There was, to be sure, a keen sense of identification between Freud and his Egyptian Moses.
Perhaps the greatest problem with using Freud's Egyptian Moses, as an invitation for Israelis to embrace the Other, is that Said misses the highly negative aspects that monotheism brings with it, some of which Freud himself mentions critically while he takes others to be positive in ways that Said might well question.
Freud was very quick to recognize the negative nature of monotheism and to see intolerant exclusivity as an inherent feature of it.
A reading of Moses put forward by Richard Bernstein in Freud and the Legacy of Moses (with which Assmann now agrees, Die mosaische Unterscheidung 120-24) spells out further the necessary connections: The Jews were in the avant-garde of civilization by adopting monotheism, the exclusive nature of which gave them a heightened sense of election and self-worth, and Freud is deliberately emphasizing this feature as a way of defending the Jews and, by implication, psychoanalysis, the latest "Jewish truth.
Freud personally saw Moses as an act of authorial heroism on his part that restored the original nature of Jewish character.
In this reading, then, we see how much Freud relies on the exclusivity, of Judaic monotheism as the feature that tenders the most important advantages (the heightened self-esteem and increased capacity for intellectual sublimation) as well as disadvantages (the hatred and mistrust of others).
Last but not least, we come to another feature in Freud's view of monotheism that Said, had he not been in such a hurry to let Freud off easy, would normally have put center-stage in his reading: the genesis of monotheism in imperialism.
Here we see a fascinating irony: By taking this imperialist line of thought, Freud rejected the notion that monotheism, the cult of the one great Father God, was simply the result of an oedipal struggle, which was Karl Abraham's dutiful interpretation back in 1912.
If it is ironic that Freud should have foregone in this instance the Freudian conclusion that monotheism came about as an oedipal revolt, it is doubly ironic that Said missed this irony and, for once in his life, failed to catch hold of the insidious thread of imperialism and the diffuse cultural manifestations of hegemony.
But let us try, one last time, to take Said on his own terms: He is trying to read Freud at a certain remove, to see how his provocative ideas can be reinterpreted in the light of later history and experience.
In sum, Said's attempt to refurbish a Freudian archaeology of identity into a new gospel of hybridity reads Freud considerably against the grain; even if his interpretation of Freud's Moses is taken as correct, it ultimately overvalues the impact such revelations have on the actual wielding of power.
Adorno, Erich Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, Sigmund Freud, Isaac Deutscher--these are figures that loom large in Said's later years, though their presence had been known in his works earlier on.