 30
Islam and the Jews: Theory and Reality 36
History, Historiography, and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 43
2 Jews and Arabs: The Cultural Heritage 48
A Formative Period 49
Judeo-Arabic: Origins, Influence on Hebrew 57
Four Jewish Philosophers 65
A Literary Transformation 70
Maimonides and His Works 75
3 Europe's Dark Legacy 81
Voluntary and Compulsory Ghettos: Jews as Transients 82
In Russia and Poland: The Ghetto's Lasting Imprint 89
Jews East and West 97
A Tale of Three Emancipated Jews 100
Pt. II Israel as a Middle Eastern Country 109
4 The Deeper Roots of Israel 111
Jews, Arabs, and Semites 111
Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East 116
One Arab's Misconceptions 121
5 Ideology, Politics, and Culture 127
Origins 127
Challenges to Israeli Democracy 132
The Ethnopolitical Cleavage 141
6 A Postnationalist Middle East 151
Pan-Arabism Runs its Course 152
Islam, Democracy, and the Peace Process 162
Israel's Jewish Identity 173
Non-Jewish Israelis and Non-Israeli Jews 183
Prospect: A Changing Israel in a Pluralist Middle East 191
Notes 197
Index 209
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