The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present

The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present

The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present

The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present

Excerpt

I concluded my preface to the 1981 volume Les Juifs, ¡a mémoire et le présent as follows: "Stretched between the Israel of the first century and the Israel of today, between the victims and the executioners, between the misfortune of yesterday and die lies of today, this book is a torn fabric." In 1991 a second volume succeeded the first and a third one, now in preparation, is scheduled for publication before the end of 1995. The present American volume incorporates texts from all three of these French volumes. If it finds a receptive public, nothing obliges one to think that it will remain the only one of its kind.

This book contains reflections on Jewish history from the era of the second reconstruction of the State, in the second century B.C.E., to die most recent times. Not that there is on my part any hope or possibility of dominating all of Jewish history. That was die ambition of the great historians of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, a Graetz or a Dubnow. It was also the ambition of Salo W. Baron, who gave his name to die chair my illustrious colleague YosefYerushalmi now occupies at Columbia University. These examples notwithstanding, I do not believe that such a synthesis is possible, for I know that in Jewish history the Same is constantly mixed with the Other, and one would therefore have to have all of universal history at one's command in order to dominate Jewish history.

In fact, my texts concentrate on three quite specific areas of study. And each one of diese areas, it turns out, is marked by the decisive presence of die Other.

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