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November 10, 2010

Perspectives on the Muslim other in Jewish tradition

Prof. Dr. Yakov M. Rabkin

More by this author...

Attitudes towards the Other within Judaism lie in myth, narrative, legend, and law. The narrative of differentiation occupies a central place in Judaism and infuses the development of both its laws and identity.

It operates explicitly through biblical and rabbinic prescriptions, as well as implicitly, through tales.

Jews are differentiated by tribe, priestly affiliation, gender as well as degree and form of adherence to Judaic practice. The provenance of the non-Jew acquires importance in Judaic sources quite infrequently, usually in connection with an explicit biblical injunction, such as those who make reference to the Amalekites or the Moabites. 

We shall first look at how Jewish tradition delimits the bounds of community, how it defines the Other, Jewish and non-Jewish.

We shall then examine historical circumstances of Jewish-Muslim interaction and the ways in which Jewish tradition (i.e. Judaic law and Jewish attitudes) has related to the Muslim Other.

This paper will conclude with a few remarks on the effect of the Middle East conflict on Jewish perceptions of the Muslim other. 


There has been little attention paid to Jewish attitudes towards Islam as reflected in Jewish law (Halakha) when compared to the vast amount of literature on Jewish views on Christianity.[i]

This may stem from a variety of reasons, including greater focus on European Jewry in academic circles. The experience of several decades of the State of Israel is hardly relevant in this context, and not only because of its recentness. Since it is overtly anti-religious Jews who initiated and have dominated the Zionist enterprise and the state of Israel for over a century, one should not infer that their behaviour embodies Judaic attitudes to Muslims and others religious adherents.

The concept of identity and otherness is also relatively recent, entering the academic discourse, in particular the disciplines of anthropology and history, in the 1950s.

Otherness emerged in tandem with identity. Identity is constructed in opposition to the Other, and, at the same time, it constructs the Other.[ii]

The Franco-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas puts emphasis on the positive role of Otherness in the construction of human society. Unlike Jacques Derrida and several other Jewish thinkers, Levinas believes that identity results not from our confrontation with or differentiation from the Other but from our response to the call of the Other: “To be me is already to be for the other: I am for the other before I am for myself.”

Apparently inspired by moral teachings of the Mishna[iii], Levinas leaves aside socio-cultural aspects of otherness (alterité) to view it as an inherent part of human consciousness and as the basis for ethical behaviour.[iv]

Studies of Jewish culture and history regularly emphasize the ways in which the Other has marginalized, excluded, and oppressed the Jew.

Only recently have scholars begun to pay attention to the ways in which Jews, in the process of constructing their cultural identity, construct and define the Other.[v]

Suffering as a source of Jewish identity, and specifically suffering at the hands of Gentiles as the oppressing Other, is deeply Yet, it does not reflect a consensus.

An American Jewish educator remarked that “personally, I have never found this view of the eternally-hating Gentile to have any resemblance with reality. It seems a myth, pure and simple, and an ugly one at that.”[vii] Indeed, Jewish-Gentile relations have varied in time and space, and are redolent with nuanced and sometimes contradictory attitudes. 

The numerous references to the Other as Gentile in Jewish law aim at regulating Jewish-Gentile interaction.[viii] Such rules are rooted in the Bible but were further developed after the destruction of the Second Temple in the 1st century C.E. when Jews lost the last vestiges of political independence and came into extensive contact with neighbouring Gentiles. The laws were expanded in the Mishna and elaborated on in the Talmud. These rules form the basis of the Halakha regarding Jewish-Gentile interaction to this day.

The predominant concern which lies at the heart of the laws regulating relations with Gentiles is ensuring that Jews do not violate the Divine law. Rabbinic law thus created a framework to be used by Jews for interaction with Gentiles. By specifying cautionary criteria and constructing legal distinctions, the rabbis carved out a space in which extensive commercial dealings and even social exchanges could take place.[ix]

For example, the rabbis discuss which images imply idolatry and are therefore forbidden for Jews to have contact with, and which are merely aesthetic and thus acceptable.

When Raban Gamliel, a prominent Jewish sage, who lived in the Greco-Roman town of Acre in the 2nd century, was asked how he could bathe near a statue of Aphrodite in light of the biblical ban on deriving benefit from idolatry, he replied that the statue was merely decorative and not cultic when placed in the bathhouse.[x]

Separateness and Otherness

The relationship of the Jews with the Gentiles from post-biblical period and until emancipation rested on a developed tradition.[xi] In Jewish tradition, there is a difference between the respective authorities of the Hebrew Bible, of Midrash, of Talmud and of later sources, but each was influential in shaping the mental and practical attitude of Jews towards Gentiles.

Some provided the narrative elements that established the distinctiveness of Jews as well as delineated their destiny (eschatology). Jewish law, on the other hand, was consulted and developed in every instance where contact with Gentiles had any bearing on Jewish ritual or on juridical and moral conduct.[xii] Although the Talmud appears bifurcated into the legal (Halakha) and the narrative (Aggada), the two strands are mutually dependant in rabbinic textual practice.[xiii]

However, the different streams of the Jewish tradition did not develop in a linear fashion. Rather they are filled with inconsistencies, which often mandated clever re-interpretative strategies.[xiv]

Indeed, the Halakha is both a closed system with its own rules and methodology, as well as a dynamic structure adapting to varying situations.[xv] By design, it tries to adapt biblical and rabbinic prescriptions to current realities.[xv]

“Be holy since I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). The word holy – kadosh – means “separate”. Separateness is therefore explicitly commanded in the Pentateuch. But it uses the same root word kedesha to designate a prostitute, a woman reserved for a particular co-occupation that separated her from the rest of society.

This shows separateness implies no superiority of status. The Jewish tradition traces the origins of the Jews to the shared experience of slavery in Egypt, the epiphany of the exodus and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

As a group, the Jews are defined by their commitment to the Torah. Even though the Torah abounds in episodes of transgression and disregard for divine law by the children of Israel, the normative bond with the Torah remains the determining factor. It is precisely this bond, which obliges them to follow the commandments of the Torah, and which makes Jews the “chosen people”.

Ritual practices of the Jews (dietary restrictions, the Sabbath, etc) are meant to keep them separate. Whatever its actual realization, even in the Biblical period,[xvii] separateness became a normative ideal and has remained a frequent refrain in Judaic liturgy. When called up to read the Torah in synagogue, the Jew intones: “Blessed are You, God…Who selected us from all the peoples and gave us His Torah”.

