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Israel and the Arabs (1968) Maxime Rodinson

Jewish Nationalism and Arab Nationalism

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Once again in the course of human history events in the Middle Eastern province of Palestine have shaken the world and unleashed fierce passions. The Jews -- once ancient inhabitants of Palestine -- had emigrated and scattered over almost the whole of the earth's surface. The independence of their national home was destroyed by the Romans. But the cult of their national God Yahweh had certain characteristics which rendered it peculiarly attractive to many people. Their prophets had proclaimed that He was not only their God but the God of all peoples -- although He had conferred a special privilege on the people of Israel. One of their heresies -- Christianity -- had conquered the Roman world. Many Jews were converted first to the pagan cults of the Canaanites and then to Christianity and later still to Islam -- a new religion born in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.

But as predicted by its prophets a remnant of the Jewish people was left scattered over a multitude of different communities. They remained faithful to the old law, to the old scriptures and to the ancient rituals. These Jews in the true sense of the word practised as it were a minority religion and had been tolerated by the early Christian states but came to be viewed with increasing mistrust and hostility. Later in Eastern Europe especially they were at first welcomed and multiplied. In the territory of Islam they were -- like their Christian rivals -- tolerated and "protected" at the price of certain special taxes and discriminatory measures ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium