10 September 1946 |
Shlomo Sand (pronounced Zand; Hebrew: שלמה זנד) (born 10 September 1946 in Linz, Austria) is professor of history at Tel Aviv University and author of the controversial book The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso Books, 2009). His main areas of interest are nationalism, film as history, and French intellectual history.
Sand was born in Linz, Austria, to Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. His parents had Communist and anti-imperialist views and refused to receive compensations from Germany for their suffering during the Second World War. Sand spent his early years in a displaced persons camp, and moved with the family to Jaffa in 1948. He was expelled from high school at the age of sixteen, and only completed his bagrut following his military service. He eventually left the Union of Israeli Communist Youth (Banki) and joined the more radical, and anti-Zionist, Matzpen in 1968. Sand resigned from Matzpen in 1970 due to his disillusionment with the organisation.
He declined an offer by the Israeli Communist Party Rakah to be sent to do cinema studies in Poland, and in 1975 Sand graduated with a BA in History from Tel Aviv University. From 1975 to 1985, after winning a scholarship, he studied and later taught in Paris, receiving an MA in French History and a PhD for his thesis on "Georges Sorel and Marxism". Since 1982, Sand has taught at Tel Aviv University as well as at the University of California, Berkeley and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.
The Invention of the Jewish People
Sand’s best-known book in English is The Invention of the Jewish People, originally published in Hebrew (Resling, 2008) as Matai ve’eich humtsa ha‘am hayehudi? (When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?) and subsequently translated into English the following year (Verso, 2009). Reviewing the book for Haaretz, Ofri Ilani wrote that Sand's work is an attempt "to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a ‘nation-race’ with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion. He argues that for a number of Zionist ideologues, the mythical perception of the Jews as an ancient people led to truly racist thinking."
One component of Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, were not exiled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. He has suggested that much of the present day world Jewish population are individuals, and groups, who converted to Judaism at later periods. Additionally, he suggests that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. Sand writes that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God." Sand argues that most of the Jews were not exiled by the Romans, and were permitted to remain in the country. He puts the number of those exiled at tens of thousands at most. He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated among the conquerors. He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews.
Sand's explanation of the birth of the myth of a Jewish people as a group with a common, ethnic origin has been summarized as follows: "[a]t a certain stage in the 19th century intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. From historian Heinrich Graetz on, Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as the history of a nation that had been a kingdom, became a wandering people and ultimately turned around and went back to its birthplace."
Sand's area of professional expertise is the history of modern France and Europe, and not of antiquity, and in response to Israeli criticism that he wrote about Jewish, rather than European history, he has replied that, "a book like this needed a historian who is familiar with the standard concepts of historical inquiry used by academia in the rest of the world."
The book was in the bestseller list in Israel for 19 weeks and quickly went to 3 editions when published in French. In France it received the "Aujourd'hui Award", a journalists' award for top non-fiction political or historical work.
In October 2009 it was published in English by Verso.
In March 2010 it was published in Russian by Eksmo.
In 2010 a Hungarian translation appeared by Kairosz Kiadó.
In August 2011 it was published in Polish by Wydawnictwo Akademickie Dialog.
In December 2012 it was published in Greek by Pandora Books
- L'Illusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le débat intellectuel 1900, Paris, La Découverte, 1984
- Georges Sorel en son temps, with Jacques Julliard (eds), Paris, Seuil, 1985
- Intellectuals, Truth and Power: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2000 (in Hebrew)
- Le XXe siècle à l' écran, Paris, Seuil, 2004 — also as Film as History – Imagining and Screening the Twentieth Century, Tel Aviv, Am Oved & Open University Press, 2002 (in Hebrew)
- Cinema and Memory – A Dangerous Relationship?, with Haim Bresheeth & Moshe Zimmerman (eds), Jerusalem, The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2004 (in Hebrew)
- Historians, Time and Imagination, From the “Annales” School to the Postzionist Assassin, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2004 (in Hebrew)
- Les Mots et la terre - Les intellectuels en Israël, Paris, Fayard, 2006—Also as The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth, trans. Ames Hodge, Cambridge, Semiotext(e)/Active Agents, 2011.
- The Invention of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, Resling, 2008 (in Hebrew) — also as Comment le peuple juif fut inventé - De la Bible au sionisme, Paris, Fayard, 2008, and The Invention of the Jewish People, New York, Verso 2009.
- The Invention of the Land of Israel, Tel Aviv, Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, 2012 (in Hebrew). Published in English translation by Verso (2012).
- CV on the Tel Aviv University website
- History as Film, Shiur Hofshi (Free Period) no 67, June 2005, Israeli Teachers' Union (in Hebrew)
- Matzpen site
- Conversation with Shlomo Sand, by Asaf Shor, Me'asef, 10 December 2004 (in Hebrew)
- PhD Thesis : Georges Sorel et le marxisme. Rencontre et crise 1893-1902. (Georges Sorel and Marxism. Encounter and crisis 1893-1902), École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France, 1982.
- Shattering a 'national mythology' by Ofri Ilani, Haaretz, March 2008
- Idea of a Jewish people invented, says historian Book Review by Jonathan Cook at MediaMonitors. 17 Oct 2007. Verified 12 Dec 2008.
- Segev, Tom (1 March 2008). "An invention called 'the Jewish people'". Haaretz. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Maya Sela, "Israeli author of controversial book on Jewish lineage wins French prize", Haaretz 12 March 2009
- "ספרים חדשים (New Books)". Haaretz. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- The Invention of the Jewish People, English Edition (Verso Books, 2009) Website
- Anita Shapira, Review Essay: The Jewish-people deniers, The Journal of Israeli History, Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2009, 63-72 (in English)
- "Comment le peuple juif fut inventé" ("How the Jewish People was invented") by Shlomo Sand, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2008
- Zionist nationalist myth of enforced exile: Israel deliberately forgets its history by Shlomo Sand, Le Monde diplomatique, September 2008
- Boycott Ariel college by Shlomo Sand, Haaretz
- History in the (almost) making by Yonatan Gur, Ynetnews, November 2007
- Post-Zionism only rings once by Neri Livneh, Haaretz, September 2001
- "Are the Jews an invented people?", Eric Rouleau, Le Monde diplomatique - English edition (May 2008).
- Martin Goodman, The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), 26 February 2010; Shlomo Sand responds[dead link], TLS, Letters to the Editor, 10 March 2010; Martin Goodman responds[dead link], TLS, Letters to the Editor, 24 March 2010
- Video of discussion between Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand. Chaired by Jacqueline Rose at the Frontline Club, London, 12 November 2009
- Shlomo Sand interview: 'There are Israeli, not Jewish people' on Russia Today. Uploaded to YouTube 4 Aug 2009.