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Lewis, a distinguished expert on the Middle East, examines the extent to which anti-Semitism affects the Arab-Israeli conflict. Using his authoritative command of historical material, Lewis ranges back and forth through history to remind us of the origins of anti. Semitism. This leads to a study of the evolving and complex Arab attitudes toward Zionism, Jews, and Israel. To make his case, Lewis isolates several kinds of hostility toward Jews. He discusses the normal hostility that emerges when two nations or two people seek control of the same land, the "normal" distaste for the foreign customs of those from different cultures or ethnic groups, and the abnormal hostility that arises when anti-Semitism emerges from an identification of Jews with cosmic evil. In Lewis' analysis, examples of the first two kinds of "normal" prejudice can be discerned in Islamic history, but it was only after the Suez crisis in 1956 and especially the Six-Day War in 1967 that anti-Semitism came to predominate in Islamic thinking about Jews and Israel. Lewis thinks it is still to be determined whether the Arab-Israeli conflict has resulted in the permanent infection of Islamic thinking, or whether the anti-Semitic excesses will disappear after a political solution to the conflict is worked out. In many ways, Lewis covers too much familiar territory and therefore has only a limited amount of space left for an analysis based on the historical knowledge given. Nonetheless, a first-rate introduction to the analysis of Arab anti Semitism.
Pub Date: May 27th, 1986
ISBN: 0753800330
Page count: 295pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1986


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