Here is a look at some law and religion news stories from around the web this week:
In November, the University of Chicago Press will release “The Right to Difference: French Universalism and the Jews,” by Maurice Samuels (Yale University). The publisher’s description follows:
Universal equality is a treasured political concept in France, but recent anxiety over the country’s Muslim minority has led to an emphasis on a new form of universalism,one promoting loyalty to the nation at the expense of all ethnic and religious affiliations. This timely book offers a fresh perspective on the debate by showing that French equality has not always demanded an erasure of differences. Through close and contextualized readings of the way that major novelists, philosophers, filmmakers, and political figures have struggled with the question of integrating Jews into French society, Maurice Samuels draws lessons about how the French have often understood the universal in relation to the particular.
Samuels demonstrates that Jewish difference has always been essential to the elaboration of French universalism, whether as its foil or as proof of its reach. He traces the development of this discourse through key moments in French history, from debates over granting Jews civil rights during the Revolution, through the Dreyfus Affair and Vichy, and up to the rise of a “new antisemitism” in recent years. By recovering the forgotten history of a more open, pluralistic form of French universalism, Samuels points toward new ways of moving beyond current ethnic and religious dilemmas and argues for a more inclusive view of what constitutes political discourse in France.
In November, I.B. Tauris will release “Islam Under the Palestine Mandate: Colonialism and the Supreme Muslim Council,” by Nicholas Roberts (Sewanee-The University of the South). The publisher’s description follows:
Concerns about the place of Islam in Palestinian politics are familiar to those studying the history of the modern Middle East. A vital part of this history is the rise of Islamic opposition to the British in Mandate Palestine during the 1920s and 30s. Colonial officials had wrestled with the question of how to rule over a Muslim-majority country and considered traditional Islamic institutions essential for maintaining order. Islam under the Palestine Mandate tells the story of the search for a viable Islamic institution in Palestine and the subsequent invention of the Supreme Muslim Council. As a body with political recognition, institutional autonomy and financial power, the council was intended to act as a counterweight to the growing popularity of nationalism among Palestinians. However, rather than diminishing the revolutionary capacity of the colonized, the council became one of the most significant of the opposition groups to British rule, especially under its highly controversial president, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni. Making extensive use of primary sources from British and Israeli archives, this book offers an account of the establishment of the Supreme Muslim Council and the policing of Arab nationalist sympathizers.
Roberts argues against the view that the council’s creation was an act of appeasement towards Muslim opinion, showing how British actions were guided by techniques of imperial administration used elsewhere in the empire.