At the end of the Sabbath, the ceremony of Havdalah (lit. “separation”) includes the words: “Blessed are you God…Who separates between holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labour.”

Despite the Judaic emphasis on the separation of Jews from Gentile society and practice, it is notable that the most famous Other in Jewish narrative is a Jew – Aher (literally Other) - Elisha ben-Abuya, an outstanding scholar mentioned in the Talmud. He is depicted as having departed from observance, which did not prevent his disciple, Rabbi Meir, the redactor of the Mishna, to study the Torah with him.[xviii]

The Talmud relates a telling episode in this regard. While Aher was riding on the Sabbath (which rabbinical law prohibits) Rabbi Meir was walking by his side learning from his teacher. At one point, Aher stopped Rabbi Meir and told him to turn back: they had reached the city limits, which a Jew must not trespass on the Sabbath. While Rabbi Meir revered his teacher’s knowledge, the latter respected his disciple’s commitment.[xix]

Later Judaic sources are harsher on Jewish heretics than on the Muslims and Christians.

Thus, “one is commanded to kill apostates – meaning Israelites who worship idols or who sin provocatively – and those who deny the authenticity of the Torah and of prophecy. If one has the power to slay them publicly by the sword, it is done; if not, one should plot against them and bring about their death.”[xx] So too, one who denies the Oral Law, “is cast into the pit . . . He is on a par with heretics, Epicureans, those who deny the divine origin of Scripture, informers and apostates, all of whom are no longer part of the people Israel . . . Whoever puts them to death fulfils a great precept . . ..”[xxi] The medieval exegete Rashi interprets the Biblical injunction against a foreigner partaking of the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12:43) to mean “a Jew who lost connection with Heaven”. By being cast out, the heretic and the apostate forfeit all fraternity, as well as the concrete expressions of mutuality.

However, despite being cast out of the community, the heretic is never denied his legal status as a Jew; this status Maimonides considers inalienable.[xxii]

Indeed, many medieval rabbinic authorities ruled that “one may be a Jew for certain purposes but not for others.”[xxii] This is because rabbinic law developed on a case-by-case basis rather than from a conceptually controlled number of base principles.  In contemporary Jewish life, the Other may include Reform Jews (for the Orthodox), and in modern Israeli society Sephardic Jews from Middle-Eastern countries are often deemed Other by Ashkenazi Jews.[xxiv]

Several Jewish scholars who embraced Zionism try to distinguish between the “religious” and the “ethnic” component of Jewish identity in classical Jewish sources. The adequacy of this distinction is problematic. “The very existence, in the pre-modern pre-Western world of a ‘religious’ and the possibility of defining the ‘ethnic/national’ component of Jewish existence in non-religious terms, seems … questionable.”[xxv]

The Gentile is fundamentally not a different ontological entity in Judaism. The concept of Adam as the common origin of humanity has been praised in the Talmud as a means to reduce hostility in the world. It suggests that many more families would have quarrelled had they been able to claim that they and their adversaries were of different origins.[xxvi]

Ontological differences between Jew and Gentile appear only in certain mystical trends in Judaism, usually associated with Cabbala and Hasidism, but these have not had a decisive effect on Jewish jurisprudence. Generally speaking, discussions on non-legal issues take place within a much broader range than purely legal deliberations, which, unlike philosophical issues, must come to a concrete and operational conclusion.

However even within the more limited range of the Halakha, Judaic attitudes to Gentile culture are complex, nuanced, changing, and highly reflective of the socio-political environment.[xxvii]

In situations of confrontation with foreign cultures, the role of the Halakha becomes fundamentally preservationist, taking on an additional protective role. Jewish law becomes a key institutional structure in the struggle to maintain Jewish identity, integrity, and authenticity under the pressure of other (friendly or hostile) environments.[xxviii] Any change in Jewish-Gentile relations can find specific expression in those areas of Halakha that regulate the relations between the two groups.[xxix]

While Biblical monotheism had to face an amorphous mass of idolaters (in Judaic terms, ovdei kokhavim u-mazalot, abbreviated as akum, or worshipers of stars and constellations), the situation changed with the birth of Christianity and Islam.

Early Rabbinical Judaism began to develop roughly in the same geographical areas and at the same time as Christianity was taking shape. Islam emerged further southeast a few centuries later. This is one reason why the Hebrew Bible is not a good source to gauge normative Judaic attitudes to Gentiles. Another important reason is the absolute prevalence of the Oral Torah, which may ignore, reinterpret, or reaffirm Biblical commandments.[xxx] It is therefore of little use to rely on Biblical verses, however explicit, to understand the normative framework of rabbinical Judaism.

In light of the advent of Christianity and Islam, Rabbinic writings developed a novel conception of relationship with other religions.

Jewish law came to see Christianity and Islam as imitations of “the true belief”. Many therefore feared them as a threat to Judaism, particularly in view of their proselytizing practices.

In the 2nd century there emerged in rabbinic literature references to the seven Noahide Laws which Gentiles were to observe. These laws obliged Gentiles to refrain from idolatry, murder, blasphemy, incest, theft, and eating of a limb from a living animal.[xxxi]

It also spelled out an obligation to establish courts of law. Special emphasis was put on the Noahide prohibition of idolatry. In line with a universal ban on polytheism and idolatry, Gentiles were forbidden from holding any polytheistic belief. There thus developed a crucial distinction between a non-idolater and idolater Gentile. This was a change from the Biblical era in which all other nations were polytheistic and thus distinguished by different criteria.[xxxii]

In addition there was a split in rabbinic thought between those who perceived gentile acceptance of monotheism through their embrace of Christianity or Islam as a step towards acceptance of Judaism, and those who held that Gentiles were obligated to observe the seven Noahide Laws rather than adhere to formal faith systems, however monotheistic. On the other hand, important Jewish thinkers appreciated Christianity and Islam and considered them vehicles to spread the messianic idea around the world among the Gentiles.[xxxiii]

At the same time, the concept of the Seven Noahide Laws was in actuality a theological juridical theory rather than a body of laws with applicable relevance. Jews never administered it to Gentiles at any time in history.[xxxiv] Campaigns to spread the Seven Laws among the Gentiles have acquired momentum in the last few decades, particularly on the part of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement.[xxxv]

Indeed, until very recently, the entire development of Jewish jurisprudence took place in conditions in which Jews were “the Other” in the midst of other religious groups, mainly Christian and Muslim. Occasional conversions to Judaism testify to the relatively open character of Jewish communities, even though the established practice – largely under the threat of severe punishment from both Christians and Muslims - is certainly not proselytizing.

