Introduction

Jews and Muslims in Europe. Between Discourse and Experience

In: Jews and Muslims in Europe
Open Access

Abstract

The Jew and the Muslim are historically among the primary figures of alterity in Europe, the constitutive outsiders who have shaped what Europe is, notably around questions of conflict, migration and integration. However, on the ground contemporary Jewish and Muslim communities have often been at the forefront of critical engagement with these questions, for example with regard to the Mediterranean migration crisis and heightened societal security concerns. This introduction sets out the main questions and themes of this volume.

1 Introduction, Context and Argument

Historically, the Jew and the Muslim have been the primary symbolic figures of alterity in Europe, the constitutive outsiders who in many ways have shaped what Europe is (Renton and Gidley 2017). While social science shows us that unfavourable attitudes and behaviours towards Jews and Muslims correlate with one another (Mayer and Tiberj 2020), contemporary public discourse instead narrates growing hostility between them, shaped by war in the Middle East and the rise of violent Jihadism and the consequent war on terror. Media representations and policy debates perpetuate tropes of alterity which revolve in particular around questions of integration, migration and national identity, often pitching “new” and “established” minorities against each other. Commentators point to Muslims as perpetrators of antisemitism across Northwest Europe (with some areas seen as “Muslim” neighbourhoods represented as “no-go zones” for Jews) or to the growing purchase of anti-Muslim activism in Jewish communities.

A more complex story of co-existence has been retrieved by recent scholarship on France (Arkin 2013, Katz 2015, Mandel 2015) while German and trans-European studies (Arnold and König 2019, Feldman 2018) have found mixed empirical evidence for the antagonism narrative. Yet there is little sustained ethnographic research on the subject. What research there is (e.g. Ahmed, Gidley et al 2016, Atshan and Galor 2020, Egorova and Ahmed 2017, Everett and Gidley 2018) suggests that in fact, in urban spaces, mundane commercial exchange, cultural traffic in music and arts, spontaneous and institutionalised interfaith initiatives, joint lobbying of state actors on common issues such as religious slaughter, circumcision or modest dress, nostalgic attempts to retrieve earlier (real or imagined) periods of conviviality, and banal contact in the street are among the many – and not necessarily conflictual – forms that relations can take. This curated collection of essays seeks to address the lack of an empirical grounding to our knowledge of these relations – discursively, attitudinally, symbolically, and in lived practice – and take a step towards a comparativist paradigm for studying them in Europe.

Volume 13 of the Annual Review sets out scholarship that is transnational, transdisciplinary and explores the specificities of and commonalities between different European countries, where encounters are shaped by different national traditions around the place of religion in social and political life, but also by local variations on national policies, to better understand how positive, negative and ambivalent relations might arise. We highlight these scales – the national and the local – because, as we discuss below, we recognise that Jewish-Muslim relations in Europe always unfold in specific social landscapes shaped by traditions of Christianity and legal regimes of secularism. Practices of interaction, as well as each minority’s representation and recognition of the other, are mediated by frames created by the dominant population (Egorova and Fiaz 2017).

We gave this publication a European-wide scope in its title and call for papers. The papers that were submitted, however, by and large focused on three countries specifically: France, Germany, and the UK. These are of course nation-states at the centre of the European project, in part because of their millennial histories of absorption and conflict despite Brexit having re-centred the calculus of European power back onto the Franco-German frères ennemis axis. At a more banal level, the northwestern European geography covered here is the most obvious locus for discussing encounters between Jews and Muslims because historically and demographically the major urban hubs of Berlin, Paris, and London have been a magnet for those seeking asylum and economic opportunity.

The magnetism of northwestern Europe’s metropoles rests on their centrality to European imperial systems. Therefore, in the spirit of Rothberg’s concept of “multi-directional memory”, his call to remember the Holocaust in the age of decolonisation (2009), and of postcolonial scholarship on imperialism and Muslims (Asad 2003) and Jews (Rodinson 1984), we argue that research on Jewish-Muslim relations must be mindful of specific histories of colonialism and genocide. In France, for instance, home to approximately 600,000 Jews and 5 million Muslims, the majority in both Muslim and Jewish populations trace a background to the colonised world, especially North Africa, and co-existence in the metropolis carries the weight of historical relations in the colonies, as explored below by Malinovich (this volume). A postcolonial pattern also holds for Britain’s primarily subcontinental Muslim population (of some 3 million), but its Jewish population of approximately 300,000 has a largely European migration history – although Ashkenazi Jewish migrants in London were threaded into the circuitry of empire through the docks and garment industry as well as trans-migration to colonies such as South Africa (Ahmed et al. 2015). Germany, now home to approximately 225,000 Jews and 4.5 million Muslims, has conceptualised itself as an immigration nation for a much shorter period, despite decades of labour migration from Turkey and Southeastern Europe that saw the emergence of a significant Muslim population. Its Jewish history is overshadowed by the Holocaust, but its contemporary Jewish population has been reshaped by migration from the post-Soviet world and by young Israelis, both Ashkenazim (i.e. from a Northern European migration background: the majority, see Cohen and Kranz 2017) and Mizrahim (i.e. from the Arabic world) as well as lgbtqia+ migrants seeking cultural vibrancy and opportunity (Amit, 2018; Atshan and Galor 2020; Rau 2019).

