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Ancient Cultures and Modern States

Middle Eastern Struggles in Historical Perspective


In this talk I will not focus on the current, ongoing struggles of the Kurdish people and the current situation in the Middle East more broadly. Instead I will try to provide a longer historical perspective within which the current situation can be viewed.[1]

I wish that I was sufficiently well informed to speak with authority on the current situation of the Kurdish people, their challenges and prospects, and the importance of their fate for the rest of us. I hope that my talk will bring out something of the significance of their struggles for humankind as a whole.

My approach to the topic has been much influenced, I think, by the context of Palestine solidarity work, in which I have been involved for some years. In that context, it is constantly necessary to address the misconception that the conflicts of the Middle East are the product of “age-old” hostilities that have continued for so long that they can never be overcome. If this was indeed true, then it would follow that all that can be done is to take sides or to keep the sides apart.

It seems to me essential to correct this widespread view—not only in relation to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but also the stalemate in relation to Kurdish rights, so regularly denied in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, and other issues related to the Middle East. I want to show how these conflicts and controversies can be seen in a fundamentally different light once we realize not only that this conception is mistaken, but that it is an active falsification of history.

Mediterranean cosmopolitanism

The longer history within which I want to locate issues of the present, is that of Mediterranean cosmopolitanism. The word cosmopolitan is Greek in origin. Literally, it means being a citizen (polites) of the world (cosmos). It was first used of Alexandria in Egypt at its founding in 322 BCE (and again of Alexandria of the 1880s to 1950s). It can be used as a derogatory term, to describe someone who belongs nowhere, but this was not its dominant meaning.

In contemporary political theory, cosmopolitan democracy, for example, refers to ideas for creating democratic institutions on a global scale. Important characteristics of ancient cosmopolitanism are also central to what has become known, since the 1970s, as multiculturalism. Contemporary theorists of multiculturalism almost never refer to this Mediterranean experience, extending over a thousand years or more. In this way political theory makes its own, often inadvertent, contribution to the falsification of history.

Cosmopolitanism persisted over many centuries in this region, especially in the trading cities and centres of culture. The collective life of those who lived in cities—and perhaps the wealthier and more educated city-dwellers, above all—seemed to demonstrate and embody a possible long-term direction in which human society could be moving. This movement had three main characteristics: it moved towards greater understanding and acceptance across barriers of language, culture, religion and ethnicity; towards a wider, more flexible and many-sided range of communication, enhancing the autonomy of all engaged in it; towards greater capacity for the formation of philosophical concepts and arguments, within local cultures which measured themselves against the claims of their neighbours’ rival conceptions of the world.

Christians, Muslims and Jews

In particular, from the rise of Islam onwards, this involved Christians, Muslims and Jews living in relative harmony, upholding their own beliefs, customs and practice, but respecting those of their neighbours and treating their diversity not as a threat to their identity, but an enrichment of it. Some authors emphasize the intermediary role of Jews in this symbiosis, as the first primarily urban ethnicity and as a religious community without a centralized authority to impose limits on debate.[2]

David Graeber provides an account of Islamic commercial practices in the medieval period which also helps to explain this relatively harmonious co-existence. Graeber argues that the unique alignment of mosque and bazaar made norms of ethical conduct (the source of honour and reputation) essential to economic life, in ways that overcame divisions of religion, culture and language. Commercial transactions were concluded with “a handshake and a glance at heaven.”[3] In this context, “Honor and credit became largely indistinguishable.”[4] Economic life depended not on state-enforced contracts, but rather on recognizing who you could trust. People had to learn how to do this across lines of religion.

The single word which best captures the result of this process is the Spanish convivencia, describing the shared culture of Muslims, Christians and Jews in Andalusia (Spain and Portugal) from 711 to 1492—the year of the Spanish Reconquista, Columbus’s discovery of the Americas; da Gama’s discovery of a sea-route around the Cape to India. A rough translation would be “living well together”. S. D. Goitein uses the biological term symbiosis—the co-existence of two organisms so that both benefit from being linked while neither suffers loss—to describe the relations of Muslims and Jews in medieval Egypt.

