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Tel Aviv University
How Israeli Taxpayers Supported TAU Shlomo Sand, a Propaganda Mouthpiece for Iran, David Duke, Louis Farrakhan and the Daily Stormer

06.12.18
Editorial Note

TAU Professor Shlomo Sand is no stranger to controversy. In 2009 he published the English translation of his book The Invention of the Jewish People.  Using fanciful critical theories and outright historical falsifications, Sand asserted that the Jewish people never existed as an ethno-demographic entity. Rather, they were “invented” by nineteenth century Zionist entrepreneurs in order to justify their quest to create a Jewish country in Palestine.  At the very least, Sand claimed, these so-called Jews in Eastern Europe were the Khazars who converted to Judaism between the seventh and the tenth century. 

Contradicting this claim, Prof. Shaul Stampfer of the Hebrew University's Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies, has researched the question and noted that the Khazar conversion is a legend with no factual basis. There was never a conversion of a Khazar king or the Khazar elite. Also, the fact that DNA testing totally disproved this thesis did not bother Sand. His response was "It is a bitter irony to see the descendants of Holocaust survivors set out to find a biological Jewish identity: Hitler would certainly have been very pleased! And it is all the more repulsive that this kind of research should be conducted in a state that has waged for years a declared policy of Judaization of the country.’” With the same disregard for scientific norms, he also claimed that the Yiddish, the language of East European Jews had no connection to German.

In 2009 Sand was accused of anti-Semitism after comparing Israel's birth to rape. "I compare when I am speaking before Arab students the birth of the Israeli state to an act of rape. But even the son that was born of the act of rape... you have to recognize him... the existence of Israel I don't put in question today, you understand me?" He said.

While Sand was totally discredited by scholars and lay critics, he has amassed a large fan club as noted recently in the Haaretz article "Why David Duke, David Icke, Louis Farrakhan and the Assad Regime All Love Shlomo Sand.   Sand has also been a favorite of the propaganda machine of Iran, George Galloway, Gilad Atzmon and the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi outlet modeled on the infamous Nazi flagship.  The Haaretz article concluded that Sand is considered a "first-rate authority on Jews by lots of first-rate Jew-haters," and that "Sand has the unique distinction of attracting an incredibly broad spectrum of anti-Semites who follow different schools of anti-Semitism, from theological to political to racial to cultural. Sand func'tions as the symbolic destination for an 'ingathering of the anti-Semites,' as it were.”
 
Other critics of Sand have made the same point, as IAM repeatedly pointed out.  Anita Shapira, the renowned professor of Jewish History wrote of Sand's book, it is an "attempt to drag history into a topical argument, and with the help of misrepresentations and half-truths to adapt it to the needs of a political discussion, and all this, ostensibly, under an academic mantle. Sand has written a sharp, pointed polemic drawing on much varied historical material which he re-kneads at will... Sand bases his arguments on the most esoteric and controversial interpretations, while seeking to undermine the credibility of important scholars by dismissing their conclusions without bringing any evidence to bear."

What is less known is that Sand has been essentially saying the same things since he was a member of the now defunct, Matzpen, a radical organization which operated in the sixties and early seventies, when Sand was working as a telephone technician for the Israeli Post Office.  His prospects have improved when, after obtaining a doctorate in French culture, Tel Aviv University hired him to teach in the department of history on French history and culture.   After securing tenure, Sand, like many of his radical colleagues at Tel Aviv University, turned to writing on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the infamous “Invention of the Jewish People.”  As Sand admitted, "I chose this subject after I got tenure. I could not make an academic career in Tel Aviv with this kind of book. After getting a full professorship, I decided to take a risk." Indeed, it was because of academic legitimacy that the radical anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli fraternity made him a star. It is hard to imagine that this fraternity would have used him as a top exhibit if he was a telephone technician. 

Sand defines himself as a historian, but his scholarship belongs to cultural studies and cinema. Tel Aviv University is the cause for his confusion for recruiting him to the Department of History. See for example his publications.  As described ihis online biographysince 1984 and until his  The invention of the Jewish People, in 2008, none of his books were scholarship of history:   
Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi?, Tel Aviv, Resling, 2008. Hebrew. (The Invention of the Jewish People); 
Historians, Time and Imagination, From the “Annales” School to the Postzionist Assassin, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2004. Hebrew;
Film as History – Imagining and Screening the Twentieth Century, Tel Aviv, Am Oved & Open University Press, 2002. Hebrew;
Le XXe siècle à l' écran, Paris, Seuil, 2004. (The Twentieth Century on the Screen);
Intellectuals, Truth and Power. From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2000. Hebrew;
L'Illusion du politique. Georges Sorel et le débat intellectuel 1900 , Paris, La Découverte, 1984. (The Illusion of politics. Georges Sorel and the intellectual debate 1900);