In the case of Berlin, the postcolonial picture is complicated by a postsocialist story (Giordano 2011) and a particularly complex relationship to Holocaust memorial: the centre of the Third Reich’s project for racial supremacy, a western bulwark to the Soviet empire, a post-Cold War landing site for former Soviet Jewish communities, and more recently a hub for alternative Israeli cultural production. Such a history of course is not received nor written in a vacuum: as many of the authors in this Annual Review point out (Becker and Topkara, Doughan, Nagel and Peretz this volume), German Jewish history is particularly relevant to German Muslims today.

The criss-crossing paths of discrimination and prejudice pattern the contemporary histories of Paris, London and their peripheries too. For example, deux poids, deux mesures (double standards for differently racialised minorities) is a perpetual point of tension and entanglement in France’s metropolitan centre. By the late 1990s, the organisation for the memory of deported Jewish children (association pour la mémoire des enfants juifs déportés) in Paris had opened enough political space for the public memorialisation of deported children to have become fully accepted while recognition of the October 17 massacre of Algerian independence protestors on the quais de la Seine was only given by President François Hollande in 2011.

Size, demographic patterns, imperial and post-imperial histories and opportunities matter, then, but Europe has a much longer and broader Judeo-Islamic past. This history stretches from al-Andalus and the Iberian peninsula more broadly, with its celebrated periods of conviviality and its less convenient monocultural Catholic afterlife (Leite 2017, Soyer 2017) which saw Jews and Muslims expelled, martyrized and forcibly converted, leaving haunting traces re-animated in contemporary migration stories (Rogozen-Soltar 2017); to the Balkans, in which mixing in the Ottoman cosmopolis and forced un-mixing as post-imperial nation-states were forged. This past has also had the effect of giving rise to certain parallel histories of suffering (Mazover 2004, Hoare 2017).

At the same time, Jewish and Muslim Europeans, as diasporic minorities, exist in transnational social fields. While relating to physically proximate religious and cultural others in European cities, they maintain close contact with multiple elsewheres, in particular with the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The Israel/Palestine conflict, the Arab Spring, the war in Ukraine, the Syrian tragedy, and the space of hope and death that is the Mediterranean all reverberate through daily life, trafficked along the wires of diasporic and transnational internet and media platforms, trade routes and new communication technologies, as well as the capillaries of human journeys, while other global contexts (attacks on synagogues and mosques from the US to New Zealand or Trump’s “Muslim travel ban”) create changing contexts for thinking Jewish and Muslim life relationally.

Finally, Jewish and Muslim migration journeys are often layered on each other, and this layering of histories and representations creates opportunities for new forms of co-habitation. We can see this in Kreuzberg, a former Jewish working class neighbourhood before the Holocaust, which became the archetypal centre of Turkish guest worker residence in the 1970s and is once more, very recently, becoming an active site of Jewish/Israeli life, with a synagogue being rebuilt (Rau, 2019) and most recently a “Kreuzberg Beit Midrash” being established amidst mosques, a pattern echoed in East London, Barbès and Belleville, but also Turin, Brussels and elsewhere.

2 Roseate and Lachrymose Narratives

Existing academic and public discourses on Muslim-Jewish encounters in Europe tend to follow one of two narratives, both of which we challenge here. A lachrymose one emphasises Jewish-Muslim hostility including Muslim antisemitism and Jewish Islamophobia, overdetermined by the weight of Israel-Palestine; a roseate one emphasises nostalgic conviviality (Gidley 2012).

The roseate view sees the lost world of Jews in Muslim lands as characterised by tolerance, vibrant cultural creativity and generous intercultural sharing. The ur-text in this mythology is Moorish Spain, the period long seen as a golden age of Jewish culture, brought to an end by the Christian Reconquista and the subsequent Catholic Inquisition and expulsion of both Jews and Muslims. Just as some Palestinian families displaced in the Nakba have carried the keys to their lost homes for over seven decades, some Sephardic families (“Sephardic” refers to the branch of the Jewish people dispersed from Seferad, Spain, after 1492) have handed down keys to Spanish doors for over five centuries. The key term used in describing that golden age is convivencia, living together.