We can see the beginnings of this process, soon after the rise of Islam, with the Caliph Omar’s welcoming Jews back to Jerusalem in 638 CE, after they had been banished from their holy city for centuries by the Romans. Its climax may have been the centuries of Islamic rule in Spain. Amy Dockser Marcus’s book Jerusalem 1913 describes how it lived on in practices such as Muslims, Christians and Jews celebrating each other’s holy days, in Jerusalem shopkeepers of all religions asking a rabbi, an imam or a priest to give advice to customers visiting their shops, and everyone involved valuing the presence of a holy man rather than his specific religion, in children born on the same day being suckled by each other’s mothers and their families celebrating their birthdays together.[5]

Andalusia’s poetic culture

Andalusian Spain is often regarded as the climax of this development, largely because of its extraordinary intellectual and artistic achievement and the fluid interaction between cultures. Cordoba, the center of the Islamic caliphate, was the largest city in the world during the tenth century and the centre of European learning, famed for its universities, medical schools and libraries.

Collins speaks of the “golden age” of medieval philosophy, from the translators of Toledo around 1035 to the great works of Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroȅs) and Maimonides around 1200. “Spain was a high point not only for Islamic philosophy, but also for the Jews; virtually all the innovative Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages were from Spain, or closely tied to its networks.” Islamic and Jewish philosophers in Spain were also connected to the network of Christian philosophers in France. “The period of greatest creativity in Spain was also the most cosmopolitan.”[6]

Describing a time gone by on the basis of its philosophical achievements is somewhat abstract. Something of its character is perhaps evident from the distinctive beauty of its architecture. These achievements were rooted in a broader culture, and a more concrete picture of that culture emerges from the poetry of that time. Cola Franzen writes:

Seldom has so much love been lavished on a land. Like a man wooing a women, the Arabs courted, cosseted, adored and adorned Spain with orchards, gardens, fountains and pools, cities and palaces, and century after century sang her praises with unforgettable verse. The pleasures and sorrows of their days. Love, friendship, revelry. The flora and fauna. The beautiful women. Horses and war. And the water, Oh, the water.[7]

What stands out in the Arabic poetry from Andalusia that I’ve read in English translation, is a highly-crafted elegance of formulation (I understand the Arabic word for it is fasaaha). This can go along with close, delicate observation of nature; but also with a level of ambiguity or inner conflict:

One must be serious sometimes

and lighthearted at other times:

like wood from which come

both the singer’s lute

and the warrior’s bow.[8]

Its fluency sometimes gives this poetry a somewhat ornamental quality, reflecting the confidence of a long-established tradition. The Hebrew poetry of Andalusian Spain, it seems to me, is characterized by greater diversity of perspective and more complex forms of self-examination, which may be the result of Hebrew poetic tradition being suddenly remade in a new style and context.

For this reason, Hebrew poetry from Andalusia may more fully reveal what Peter Cole speaks of as “the hall of mirrors at the heart of this literature”—in which each sees (and hears) itself in the image (and cadence) of the other, and recasts the self-image informed by Islam and Judaism in the earlier context of the Eastern Mediterranean.[9] Cole describes the extraordinary upsurge of creativity among Hebrew poets in Andalusia from the tenth century on, grafting “a biblical vocabulary and a potent Hebraic mythopoetic vision” onto well-established traditions of Arabic verse, and confronting the contemporary reader with “a worldview and aesthetic that defy modern oppositional notions of self and other, East and West, Arab and Christian and Jew, as it flies in the face of our received sense of what Hebrew has done and can do, and even what Jewishness means.”[10]

Some of the themes that stand out in the work of these Hebrew poets may be taken as representative of the philosophical mood underlying Andalusian convivencia across the spectrum of languages, religions and culture, and indeed the longer history of Mediterranean cosmopolitanism. I’ll limit myself to illustrating briefly three such themes here: first, a devout irreverence towards authority, and religious authority in particular; second, a frank erotic curiosity, apparently as close to aesthetic sense as to appetite; third, an appreciation of the fleeting moment amid the flux of life, which disregards questions of eternal order.

