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Who Is a Jew in Muslim Spain, Nazi Germany, and the Contemporary U.S.

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For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest examples of rising violence against Jews

Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalized Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.

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A dispenser of iced lemonade sits invitingly by the door of the newly whitewashed building -- hospitality for summer visitors coming to the first mosque built in Granada in over 500 years. But looming over the freshly planted garden, seeming to quiver in the furnacelike heat, is another image: the Alhambra, a 14th-century Muslim fortress of red-tinted stone that is everything this mosque is not: ancient, battle-scarred, monumental. It seems at once a reminder of lost glories and a spur for their restoration. It may also inspire darker sentiments. For it was from the Alhambra's watchtower that Christian conquerors unfurled their flag in 1492, marking the end of almost eight centuries of Islamic rule in Spain

Less than a decade later, forced conversions of Muslims began; by 1609, they were being expelled.

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By 1945, the Germansand their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "FinalSolution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed apriority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some200,000 Roma (Gypsies) (Yahil, Leni, 1990). As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murderedmillions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or diedof starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment

The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polishintelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor inGermany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorableconditions. (Bergen, Doris, 2003)

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In essence, images of Jews and Jewish ceremony are often portrayed with remarkable accuracy

Some Spanish altarpieces, as recent scholarship has shown, portray the interiors of medieval synagogues and present biblical Jews in medieval costume. These reflect Christian awareness of Jewish practice, and consultation with, or even the use of Jewish artists, to which surviving documentary evidence attests.

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Bergen, Doris. War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust.

Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield, 2003Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,1975.

Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. NewYork: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1986.

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