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Jews in the Ottoman Empire

However, as both Hacker and Shaw point out, the Sephardic communities were among the most prosperous of Ottoman Jews in subsequent generations; Hacker cites "a tension between pride and despair" (1424081) on the part of the first-generation exiles. However, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries constituted nothing less than a Golden Age for Ottoman Jewry, not least because of the policies of religious tolerance practiced by the Ottoman masters of the period.

Academic controversy surrounds the issue of whether Islam was a benevolent authority in the Ottoman period. One view is that Ottoman benevolence is overstated: "The myth that Jews and Arabs lived together in peace and brotherhood prior to the establishment of the Jewish state originates with 19th century Jewish scholars, such as I. Goldziher, who overemphasized Islamic tolerance toward minorities. While Moslem treatment of Jews has no parallel in the brutality of the Holocaust, Jews were subject to severe discrimination in Arab lands" (Ages 16-17). Meanwhile, Cohen notes that a Jew "functioned temporarily as a tax collector" for the sultan of Jerusalem while it was ruled by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century. Indeed, Jews paid income taxes to both Ottomans and the Jewish communities in which they lived (Shaw 75).

Campbell notes (422ff) that one big difference between Islam and Judaism was that Islam was conceived as a universal religion, while Judaism has always been more specifically ethnic in character. This fact is in the background of the reorganization of the social and economic institutions of Jews who resettled in Ottoman territory in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, irrespective of whether one conceives of Ottoman authority as benevolent or despotic. As Shaw explains, the growth of the Jewish population of the Ottoman Empire occurred in the form of distinctive enclaves of many specific Jewish communities organized around "self-governing congrega...

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Jews in the Ottoman Empire. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:44, August 18, 2017, from
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