Israel's Place in the Middle East: A Pluralist Perspective by Nissim Rejwan
"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.