Last night Tel Aviv University history professor Shlomo Sand referred to Israel as a “shitty nation” (clip 1). He called Israel “the most racist society in the world” and said that he has been fighting “Jewish racism all my life” (both clip 2). And he declared that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in the western world today (clip 3).
He was speaking in London at the SOAS launch of his new book The Invention of The Land of Israel. The much discredited thesis of his previous book The Invention of The Jewish People is that there was no expulsion of the Jews from the Holy Land; diaspora Jews, therefore, must have all descended from converts and so have no right to return to Israel.
The already much discredited thesis of The Invention of The Land of Israel is, simply, that the land of Israel holds no religious significance for Jews either.
First, he claimed, there is no mention of “Israel” in the bible; it is only mentioned in the Talmud. This is not true (see note 1). Second, he claimed that political Zionism grew out of Christianity, not Judaism, and he solely credits Lord Shaftesbury and the evangelical Christian movement in London for the idea that Jews should return to the Holy Land.
But Sand, conveniently, regards great religious figures like Rabbi Alkalia and Rabbi Kalischer, who in the early nineteenth century wrote voraciously about the pressing need for Jews to return to Zion, as only minority influences.
Sand claimed that the Balfour Declaration came about due to three main reasons:
1. The ideological background of many leaders who wanted Redemption via a Jewish return to the Holy Land.
2. The colonialist interests of Britain in the Middle East.
3. Anti-Semitism – Balfour didn’t want suffering Jews from the East coming to Britain.
Sand said Jews preferred to move to America but after 1924, when America stopped eastern European immigration altogether, no country would accept Jews who then had no choice but to go to the Holy Land against their will.
Sand, again, conveniently ignores the examples of the Jewish pioneers in the Hibbat Zion and BILU movements who volunteered to move to the harsh conditions of the Holy Land during the 1880s to try to make a life there.
Sand views Israelis as a nation even if a “shitty one”. But, for Sand, they aren’t a Jewish nation because he doesn’t recognise such a concept exists. Sand views being Jewish as a purely religious concept and said that Hamas in Gaza are much more likely to be descended from the ancient people who once inhabited the Holy Land than he is.
Sand says he desires a two-state solution with equal rights for Arabs living in Israel and for Jews living in a future Palestine. Presumably, it would be an Israel where diaspora Jews would have limited, if any, rights to move to.
And on anti-Semitism Sand said:
“The century of anti-Semitism between 1850 and 1950 is finished. Pro-Zionists don’t understand history. I don’t think that political public anti-Semitism exists today in the western world. You cannot find members of Parliament in Britain or the United States who are openly anti-Semitic. You cannot find journalists who are anti-Semitic. You cannot find films that are anti-Semitic.”
This is what many in the audience wanted to hear. It was their official certificate that they are not Jew haters even though they focus solely on opposing the Jewish state while ignoring atrocities by both sides in Syria, by Hamas in Gaza and by the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Iranian government which both brutally oppress their own people. To name but a few.
Once again, Sand conveniently ignores or is unaware of the example of Liberal Democrat David Ward who recently accused “the Jews” of inflicting something akin to a Holocaust on the Palestinians.
Sand is the master of cherry-picking anything that backs up his argument while ignoring anything inconvenient that might detract from it.
His recent books are not based on proper fact, record or history. They are simply driven by a hatred for the Jewish state.
1. For a superb taking down of Sand’s new book see here via Elder of Ziyon.
2. For a superb analysis of Sand speaking at The Frontline Club the previous night see here via Jonathan Hoffman.
Clips from last night (not good sound quality):
Clip 1 – Sand declares Israel a “shitty nation”:
Clip 2 – Sand declares Israel “the most racist society in the world” and says he has been fighting “Jewish racism all my life”:
Clip 3 – Sand claims there is no anti-Semitism in the west today: