Two quotes from The New York Times Review of Books, June 25:
1. Muslim intolerance of Jews, a separate phenomenon from the older Christian Jew-phobia, is not the “ancestral hatred” that many assume it to be…. It is a recent import. Jews once preferred Muslim to Christian rule, which is why so many of them sought sanctuary in the Ottoman Empire in the later Middle Ages, fleeing the hostility to which “Christ killers” were exposed in Europe. That feeling of trust was mutual. When the Ottomans conquered Belgrade and Buda in the 16th century, they kicked out most of the Christians and encouraged Jews to settle in their place.
2. This book makes interesting and valuable points. The rise of violent Islamists has emboldened secularists to restate the case against religion per se, and they have every right to do so. But Sacks reminds us that it is wrong to casually conflate conservative or “orthodox” believers with armchair fundamentalists – with people who would quite like to kill unbelievers but who can’t be bothered to act on their beliefs. The two approaches to faith are not only different but opposed to one another, he says. It is a case well put, and worth hearing.