The irreverence to religious authority is expressed, for instance, by Shmu’el Hanagid, vizier (or prime minister) of the Muslim city-state of Granada in the eleventh century, leader of Spain’s Jewish community, scholar of religious law and biblical exegete:

Could time turn on its scholars?

Or have they turned on the Law?—

and bequeathed it to stuffed old fools in robes

and every boor who declares

“I’m Mephiboshet,”

or “Hai the renowned is like Tziba my servant”?

One needs, it seems, only fringes, a turban and beard

to head the Academy now.[11]

Todros Abulafia lived in Toledo in the thirteenth century, after it had been retaken by Christian rulers. It still had a large Arab population, and Abulafia’s vivid poem reflects on the sexual possibilities of this context, praising Arab women above Christians:

But the Arab woman’s grace is her glory,

ravishing spirits, banishing worry.

And whether or not she’s wearing her clothes,

she looks as though she’s decked out in gold.

She’ll give you pleasure when the day arrives,

For in lewdness’s ways and desires she’s wise.[12]

The poignancy of the passing moment is everywhere in the poetry of Andalusia, most often captured in an image and sometimes formulated explicitly:

In the world I have nothing

but the hour I’m in,

which stands for a moment,

and then like a cloud moves on.[13]

It is this acceptance of loss which gives Andalusian culture its uniquely poetic character. Mahmoud Darwish’s extraordinary poem “Eleven Stars over Andalusia,” written five hundred years after the Christian reconquest, re-imagines its loss and asks: “Was Andalusia here or there? On the land . . . or in the poem?”[14] Elsewhere he describes the universality of its legacy: “Andalus . . . might be here or there, or anywhere . . . a meeting place of strangers in the project of building a human culture. . . . Al-Andalus for me is the realization of the dream of the poem.”[15]

How did this thousand-year history become invisible to us?

In his Introduction to the standard work on medieval political thought, J.H. Burns writes that “if certain definitions of political thought are accepted, it will be hard to find such thought in the period surveyed in this book.”[16] According to Burns, medieval thought was characterized by “wholeness”—that is, they had not separated ethics and religion from “strictly political” questions. To contemporary scholars, such as Burns, the separation of politics from ethics and religion—which takes place in early capitalist Europe, as the role of the state is defined (for example, in Hobbes and Locke) as the protection of private property—seems so obvious that earlier conceptions of politics seem hardly intelligible.

In that period cities and empires were formed and governed, conquered others and defended themselves, made alliances, etc. Laws were made, courts adjudicated, trade flourished. Peoples of diverse religions, languages and ethnicities lived together, often in relative harmony. Could all of this have happened without anyone thinking politically?

It’s more likely that we don’t know what to look for; that our political imagination is limited in ways we don’t understand. Because we have separated ethics, religion and politics into separate spheres, we see this separation is natural and necessary. But this thousand-year period may have much to teach us. For example, contemporary multiculturalism overlooks a period in which its ideals flourished, because they did not depend on individual rights within a state that enforces rights and contracts. Can we even imagine political life depending on relations of trust instead? Recovering this forgotten history may help us to do so.

From this long history, I want to take three relatively brief episodes, and link them to the present: the end of Islamic rule in Spain and the establishment of a Christian state after 1492; the Dreyfus case in France during the 1890s and the rise of Zionism; the fate of the ancient Jewish diaspora in Kurdistan after the establishment of the state of Israel.

The expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain after the Reconquista

Andalusian convivencia came to an end with the Christian reconquest of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The first step was expulsion of all Jews from Spain (mainly to the Ottoman Empire). Jews had previously been expelled from England in 1290, parts of France in 1306, confined to separate group areas in Christian parts of Spain in 1480. Expulsion of Muslims from some parts of Spain began in 1499. Islam was openly practised in other parts of Christian Spain until 1525. After 1525 a large Morisco population (Christian converts descended from Muslims) remained in Spain. In this context, forced conversion on the basis of religious ideology transformed into embryonic racial ideology, leading to the expulsion of the whole Morisco population in 1609. By that time, the Moriscos had come to be viewed by the Spanish state as an “enemy race.”[17]

Remember that the enslavement of native Americas was taking place at this time, soon to be followed by the trans-Atlantic trade in African slaves. We can see how different components of the ideology of race were being invented in Europe and America.

Under Islamic rule, Jews, Christians and Muslims practiced their own religions without persecution, co-operated in cultural and intellectual life, and intermarried widely. The forced conversions that followed reconquista created a new dynamic of inquisition, aimed at establishing whether the conversion was sincere. Should Morisco converts be enslaved to make them better citizens? Would it help to burn all Arabic books, after centuries in which Arabic had been the major literary and scholarly language? Would they be more sincere if Arabic, Muslim clothes and Muslim names were forbidden? If converts do not eat pork, is that a sign of insincere belief? What if someone says she is now a Christian, but would not “cease saying she had been a Muslim, so great a source of pride had it been for her”? Should the Inquisition arrest people for “playing music at night, dancing the zambra and eating couscous”? What about taking baths “especially on Thursday or Friday night” or sitting on the floor instead of a seat?[18] Once the process of identifying enemies on the basis of ancestry, inherited custom and suspected belief begins, it finds endless ways of perpetuating itself.

The problem lies not in who takes a bath or when, but in the political concepts which were then being invented, and being embedded in social and political life, which we generally take for granted today. The idea of Europe was invented at the battle of Poitiers in 732 CE, to describe the Christian defence of France against the invasion of Muslim armies from Spain, and became widely used in the period leading to the final expulsion of Muslim converts from Spain in 1609. The idea of race (raza, or raça in medieval Spanish) was invented in 1449 in Toledo, Spain, along with laws requiring office holders to prove their “purity of blood”—that is, that they were “without Jewish or Moorish blemish in their pedigree, and were only abolished in Spain in 1865.[19]

The logical corollary of this conception of an “enemy race” is the need to find a “final solution” to the threat posed by their very existence. By the 1580s—centuries before Hitler—the Spanish Inquisition was debating mass castration of Moriscos, deportation to Newfoundland and a plan to put them onto boats that would be towed out to sea and then scuttled.[20]

The Spanish monarchy considered this unity of faith and blood to be essential to the nation-state, enabling it to expand its power into America. Spanish purity of blood laws were exported to their colonial possessions in New Mexico and the Caribbean. Contemporary DNA tests show that they were often unsuccessful, with many descendants of Jews and Muslims settling in Spanish colonial possessions and later in the United States (including ancestors of Thomas Jefferson). [21]

Racial ideology served to justify colonial conquest in Africa and Asia for four centuries or more. Racial legislation in the colonial world required no religious pedigrees, as in Christian Spain. It continued to be inflicted on black people in South Africa, the United States and elsewhere after colonialism. The requirement of detailed proof of ancestry was revived for anti-Jewish legislation in Hitler’s Germany after 1935.

From the nation-state to the Dreyfus affair and Zionism

From the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609, I want to leap almost three centuries forward in time to another historical turning point, with a disproportionate impact on the modern Middle East: What is known as the Dreyfus Affair, a ten-year long dispute in French political and intellectual life, which led to the creation of a Zionist movement and some decades later the state of Israel.

Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army who was falsely accused of giving French military secrets to the Germans in 1894, was in some ways the victim of French military humiliation at the hands of the Germans in 1871. Someone had to be made a scapegoat and a Jew was an easy target for the French army, especially one who was successful and proficient.

General Gonse’s question to Colonel Picquart, once Picquart discovers the evidence against Dreyfus is false, captures the dynamic at work: “What do you care if that Jew rots on Devil’s Island?” Dreyfus’ Jewishness is intended as the bond that unites the rest of the French army and people, redefining each of them. Rose describes how the French army “lied. And once its prestige and standing had been compromised by the first lie—the wrongful accusation of Dreyfus—it became even more important for it to lie over and over again. Crushed by defeat in the war with Prussia. . . the army had to be infallible.”[22] By victimizing Dreyfus all Jews made outsiders, who “would be seen as rallying to the defence of a traitor purely because he was a Jew.”[23]

Jacqueline Rose explains how two Jewish engaged observers of the Dreyfus affair reached diametrically opposing conclusions from it. For Theodor Herzl, the Dreyfus affair demonstrated the need for a Jewish nation-state, eventually established in 1948: “The crimes perpetrated by the French state against the Jewish officer heralded the end of the dream of emancipation for European Jews.”[24] Bernard Lazare understood Jewish history and identity differently and strongly opposed the idea of a Jewish state. Lazare spoke out for Dreyfus “not only so that Freedom will be restored to an imprisoned man, but so as to safeguard the freedom of each and every citizen.”[25]

Rose argues that the Zionist argument blinds us “to what Israel as the nation for the Jewish people did to the Palestinians in order to become a nation, and no less what Israel has become” (pp. 14-15). The Dreyfus affair should instead be a warning against fervent nationalism and ethnic exclusivity. The route to Zionism began with the recognition of that the state’s interests are often require injustice, deception and hypocrisy. From that starting point, Herzl proceeded to the conclusion that Jews needed their own state—that is, their own instrument of injustice and hypocrisy. Rose argues elsewhere, in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that Zionism has become “the real enemy of the Jews.”[26] You have to be careful of what you wish for.

Ethnic cleansing and the dismantling of feudal empire

The political form of the nation-state could only be extended to Eastern Europe after the First World War of 1914-18. It could become the default form of the global political order only after the Second World War of 1939-45, when decolonization began. We can understand this process by distinguishing between three main forms of empire which co-existed until sometime after 1914.

What I’ll call feudal empires existed in Austria and Hungary under the Habsburgs, and in the Middle East under Ottoman rule. It existed also in Russian borderlands, but in more complicated form, with Poland and the Baltic states, for example, more industrialized than much of Russia. These empires depended largely on the payment of tribute, and did not have a strong incentive to impose a religious or national identity on the communities that paid it.

What I’ll call capitalist colonial empires had expanded under Britain, France, and to a lesser extent Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, especially after the division of Africa among them in 1883. The United States experimented with this form of empire in the Philippines, but was the forerunner in establishing what I’ll call capitalist market empire in Latin America, in which U.S. military and financial power ensured favourable conditions for corporations to invest and shape local economies, with their own national governments, in accordance with U.S. needs and interests. These distinctions do not imply only one form of exploitation in each case, but that one was dominant.

By 1919, feudal empires had been wiped from the map of the world. Their removal prepared the way for several rounds of ethnic cleansing, beginning with the removal of Muslims from the Balkan region, after the Ottoman Empire lost most of its European territory in 1912. European capitalist powers sought to re-organize the Balkan region to prevent Russian expansion. After the establishment of the League of Nations, “minorities” became a political problem requiring intervention, via contrasting and often conflicting policies of guaranteeing minority rights and forced removals or assimilation (cf. Mazower, Governing the World, pp. 154-62).

