Page 40 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
had more or less defined (even if loose) boundaries within the
Middle Eastern sphere. The Palestinian viewpoint sees all o f his­
tory within the land as being an inseparable and legitimate part of
research. Thus, it is Israeli research that has made the largest con­
tribution to the writing of the history o f the non-Jewish groups
and population that lived in the land from antiquity to modern
times. Subsumed under this research were such subjects, among
others, as the study of the Ottoman period, of the Palestinian-
Arab society, and prior to these, of the Crusaders’ Kingdom of
Jerusalem. We have, therefore, not a “Zionist” history alone,
since its focus is not exclusively or specifically the Jewish settle­
ment. Nor is it history viewed from a “Canaanite” viewpoint, since
that ideology centers on the “classic” past of Eretz-Israel up to the
Second Commonwealth (or earlier). Furthermore, Eretz-Israel
history is always placed within the context of the history of the
Near East or Levant and of the empires which dominated it.
A concern of the new scholarship is the Jewish relationship to
Eretz-Israel and the pointing up of its ongoing aspects through
pilgrimages or settlement. Still, this relationship is viewed not in
the context of any single period alone but as part o f a wider pro­
cess of “continuity,” so that seemingly isolated events are consid­
ered as links in a long chain of development. It is clear that a non-
Israeli scholar would not give as much space as the Israeli one to
the history o f Jewish settlement in Safed, the aliyah o f the
Hasidim, or the 19th century old Yishuv in Jerusalem. At the
same time, Israeli research is free of ideological inhibitions or
apologetics. It does not overlook the long and influential pres­
ence of the non-Jewish populace, as well as non-Jewish interests
in Eretz-Israel, and gives them their due. It treats such subjects as
the Christianization of the land beginning with Constantine and
Helena, and the assimilation that followed the Moslem conquest.
The religious activity of Christians and Moslems, as well as the
pagan population and culture which preceded, receive full atten­
tion. All these are grasped as part of the history and of human
endeavor in this part of the world.
That only Israeli scholarship has undertaken the compiling of
a comprehensive and continuous record, as pointed out by Pro­
fessor Joshua Prawer on a number of occasions, stems from the
fact that only one who lives in the land is capable of such a com­
posite unified view. He is not given to singling out only those spe­
cific periods that appear to have special significance. (The devel­