Likewise, his syllabi are evidently for teaching cinema course. Sand's syllabus in 2004, "Movies as Memorial Zones - Cinema and Colonialism" described as following: "The cinema was born at one of the highlights of colonial expansion of the late nineteenth century. A few years after its birth it began to film the occupied territories and the history of the white man in them. Over the past century, many thousands of documentaries and feature films have been reproduced in the West that reconstructed various chapters of the history of colonialism. Stories of the occupier's and ruler's contacts with the locals, the exotic or the dangerous, occupied the imagination of many directors and thus constituted a background for love affairs, adventures and emotional sagas. The process of de-colonization in the second half of the twentieth century began to change the narrative recipes, although many components of the cinematic-colonial view remained intact. The class will attempt to review some of the cinematic representations of the history of colonization and the national struggle against it. Through the audiovisual materials, documentary and feature films, we will try to learn about the nature of the West's attitude toward the occupied, its arrogance, its self-representation vis-à-vis the inferior "other" and its hidden and apparent fears in response to the rebellion of the occupied, etc. From the first Tarzan films, through Lawrence of Arabia, to the Battle of Algeria, Gandhi and Indo China, the ideological and emotional manipulations created by cinema and their differences will be examined in the historiographic discourse on the development of colonialism and de-colonization." The students are required to read a chapter in Sand's book Cinema as History. To Visualize and Direct the Twentieth Century (Am Oved: 2002), Hebrew. pp. 13-29. 

Sand's syllabus in 2005 is "Cinema as History: Fascism, Nazism and Racism." His course is detailed as "The central issue in this class will be: How did the cinema tell the history of Fascism and Nazism? With the help of cinematic, documentary and feature materials, the relationship between moving imagery and historiography will be examined. The focus of the discussion will be on the nature of the audiovisual representations related to general historical processes, the insights these representations contain, as well as their advantages and disadvantages vis-à-vis the written conceptualization mechanisms. How is cinema different as an agent of memory from the other "recollection" agents? Is in the case of the history of fascism and Nazism, cinema adds a layer of memory that would not have been found without it? What are the elements of knowledge about the past that the film offers and what kind of emotional and intellectual manipulation it contains? In what way the movie is different from textbooks? The purpose of the course is to answer these questions and to add and respond to others."

Sand even found faults in his own research, admitting as much in the book"Though the present work was composed by a professional historian, it takes risks not usually permitted or authorized in this field of endeavor. The accepted rules of academe demand that the scholar follow prescribed pathways and stick to the field in which he is supposedly qualified. A glance at the chapter headings of this book, however, will show that the spectrum of issues discussed herein exceeds the boundaries of a single scientific field. Teachers of Bible studies, historians of the ancient period, archaeologists, medievalists and, above all, experts on the Jewish People will protest that the author has encroached on fields of research not his own. There is some truth in this argument, as the author is well aware. It would have been better had the book been written by a team of scholars rather than by a lone historian. Unfortunately, this was not possible, as the author could find no accomplices. Some inaccuracies may therefore be found in this book, for which the author apologizes, and he invites critics to do their best to correct them."

That anti-Semites and radical Israel-bashers would embrace Sand is understandable. What is more difficult to explain is why the academic authorities at TAU and other universities defended the radical scholars by hoisting the flag of academic freedom.  Israeli universities are public institutions which are accountable to the taxpayers and their elected officials.  Clearly, by providing Sand and others with academic respectability they failed their fiduciary responsibility.  


  

תמונת השער

in גיליון-52: מרץ 1970מסמכים

חברי מצפן שלמה זנד וחיים הנגבי נעצרים על ידי המשטרה בנצרת.

 


=========================================================

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-david-duke-louis-farrakhan-and-the-assad-regime-all-love-shlomo-sand-1.6673617

Opinion  
    

Why David Duke, David Icke, Louis Farrakhan and the Assad Regime All Love Shlomo Sand

And Iran, George Galloway, Gilad Atzmon and the Daily Stormer. Why has such a diverse spectrum of anti-Semites converged on the work of this Israeli historian? Should he bear any blame for how they've weaponized his words?


Esther Solomon 
Nov 20, 2018 1:15 PM

Compared to his previous work, Shlomo Sand’s recent op-ed in Haaretz was relatively restrained.
"I don’t understand why all cats have to be called cats and all the dogs, dogs – and only one cat has to be called a dog...The ‘exile’ [of the Jews] is a formative event that never took place...[It doesn’t confer] on the Jews some sort of imagined ‘historic right’ to the Holy Land."

This was low-energy Sand compared to the usual standards of the Tel Aviv University emeritus professor of history, whose writing has proved ripe for weaponizing by anti-Semites from Damascus to the Daily Stormer. 
View image on Twitter

The Twisted Logic of the Jewish ‘Historic Right’ to http://ow.ly/BbT830mCUf7 

That Sand has declared that Jewish continuity and identity is a great deception, that most Jews hail from the medieval (and perhaps legendary) Turkic empire of Khazaria, not the Holy Land, that we have "a moral obligation to break definitively" with the identity of a "race-people such as the Jews," AKA the "exclusive club of the elect and their acolytes," and decried the Jews’ profiteering exploitation of the "Holocaust industry" that seeks to "maximize" its political and financial "capital."        

