chapter  2
Historical themes: Muslim–Jewish relations in the modern Middle East and North Africa
ByNorth Africa Orit Bashkin, Daniel J. Schroeter
Pages 22

The modern Middle East and North Africa are often associated with the escalation of Muslim-Jewish tensions because of the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism, and ultimately, the emigration of most Jews from predominately Muslim countries. While the clash of nationalisms and ideologies and the conflict in Palestine and Israel caused a rupture in Muslim-Jewish relations, the departure of Jews living in Muslim countries cannot be explained only as a linear process of deterioration of Muslim-Jewish relations,1 for to do so would ignore the new forms of Muslim-Jewish coexistence and cultural interaction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially before the establishment of the State of Israel. When writing about their hopes and aspirations before 1948, Middle Eastern and North African Jews often emphasized the very positive elements that came to Jewish life in the modern period that changed Muslim-Jewish relations in meaningful ways. New political, cultural and social frameworks allowed Muslims and Jews to rethink their relationship as subjects and citizens in Muslim empires, states, and in countries under European colonial rule and as new modes of daily interaction developed between Muslims, Jews, and Christians on the local level in the streets, neighborhoods, markets, and public places of the city and village.