The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy (Cultural Memory in the Present)


By Gil Anidjar

Publisher: Stanford University Press
Pages: 296 Publication Date: 2003-06-11
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0804748233
scanned from book
pdf 40 mb

This is a remarkable book, complex and impossible to grasp fully at first reading. It is well worth perservering. Anidjar writes well and lucidly, but the ideas with which he is working are difficult and often intractable. His extraordinary skill is to bring together concepts rarely connected, and makes sense of the connection.

The book is part philosophy, part literary analysis, and embroidered with a very small element of 'history', as traditionally conceived. Although his subtitle is 'a history of the enemy' his whole work is to destabilise any clear idea of who the enemy actually is. Is he (or she) the enemy of the nation; or my brother or sister, or -even- am I my own enemy. Who knows better the dark secrets of the heart, the invisible fears, the unknown dark deeds ? Enemy, as Anidjar reveals, is so loaded with deeper connections and meanings, that we should not use it carelessly.

So, the title The Jew, the Arab, indicates another kind of enmity, and one we need to think about. One of the most tantalising elements of this book, and one of its greatest strengths is that the author never imposes himself on the reader, tells you what conclusions you need to draw. This is one reason to come back to it again and again. I am now reading it for the fifth time, disagreeing with much of it, but constantly stimulated and re-thinking what I thought before. This is the antidote to sound-bite culture, a book that is hard, provocative, thrilling, and above all, worth reading

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