This chapter summarizes the book’s main findings and elaborates its broader implications for contemporary scholarship on Jews, modernity, and the history of sociology. The chapter also addresses how the recurring patterns and habits of thought documented in previous chapters were reproduced across space and time, why Jews have been such a prominent reference point for European and American social thinkers, why Jews came to signify such varied and inconsistent meanings, and how the book’s findings relate to past studies of Orientalism, Occidentalism, and European perceptions of America. Lastly, this chapter challenges scholarly claims that new minority groups—most notably, Muslims—have displaced Jews as the main reference point for the construction of European and American identities today. While the chapter acknowledges that Muslims have emerged as an important touchstone in their own right, it concludes that the Jews—and now the Jewish state—continue to serve as an intermediary for self-reflection in the twenty-first century.
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