The Sufi Influence on Spanish Jews
American Culture/Popular Culture Conference, Boston, MA, April 5, (2007)
Perhaps my first and most important task this morning is to explain how something that happened more than 1000 years ago, six time zones across the Big Pond and between two peoples that are small minorities of our contemporary American citizenry, is germane to 21st century American popular culture.
The relationship between Jews and Muslims has a checkered and time-honored history, roiling out of the 8th century Arabian desert with Arab conquest and finally touching all four corners of the world, from Asia to Africa, Europe to the New World. New chapters in this complicated association are today being written in Europe, the Middle East and, of course, here in the United States.
The reason that this long-lived interrelationship is relevant here and now is quite simple: currently, no ongoing conflict so focuses the world’s attention as does that between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. As the world’s sole superpower, we Americans have an obligation to understand the nuances of this conflict, and help to offer a healing energy, instead of one that simply exacerbates the problem. And while the last six years or so of our shared cultural history will not be known as a time of reflection on historical nuances or a deep commitment to the true values of peace, we can only hope that this will appear from the future as an aberration, and not an inflection point in the history of our country.