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Between Muslim and Jew

The Problem of Symbiosis under Early Islam

Steven M. Wasserstrom

Steven Wasserstrom undertakes a detailed analysis of the "creative symbiosis" that existed between Jewish and Muslim religious thought in the eighth through tenth centuries. Wasserstrom brings the disciplinary approaches of religious studies to bear on questions that have been examined previously by historians and by specialists in Judaism and Islam. His thematic approach provides an example of how difficult questions of influence might be opened up for broader examination.

In Part I, "Trajectories," the author explores early Jewish-Muslim interactions, studying such areas as messianism, professions, authority, and class structure and showing how they were reshaped during the first centuries of Islam. Part II, "Constructions," looks at influences of Judaism on the development of the emerging Shi'ite community. This is tied to the wider issue of how early Muslims conceptualized "the Jew." In Part III, "Intimacies," the author tackles the complex "esoteric symbiosis" between Muslim and Jewish theologies. An investigation of the milieu in which Jews and Muslims interacted sheds new light on their shared religious imaginings. Throughout, Wasserstrom expands on the work of social and political historians to include symbolic and conceptual aspects of interreligious symbiosis. This book will interest scholars of Judaism and Islam, as well as those who are attracted by the larger issues exposed by its methodology.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Between Ruin and Restoration

An Environmental History of Israel

Edited by Daniel E. Orenstein, Alon Tal, and Char Miller

The environmental history of Israel is as intriguing and complex as the nation itself. Situated on a mere 8,630 square miles, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, varying from desert to forest, Israel’s natural environment presents innumerable challenges to its growing population. The country’s conflicted past and present, diverse religions, and multitude of cultural influences powerfully affect the way Israelis imagine, question, and shape their environment. Zionism, from the late nineteenth onward, has tempered nearly every aspect of human existence. Scarcities of usable land and water coupled with border conflicts and regional hostilities have steeled Israeli’s survival instincts. As this volume demonstrates, these powerful dialectics continue to undergird environmental policy and practice in Israel today. Between Ruin and Restoration assembles leading experts in policy, history, and activism to addresses Israel’s continuing environmental transformation from the biblical era to the present and beyond, with a particular focus on the past one hundred and fifty years. The chapters also reflect passionate public debates over meeting the needs of Israel’s population and preserving its natural resources. The chapters detail the occupations of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialists in eighteenth and nineteenth century Palestine, as well as Fellaheen and pastoralist Bedouin tribes, and how they shaped much of the terrain that greeted early Zionist settlers. Following the rise of the Zionist movement, the rapid influx of immigrants and ensuing population growth put new demands on water supplies, pollution controls, sanitation, animal populations, rangelands and biodiversity, forestry, marine policy, and desertification. Additional chapters view environmental politics nationally and internationally, the environmental impact of Israel’s military, and considerations for present and future sustainability.

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Between the Flag and the Banner

Women in Israeli Politics

This first comprehensive study of the political life of Israeli women looks at political participation, political identity, women's political organizations, and public policy regarding women. Because Israel has endured perennial armed conflict, its national agenda places overriding importance on national security and family life. At the same time, Israel is a democracy that fosters equality for all its citizens. Thus Israeli women are caught in a dilemma: whether to show allegiance to the national cause or to raise the banner of feminism and focus on women’s rights. This book presents a broad perspective on the political life of Israeli women, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It is the first book to explore Israeli women’s political participation, political identity, and political organizations, as well as public policy toward women. Situating Israel in a comparative theoretical framework, Yael Yishai focuses on the enduring tension between women’s drive for power and their desire to belong and integrate from within.

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Between the Middle East and the Americas

The Cultural Politics of Diaspora

Ella Habiba Shohat

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about "the Middle East" across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows. The bo

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Books on Israel, Volume I

Books on Israel provides professional students of Israel and the general public with an informative and up-to-date survey of books and ideas about Israeli society—ethnic relations, religious life, cultural trends, history, politics, and literature. Included in this volume are Nissim Rejwan’s fascinating discussion of books on Israel published in the Arab world; Avner Yaniv’s analysis of changing Israeli ideas about security and military strategy; Don Peretz’s discussion of scholarship on Arab-Jewish relations; Ben Halpern’s profile of Yitzhak Tabenkin and Berl Katznelson, and Ian Lustick’s provocative critique of Eisenstadt’s The Transformation of Israel.

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Bread from Stones

The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism

Keith David Watenpaugh

Bread from Stones, a highly anticipated book from historian Keith David Watenpaugh, breaks new ground in analyzing the theory and practice of modern humanitarianism. Genocide and mass violence, human trafficking, and the forced displacement of millions in the early twentieth century Eastern Mediterranean form the background for this exploration of humanitarianism’s role in the history of human rights.