Judaic law treats the Gentiles in three different ways: exclusionary, intermediary, and inclusive. Under the exclusionary model, Gentiles have no juridical status in Jewish law because they are not party to the covenant between God and the Jewish people, which is the source of that law. Since they do not have any obligations, they are not covered by the protections of Jewish law either. The intermediary approach sets boundaries between Jews and non-Jews but allows for areas where these may be pierced or stretched. Such an approach was often historically necessary to facilitate commerce with the Other.

In cases where the laws of the Gentiles and those of the Jews overlap and require mediation as in situations where one litigant is Jewish and the other is not, the Jewish court may acknowledge gentile laws and gentile claims under Jewish laws, but restricts these laws as outside of the Jewish insular system and thus find that these have no constitutive bearing on Jewish law.[xxxvi] The third view is inclusive because it seeks to have Gentiles, as subjects of God, recognize His beneficent governance.[xxxvii]

There can be no consensus in Judaic law and practice on proper attitudes to Christians and Muslims. Rabbinic Judaism, like Islam, is decentralized. One must rely on codes, rabbinical decrees and legal Responsa as well as historical data to arrive at a comprehensive picture. Moreover, as many an historian of religion knows, reiterated rabbinical injunctions against certain modes of behaviour suggest that the injunctions were powerless in the face of such behaviour. According to an important rabbinical principle, “one should not issue a decree that the community cannot obey”.[xxxviii]

The Pentateuch commands its adherents to uphold the same law for both Israelites and strangers living in their midst. However, the Oral Torah developed differential treatment for different categories of humans. Members of the Jewish community acknowledged obligations towards each other that differed from those recognized towards individuals of the Gentile community.[xxxix] The volume of jurisprudence on this topic is so vast that Maimonides in his time, relating just to the case of the Gentile’s goring ox, noted, “discussion of this subject would require a separate book.”[xl]

The practical effect of this differential approach is usually effaced through the applications of two principles: mi-penei darkhei shalom (for purposes of peaceful coexistence) and the principle of hillul hashem (desecration of the Holy Name) and its corollary kidush hashem (sanctification of the Holy Name)[xli]. Indeed, the former principle stands for ensuring that neighbourly relations with non-Jews and establishing peace be relevant considerations in legal rulings.[xlii] This approach acquires particular importance where Jews have minority status. The latter principle serves as a corrective to the law and is applicable in relationships with Gentiles only: “It is more blameworthy to steal from a Gentile than from a Jew, because of the desecration of the Holy Name.”[xliii]

Rabbinic law that regulates the non-Jewish Other and establishes a standard different than that regulating Jews has engendered ambivalence.[xliv]  Many Jews, “even learned Jews sincerely maintained that Judaism had only taught universal ethics.”[xlv] Some try to reconcile ancient rabbinic texts with modern liberal sensibilities. But this effort has often resulted in reductive answers and apologetic thought.[xlvi]

In contemporary Judaism, the debate regarding discriminatory treatment of the non-Jew has been re-opened, with several religious nationalists in Israel reaffirming their belief that non-Jews be treated differently so as to solidify current political realities. At the same time, many Jews protest this misuse of Judaic principles for Zionist ends.[xlvii]

Jewish Law, Islam and the Muslims

Legal interpretation and development do not entail merely the application of fixed rules to changing facts. Rather, legal discourse involves the dynamic engagement of intersecting categorical identities that continuously reshape a culture’s sense of community and separation from others. In other words, law lives within a narrative that provides law’s prescriptions with meaning. Indeed, “no set of legal institutions or prescriptions exist apart from the narratives that locate it and give it meaning… Once understood in the context of narratives that give it meaning, law becomes not merely a system of rules to be observed, but a world in which to live.”[xlviii]

Halakha did not create the need for separation, which emerged generally from the Jewish tradition and the narrative of the Jewish present and future. However, it did elaborate on the details of the theologically established socio-religious separation. Its task was to regulate and control, but it neither created new religious values nor discarded old ones.[xlix]

Jewish law forbids conversion to “the Gentiles’ religions”, without differentiating among them.[l] At the same time, Judaic scholars consider Islam a strict form of monotheism devoid of idolatrous deviations. They rejected criticism that the Islamic practice of throwing stones at Jamarat during the hajj is idolatrous, rather affirming that the Muslims’ hearts are turned to Heaven (and not to an inanimate object) when they perform this ritual.[li]

According to Maimonides, who was not only well-acquainted with Islam, but also reached a high position under the Muslim rulers in Egypt, the followers of Islam “are not idolaters, [idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts: they attribute to God a proper unity, a unity concerning which there is no doubt. And because they lie about us, and falsely attribute to us the statement that God has a son, is no reason for us to lie about them and say that they are idolaters.”[lii] Consequently, Jews are allowed to enter mosques while they are not permitted to enter a house of idol worship.[liii]

Maimonides’ assertion that Islam was a monotheistic religion does not mean that he was a religious pluralist. He developed his opinion only to clarify legal rulings that pertain to Jewish-Muslim interactions. His son, Rabbi Abraham, further ruled that Islamic ritual practices do not fall under the prohibition of ‘following the ways of the gentiles’ since “Muslims are monotheists who abhor idolatry.”[liv]

As usual, operational conclusions of this general principle differ. Some prohibit a Jewish ritual animal slaughterer, when working for a Muslim customer, to slaughter animals in the direction of Mecca. However, others allow this practice, including the Shulhan Arukh, the most authoritative code of Jewish law. Rabbis living in Muslim lands allow the Jewish ritual slaughterer to utter Allahu Akbar (God is great) when local authorities require this. Rabbi Abdullah Somekh, allows eating and benefiting from such meat.[lv] Even the Ashkenazi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), whom the British would appoint as first Chief Rabbi of Palestine – and who was made posthumously into an icon of religious Zionism - authorized Jewish ritual slaughters to proclaim Allahu Akbar when working for Muslim clients.[lvi]

Rabbinical sources often use Jeremiah’s words to enjoin Jews to be loyal and productive citizens of their countries: “Build houses and dwell [therein], and plant gardens and eat their produce. … And seek the peace of the city where I have exiled you and pray for it to the Lord, for in its peace you shall have peace”. (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

