While contemporary images place Arabs and Jews in oppositional categories, that has not been traditionally the case in Brazil. Many influential Brazilians believed that Arab and Jewish "blood," for better and for worse, was a component of Brazil's national character. As a result, Arabs and Jews had a special place among the elite as both friend and enemy, exotically different yet somehow familiar.
Jeffrey Lesser is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Emory University, and the author of several books on immigration in Brazil, most recently Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
For more information, visit barnard.edu/fom.