Islam, Judaism, and the Political Role of Religions in the Middle East

Edited by John Bunzl

Foreword by Edward Said
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From the foreword:
"The 'clash of civilizations' thesis is a gimmick, like 'The War of the Worlds,' better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time. This book, in focusing on the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in Jewish and Muslim thought, is an attempt in this direction."

Although the "politicization" of religion or "sacrilization" of politics is not restricted to the Middle East, this phenomenon found its most spectacular expressions in the region. These essays examine, in an original and innovative manner, the complex relation between political and national identity and the three major religions of the contemporary Middle East--Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Although the focus is on Palestinian-Israeli relations, the study is relevant to the entire history of the modern Middle East. Discussions of the Palestinian-Israeli arena include the conflictive relations between the two national communities and the political role played by religion in shaping the conflict, the escalation of the conflict, and possible avenues for reaching a peace agreement.
The contributors, an international group of scholars from Israel, Palestine, Europe, and the United States, explore common theological and political ground shared by Jews and Muslims, a novel comparative approach that could lead to future dialogue along theological as well as political lines.

Contents
Foreword: Adrift in Similarity, by Edward Said
Introduction, by John Bunzl
Part I. On Islam and Judaism, Muslims and Jews
1. A Religion’s Self-Conception of "Religion": The Case of Judaism and Islam, by Hans-Michael Haussig
2. Islam and Judaism: Cultural Relations and Interaction through the Ages, by Nissim Rejwan
Part II. Negotiating Religions and Identities
3. National Identity and the Role of the “Other” in Existential Conflicts: The Israeli-Palestinian Case, by Herbert Kelman
4. The Politicization of Muslim-Christian Relations in the Palestinian National Movement, by Helga Baumgarten
Part III. Progressive Potentials within Religious Traditions
5. Democracy without Secularism? Reflections on the Idea of Islamic Democracy, by Raja Bahlul
6. Religious Roots of Tolerance with Special Reference to Judaism and Islam, by Adam Seligman
Part IV. On the Use of Religion in Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics
7. Imposed Normalization and Cultural Transgression: Cultural Politics in Egypt and Israel since the 1979 Peace Treaty, by Joel Beinin
8. Islamic Themes in Palestinian Political Thought, by Alexander Flores
9. Israel, Religion, and Peace, by Avishai Ehrlich

John Bunzl is a member of the Austrian Institute for International Affairs

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"This volume is a step toward new understanding in a time of bewildering interdependence." Dialogue & Alliance

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