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

(Joyce) #1

10 · Michael M. Laskier and Yaacov Lev

the more successful ones slowly adapted to Italian language and culture.
Nonetheless, as Italy promoted fascist ideologies, the Jews, more than
the Muslims, became vulnerable to sanctions that in 1938 included anti-
Semitic racial legislation. The temporary Italian-German control over
Libya from 1940 until 1943 exposed them to great dangers that were al-
most as severe as European Jewry at the time. While the British Military
Administration eliminated these dangers, the tenuous conditions of the
Jews were revived in November 1945 and June 1948. On both occasions
Muslim-inspired anti-Jewish violence erupted into pogroms due to eco-
nomic, nationalist, and religious factors, as well as the intensification of
the Arab-Israeli conflict.
By 1952, most Jews had left Libya. Simon does not neglect the fate
of the few thousands who remained. Though unharmed for the most
part between 1952 and 1967, Jews were marginalized; their legal status
became de facto inferior, and they were denied Libyan citizenship. In
contrast to Morocco where, during the decolonization phases, modest
efforts were made to win Jewish support for nation-building, it became
clear that Libya followed the policies of neighboring Egypt under the
presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser: a policy of national homogeneity
whereby non-Muslims were dismissed as mere “undesirables.” The June
1967 War revived violence perpetrated against the Jews and prompted
them to leave for Israel and Italy. With the overthrow of the Sanussi mon-
archy and the rise to power of Mu ̔ammar al-Qadhafi in 1969, the orien-
tation toward national homogeneity gained additional legitimacy that
culminated in the final dissolution of the remaining Jewish community.
Until recently, the Jews of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and their evolu-
tion from Soviet control to nationhood received scant attention. The Jews’
predicament in this part of Central Asia and their relations with the Mus-
lims are somewhat analogous to the challenges Jews encountered in Arab
lands and different in other ways. Alanna E. Cooper’s closing chapter
of this section, “Where Have All the Jews Gone? Mass Migration from
Independent Uzbekistan,” is a unique historical-cultural anthropologi-
cal undertaking. It is based on written sources and fieldwork in Uzbeki-
stan and it includes some comparative analysis with Jews of Arab lands.
The emphasis here is on Bukharan Jews, a community whose population
dwindled due to immigration from 35,000 in 1989 to 1,000 in 2009. Most
of the immigrants settled in Israel and the United States. Although Mus-
lims and Jews alike confronted many hardships once the Russians pulled

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