The prophet obliges the Israelites to support a power that has just defeated them, which is, moreover, steeped in idolatry. He does not feign affection for the Babylonian ruler, but insists that the Israelites should pray for the common welfare so that their troubles might not be increased before the time of their deliverance. Monotheism becomes an additional factor in encouraging the Jews’ civic virtues.  According to an authoritative rabbinical comment to the Shulhan Arukh made in the 17th century:

Our sages only said this about heathens, who in their day worshipped idols and did not believe in the Exodus from Egypt or in the creation of the world ex nihilo. But the Gentiles in whose [protective] shade we, the people of Israel, are exiled and among whom we are dispersed do believe in the Exodus and in several principles of our own religion and they pray to the Creator of heaven and earth… Not only is there no prohibition to help them, but also we are even obliged to pray for their welfare.[lvii]

Characteristically, this comment was made in the exceptionally tolerant atmosphere of the prosperous and cosmopolitan Amsterdam that had given refuge to thousands of Jews fleeing the Catholic Kings of Spain. Indeed, environments where Jews were not subject to heavy and prolonged persecutions often produced Judaic attitudes that were more positive towards non-Jews. The influence of the socio-political atmosphere on Jewish thought and the relative comfort enjoyed by Jews in Muslim lands may explain why even such an ardent and popular critic of the Jewish religion as Israel Shahak, admits that Judaic attitudes to Islam are “relatively mild”.[lviii]

Moreover, Islamic scholarship was intimately integrated in the scholarly production of the Jews in the countries of Islam, most of whom wrote in Arabic. Medieval Judaism borrows many things from Islam: grammar, philosophy, scholarship, and even language.

Unlike Latin, Arabic was widely used in rabbinical literature. This may have to do with the common origins of Arabic and Hebrew but above all, with the far greater acceptance of Islam in Judaic terms as compared with attitudes to Christianity, and far greater room for their interaction.

Conceptual, often even terminological, affinities abound between Judaism and Islam. Jews play an important role in the transmission of Arabic scholarship (and its important Greek component) to the realm of Christian thinkers.

Instances of intimate symbiosis between Judaism and Islam were common in the medieval period.[lix] Some scholars suggest that Judaic and Islamic interpretations of biblical narratives possess a certain “latent content”, a network of traditions “that enables Judaism and Islam to transcend the barriers between different cultures and different historical periods to some hidden message of universal psychological appeal.”[lx] Symbiotic trends have been observed in the veneration of the tombs of holy men (tsadikim).[lxi]

There are reports that Islamic judges would occasionally refer cases to their Jewish counterparts, who were recognized as outstanding deciders.

Furthermore, the Koran seems to possess the status of holiness in Jewish practice. This can be inferred from the fact that a Hebrew version of the Koran was found in a medieval geniza, storage for sacred writings that Jewish law forbids to discard as refuse.[lxii]

Moreover, Yemenite Jewish documents (also found in Cairo) initially suggest that many Jews had not only accepted Mohammad as a prophet, but also even indicated that they had desecrated the Sabbath in order to join Mohammad in his struggle against the infidels (jihad).[lxiii]  This document, titled Dhimmat an-nabi Muhammad (Mohammad’s Writ of Protection), was apparently fabricated by Yemenite Jews for self-defence, a common occurrence during the first centuries of Islam. However, the intent of the authors echoes other Jewish sources considering Muhammad a messenger of God, albeit to other nations rather than to the Jews.

Jewish law obliges the Jew to avoid conversion to other religions even at the cost of one’s life.[lxiv] However, stories of martyrdom for faith, quite numerous among Jews living under Christian rule, are virtually unheard of among Jews from Muslim lands.

Even when Spanish Jews found themselves under Christian rule in the course of the Reconquista, many accepted forced conversion to Christianity, only to flee to more tolerant countries in order to return to Judaic practice. This flexibility was acquired during centuries of life under Islam, when forced conversions were incomparably less frequent that forced conversions to Christianity in European countries, and where the Islamic tradition did not emphasize or value martyrdom as did Christian society. In addition, Jews living in Islamic lands did not have the revulsion to dominant religious symbols as Jews living in Christian lands had to the Cross.[lxv] 

Moreover, martyrdom for faith had a different meaning in Muslim circles. Rather, the Islamic martyr (shahid) is someone who dies in battle for the triumph of Islam, not as in the Jewish, mainly Ashkenazi and arguably derived from Christianity, view of the martyr as someone who sacrifices his life to uphold his religion in the face of persecution. In Muslim countries, Jews would openly point out at the futility of forced conversions to Islam, as is documented in an intercession with the Shah of Persia in the 17th century.[lxvi]

Applications of Jewish law to non-Jews in the state of Israel, where Jews, albeit mostly non-observant, constitute the majority, have been practically non-existent. One should remember that Zionism constitutes an overt break with Jewish tradition. According to a sarcastic remark by an Israeli academic, “our claim to this land is simple: God does not exist, and he promised us this land”. This explains the consistent opposition to Zionism on the part of many committed practitioners of Judaism.[lxvii]

The emergence of “Constantinian” or “Imperial” Judaism in the late 20th century, bitterly deplored by some Jewish thinkers,[lxviii] has more to do with colonialism and neo-colonialism that with Judaism. Attempts on the part of the National-religious rabbis to apply Jewish law to treatment of Palestinians in the course of military service have often provoked indignation from a variety of Jewish quarters. The secular Israeli public has found these applications wanting in terms of humanitarian principles and another attempt to turn the state of Israel into a theocracy. At the same time, some observant Jews consider such applications fundamentally illegitimate. Not only do these Jews shun military service, but some also refuse to grant legitimacy to the Zionist state and particularly to its use of force. Serious critique of the militarists' mobilization of Jewish law is also heard within the National-religious public.[lxix]

One must add that the state of Israel's criminal and civil law makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles since Israel’s state laws have little to do with Jewish legal heritage, and are largely based on Ottoman and British jurisprudence as well as legislation enacted by the Israeli parliament. Some well-known discriminatory practices of the state (and particularly of the quasi-governmental entities such as Jewish National Fund) are directed against the Arabs, rather than against the Gentiles as such. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some Judaic experts tend to prohibit sales of plots of land in Israel to Muslims or give them presents without expecting one in return (not permitted when dealing with idolaters).[lxx]

Civil status, marriage and burial are however regulated by the state Rabbinate in Israel. This has posed numerous problems because of the discrepancy between Jewish law and the laws of Israel with respect to the question “who is a Jew”. This is an important distinction since nearly one-third of residents of Israel are not Jews according to Jewish law, and this brings to life new challenges to the very nature of the Israeli state.[lxxi] Ironically, while the question of “who is a Jew” takes on renewed significance and makes the concept of a Jewish state ever murkier, the Israeli government demands the Palestinians to recognize Israel as “a state of the Jewish people”.

