Top BBC presenter hosts eulogy to author who argues that the Jewish people do not exist, as UK anti-Zionist discourse hits another low
Shlomo Sand is a “historian” whose name you are likely to be hearing a lot more of. Following in the footsteps of Ilan Pappe, he is a far-Left, “non-Zionist”, Israeli ideologue who has just published a book –The Invention of the Jewish People — seeking to delegitimise the historical foundations of the State of Israel.
But Sand’s technique is not merely to delegitimise the Israel that was established in 1948, though he refers to that as having been accomplished by the “rape” of the Palestinian people. It is to assert that the notion of the Jewish people as a “nation-race” that was exiled from its historic homeland is pure fabrication. There is no Jewish people in the sense of having a bloodline that can be traced back to Biblical times and, therefore, there is no Jewish homeland for the current imposters to return to.
Needless to say, he has instantly acquired the status in Britain of a hero of the Israel-hating mainstream. This week on BBC Radio Four’s flagship “Start the Week” programme, star presenter Andrew Marr hosted Sand in the most one-sided, uncritical eulogy to an anti-Israeli commentator that I for one have ever heard broadcast on the BBC.
Early on in the interview, Marr quotes from Sand’s book the words of a Jewish historian of the 19th century involved in what Marr had previously described as a “masterplan” to invent the idea of the Jewish people:
“You cannot destroy a pure Caucasian race,” the historian is quoted as saying, “this is a psychological fact, a law of nature. No punitive system no physical torture can cause a superior race to be consumed or destroyed by an inferior one.”
Marr goes on, evoking a chuckle from Sand, to comment that:
“[This] sounds to our ears like some kind of Nazi propagandist but this is actually a Jewish historian talking about the inferior race [which] there is the German race isn’t it”?
Marr continues by elucidating (without challenging them) the main points of Sand’s book as follows: there was no exile of the Jews by the Romans; the Jewish communities around the Mediterranean at that time did not have Jewish names, they didn’t speak Hebrew, they didn’t behave as Jews, they were just farmers; and that Judaism was a proselytizing religion much like Christianity and Islam.
That last point is central to Sand’s argument and is later used to argue that the Jews of Europe were really Russian, Spanish and German converts who “returned” to Israel in modern times. There is no Jewish people in the sense of an ethnic group with a racial-ethnic identity.
Marr’s tone is always of the awe-struck and fascinated student listening to the revelatory insights of a great sage. When Sand refers to the “myth” of the Jewish people as fulfilling an ideological need for Zionist propaganda, Marr gleefully jumps in with the following:
“You remove this myth and you change a great deal about the situation in the Middle East ultimately don’t you?”
“Yeah, I hope, I hope,” says Sand in response.
A little later, Sand protests that he is not actually opposed to Israel’s existence in terms which I will leave to readers to decide whether he is faking or being serious:
“I don’t want to question the existence of Israel…When I’m speaking before Arab students I compare the birth of the Israeli state as an act of rape. But you have to recognise even a son that was born of an act of rape, you have to recognise him. [But] the existence of Israel I don’t put in question today. You understand?”
“Sure”, whispers Marr while seamlessly bringing in another speaker to offer yet more criticism-free, adulatory questions.
You really have to listen to the programme in its entirety (see link below) to get a sense of the sheer obsequiousness of Marr’s approach. There are a few references to the fact that Sand’s book has evoked controversy in Israel. But there was not a single critical question. Not a single member of the discussion was willing or able to refute a thesis which the vast majority of historians have rubbished as tendentious, ideological propaganda.
This is an author whose work seeks to totally delegitimse the Jewish people and their historic claim to the State of Israel. It is nothing less than an existential challenge to both. The response of the BBC on its flagship programme is to grovel to such a writer, to give him a free hand to say whatever he likes, to affirm his credibility and thus to legitimise his message.
Mark my words, there is much more of this sort of thing to come….
To listen to the show, click here:
To get your antidote in the form of my new book on the subject (for which I won’t be invited on Start the Week), click here: