By Ammiel Alcalay
Alcalay (Hebrew literature, urban U. of recent York) argues that the very components of the historic relatives among Jews and Arabs, and the character of the Levant itself, offer instruments for resolving the present state of affairs within the heart East. His sections conceal discontinued traces drafts for an itinerary,
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Extra info for After Jews And Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture
The use of different languages for different audiences (as in the texts of Maimonides or Yehuda Halevi); the vast en- Introduction 19 largement of the parameters of Arabic through the territorial, political, and religious victories of Islam (the fact that many of the greatest writers of Arabic were not Arabs, but subject peoples who had assimilated into the dominant culture)—these are just two instances of this phenomenon. As far as Jews are concerned, we constantly need to be reminded—given the often pejorative and politically loaded context of presentation—that, as Norman Stillman points out, "Among the three major Jewish languages of the post-Talmudic period (that is, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, and Ladino), Judeo-Arabic holds a place of special significance.
If the State of Israel were an enormous experimental laboratory, of the kind used in the research of natural phenomena, and if all the Ashkenazim were removed and replaced with an equal number of nonAshkenazim, the State of Israel would be conquered by the Arab states within a few hours. . We have undertaken tremendous efforts to destroy the gap [between Ashkenazim and non-Ashkenazim]. But the results are meager. After eighty years of educational and social work we are at the point where we have not even begun to struggle with the environmental and hereditary factors that form the basis of this failure.
The model, then, is an ecological one. By reclaiming and recycling antithetical episodes that can perforate circumscribed versions of history and serve to inform a forward-looking future, the shards of so many shattered jars can begin to 34 Introduction move out of museums or libraries and back into use as containers that hold nourishment for the social body and the body politic. Given the fact that this work encompasses an enormous variety and range of texts that have been studied by many scholars with great labor and dedication, there may be more than a few rough shards left.
After Jews And Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture by Ammiel Alcalay