Jews and Muslims in History

“Among the human consolations, the most signal is great Turkey, a broad and spacious sea which God opened with the rod of His mercy as He opened the Red Sea at the time of Exodus … here the gates of liberty are always open for the observance of Judaism”. This is how a Portuguese Jew relates his visit to the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century.[lxxii] The same can be said about the life of Jews in Muslim lands throughout most of their history. Social intercourse between Jews and Muslims was incomparably more common than between Jews and Christians. Jews felt less defensive with respect to Muslims because Christians, however well disposed, were genuinely concerned about the salvation of Jews, which meant conversion to Christianity. Friendship and familiarity with Muslims, in contradistinction to social intercourse with Christians, was not inhibited by suspicions of ulterior motives.

At the same time, while Islamic law stipulates “the dhimmis [protected Jews and Christians] must be distinguished from the Muslims by their dress, their mounts, their saddles, and their headgear”,[lxxiii] Halakha also obliges the Jew to remain identifiably different.[lxxiv] This injunction is still operational among Ashkenazi Jews, some of whom continue to dress in distinctive clothing (usually black and white) and headgear (black fedoras or tall fur hats) rarely worn anywhere else in the world nowadays. Jews in Islamic countries would commonly use Arab names, such as Abdullah, Ibrahim, Ismael or Salim, which did not imply an attempt to assimilate, an incongruous idea in the more pluralistic context of Islamic lands. For example, the prominent Iraqi Rabbi Somekh bore the first name Abdullah, which he inherited from a long line of ancestors, many of them Judaic luminaries.

Judaism under Islam would experience a remarkable period of creativity, often in intellectual intercourse with the dominant culture. Arabic was commonly used in scholarly Jewish treatises, while it would be unfathomable for European rabbis to use Latin in their work. Islam exercised influence not only in poetry, grammar and legal codification but also in synagogue liturgy and even in matters of personal status (polygamy). Characteristically, Jews practiced polygamy in Islamic countries but not in Christian countries where a rabbinical decree banned it for 999 years. At the same time, Jews in Islamic lands were not touched by major transformations that affected Ashkenazi Jewry: Hasidism, secularization, Haskalah and Zionism.

The decline of the Ottoman Empire and the intensification of European imperialism opened Jews to European influences and protection, and thereby heightened their social status.[lxxv] However, even before then, some Islamic prohibitions with respect to the Jews were hardly enforced. For example, one finds references to Jews who possessed slaves, including Muslim slaves.[lxxvi]

European Jewish agencies, such as Alliance israélite universelle, began to intervene on behalf of Jews in several Islamic lands from the middle of the 19th century. They were also used as conduits for colonial influence. At the same time, this opened the way to the transfer of Christian anti-Jewish sentiment, accusations (e.g., blood libel) and materials (e.g., Protocols of the Elders of Zion) to Islamic lands. Starting in the 19th century, Christian dhimmis often turned against Jews in several Islamic countries. Practically all modern anti-Jewish rhetoric currently available in Arabic and Farsi is of European origin.

Commonalities between Islam and Judaism are not limited to “the glorious past” but continue to be emphasized in the present. A book commissioned by the World Jewish Congress for mass distribution affirmed:

“There was never more similarity between a tolerated Judaism and its adherents, and a civilized, masterful overlord until the post-emancipation period. … It is only fair to say that under Islam Judaism and its adherents had not to endure anything like the sustained, officially sponsored and relentlessly conducted attack of the Christian Church on Jews in Christian Lands.”[lxxvii]

The difference from the way Jews from Muslim countries were treated in Israel is also documented. For example, for many Yemenite Jews in Israel, the contrast with their native land could not have been starker:

The Arabs among whom we lived did not bother us, not even in the most insignificant of our religious observances. Quite the contrary, the government recognized our religion, our rights and our faith. If an official or a police officer were to come among us during the Sabbath, he would not dare to smoke, or to profane the Sabbath in any way. And here, they treat us with contempt, and force our people to profane the Sabbath. They mock us; laugh at our traditional beliefs, our prayers and the religious observances of our Holy Torah.[lxxviii]

Jewish-Muslim Relations in the Shadow of the Middle East Conflict

Accounts of the Jews’ fate under Islam have come under revision in recent years. Just as somewhat idyllic pictures of Muslim-Jewish harmony reflected the yearning for equality on the part of Jewish authors in Germany in the 19th-century Europe, this latest revision is at least partly motivated by the need to reinforce Zionist convictions by showing that anti-Jewish acts and sentiment have been endemic throughout world.

The issue of the maltreatment of Jews in Arab countries has therefore become a major controversy: Zionist historians emphasize the chronic nature of persecutions against the Jews, while their opponents assert that it is Zionism that is the main cause of deteriorating relations with the Muslims. From the Zionist perspective, Jews living in the Arab countries had no alternative but to save their lives through precipitous emigration to Israel. This would make them refugees quite like the Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 and would mean that an exchange of populations had taken place, a kind of rough retroactive justice. Arab Jews brought to Israel in order to ensure the newly formed state a Jewish majority, were promptly stripped of their Arabic language, food habits, and musical preferences since all this came to be seen as “belonging to the enemy” in the context of nation-building undertaken largely by East European Zionists.  This led to long-term traumas and disruptions among Arab Jews in Israel, including an interesting phenomenon of induced self-hatred: hatred of things Arab on the part of … these Arabs of Jewish faith.[lxxix]

A the same time, there is a growing body of published eyewitness accounts of the neighbourly relations between Jews and Muslims in all the countries of the Middle East, including what is currently Israel. They suggest that Zionists did indeed provoke anti-Jewish riots, both by their overt aggressiveness in Palestine and by their covert activities in several Arab countries.

The memoirs of a German general attached to the Ottoman troops in Palestine during World War I illustrate this while remaining distant from intra-Jewish polemics:

How curious that the war has brought about an upsurge in the struggle between the Zionists and the non-Zionists, a battle that has turned ugly and has done little to further the interests of the Jews in general. The non-Zionists, that is to say, those Jews who had no political objectives and who belonged to the Orthodox current, at the time formed the preponderant majority in Palestine. The Zionists residing there represented no more than 5 percent of the population, but were very active and fanatical, and terrorized the non-Zionists. During the war, the non-Zionists attempted to free themselves from Zionist terror with the aid of the Turks. They rightly feared that the activities of the Zionists would destroy their good relations that prevailed among long-time Jewish residents in Palestine and the Arabs.[lxxx]

In fact, the fear of such disruption concerned many Jews from the onset of Zionist settlement.

For example, quite a few Jews, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, had protested against the very idea of the partition of Palestine proposed by the Peel Commission. Prominent Moroccan Jews signed, alongside their Muslim compatriots, a strongly worded letter to the Foreign Office. Dated August 9, 1937, just a few weeks after the publication of the commission’s report, the letter warned “of disastrous consequences that would result in undesirable troubles between Arab and Jewish elements.” The letter ends with a call for “an independent Palestinian state to be governed by democratic parliamentary institutions, the only regime that can ensure both groups in Palestine equal rights in the country so dear to them.”[lxxxi] Well-known German Jews such as Hannah Arendt, Martin Buber and Albert Einstein expressed similar sentiment with respect to the prospect of a segregated state for Jews.[lxxxii]

Hatred of Jews among the Muslims in its current proportions is a recent development. More than a few Jewish historians, both inside and outside Israel and basing themselves on neutral sources, document that relations between Arabs and Jews in Palestine were quite peaceful prior to the arrival of the Zionists.

The unilateral declaration of the State of Israel by the Zionist minority against the will of local inhabitants, Muslims, Christians and quite a few Jews, in 1948 led to the gradual deterioration of the Jews’ status in some Arab countries, including the largest one - Egypt.

The eminent Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) once commented to a Jewish acquaintance:

Our two peoples knew extraordinary partnership for many years – in ancient days, in the Middle Ages, and in the modern era, with time of quarrels and disputes few and far between. Unfortunately, we have documented the disputes one hundred times more than the periods of friendship and cooperation. I dream of the day when, thanks to the cooperation between us, this region will become a home overflowering with the light of science, blessed by the highest principles of heaven.[lxxxiii]

In fact, many Jews took active part in the political awakening of Turkey, Persia and Arab lands. This participation was particularly intensive in Iraq but also noticed in Arab nationalist movements from Damascus to Casablanca.

This shows an open attitude toward the Gentile in the context of Jewish modernity in Muslim countries. A people, particularly a minority considered inferior by the majority ruling population, does not accept or adapt the culture of its surroundings so heartedly unless it feels relatively secure living in its midst.

The Israel/Palestine conflict should not be seen as a conflict between Jews and Muslims, and a fortiori not between Islam and Judaism.

Moreover, nowadays a “modern common faith” unites the two communities: they defend "the comprehensiveness of religion" at a time when religion is viewed as either outdated or elective.

Halakha and Shari'a entail an a priori "willingness to conform to... law, even in the face of doubt, spiritual aridity, and dark nights of the soul," this being the sign of a serious and true believer.

This persistence in the face of obstacles and temptations remains a hallmark of both traditions, and it is inculcated in both groups' educational institutions, often by statements and moral lessons that teach students absolute obedience.

The shared aims of Islam and Judaism grow ever stronger in the context of globalization and instant communication that both threaten and offer new opportunities to maintain and strengthen religious tradition.[lxxxiv] Focusing on these commonalities can be a springboard for promoting interfaith tolerance.

Even in the midst of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, attempts are made by religious individuals to build bridges and find agreement with the other. It has been reported that Rabbi Froman of the Tekoa settlement not only met Hamas leaders but also reached compromises on ceasefire and other issues. The Israeli authorities reportedly scuttled all these attempts.[lxxxv]

Judaism and Islam have outlived many political regimes, and their future is guaranteed by the commitment of the faithful, not by helicopter gunships or nuclear weapons. According to the Israeli intellectual Boaz Evron,

The State of Israel, and all the states of the world, appear and disappear. The State of Israel, clearly, will disappear in one hundred, three hundred, five hundred years. But I suppose that the Jewish people will exist as long as the Jewish religion exists, perhaps for thousands more years. The existence of this state is of no importance for that of the Jewish people…. Jews throughout the world can live quite well without it.[lxxxvi]

The divisive fallout from the Israel/Palestine conflict has largely spared millions of Jews and Muslims living in the United States and other countries.  A comparative manual of Islamic and Jewish ritual practices appeared in the United States in the beginning of the 21st century. More recently, an article jointly authored by specialists in kosher and halal requirements, addressed the issue of permissibility of genetically modified foods in both traditions.[lxxxvii]

Areas of cooperation are likely to broaden as the more punctilious and stringent observers in both Jewish and Muslim communities experience significant demographic growth.

Reflecting a complex and rich history, Jewish views of Muslims are nowadays rather inconsistent. They sometimes align along political lines rather than rely on historical experience or legal scholarship. The effects of the relatively recent Middle East conflict on the mutual perceptions of Jews and Muslims should not obscure the long-term view of their, for the most part, harmonious coexistence lasting many centuries. 


[i]For example, the seminal treatise on Jewish-Christian relations by Jacob Katz Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times, New York: Shocken Books, 1962, has no counterpart with respect to the study of Jewish-Muslim relations.

[ii] Laurence J. Silberstein “Others Within and Others Without: Rethinking Jewish Identity and Culture” in Laurence Silberstein & Robert Cohn eds., The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity, New York: NYU Press, 1994, p. 12.

[iii] Compare with the famous dictum “If I am for myself, what am I?” (Mishna Pirke Avot, 1:14)

[iv] Silberstein, supra note 2, p. 25. For more about Levinas’ thought on Otherness and ethical behavior see Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969.

[v] Silberstein, ibid., p. 12.

[vi] Esther Benbassa, Souffrance comme identité, Paris: Fayard, 2007.

[vii] Mayer Schiller, “The New Judaism?” Issues of the American Council for Judaism, Summer 1998, pp. 5 & 12.

[viii] Christine Hayes “The ‘Other’ in Rabbinic Literature” in Charlotte Fonrobert & Martin Jaffee eds., The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 244.

[ix] Ibid., p. 248.

