There’s nothing retiring about Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, £18.99). The outrage surrounding Sand’s book in Israel has positioned him as an enemy within, an arch-revisionist working out of the university of Tel Aviv. Sand’s contentions – that much Zionist history derives from deeply unreliable sources and that Jewish identity is essentially defined by religion rather than race or nationalism – are thorough and reasonable, but this has not prevented his attackers from claiming he wants to write Israel out of history. Sand’s arguments are considerably more subtle; he does not question the right of Israel to exist; rather, he calls for a more rigorous examination of the premises on which that existence is based and suggests that they require redefinition. Sand takes on a formidable tradition in claiming that moral validity in the Middle East needs good history, and no discussion of the region any longer seems complete without acknowledgement of his book.
Shlomo Sand’s Invention of the Jewish People is the Independent on Sunday book of the year
December 15, 2009 by versouk