From these modest beginnings, this process was accelerated massively with the Turkish genocide against the Armenians of 1915-16. It continued with massive transfers of Greek communities from parts of Turkey where they had lived for thousands of years and long-established Muslim communities from Greece to Turkey, after the destruction of cosmopolitan Smyrna (now Izmir) in 1922. In almost every case, ethnic cleansing was involved in making modern nation-states in the former territories of vast feudal empires in which peoples of different languages, ethnicities and religions had co-existed for centuries. The establishment of Turkey as a nation-state also required the denial of Kurdish rights in Turkey, above all, and later in Syria, Iran and Iraq to differing degrees.

The damage done by this destruction of the social fabric created by centuries of diversity and tolerance continued for generations, impacting everyone concerned, including its apparent beneficiaries. Muslims were deported from Salonica to Turkey in 1923. When the Nazis occupied the city in 1941, there was no defence of its long-established Jewish community. Jews were deported to the gas chambers from (renamed) Thessalonika without protest or resistance from their fellow-citizens, in contrast with Athens, where Christians helped Jews to escape the Nazi holocaust. Muslim communities in North Africa helped Jews to evade deportation by French collaborators of the Nazis.

The pattern in the former Russian Empire was different. The Russian revolution changed the map of what had been the “prison house of nationalities” but also changed the principles according to which Soviet power was expanded in territories that were to become independent nation-states after 1991 (e.g., Ukraine). The Soviet Union saw itself as a step towards world socialism rather than a nation-state. The Soviet state under Stalin carried out huge transfers of population and vast numbers died, directly or indirectly, as victims of state policies—sometimes on ideological or class grounds, and probably less often on ethnic grounds.

We often associate ethnic cleansing in twentieth-century Europe with Nazi Germany’s territorial expansion after 1933 and its racial policies leading to genocide against Jews, Roma people and homosexuals after 1940. We also see Nazism as the end of this practice, in the West at least. But we forget the ethnic cleansing of Palestine after 1948 and the different regions of Yugoslavia after 1992. Just as Andalusian convivencia was destroyed in 1492, and in Salonica in 1923, and in Palestine under the British mandate, so multicultural Sarajevo—with a mosque, a synagogue, a Catholic and an Orthodox church on the four sides of its main square—had to be destroyed in 1992-96, in the process of creating national borders that suited the economic interests of rival powers.

Grubacic describes the revival of colonial language during the breakup of Yugoslavia—and even racist language, where no recognizable racial difference is involved—as the Balkans come to be stereotyped as areas of savagery: “People in the Balkans are savages, or so this Euro-imperial line goes, hence they tend to balkanize, and the only way to prevent that is to bomb them, or sell them bombs so that they can do it themselves” (Don’t Mourn, Balkanize!, p. 257). Against this, Grubacic does not defend any existing state or argue for a new one. Instead, he argues for a form of horizontal federalism in which “free rural communities and free cities will make the free commonwealth” on the basis of cultural diversity (p. 267). For once the divisive logic of the capitalist nation-state is set in motion it has no natural stopping point.

The End of the Jewish Diaspora in Kurdistan

I want to conclude by discussing one more episode of ethnic cleansing: the expulsion of the Jewish diaspora from Kurdistan around 1950 and their subsequent fate. It is a relatively modest episode by the standards of the genre and almost forgotten today. But it is capable of illuminating how the division and exclusion that characterizes the nation-state works its way into every area of social and political life. For that reason, I will let it serve as a conclusion. Although it doesn’t bring us into the context of the present, it enables us to see something of the complex links between the ancient past and global order of today.

The Jewish diaspora of Kurdistan was formed around 734 BCE, when “the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and deported the Israelites away to Assyria” (2 Kings 17:6). Ariel Sabar’s My Father’s Paradise (2009) describes the end of that exile, focusing on his family’s home town of Zakho—known as the “Jerusalem of Kurdistan”—and its Jewish community of a few thousand people, or about 5 percent of Zakho’s population.