[x] Babylonian Talmud (hereafter BT), Avoda Zara 3:4; for a philosopher’s treatment of this episode see: Yadin, Azzan. “Rabban Gamliel, Aphrodite's Bath, and the Question of Pagan Monotheism” Jewish Quarterly Review – 96 (2) Spring 2006, pp. 149-179.

[xi] Katz, supra note 1, p. xi.

[xii] Ibid., p. xii.

[xiii] For rabbinic writing regarding the unity of Halakha and Aggadah and for strongly-worded warning against abandoning one for the other, see Sifre Deut. 48, 306, 316; Abot de Rabbi Natan 8.

[xiv] Katz, supra note 1, p. xii.

[xv] Jacob Katz, Et lahkor ve-et le-hitbonen, Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 1998, pp1-5; See also Haym Soloveitchik “Religious Law and Change” 12 AJS Review, 1987, pp. 205-206.  

[xvi] Rabbi Aryeh de Modena further explains this concept: “We also are loyal to the word of the Lord and His Torah both written and oral…the words of the Sages are to be understood in accordance with the place, the time, and the individual to whom they are addressed. Were this not so, our reaction their words would be considered heretical, as the Karaites’s attitude toward the Written Law.” Isaac Rivkind, “Teshuvat ha-Rav Yehudah Aryeh Modena al Gilui ha-Rosh” in Sefer ha-Yovel le-Levi Ginzburg, New York, 1946, pp. 401-423.

[xvii] Louis H. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 427.

[xviii] For more on Aher, see Encyclopaedia Judaica vol 6, Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972, p. 667.

[xix] BT, Haggiga 15a and 15b.

[xx] Maimonides, Hilkhot Rotseah 4, 10, based on trans. H. Klein, The Book of Torts, New Haven: Yale University Press,1954 p. 208 (quoted in Blidstein, infra note 22).

[xxi] Maimonides, Hilkhot Mamrim 3, 2, in the translation of M. Hershman, The Book of Judges, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949, p. 143 (quoted in Blidstein, infra note 22).

[xxii] Gerald Blidstein, “The ‘Other’ in Maimonidean Law” 18 Jewish History, 2004, pp. 173-195.

[xxiii] Gerald Blidstein “Who is Not a Jew?” 11 Israel Law Review 1976, p. 365. For example, for marriages and divorce, the law examines whether the child was born as a Jew (with a Jewish mother), but for other commandments such as benedictions and common courts, one looks at his Sabbath observance, see Saadia Gaon, Responsa of Rav Saadia Gaaon cited in Blidstein, p.382. Note that during the period of mass conversions to Islam, the most uncompromising attempts arose in those parts to read the Jew out of the Jewish community, p. 388.

[xxiv] Silberstein supra note 2, p. 13.

[xxv] Blidstein, supra note 23, p. 191.

[xxvi] BT, Sanhedrin 38a.

[xxvii] Jacob J. Schacter, “Introduction” in Jacob J. Schacter ed., Judaism's Encounter with Other Cultures: Rejection or Integration? Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1997, p. ix.

[xxviii] Eliezer Berkowitz, Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha, New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1983, p. 86.

[xxix] See Katz, supra note 1, p.162 ff.

[xxx] “The authority of the Oral Law supersedes the text” BT, Sota 17b.

[xxxi] David Novak, The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism: An Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983 [herein Image].

[xxxii] David Novak, “The Treatment of Islam and Muslims in the Legal Writings of Maimonides” in William Brinner & Stephen Ricks eds., Studies in Islamic and Judaic Traditions, Atlanta: Scholars Press, p. 236.

[xxxiii] Interestingly, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, from Jerusalem, has even included Communist ideology, a

secular version of the messianic belief, in the panoply of spiritual tools used to encourage appreciation of the forthcoming arrival of Messiah.

[xxxiv] Novak, Image, supra note 31, p. 39.

[xxxv] Online:

[xxxvi] This concept is also used in some civil law jurisdictions. See e.g., a Canadian Supreme Court decision Bruker v Markovitz, 2007 3 S.C.R. 607 for the role and applicability of Jewish law in Quebec civil law.

[xxxvii] Steven Fraade “Navigating the Anomalous: Non-Jews at the Intersection of Early Rabbinic Law and Narrative” in Silberberg, supra note 2, p.158

[xxxviii] BT, Baba Kama 79b.

[xxxix] Katz, supra note 1, p. 56.

[xl] Fraade, supra note 37, p. 145  

[xli] Katz, supra note 1, p. 60.

[xlii] For an example of the application of the principle of mipnei darkhei shalom see BT Gittin, 61a.

[xliii] Sefer Hasidism 1414 : Semag p. 58 b.

[xliv] Fraade, supra note 37, p.146.

[xlv] Katz, supra note 1, p.196.

[xlvi] Ibid.

[xlvii] Yakov M Rabkin, A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, London: Zedbooks, 2006.

[xlviii] Robert Cover, “Foreword: Nomos and Narrative” Harvard Law Review, 1982, pp.4-5.

xlix] Katz, ibid., supra note 1, p.46.

[l] Mishne Torah, Hilkhot Teshuva 3:9.

[li] Marc B. Shapiro “Islam and the Halakha” Judaism, Summer 1993, p. 335.

[lii] Teshuvot Ha-Rambam no 448. Translation by Septimus pp. 522-523. In Dina de-Hayya (Constantinople, 1742) Vol 1 at 51a-51b, Rabbi Hayyim Beneviste notes that Maimonides’ view of Islam as monotheist explains why he was able to act as a physician in Egypt. Had Islam been idolatrous, he would have been prevented from doing so, since he codifies that “it is forbidden to give medical aid to an idolater even for hire.” (Hilkhot Akum 10:2)

[liii] Ibid.

[liv] Quoted in Simon Eppenstein, Abraham Maimuni, Sein Leben und Seine Schriften Berlin: L. Lamm, 1914, p. 17.

[lv] Abdullah Somekh, Zivhe Tsedek, Baghdad: Shlomo Belkhor Hussein, 1904, part 1, p. 95.

[lvi] Shapiro, supra note 51, p. 337

[lvii] Moses Rivkes, Beer Ha-gola, Hoshen Mishpat p. 425.

[lviii] Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion : the Weight of Three Thousand Years, London : Pluto Press, 1994, p. 98.

[lix] Steven M. Wasserstrom,, Between Muslim and Jew : the Problem of Symbiosis under Early Islam, Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 1995.

