Cult, Ghetto, and State: The Persistence of the Jewish Question

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Al Saqi Books, 1983 - Religion - 239 pages
Jewish Studies, Maxime Rodinson writes in Cult, Ghetto and State: The Persistence of the Jewish Question, has been a field in which ideological delirium has long had virtually free rein. In this collection of lively and provocative essays, he tries to redress the balance, bringing his impressive expertise and sharp wit to bear on Jewish problems past and present:

How have the Jews survived throughout history? Do they constitute a religious community, a people, a nationality? What are the ideological foundations of Zionism? Is anti-Semitism a unique and eternal phenomenon, or does it share features with other forms of oppression? How has the establishment of the state of Israel changed the nature of the 'Jewish question'? What are the underlying reasons for the Arab rejection of Israel, and to what extent are they, too, laden with ideological distortions?

In addressing these questions, Rodinson's prime concern is to avoid any form of ethnocentrism, fight anti-Semitism without denying the reality of Jewish suffering and defend the legitimate grievances of Arabs without succumbing to the comforting myths of Arab nationalism.

This book also contains a bitingly candid self-criticism of the author's twenty-one years in the Communist movement. In it, he extends his critique of Stalinism to all ideological constructions - among them Zionism and systematized anti-Communism - which, he argues, exhibit similar intellectual structures and lead to similar aberrations. A searching consideration of the relationship between political engagement and intellectual honesty, Rodinson exposes the inner workings of the French Communist Party in the 1950s but equally denounces the 'creeping Stalinism' of conservative conformism.

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About the author (1983)

Maxime Rodinson was born in Paris in 1915 of a radical working-class Jewish family and pursued advanced studies at the Ecole des Langues Orientales Vivantes and, at the Sorbonne, Semitic languages, ethnography and sociology. He later became a professor of Middle Eastern Ethnology and Old South Arabian Languages at the Sorbonne. He is the author of Israel and the Arabs, Mohammed, Marxism and the Muslim World and Islam and Capitalism, which won the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize in1974.

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