This Samarian exile to Kurdistan is not to be confused with the deportation of Jews from Judea about a century later to a more central area of the Assyrian kingdom where “by the rivers of Babylon,” the exiled Jews “sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137). After the destruction of the second temple and the Roman expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem in 70 CE, Babylonia became the major centre of Judaism for about a thousand years. Talmudic scholarship developed in the academies of Babylon and later Baghdad. Mesopotamian Jews prospered, playing a prominent role in the economic life of Mesopotamia.

During the British mandate after 1920, Jews occupied influential positions in the Iraqi government. This changed their relationship to the religious communities with which they had lived in relative harmony for thousands of years. Because the British could use Iraqi Jews as proxies for furthering British interests, Iraqi Jews became proxies for Iraqi resistance to British interests. At the same time, the British mandate was siding with Zionist settlers in Palestine against its Arab and Muslim inhabitants, in that way inflaming tensions between communities who had lived together for thousands of years.

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948, with the support of the Western powers, brought this growing conflict to a head. Palestinians were expelled from their towns and villages in the Nakba, which followed immediately after the Israeli declaration of independence. The expulsion of Jews from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries followed not many years later. The Israeli government was at the same time urging Jewish communities throughout North Africa and the Middle East to bolster their population numbers by relocating to Israel, at times by covertly initiating attacks on these Jewish communities and attributing them to Arabs. More than 120,000 Jews were airlifted from Iraq by the Israeli government in 1951-52, including the ancient Jewish community of Kurdistan.

Once settled in Israel, the Kurdish Jews were looked down upon, stereotyped as backward and primitive and employed mainly in menial positions. Zionism was the strange fruit of the long history of racism begun with the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain after 1492, and its racial prejudices made their way into the Jewish community itself. The ancient Jewish community of Kurdistan found itself exiled to Israel, victims of the Israeli state and the global capitalist order which secured its existence.


[1] Notes for Address to the AGM of the Kurdish Human Rights Action Group, Cape Town, 27 August 2014

[2] Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004); Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998).

[3] David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2011), p. 277.

[4] Ibid., p. 303.

[5] Amy Dockser Marcus, Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London: Penguin, 2007), pp. 44, 45.

[6] Collins, Sociology of Philosophies, p. 429.

[7] Cola Franzen, “Introduction,” in Poems of Arab Andalusia (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1989), p. v.

[8] Ibrahim ibn ‘Uthmān, “Apology,” in Poems of Arab Andalusia, p. 43.

[9] Peter Cole, ed., The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain 950–1492 (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 8.

[10] Ibid., p. 1.

[11] Shmu’el Hanagid, “The House of Prayer,” in Cole, ed., Dream of the Poem, pp. 47-8.

[12] Todros Abalufia, “There’s Nothing Wrong in Wanting a Women,” in Cole, ed., Dream of the Poem, p. 260.

[13] Shmu’el Hanagid, “Be Glad, She Said,” in Cole, Dream of the Poem, p. 63.

[14] Mahmoud Darwish, “Eleven Stars over Andalusia,” Grand Street 48 (Winter 1994), p. 101; there is another English translation of the poem in Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another (New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2009), pp. 57-68.

[15] Quoted as epigraph in Cole, ed., The Dream of the Poem; original source not known to me.

[16] J. H. Burns, ed., Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought, c.350–c.1450 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 1.

[17] Henry Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 228

[18] Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, pp. 215-24.

[19] Anouar Majid, We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades against Muslims and Other Minorities (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), pp.

[20] David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 470-76.

[21] Majid, We Are All Moors, pp.

[22] Jacqueline Rose, “J’Accuse: Dreyfus in Our Time,” London Review of Books, 10 June 2010, p. 7.

[23] Ibid., p. 9.

[24] Ibid., p. 3.

[25] Ibid., p. 14.

[26] Jacqueline Rose, “Why Zionism Today Is the Real Enemy of the Jews,” in The Jacqueline Rose Reader, ed. Justin Clemens and Ben Naparstek (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011), pp. 322–25.


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