Page 166 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Elkin
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scholarship, which had been out there all along, but to political
agendas as well. Spokesmen for these groups were determined to
bring to the attention of the public the tragic price their ancestors
had paid for the conquest and setdement of the Americas. Togeth­
er, scholars and public interest groups brought to public attention
the fact that the age of European expansion involved a great deal
more than the remarkable feat of one inspired mariner.
TH E D O U B L E Q U IN C E N T E N A R Y
Among the myriad commemorations that took place worldwide
during 1992, a small percentage were animated by a Jewish sensi­
bility. These were anything but celebratory, for they linked Iberian
expansion into the New World with the simultaneous expulsion of
Iberian Jews from their homeland of 2000 years. Jewish commem­
oration of this double quincentenary established a negative per­
spective on the events of 1492 long before the commemorative
year arrived, presaging later condemnation of it by partisans ofNa­
tive Americans, African Americans, and the global environment—
an alliance of the red, the black, and the green that changed forever
the way in which Americans view their own beginnings
Some of the events that were organized and publications that
were written from a Jewish perspective had the express or latent
purpose of commemorating ancient wrongs and condemning
those who perpetrated them. Others were scholarly in nature and
searched objectively for new meanings and interpretations. This
article surveys the events and publications that focused on the Jew­
ish experience, with special emphasis on the Jewish experience in
the New World. Jews and converted Jews (a.k.a.
conversos
, New
Christians,
novo cristaos
, or marranos) were unacknowledged par­
ties to the Encounter. Physically and historically a part of the body
of invading Europeans, they soon came to occupy a social position
more akin to that of the subjugated Native Americans. They were
present at the creation of the New World, but they were legally
and spiritually excluded from it.