Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and by Bernard Lewis Ph.D.

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By Bernard Lewis Ph.D.

A super, dispassionate research of the historic roots of up to date anti-Semitic passions . . . A triumph of scholarship, research, c larity, and style.--Samuel Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, 1977-85.

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Example text

Kurdish and Berber are still the languages of important minorities, the one in Iraq, the other in North Africa. But both consist of many dialects, without a standard language, and neither has a written literature. The more ancient languages of the area-those of the Assyrians and Babylonians in what is now Iraq, of the Canaanites and Phoenicians in Syria-Palestine, of the ancient Egyptians in Egypt-have all long since disappeared and been forgotten. Only the efforts of modern scholarship made possible the uncovering of their monuments, the decipherment of their scripts, and the elucidation of their literatures and languages.

The Carthaginian or Punic language is a form of Phoenician. C. It was among the Canaanite peoples that one of the most momentous inventions in human history is first attested-the alphabet. This represented an immense advance on the hieroglyphic writing of the Egyptians and the syllabic wedge script of the Sumerians and Assyro-Babylonians .. The Canaanite alphabet served as the basis of the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and probably most or all other alphabetical scripts in the world. Linguistically, the Hebrew language of the Old Testament is of the Canaanite family.

Finally, in bypassing the biblical Israelites and claiming kinship with the Canaanites, the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine, it is possible to assert a historical claim antedating the biblical promise and possession put forward by the Jews. This line of argument is accompanied by the common practice in Arab countries, in textbooks, museums, and exhibitions, of minimizing the Jewish role in ancient history or, more frequently, presenting it in very negative terms. A few complaisant Westerners have been willing to join in these procedures.

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