Jewish tourists flock to Cordoba and Granada to see where the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides discussed Aristotle with his Muslim and Christian students, to visit the lovingly restored Moorish synagogues, and to dine at the expensive restaurants serving the fusion food of Umayyad Andalucía. Maria Rosa Menocal’s The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain (2003) was a popular academic text on the Spanish golden age. Menocal’s book was well received and widely reviewed in Jewish periodicals, just one example of the nostalgia for Islamic al-Andalus flourishing in the Jewish public sphere.

This roseate narrative dramatises the contrast of the pluralism and tolerance of Muslim rule with the genocidal intolerance of Christendom (it was the Ottoman sultan who welcomed the Jews who fled the Spanish terror). Scholars including Kalmar (2016:53) have suggested that the Jewish/Islamic symbiosis was so powerful historically that it makes more sense to talk of a Judeo-Muslim civilisation than of a Judeo-Christian one.

This roseate view mirrors a second, bleaker narrative. This has been named (by historians such as Mark Cohen, 1994) the “neo-lachrymose” conception of Jewish history, a term which nods to twentieth century Jewish historian and sociologist Salo Baron. Baron complained of the tendency among Jewish scholars to focus on European Jewry’s history of persecution and pogroms – instead of on the ordinary lives Jews led between the attacks: the everyday instances of creativity, joy, interaction and integration. The “lachrymose story” that Baron identified was often used ideologically to argue for the need for a Jewish State, as the only relief from Christendom’s apparently congenital antisemitism. A similar lachrymose story has more recently emerged concerning the Islamic world and Jewish-Muslim relations, and again this has been instrumentalised ideologically by a hawkish politics of insecurity.

The lachrymose narrative stresses purported European spillover of the Israel/Palestine conflict impacting on Muslim-Jewish relations; the post-2001 global war on terror, which has framed Muslims as a suspect community and Jews as an insecure minority; the so-called “new antisemitism”, which frames Muslims as key perpetrators of anti-Jewish racism; national and transnationally circulating debates on extremism and the new, often predominantly online political constellations that these produce; integration and laïcité, which often focus on the compatibility of minorities’ religious practices with national and European values; the “refugee crisis” in the wake of the Arab Spring, which is often narrated through histories of Jewish migration as well imagined futures of an Islamised (and increasingly antisemitic) Europe; and the rise of new forms of far right/populist politics, which focus on the Muslim other and alternatively attempt to co-opt Jews to a “Judeo-Christian” mainstream or position them as a conspiratorial danger to Christian values.

The lachrymose narrative pervades some of the scholarship on Jewish-Muslim relations, in particular Jikeli’s (2015) account, based on a large-scale interview study with Muslim men in London (chiefly of South Asian background), Paris (chiefly North African), and Berlin (chiefly Turkish), lays bare the deep roots and wide purchase of antisemitism among this population, even as it highlights the strong constituency for resisting antisemitism, and a more recent study of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Germany (Jikeli 2021) uncovers what it calls “alarming” rates of prejudice.1 Mirroring these accounts, some British sociologists have asserted that “the Zionist movement”, or parts of it, are a major plank of Islamophobia (see Kahn-Harris 2021).

One of the reasons for the existence of these two incommensurate narratives is that Muslims and Jews encounter the other, but also encounter the idea of the other (Gidley 2012). That is, real Muslims share space with real Jews, but they also live in a discursive context in which they partake of dominant society’s representations of themselves and the other minority, as well as the ways in which dominant society represents them as similar or different from each other. The Jewish story is used to tell the Muslim story, and vice versa, whether positively, negatively or ambivalently: Jewish and Muslim civil society enacting an ethics of hospitality with young migrants in the Calais “Jungle” or invoking the legacy of Kindertransport to be upheld in relation to Syrian refugees; European politicians using the Jewish “model minority” as a punitive yardstick for new migrants, and emerging Muslim communities using a “Jewish model” to claim legal recognition and shape national representative and security institutions; Jewish institutions intimating at Eurabian or “grand remplacement” theses. In the next part of this introduction, we discuss these representations, and how they shape – and sometimes constrain and sometimes make possible – lived relations between Jews and Muslims. Then, finally, we turn to lived relations themselves, and how social research might capture its granular complexity, as exemplified by the contributions in this collection.

3 Ideas of the Other in Secular-Christian Europe

Muslim-Jewish relations in Europe are never purely bilateral. They are shaped by the third part of a triangle: the normative Christianity of the dominant culture. Due to the significance of European histories of othering Jews and Muslims, Egorova and Ahmed (2017) argue that encounters can only be understood by focusing on how Jewish and Muslim minority relations are mediated by the mainstream. They argue that even talking about Jewish-Muslim encounter can be falling into a trap of framing these heterogeneous groups as essentialised religious totalities, playing pre-ordained roles in a “conflict” scripted by Christianity. The framing of Muslims and Jews in these terms reveals a theological mapping at the heart of Europe’s self-understanding. Even attempts at interfaith dialogue emerge from a conflict resolution frame which pre-supposes opposition between two fixed camps.

A Christian theological frame is revealed in several of the key motifs – the Judeo-Christian, the Abrahamic, the Orthodox – conventionally used for thinking about Muslim-Jewish relations. The figure of “the Semite” haunts this history, a figure with deep Biblical roots which demonstrates how theological thinking was inscribed in the literal cartographies through which Europeans imagined the place of their continent (Renton 2017). The world map produced by Isidore of Seville in the 7th century ce, the first map on which the European continent appears under that name, depicts the different branches of humanity descended from the sons of Noah, located in their separate proper geographic zones: Japhet in Europe, Ham in Africa, and Sem in Asia (Kalmar 2012:34–5). As Renton (2017) has traced, this theological cartography gave shape to modern philology, racial science and orientalism, from Michaelis to Renan – and in turn was imprinted in the imagination of the colonial policy-makers who shaped the post-wwi borders of the Middle East (including the authors of the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot line), before being redrawn by the postcolonial partitionary formations whose violent legacy has overshadowed Jewish-Muslim encounters in the century.

Similarly, the concept of the “Judeo-Christian” – described by Kalmar as “a post-World-War ii idea born of a combination of Christian guilt about the Holocaust and western, including Jewish, support for the Zionist project” (2016:53) – serves to place Muslims outside the space of Europe while maintaining Jews in a subaltern position within it (Nathan and Topolski 2016, Topolksi 2016), often imposing a Christian supersessionist theological telos (Cheyette 2017). And similarly the idea of the “Abrahamic”, as Becker and Topkara (this volume) discuss below, yokes these minorities to a theological vision that emerged within Christendom. These myths are particularly strong when attached to the “Orthodox” parts of minority religious populations, whose allegedly illiberal praxes are presented as a foil to normative Christianity’s invisibility as liberal common-sense, as Kasstan (this volume) discusses below.

The dangers of these understandings have become particularly clear in the current century. Across Europe, as Kalmar (2020) and Gans (2016) have documented, a far right Euronationalism from the English Defence League to Dutch counter-jihadis, from Marine Le Pen to Hungary’s Jobbik, has promoted the myth of a Judeo-Christian civilisation and performed a skin-deep philosemitism as a strategy to instrumentalise Jews to get at Muslims, exploiting Jewish insecurity to stigmatise Muslim migrants. At the same time, a longer history of far right real or performed Islamophilia (Motadel 2014) has continued to animate right-wing antisemitism in an attempt to bind Muslims to its project, in Eastern and central Europe (Tarant 2018) but most notably in France around figures such as Alain Soral (Druez and Mayer 2018), echoing colonial precedents (Vance 2017).

Egorova and Ahmed (2017) flesh out what this means for Jewish-Muslim relations ethnographically, as both communities’ perceptions of the other are always structured by their own sense of minority experience. Both minorities experience insecurities – Muslims positioned as a suspect community in the context of the endless war on terror, and Jews perceiving existential threats from out-marriage, antisemitism and dangers to Israel. And they project the sources of these insecurities on to the other: Muslims seeing Zionist manipulation behind the war on terror, Jews emphasising Muslim perpetrators of antisemitic violence – which blocks the possibility of solidarity as faith-based minorities.

And of course all these processes are over-determined by the geopolitics of Israel-Palestine, which seep into an identitarian politics of competitive victimhood. These layers of entanglement, and the intense affective and political investments in them, make it difficult to research ground-level Jewish-Muslim relations – but also urgent to do so.

4 Alternative Frames and Ambivalent Encounters

Having sketched the lachrymose and roseate narratives that have hampered the sociological imagination of Muslim-Jewish encounters, and the secular-Christian frames that have essentialised Jews and Muslims and held them in tension with each other, we now turn to three more fruitful alternative frames that offer a way out of these dead ends. The first alternative frame is the focus on lived experience of banal diversity.

