Monday, October 12, 2009

book review at h-net

This book looks fascinating.
Given the political, economic, social, cultural, and historical diversity in the Arabic-speaking world, any effort to understand and assess adequately the nature of Arab responses to National Socialism and the Holocaust must fulfill two requirements: familiarity with the historical and cultural context of the modern Middle East and research in appropriate Arabic-language sources. Meir Litvak and Esther Webman bring these components to bear on the tasks addressed in their excellent new book. Although not specifically a study of Arab attitudes and opinions toward Nazism and the Jews during the interwar and wartime periods, the book directs a useful lens at Arab responses to the Holocaust since World War II, answering questions for which previous studies have proven inadequate. Litvak and Webman examine post-Holocaust Arab responses to the Nazi mass murder of the Jews of Europe, but do so within the context of the recent history of the Arabic-speaking regions of North Africa and the Middle East, specifically the conflict between Jews and Arabs over the land of Israel/Palestine since the post-World War I mandate period. Moreover, they do not draw their conclusions solely on the basis of the mufti and a few other exiles or imply the existence of an "Arab world" that made a singular, uniform response to these events. Instead, they mine effectively a huge array of Arabic-language newspapers, periodicals, and other publications to assess the varied, complex, and often contradictory opinions of Arab journalists, politicians, academicians, and other intellectuals since 1945.

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