Watenpaugh’s unique and provocative examination of humanitarian thought and action from a non-Western perspective goes beyond canonical descriptions of relief work and development projects. Employing a wide range of source materials—literary and artistic responses to violence, memoirs, and first-person accounts from victims, perpetrators, relief workers, and diplomats—Watenpaugh argues that the international answer to the inhumanity of World War I in the Middle East laid the foundation for modern humanitarianism and the specific ways humanitarian groups and international organizations help victims of war, care for trafficked children, and aid refugees. 

Bread from Stones is required reading for those interested in humanitarianism and its ideological, institutional, and legal origins, as well as the evolution of the movement following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of late colonialism in the Middle East.

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The Brink of Peace

The Israeli-Syrian Negotiations

Itamar Rabinovich

A major casualty of the assassin's bullet that struck down Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a prospective peace accord between Syria and Israel. For the first time, a negotiator who had unique access to Rabin, as well as detailed knowledge of Syrian history and politics, tells the inside story of the failed negotiations. His account provides a key to understanding not only U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East but also the larger Arab-Israeli peace process.

During the period from 1992 to 1996, Itamar Rabinovich was Israel's ambassador to Washington, and the chief negotiator with Syria. In this book, he looks back at the course of negotiations, terms of which were known to a surprisingly small group of American, Israeli, and Syrian officials. After Benjamin Netanyahu's election as Israel's prime minister in May 1996, a controversy developed. Even with Netanyahu's change of policy and harder line toward Damascus, Syria began claiming that both Rabin and his successor Peres had pledged full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Rabinovich takes the reader through the maze of diplomatic subtleties to explain the differences between hypothetical discussion and actual commitment.

"To the students of past history and contemporary politics," he writes, "nothing is more beguiling than the myriad threads that run across the invisible line which separates the two." The threads of this story include details of Rabin's negotiations and their impact through two subsequent Israeli administrations in less than a year, the American and Egyptian roles, and the ongoing debate between Syria and Israel on the factual and legal bases for resuming talks.

The author portrays all sides and participants with remarkable flair and empathy, as only a privileged player in the events could do. In any assessment of future negotiations in the Middle East, Itamar Rabinovich's book will prove indispensable.

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Broken Masculinities

Solitude, Alienation, and Frustration in Turkish Literature after 1970

By Cimen Gunay

This book portrays the post-dictatorial novel of 1970s in all its complexity, and introduces the reader to the Turkish 1968, a period which challenges Turkey’s now reinforced Islamic image by the quest for sexual liberation and critical student uprisings.

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Building a House in Heaven

Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt

Mona Atia


Charity is an economic act. This premise underlies a societal transformation—the merging of religious and capitalist impulses that Mona Atia calls “pious neoliberalism.” Though the phenomenon spans religious lines, Atia makes the connection between Islam and capitalism to examine the surprising relations between charity and the economy, the state, and religion in the transition from Mubarak-era Egypt.

Mapping the landscape of charity and development in Egypt, Building a House in Heaven reveals the factors that changed the nature of Egyptian charitable practices—the state’s intervention in social care and religion, an Islamic revival, intensified economic pressures on the poor, and the subsequent emergence of the private sector as a critical actor in development. She shows how, when individuals from Egypt’s private sector felt it necessary to address poverty, they sought to make Islamic charities work as engines of development, a practice that changed the function of charity from distributing goods to empowering the poor. Drawing on interviews with key players, Atia explores the geography of Islamic charities through multiple neighborhoods, ideologies, sources of funding, projects, and wide social networks. Her work shifts between absorbing ethnographic stories of specific organizations and reflections on the patterns that appear across the sector.

An enlightening look at the simultaneous neoliberalization of Islamic charity work and Islamization of neoliberal development, the book also offers an insightful analysis of the political and socioeconomic movements leading up to the uprisings that ended Mubarak’s rule and that amplified the importance of not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also the broader forces of Islamic piety and charity.

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Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire

The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922

Carter Vaughn Findley

From the author's preface: Sublime Porte--there must be few terms more redolent, even today, of the fascination that the Islamic Middle East has long exercised over Western imaginations. Yet there must also be few Western minds that now know what this term refers to, or why it has any claim to attention. One present-day Middle East expert admits to having long interpreted the expression as a reference to Istambul's splendid natural harbor. This individual is probably not unique and could perhaps claim to be relatively well informed. When the Sublime Porte still existed, Westerners who spent time in Istanbul knew the term as a designation for the Ottoman government, but few knew why the name was used, or what aspect of the Ottoman government it properly designated. What was the real Sublime Porte? Was it an organization? A building? No more, literally, than a door or gateway? What about it was important enough to cause the name to be remembered?

In one sense, the purpose of this book is to answer these questions. Of course, it will also do much more and will, in the process, move quickly onto a plane quite different from the exoticism just invoked. For to study the bureaucratic complex properly known as the Sublime Porte, and to analyze its evolution and that of the body of men who staffed it, is to explore a problem of tremendous significance for the development of the administrative institutions of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic lands in general, and in some senses the entire non-Westerrn world.

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