The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

(Joyce) #1
Introduction · 11

out and Uzbekistan became an independent nation-state in 1991, the Jews
struggled with greater difficulties.
Like Jews of Arab lands in the 1950s and 1960s, the Bukharan coun-
terparts felt marginalized because they were, in Cooper’s words, “out-
side of the nationalist project” and felt they were “on the weaker side of
tense Muslim-Jewish relations.” Like the Jews of most Arab lands, who
feared that the end of European domination would signify a return to
Arab domination and the loss of everything gained under colonialism,
Jewish immigration from independent Uzbekistan carried similar con-
cerns. Many worried that they would suffer the humiliations prior to the
arrival of the Russians sixty-five years earlier. The majority believed that
their lives were improved under Soviet influence. As with Arabization
of language and culture in the Maghrebi states during decolonization,
which stirred anxiety among Jews who adapted to Western languages,
Bukharan Jews spoke Russian and Tajik. They found it increasingly chal-
lenging to adopt Uzbekistan’s new language policies promoting Uzbek
at the expense of Russian and Tajik. Consequently, they faced obstacles
in gaining admittance to local universities and finding employment.
Bukharan Jews in the new Uzbekistan were nationally and ethnically
non-Uzbeks and thus regarded as out of place. Political, linguistic, and
economic factors notwithstanding, despite certain apprehensions, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict hardly figured into the relationship.
The section “In the Shadow of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: History, Ideol-
ogy, and Political Strategy” encompasses historiography, sociology, mod-
ern literature, contemporary history, and political science. Rachel Maissy-
Noy’s study, “Issues of Jewish History as Reflected in Modern Egyptian
Historiography,” is the first of its kind based almost exclusively on Ara-
bic source material. Interwoven into Maissy-Noy’s analysis are compo-
nents of ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish history seen through the
lenses of Egyptian historians. These historians turned their attention to
Jewish historiography only following the June 1967 War and their writ-
ings displayed strong and significant political overtones concerning the
Arab-Israeli conflict and the struggle for Palestine. They developed a
narrative about Jews and Zionism, attacking their ancient and modern
written sources. The dominant Zionist idea that Palestine was eternally
Jewish because Jews descended from a God-chosen ancient nation is de-
scribed as a concoction and a fabrication. The overwhelming majority
of Egyptian historians also downplayed the prolonged forced exile and

Free download pdf