The Saladin Days 2015
The Jews in the Islamic World
While terrorism is killing innocent people and causing fear from Paris to Peshawar, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are spreading in Europe. Syria, Iraq, and Egypt are dominated by civil war and authoritarian regimes, and a group of terrorists known as ISIS claim that they have created a new caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. This is the backdrop for this year’s International Saladin Days, which will focus on what we today often refer to as the Muslim world, and what for many is an unknown chapter in the history of the people living there.
Judaism is older than both Christianity and Islam, and the Jewish people have a much longer history in the Middle East than in Europe. In Iraq, the history of the Jews goes back more than 2,000 years, while countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Syria have also long housed large Jewish populations – many Jews went to these countries after being persecuted and thrown out of Spain in the 15th century. What has characterised Jewish-Muslim relations over the years and what does being a Middle Eastern Jew mean today? How has the situation of the region’s Jews been affected by Arab nationalism and the creation of the state of Israel? And what is the relevance of the history of the Jews in the Muslim world for us here in Norway today?
Orbit Bashkin is professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Chicago. Her last publication, New Babylonians. A History of Jews in Modern Iraq, tells the story of the Jewish population living in Iraq at the beginning of the 20th century.
Almog Behar is an award-winning Israeli poet, writer and activist, living in Jerusalem. He has published two poetry collections, a novel and a collection of short stories. Among the awards he has received are the Bernstein Prize for Poetry (2010) and the Prime Minister’s Prize (2010).
Houria Bouteldja is a French activist and writer with Algerian roots. She has been the leading figure of the the anti-racist protest movement Indigènes de la République.
Mark R. Cohen is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, and has written a number of books and articles about Jewish history, such as Under Crecent & Cross. The Jews in the Middle Ages, which investigates the relationship between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages.
Alain Gresh is of Egyptian-Jewish-Russian descent, former editor of Le Monde Diplomatique and one of France’s leading commentators on the Middle East. He has also written several books about Egypt and the Middle East, such as An A to Z of the Middle East (1990)and Israel, Palestine. Truths of a Conflict (2007).
Rana Hisham Issa is a PhD candidate at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo.
Helge Jordheim is a professor of Cultural History at the University of Oslo.
Ravid Kahalani is Israeli of Yemeni heritage, and the leading figure of the band Yemen Blues. Kahalani and his band base their music in Yemeni traditions, mixing it with jazz and West-African music. Yemen Bluesis one of the leading players on the world music stage, with a reputation as astounding live performers.
Nadia Kamel is an Egyptian documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for the film Salata Baladi (Mixed salad), which portrays the complicated ethnic and religious heritage of the director’s own family.
Gideon Levy is a journalist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and among the harshest critics of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. His latest book is The Punishment of Gaza (2010).
Marte Michelet is a writer and commentator, and a former journalist in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. Last year she published the book Den største forbrytelsen. Ofre og gjerningsmenn i det norske Holocaust [The greatest crime. Victims and perpetrators in the Norwegian Holocaust], which tells the story of the Braud family, a Norwegian-Jewish family where most lost their lives in the Nazis’ death camps. The critically acclaimed book was awarded the 2014 Brage Prize for best non-fiction book.
Hanne Eggen Røislien is a scholar of religious history, and associate professor at the Norwegian Cyber Force and Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington DC. Her latest book is Israelerne. Kampen for å høre til [The Israelis. The struggle to belong] about the complex and conflict-ridden country Israel and its citizens.(2012).
The program is developed with support from the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre and Oslo World Music Festival, and with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.