The last two decades have seen what Berg and Sigona name “the diversity turn”, in which social scientists have turned away from focusing on single, essentialised groups (“the Bangladeshi community in East London” or “the Turkish community in Kreuzberg”) and towards an emphasis on differentiation and complication: it recognises that ethnicity-based clustering “no longer provides an adequate analytical lens for understanding the complexity and dynamism of urban multiculture” (2013 :2). Instead of focusing on entities, the diversity turn asks us to focus on relations (Fog Olwig 2013). In this spirit, our approach to Jewish-Muslim encounters takes the focus of the putative groups on each side of the hyphen, and redirects attention to the range of relations embodied by the hyphen.

In particular, the development of the “super-diversity” approach associated with Steve Vertovec (2007, see also Berg et al 2013, Berg et al 2019, Gidley 2019) highlights the diversification of differences – the proliferation of, and interactions between, lines of nationality, ‘race’ and ethnicity, faith and class, among other axes – and points towards power geometries and inequalities within as well as between apparent groups. This approach allows us to see faith alongside race as a determining but still contingent and intersectional dimension of social fates, and Lamine (2004) has shown that, even in avowedly secular France, municipal actors have begun to embrace a diversity paradigm in engaging with religious minorities.

Similarly, Paul Gilroy’s retrieval of the concept of conviviality (2004) places attention on “interactions and relationships, rather than on individuals, groups, cultures or categories, as either the building blocks or the obstructions to conviviality” (Berg and Nowicka 2019). The diversity/conviviality approach often highlights micro-level sites of encounter. Amin (2002) developed Back and Keith’s concept of “micropublics” (Back 1999 – see also Keith, this volume): “prosaic sites of multiculture” where difference is habitually concentrated, creating the possibility of shared belonging to emerge from interdependence, but also new fears and tensions to be generated. In this tradition, for example, Susanne Wessendorf’s ethnography of Hackney in East London reveals a site of an ethos of “common-place diversity”, with Turkish shop-keepers and market traders working to enable everyday, mundane, unremarkable relations between residents of radically different backgrounds – although problematically framing some minorities as deviating from this ethos (see Kasstan, this volume and Sheldon, this volume).

In this spirit, Everett (2020) has also investigated how the micro-public spaces created by commerce stage encounters. Specifically, he investigated relations between Jews and Muslims of Maghribi descent in a telecommunications company, demonstrating how contemporary, non-nostalgic reconceptualizations of the past are utilized to negotiate an ethnically plural and potentially convivial present within the workplace. Berg, Gidley and Krausova (2019) further build on the concept of “micropublics” with the concept of “welfare micropublics”: sites such as maternity services, schools, and elder care centres, where street level bureaucrats mediate encounters between users who are diverse along multiple axes. Welfare – especially health – micropublics are particularly salient to how religious minorities relate to others and to the state, as shown by debates over invasive autopsy in the UK or male circumcision in Germany (see Kasstan 2019, Munzer 2016, Yurdakul 2015).

The diversity approach provides a number of useful insights into patterns of living together. Back (1996) for example talks of the “metropolitan paradox” whereby sites of the most intense trans-cultural affinity are also the sites of the most brutal forms of hostility; Pastore and Ponzo (2016) show how positive inter-minority relations can combine with negative representations of each other – and vice versa; Neal et al (2017) draw attention to indifference as an important mode of co-presence along with conviviality.

Ambivalence, then, is central to this approach. As Dwyer et al summarise, “This literature carefully probes the generosity, awkwardness and sometimes incommensurability of encountering differences” (2019:61). They cite the example of Helen Wilson’s (2011) work on bus journeys and school playgrounds, in which she “argues that ambiguity is at the heart of understanding encounters with difference, which may be about ‘both the opening up and closing down of affective capacity’” (ibid).

Following this tradition, we have begun to develop a typology of encounters in our work on Jewish-Muslim relations and representation in Berlin, Paris and London, identifying three in particular: commercially-mediated interaction combining negative representations of the other with mundane intimacy; a voluntaristically staged and partially institutionalised intercultural or interfaith encounter, drawing in local elites; and an emerging but still fragile constituency for a more meaningful encounter partly motivated by intergenerational nostalgia for an imagined convivial past (Everett and Gidley 2018). All of these, crucially, are ambivalent, combining moments of conviviality, antagonism and indifference. In this sprit, the contributions that make up this volume explore the full range of modalities of ambivalence and indifference as well as conflict and co-existence.

