Semites and Anti-Semites

In This Review

Semites and Anti-Semites

By Bernard Lewis
Norton, 1986
283 pp. $18.95

A distinguished historian sheds light on the experience of the Jews in the West and in the Islamic world and explores the causes and nature of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. He does not dwell at length on the Arab-Israeli conflict over Palestine, although he recognizes that the Arabs' outrage, humiliation and sense of injustice is the cause, rather than the result, of the rise of virulent anti-Semitism among them. It is not just political opposition to Zionism and Israel, however, but a campaign of hatred and defamation-evident even in Egypt-of Jews as Jews, as the personification of evil. This is not the historical and relatively mild Islamic discrimination against Jews, but the poisonous anti-Semitism of the West that culminated in the Nazis and the holocaust. Lewis sees it as still a campaign from above, from the Arab leadership rather than the society. A calm and reasoned, but not neutral, discussion of a subject that rarely evokes calm and reason.

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