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Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice

de Bernard Lewis

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1802152,513 (3.78)3
The Arab-Israeli conflict has unsettled the Middle East for over half a century. This conflict is primarily political, a clash between states and peoples over territory and history. But it is also a conflict that has affected and been affected by prejudice. For a long time this was simply the "normal" prejudice between neighboring people of different religions and ethnic origins. In the present age, however, hostility toward Israel and its people has taken the form of anti-Semitism-a pernicious world view that goes beyond prejudice and ascribes to Jews a quality of cosmic evil. First published in the 1980s to universal acclaim, Semites and Anti-Semites traces the development of anti-Semitism from its beginnings as a poison in the bloodstream of Christianity to its modern entrance into mainstream Islam. Bernard Lewis, one of the world's foremost scholars of the Middle East, takes us through the history of the Semitic peoples to the emergence of the Jews and their virulent enemies, and dissects the region's recent tragic developments in a moving new afterword. "A powerful and important work, beautifully written and edited, and based on a range of erudition (in the best sense) that few others, if any, could command."--George Kennan… (més)
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I thought the book was rather good and said a lot that I agree with. The self-contradictions, maybe not noticed by a less careful reader prevented my from rating it more highly. Also, the author approached the obvious conclusion that modern anti-Zionism is old wine in new bottles; i.e. anti-Semitism. ( )
  JBGUSA | Jan 2, 2023 |
Epiphany-OviedoELCA library section 7 A: The Church in the World, World Religions. What are the roots of the middle east conflict? This book by one of the foremost scholars on the middle east, a professor emeritus from Princeton, describes how anti-Semitism grew from the early Christian church, spreading throughout Europe to modern day Islam.
Lewis uses numerous examples to illustrate his points. For example, he quotes a 1983 article in an Arab newspaper which warns Muslims who might be traveling to New York City to beware of Jews, who would try to rob and cheat them, under the protection of then-mayor, Ed Koch, who is Jewish. The article calls New York City merciless and barbaric. With this sort of mindset in the Arab world, the reasons for 9/11 become clearer.
Perhaps the writer of the newspaper article believes that because many Arab countries are theocracies (governments led by religious leaders) western countries led by those with religious faiths are ipso facto, theocracies as well. That's not the way America is set up, and if the writer cared to actually "risk" a visit to NYC, he'd find that people of all faiths coexist together just fine in America, founded upon a separation of church and state. If you do not think that separation is important, just look at the struggles in Iran, which is based on fundamentalist Islamic law. I knew Jewish Iranians who had to leave when the shah was deposed because suddenly their lives were at risk. America became their haven.
This is why it is important that Christian religious fundamentalists do not force their religion on others. We definitely do not want to become a religious theocracy; it's why the Puritans left England and the Pilgrims left Holland, and Jews left Russia at the turn of the last century. America's strength lies in its diversity of faith. People choose to live in America because of religious freedom, no matter what their faith may be, and sometimes even if they have no faith at all. ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Sep 1, 2011 |
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The Arab-Israeli conflict has unsettled the Middle East for over half a century. This conflict is primarily political, a clash between states and peoples over territory and history. But it is also a conflict that has affected and been affected by prejudice. For a long time this was simply the "normal" prejudice between neighboring people of different religions and ethnic origins. In the present age, however, hostility toward Israel and its people has taken the form of anti-Semitism-a pernicious world view that goes beyond prejudice and ascribes to Jews a quality of cosmic evil. First published in the 1980s to universal acclaim, Semites and Anti-Semites traces the development of anti-Semitism from its beginnings as a poison in the bloodstream of Christianity to its modern entrance into mainstream Islam. Bernard Lewis, one of the world's foremost scholars of the Middle East, takes us through the history of the Semitic peoples to the emergence of the Jews and their virulent enemies, and dissects the region's recent tragic developments in a moving new afterword. "A powerful and important work, beautifully written and edited, and based on a range of erudition (in the best sense) that few others, if any, could command."--George Kennan

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