The second alternative frame taking us beyond the lachrymose and roseate narratives is one which draws on religious resources, by thinking seriously about the post-secular city and lived religion, to develop something of a de-secular critique. The post-secular turn in scholarship (Braidotti 2008), inspired by the ethnographic study of lived religion (e.g. Orsi 2010), attempted to circumvent “the Protestant bias often embedded in conventional academic definitions of religion” (Knibbe and Kupari 2020:159) by emphasising religion not as theological doctrine but as practice. This draws our attention to the diversity of religious experiences in the contemporary city (Eade 2011, 2012, Molendijk et al 2010, Beaumont and Baker 2011, Harris and Garnett 2016), defying classical (Protestant) sociology’s assumption of secularisation, but also makes visible the unremarkable, normative Christian landscape in which this plays out.

As Gil Anidjar demonstrates (2017), Europe’s Jewish and Muslim “Questions” are products of a Christian Question: the racialised, blood identity of Christendom – of Europe – from the time of the Crusades onwards. But the idea of Europe has never fully broken free from the idea of Christendom. The population transfers that created a ‘Christian’ Greece and a ‘Muslim’ Turkey as late as the 1920s demonstrate how religious identity has been central to European nationalisms. This is no less true today with, for example, the vociferous objections to Turkish membership of the European Union in various member states.

As Sander Gilman argues (2017), the avowed secularism of contemporary Europe remains normatively Christian; the concept of Europe – and how it frames its others – remains bound up with theology. As Valerie Giscaird D’Estaing said, “‘I never go to Church, but Europe is a Christian continent’” (cited Modood 2012:12). Thus, while the state in liberal democratic Europe constructs itself as a purportedly “neutral” arbiter between Muslims and Jews, it is more helpful to see it as a secular-Christian formation that keeps both in a subaltern, minoritized position, often playing them off against each other.

This ambiguous pluralism plays out differently in different countries. Malogne-Fer (2019) and Baubérot (2006) speak of “Catholicentric laïcité” or “Catho-laïcité” in France, in which the residual dominance of the Catholic church survives within republican secularism – contrasted to what David Feldman (2011) describes as a “conservative pluralism” in England, in which the established Anglican church paternally protects the minority denominations as a way of maintaining its own privileged position within the state. But what is common across Europe is the persistent othering of both Jews and Muslims by a secular-Christian state. Jewish-Muslim relations today therefore need to be understood relationally in a three-dimensional sense, always attentive of their third interlocutor in the “Abrahamic” triad.

On this secular-Christian terrain, Jewish and Muslim residents practise vernacular forms of consociality and neighbourliness, drawing on tradition, embodied philosophy, scriptural reasoning and everyday ethics. Annick Vollebergh (2016) and Ruth Sheldon (2022 below) have suggested that the conviviality approach might overlook these practices because of its own secular (or, we might say, secular-Christian) formation, which takes the stance of neutrality in relation to different groups and demands they comply with a shared ethos of mixing, whatever their own ethical priorities.

As Orsi noted, scholars need to attend to “the work of social agents/actors themselves as narrators and interpreters (and re-interpreters) of their own experiences and histories, recognizing that the stories we tell about others exist alongside the many and varied story they tell of themselves” (2002: xxxix). As researchers we are embedded in modern and secular ontologies of progress and enlightenment which inevitably shy away from considering exclusivism and community-ness in a positive societal light, particularly in relation to being neighbours, and so baulk at the adoption, co-option, or utilization of ‘the religious’ as in an analytical toolbox, language, or ethical code. Channelling Talal Asad’s desire to grapple with the implicit coloniality of the anthropological project as it relates to Islam and the study of the Arab world (2009), a de-secular movement in scholarship has attempted to move beyond this secular stuck-ness, drawing on theological resources to think through epistemologies, for instance regarding the notion of ‘critique’ via hermeneutic critique (see Bielo 2018). As Sheldon points out, this theological leaning opens up space to consider ethics and moral life, the ‘anthropology of the good’ – as Robbins would have it (2013) – as it relates to sacred values (Sheldon, forthcoming: 3). But this approach has been put into question by an everyday ethics perspective, in particular that of Veena Das (2007), ‘framed’ as Sheldon puts it ‘around relations to the other under conditions shadowed by violence’ (ibid: 11).

Influenced by the work of Asad, the late Saba Mahmood, and especially Das, Ruth Sheldon (this volume) argues that some of the vernacular articulations of consociality might offer conceptual tools for analysing encounters. Sheldon’s ethnography shows how her Haredi research interlocutors provided intellectual resources which have a continuing life despite secular disdain. Sheldon’s engagement with teshuvah (“return”, meaning return to orthodox practice by secular or less observant Jews) moves us a step beyond the post-secular, perhaps even engaging with a de-secularising epistemology – if by the de- in decolonial we mean an agential perspective which puts the onus on doing and living rather than a more cognitive ‘post-’. Sheldon ties the biblical story of Ruth to the notion of neighbourliness in a super-diverse urban site, using the example of Chesed as described by an interlocutor, who added “just being nice to people often isn’t enough”.

