Prisms of History: Edward Said’s Humanism


The winding history of the Israeli-Arab dispute along with divergent historical, geopolitical and theological interpretations should be complicated for one to make definite moral judgment. However, the cross-cultural dynamics between the Israeli Jew and the Palestinian Arab and between the West and the East in general provide a historical and political context in which the genesis and genealogy of Edward Said’s entire critical practice should be understood. Said emphasizes the critical practice of secular humanism which comprehends the human world from a secular historical perspective. Said’s secular humanism arises from a critical and political reaction to and resistance against the rhetorical, ideological and strategic appeal to religious authority by Israel and the USA. The Israeli Zionist movement derives from the biblical source to justify its reclamation of the “Promised Land” and its creation of the modern Jewish identity and nationality as members of the “Chosen People”. Religious references and narratives appear to be indispensable in the formation of people and nation. It is partly as a reaction towards the Third World decolonization movement and domestic multiculturalist movement for the rights of cultural and social minorities. By deploying the justifications of European colonialism, Zionism effectively adopted the racial concepts of European culture. Zionism, therefore, has inevitably marked both Jews and Palestinians. For the latter, it is significant to recognize that despite a concerted effort to subsume them within the various parts of the Middle East, they have been persisted, retaining their culture, their politics and their uniqueness.

Author Information
Simranpal Singh, Independent Scholar, India

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2017
Stream: Literature - Literary Practice

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon