Reviews

Praise for The Invention of the Jewish People:

“Shlomo Sand, historian and author of The Invention of the Jewish People—much reviewed and rebutted, and recently translated into English—is provoking the international community by arguing that Jews have never been genetically or otherwise ‘a people’ … Sand’s larger point, that Israel needs to become more like other Western democracies and less obsessed with ethnic purity, is welcome.” Newsweek

“The translated version of his polemic has sparked a new wave of coverage in Britain and has provoked spirited debates … The book has been extravagantly denounced and praised.” Patricia Cohen, New York Times

“Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People is both a welcome and, in the case of Israel, much needed exercise in the dismantling of nationalist historical myth and a plea for an Israel that belongs equally to all its inhabitants. Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.” Eric Hobsbawm, Observer, Books of the Year

“A formidable polemic against claims that Israel has a moral right to define itself as an explicitly and exclusively Jewish society, in which non-Jews, such as Palestino-Israelis, are culturally and politically marginalised.”  Max Hastings, Sunday Times

“Zionism’s quest for a historical homeland is brilliantly excavated by Shlomo Sand in his recent The Invention of the Jewish People.” Alex Cockburn, The Nation [available here]

“I am one of many Jews who would agree with Sand that a decisive factor in the future of Israel will be its capacity to be far more attentive to the narratives and rights of its Palestinian and other non-Jewish citizens.” Jonathan Wittenberg, Guardian

“[Shlomo Sand’s] quiet earthquake of a book is shaking historical faith in the link between Judaism and Israel.” Rafael Behr, Observer

“A string of firecrackers.” Independent, Book of the Week

“It is certainly one of the bravest [books of the year].” Terry Eagleton, Times Literary Supplement

“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.” Independent on Sunday, Best History Books of 2009

“No serious reader who is interested in Zionism or Israel—whatever their personal views—can avoid being shaken up … by Sand’s impressive redrawing of the major religious and ‘racial’ boundaries that are usually taken for granted in most discussions of these subjects.” Bertell Ollman, Monthly Review Zine

“[Sand’s] conclusion is that Israel has to become a democratic state of all its citizens, including the 20 per cent who are Muslims and Christians, not a state of all the Jews. This book must be as seen as a milestone on that road.” The National

“His latest academic work has spent 19 weeks on Israel’s bestseller list and that success has come to the history professor despite his book challenging Israel’s biggest taboo.” Jonathan Cook, Al Jazeera

“Sand makes a very strong case against the neo-biblical story of the Jews that has been used by both Christians and modern Jews, and forms the religious underpinning of Zionism.” Colorlines

“His book is a trip through a landscape of illusions which Sand aims to explode, leaving the scenery freer for a Middle East built … from the hard bricks of truth.” Simon Schama, Financial Times

“Groundbreaking historical study… Powerful and provocative work.” Palestine Chronicle

Shlomo Sand’s excellent book shows how depressingly easily hard science will soften and flow into channels shaped by the political mood of the scientists…  If “The Invention of the Jewish People” has profound ramifications for religion, its challenge to ethnic-nationalism is still greater.” Pulse Media

The book’s subject—the interplay between citizenship, biology, religion, and other forms of imagined identity—is one of fundamental importance not only to Israelis and Palestinians but also to the citizens of every modern state.” Dissent Magazine [available here]

Advance reviews

“Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book. In cool, scholarly prose he has, quite simply, normalized Jewish history. In place of the implausible myth of a unique nation with a special destiny – expelled, isolated, wandering and finally restored to its rightful home – he has reconstructed the history of the Jews and convincingly reintegrated that history into the general story of humankind. The self-serving and mostly imaginary Jewish past that has done so much to provoke conflict in the present is revealed, like the past of so many other nations, to be largely an invention. Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.” — Tony Judt

Tom Segev in Haaretz: “One of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time.”

Jonathan Cook in The National: “Shlomo Sand’s latest work has spent 19 weeks on Israel’s bestseller list.”

Morgan Strong in Consortium News: “There has been no serious rebuttal to Sand’s book, which has been a bestseller in Israel and Europe.”

Israel Bartal in Haaretz: a “learned, captivating study … certainly worthy of a serious discussion”.

Anita Shapira in the Journal of Israeli History: “a sharp, pointed polemic drawing on much varied historical material”.

Eric Rouleau in Le Monde diplomatique: “Israel shouldn’t be a Jewish state, but a democratic and secular one which belongs to all its citizens.”

In French

Shlomo Sand in Le Monde diplomatique

Jacques Julliard in Le Nouvel Observateur

Eric Marty on the UPJF website and Sand’s reply in Le Monde

Marc Riglet in Lire

In Hebrew

Tom Segev in Haaretz

Israel Bartal in Haaretz

Yaacov Shavit in Haaretz, Shlomo Sand’s reply, Shavit’s reponse

Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz

In Arabic

Raban Halabi

News website

Share this page:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Twitter