Engaging everyday ethics from within observations and interactions with people having made teshuvah brings with it both strands of the theological inclination of the post-secular, but in partaking of piousness or revivalism it also gives importance to “an attachment to complex discursive and affective attachments one holds to religious prescriptions and practices” (Fadil and Fernando 2015:70), something that has created a rift in the anthropology of Islam owing to the incongruence of the ‘everyday’ and Islamic Orthodoxy via the so-called Islam revivalism of the daw’a or piety movement (ibid). These connections do not make studies of Haredi Jews and pious Muslims fundamentally comparable, however. As Ben Kasstan points out (this volume), there is political purchase in creating a symmetric comparison between Jewish and Muslim communities in a UK context (but the same reasoning could stand in France or Germany) which are often bound up with the politics of signalling a secular and progress-driven central state.

Both the diversity turn and the post- or de-secular turn also require us to foreground coloniality in thinking about Muslim-Jewish encounter, which is the third alternative frame we propose. If, as Talal Asad has convincingly argued, the secular and the colonial are bound up in the project of modernity (2003), so scholars such as Saba Mahmood and Charles Hirschkind have considered post-colonial (if we are to think temporally about what occurs after European empire) Muslim societies and their construction of religious and political ecosystems as resources for change. In Europe, much postcolonial Islamic Studies work have focussed on debates about belonging in or to the nation-state, often in relation to the representational and remembering former immigrants’ struggles for recognition (Bowen 2009, Fadil and Fernando 2015, Meer 2010). A not dissimilar process of de-centring has been ongoing in mainstream US and European Jewish Studies. Katz et al. name an imperial turn in Jewish Studies, with the effect of reading empire and metropole together (2017: 5), both during and after the colonial heyday of France and Britain. With implications for both Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, and, crucially, how they forge their ideas of the other, a parallel and powerful sub-field for thinking through the dynamics of these post-colonial sites of struggle is that of Memory Studies, much of which has been shaped by Rothberg’s notion of multi-directional memory and its relationship to intercommunal solidarity. Rothberg’s plea is not to compare directly memories of suffering but to think about them together, a call which Doughan (this volume) answers in relation to Holocaust and migrant/colonial memories in Germany.

5 Conclusions

The papers in this collection draw on the three alternative frames outlined above to advance our understanding of Jewish-Muslim encounters in Europe. The Annual Review is organized into three interlinking sections along national lines, each focusing on deeply embedded local-scale ethnography, representation, and regional/national policy towards religious minorities, historical perspectives on discrimination and relationality, and civil society initiatives that bring together Jewish and Muslim individuals and communities both imagined and organised. For Germany, through six in-depth interviews with key thinkers in contemporary German Islamic Theology, Elisabeth Becker and Ufuk Topkara focus on the notion of ‘Abrahamic Strangers’. This concept is reinterpreted through the eyes of those Muslim intellectuals who channel the writings and experiences of Jewish intellectuals from late 19th and early 20th centuries in order to explain being at once marginal and integral to the nation. Shifting the focus to high schools, by tracking a trip to Auschwitz Sultan Doughan considers how young minoritized German Muslims are ‘Desiring Memorials’ as they undergo the affective difficulties of understanding the Holocaust on their own terms and in so doing problematize universalizing Holocaust remembrance in light of contemporary German racialisation of Islam. Dani Kranz takes up the issues of racialisation in Germany in her appraisal of Germany’s ‘Politics of Hospitality’. Through her excavation of cultural and citizenship policy, Kranz unpacks how Berlin represents and treats its Israeli and Palestinian populations keeping them at arm’s length by refusing them local autochthonous status for fear of what their voices might say. Alexander Nagel and Dekel Peretz give an inventory of organized initiatives that bring together Jews and Muslims in what they term a ‘Precarious companionship’ through a mixed online analysis of formal/institutional live and online Jewish-Muslim interfaith fora. Their study follows initiatives in the Ruhr region around 2012 and then moves online to Berlin in 2020. They find such spaces to offer a joint stance against and outside of majority society.

