(This essay is based upon materials from my forthcoming, “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism”, 2008, on Prometheus Books.)
December 13th marked the 804th anniversary of the death of Maimonides (d. 1203, in Cairo), renowned Talmudist, philosopher, astronomer, and physician. The biography of this “second Moses,” is often cited by those who would extol the purported Muslim ecumenism of the high Middle Ages—particularly in “Andalusia,” or Muslim Spain, invariably accompanied by a denunciation of the fanatical intolerance of Christian Western Europe, during the same era.
A particularly egregious example of this genre of loaded comparisons was made by Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate economist, in his recent book Identity and Violence. Sen has the temerity to proclaim, “…the Jewish Philosopher Maimonides was forced to emigrate from an intolerant Europe in the twelfth century, he found a tolerant refuge in the Arab world.” [Read more ?]