[lx] David J. Halperin, “Can Muslim Narrative be used as Commentary on Jewish Tradition?” in  Ronald L. Nettler, ed., Medieval and Modern Perspectives on Muslim-Jewish Relations, Luxembourg : Harwood, 1995, pp. 73-88.

[lxi] Issachar Ben-Ami, Culte des saints et pèlerinages judéo-musulmans au Maroc, Paris : Maisonneuve & Larose, 1990.

[lxii] Mark Cohen, “Medieval Jewry in the World of Islam” in Martin Goodman, Jeremy Cohen, & David Jan Sorkin eds.,The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 196.

[lxiii] Reuven Ahroni, “Some Yemenite Jewish Attitudes towards Muhammad’s Prophethood”, 69 Hebrew Union College Annual, 1998, pp. 49-99.

[lxiv] Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hilkhot Yesode Torah 5:1.

[lxv] Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: the Jews in the Middle Ages, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, p. 149.

[lxvi] Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984, p. 152.

[lxvii] Rabkin, op.cit., passim.

[lxviii] Marc H. Ellis, Out of the Ashes: The Search for Jewish Identity in the Twenty-first

Century,London:Pluto Press, 2002, p. 70.

[lxix] Yitzchak Blau, “Ploughshares into Swords: Contemporary Religious Zionists and Moral Constraints”, Tradition, vol. 34, no. 4, 2000, pp. 39–60.

[lxx] Shapiro, supra note 51, p. 338.

[lxxi] Ian S. Lustic., “Israel as a Non-Arab State: The Political Implications of Mass Immigration of Non-Jews” 53 Middle East Journal, No. 3, Special Issue on Israel, Summer, 1999, pp. 417-433.

[lxxii] Lewis, supra note 66, p. 136.

[lxxiii] Ibid., p. 35. 

[lxxiv] Mishne Torah, Hilkhot Avoda Zara 11:1.

[lxxv] Quite often this amelioration of the social status would segregate Jews from their Muslim compatriots and lead to serious estrangement. A telling case is that of Algeria, where, in an overtly colonial context, Jews were granted French citizenship in 1870. Several decades later, during the struggle for national independence, Jews were considered part of the colonial establishment and, in spite of their ancient roots in that country, were uprooted, and their communities were virtually brought to an end. 

[lxxvi] Yaron Ben-Naeh, “Blond, tall, with honey-colored eyes: Jewish ownership of slaves in the Ottoman Empire”, 20 Jewish History, 2006, pp. 315–332.

[lxxvii] Erzin Isak Jakob Rosenthal, Judaism and Islam, London: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961, pp. xiii and 140.

[lxxviii] Ruth Blau, Les gardiens de la cité: histoire d’une guerre sainte, Paris: Flammarion, 1978, p. 271.

[lxxix] Ella Shohat,  “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Viewpoint of its Jewish Victims” in: Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat, eds., Dangerous liaisons : gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives , Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1997; see also film Forget Baghdad devoted more specifically to Iraqi Jews.

[lxxx] Friedrich Kress Von Kressenstein, “Im ha-Turkim el Taalat-Suez” (With the Turks toward the Suez Canal), Tel Aviv : Maarakhot (2002), cited in Dromi, Uri, “Turks and Germans in Sinai,” Haaretz, September 27, 2002.

[lxxxi] Mohammed Kenbib, Juifs et musulmans au Maroc, 1859–1948, Rabat : Université Mohammed V, 1994. 557.

[lxxxii] Fred Jerome, Einstein on Zionism and Israel: His Provocative Ideas About the Middle East, London: St. Martin’s Press, 2009.

[lxxxiii] Letter of Naguib Mahfouz to Professor Sasson Somekh cited in Baghdad Yesterday, The Making of an Arab Jew, Jerusalem: Ibis, 2007.

[lxxxiv] Samuel C. Heilman, “The Vision from the Madrasa and Bes Medrash: Some Parallels between Islam and Judaism”  49 Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, No. 4, January 1996, pp. 6-37, quoted p. 8.

[lxxxv] Larry Derfne, “Oh brother where art thou?” Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2006.

Century,London:Pluto Press, 2002, p. 70.

[lxix] Yitzchak Blau, “Ploughshares into Swords: Contemporary Religious Zionists and Moral Constraints”, Tradition, vol. 34, no. 4, 2000, pp. 39–60.

[lxx] Shapiro, supra note 51, p. 338.

[lxxi] Ian S. Lustic., “Israel as a Non-Arab State: The Political Implications of Mass Immigration of Non-Jews” 53 Middle East Journal, No. 3, Special Issue on Israel, Summer, 1999, pp. 417-433.

[lxxii] Lewis, supra note 66, p. 136.

[lxxiii] Ibid., p. 35. 

[lxxiv] Mishne Torah, Hilkhot Avoda Zara 11:1.

[lxxv] Quite often this amelioration of the social status would segregate Jews from their Muslim compatriots and lead to serious estrangement. A telling case is that of Algeria, where, in an overtly colonial context, Jews were granted French citizenship in 1870. Several decades later, during the struggle for national independence, Jews were considered part of the colonial establishment and, in spite of their ancient roots in that country, were uprooted, and their communities were virtually brought to an end. 

[lxxvi] Yaron Ben-Naeh, “Blond, tall, with honey-colored eyes: Jewish ownership of slaves in the Ottoman Empire”, 20 Jewish History, 2006, pp. 315–332.

[lxxvii] Erzin Isak Jakob Rosenthal, Judaism and Islam, London: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961, pp. xiii and 140.

[lxxviii] Ruth Blau, Les gardiens de la cité: histoire d’une guerre sainte, Paris: Flammarion, 1978, p. 271.

[lxxix] Ella Shohat,  “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Viewpoint of its Jewish Victims” in: Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat, eds., Dangerous liaisons : gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives , Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1997; see also film Forget Baghdad devoted more specifically to Iraqi Jews.

[lxxx] Friedrich Kress Von Kressenstein, “Im ha-Turkim el Taalat-Suez” (With the Turks toward the Suez Canal), Tel Aviv : Maarakhot (2002), cited in Dromi, Uri, “Turks and Germans in Sinai,” Haaretz, September 27, 2002.

[lxxxi] Mohammed Kenbib, Juifs et musulmans au Maroc, 1859–1948, Rabat : Université Mohammed V, 1994. 557.

[lxxxii] Fred Jerome, Einstein on Zi

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