Jews and Arabs, by S. D. Goitein
Of all the societies with which Jews and Judaism have come into contact through the centuries, none has borne their imprint or itself marked them more profoundly than the great medieval civilization which, for want of a more precise term, is best labeled “Islamic.” As Dr. Goitein puts it, Islam “is from the very flesh and bone of Judaism. It is, to say, a recast, an enlargement of the latter, just as Arabic is closely related to Hebrew.” Because of this close kinship, Judaism, for its part, “could draw freely and copiously from Muslim civilization and, at the same time, preserve its independence and integrity far more completely than . . . in the modern world or in the Hellenistic society of Alexandria.” How comes it then that, for the modern headline-reader, the very title of this book will seem to epitomize racial and even religious incompatibility and strife? Is there no prospect of a new Jewish-Arab symbiosis—or, at least, reconciliation—coming into being in the 20th-century Near East?
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