In France, through a long-term ethnography, first as a civil society coordinator and later as researcher, Samia Hathroubi contemplates ‘Learning the language of the other’ in her exploration of affinities and solidarities across generations and between French Jews and Muslims of North African descent from within organizations that promote language learning as a step towards self-understanding. Moving across the generations, Nadia Malinovich’s ‘Between Meta-History & Memory’ shows the ambivalences in Moroccan Jewish attitudes to Muslims in Morocco and then in France through a series of oral histories which yield often contradictory narratives between French Jewish politics and lived realities. Considering the historical background of such contradictions, Hanane Karimi’s ‘Constructing Otherness’ posits that certain mechanisms of the state ensure migrant alterity across generations, and that this has been the case for North African and North African descent Muslims (both nominal and observant) since the 1980s. These mechanisms are reminiscent of (though not the same as) processes of Jewish alienation in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. Evaluating attitudes towards one another in their ‘Face to face or side by side?’ Nonna Mayer and Vincent Tiberj draw on their data from an extensive survey in Sarcelles which demonstrates that antisemitic attitudes are not more prevalent in poor Parisian suburban neighbourhoods but that there is growing Jewish spatial and segregation from other minoritized communities.

Not entirely dissimilar to Sarcelles, Stamford Hill in East London, UK, offers a site for Ruth Sheldon to consider ‘Rubbing shoulders’, a micro-level ethnography of Haredi ladies’ feelings about Jewish-Muslim neighbourly relations. Sheldon moves beyond a social science paradigm to think with the Torah as an analytical tool beyond the secular inclination of conviviality. In more formal interfaith dialogue settings Yulia Egorova’s ‘Where we are in History’, explores the boundaries of Muslim solidarity towards and with Jewish communities in Britain via open-ended interviews at interfaith meetings and beyond. At a more meso level still, in ‘Orthodox Fraternities’ Ben Kasstan looks at the discourse of diversity through attitudes towards Jews and Muslims as they are constructed as both fraternal and warring in health and education policy. Finally, as a coda to the section on Britain, Ben Gidley interviews Michael Keith, an urban scholar who has worked on diasporic and faith communities in London for three decades. In the interview, he reflects on the conceptual challenges of spacializing race, explains why the East End of London is good to think with and describes how the diversity turn in urban scholarship opens up how we might think about faith communities but also raises new problems.

These contributions enable us to see commonalities and contrasts between the racialisation of Jews and Muslims in Europe, as well as commonalities and contrasts between how these play out in different locations. Crucially, these occur at different scales of encounter, from the personal and familial to associational and local, to institutional and national.

The motifs which emerge in the chapters destabilise conventional sociologies of faith communities. ‘Precarious Companionship’ (Nagel and Peretz, this volume) introduces a non-linear and unstable dimension to pre-supposed Jewish-Muslim relations. ‘Face-to-Face or Side by Side’ (Mayer and Tiberj, this volume) shifts these dimensions further to interrogate their front and sides. Then, somewhat less starkly, terms that can be deemed incongruous are coupled in the titles such as ‘Politics’ and ‘Hospitality’ (Kranz, this volume). The word hospitality implies the otherness of the guest as well as the potential for hostility; it comes from the Latin hospitalitis, as does French hospitalité, which Tahar Ben Jelloun famously interrogated in relation to racism towards North Africans in France (1984). Some thirty years later in neighbouring Germany, ‘Refugees welcome’ (أهلاً وسهلاً بالإخوة اللاجئين) became the leitmotif of a civil society movement to host more than a million Syrian and Levantine asylum seekers. Similarly incongruous, the ‘Abrahamic’ (traditions) seen in religious studies as sharing a history, sit uneasily alongside the ‘Stranger’ who stands alone (Becker and Topkara, this volume). ‘Language’ and its learning likewise is often considered as a form of cosmopolitan openness (Hathroubi, this volume), while ‘Othering’ (Karimi, this volume) is its apparent (through not systematically) opposite; then again ‘Orthodoxy’ (often read as exclusivist) and inclusive ‘Fraternity’, a noun more often juxtaposed with enmity in relation to the Jew and the Muslim (Kasstan, this volume) sit at awkward loggerheads. These oxymorons, questions and contradictions speak to the ambiguities and ambivalences entangled in the simultaneous proximity and animosity of our two populations. They speak to the private troubles and joys of lived encounters, while resisting the freezing of these encounters as they become public issues. The constitutive otherness of Jews and Muslims in Europe is illuminated in this Annual Review by uncovering the daily texture of this proximity and the ideas of the other through which it is understood and represented on the ground.

1

See also Feldman (2018), Druez and Mayer (2018), Berek (2018), Feldman and Gidley (2018) for an assessment of the claim that Middle Eastern migrants are re-importing antisemitism into Europe, as well as an exploration of the politics of insecurity underlying this claim.

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