He has publicly declared he wished “to resign and cease considering [him]self a Jew" because ethnocentrism and racism are a fun'ction of Jewishness.      Shlomo Sand’s fame, or notoriety, has lasted decades, and shows no sign of ebbing. His piece in Haaretz was shared over 11,000 times on Facebook; his books are routinely translated in 20-plus languages. The only problem is one of his keenest fan bases is constituted by those with a marked distaste for, if not violent hatred of, Jews.

Indeed, Sand is considered a "first-rate authority on Jews by lots of first-rate Jew-haters."
Sand has the unique distinction of attracting an incredibly broad spectrum of anti-Semites who follow different schools of anti-Semitism, from theological to political to racial to cultural. Sand func'tions as the symbolic destination for an "ingathering of the anti-Semites," as it were.      

But does it matter who adopts his theses with such alacrity? Is he really responsible for where his work is received, and by whom?       

Let’s take one of the stranger claims the historian (not ethnologist) Sand has made: That the real origins of most European Jews are the Khazar tribe ("ignoring," as a historian peer commented, "the overwhelming historical consensus that they had never existed").
The "Khazar origin" theory for Ashkenazi Jews was first popularized by Arthur Koestler in his 1976 book "The Thirteenth Tribe." That swiftly became "an article of faith among anti-Semites and anti-Israel Arab politicians. … The neo-Nazi National States Rights Party in the U.S. declared [it] to be ‘the political bombshell of the century’ because ‘it destroys all claims of the present-day Jew-Khazars to any historic right to occupy Palestine.’"        

That dovetails neatly into two directions: First, theological – such as the literal replacement theology of Louis Farrakhan.        

According to a fellow Nation of Islam leader, Farrakhan has "boldly" declared that "the Jewish people who currently hold sway in Israel and throughout the world...[have] no biological, anthropological, historical, scientific or scriptural evidence to support the assertion that...[they] are the Hebrews of the Bible." No wonder Farrakhan is a Sand fan.

The second direction is political. As Syrian state TV reported several years ago, "Jewish nationalism is invalid...[Jews] invented legends...to cover for this new Zionist imperialist project against the Arab nation." That was taken from the blurb of a Damascus University symposium dedicated to Sand’s "Invention of the Jewish People," and organized by The Syrian Arab Popular Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People and Resisting the Zionist Project. 

For the anti-Zionist far left, Sand is a godsend.

We have an excellent show with Shlomo Sand from a while back. There’s a dozen other things in archive too but that was excellent https://twitter.com/mirzakuchak/status/977583633149153286 


Shlomo Sand and@piercepenniless ahead of on @ResonanceFM 104.4fm - starts in several minutes

Corbynista and co-founder of a far-left media outlet, Aaron Bastani, enthusiastically interviewed him on "The Invention of the Land of Israel," and Sand’s books have come up constantly as required reading on Israel-Palestine in Facebook groups for the Corbyn left, mired in accusations of anti-Semitism. Avowedly anti-Zionist site Mondoweiss gave copies of the "Invention of the Jewish People" as a gift to new subscribers in 2012. Self-declared anti-Semite, ex-Israeli, Holocaust denier and pro-Palestinian activist Gilad Atzmon called it a "must read."
Similarly, where the far left and the Iranian regime media meet, Sand can be sure of a delightful reception. Back in 2009, he was interviewed on Press TV by none other than friend-of-Hamas-and-Hezbollah George Galloway, and again in 2013 on the occasion of the second book’s publication.

So far, so revolting, or so thrillingly taboo-breaking, depending on your view. 
But it’s surely unavoidable for Sand to take a pause when his work is endorsed by the neo-Nazi far right – after all, his own parents were Holocaust survivors. So what about when ex-KKK head David Duke plugged his discussion of "the amazing recent pronouncements of Israeli Shlomo Sand who reveals the truth about hyper Jewish racism in Israel and all over the world"?

Duke has also remarked that Sand’s "observations about the true nature of Jewish racist tribalism are accurate," and has engaged at great length with Sand’s Khazar theory, which he once backed before realizing it wasn’t reductive enough of Jewish history – it wasn’t anti-Semitic enough: "The problem we face is not a ‘Khazar’ problem, it is a Jewish problem, it is a problem of extremist Jewish racism and supremacism which continually plunges our world into war, hatred, tyranny and degradation."

  

The David Duke Show: Debunking the Khazar Myth & Why The Jewish Establishment Doesn’t Want You to Vote for Trump! http://ln.is/www.dailystormer.com/wUo85 


When Sand declared through the pages of The Guardian that he no longer wanted to be considered a Jew, his erstwhile far-right fans were scathing: “Shlomo Sand Resigns from Being a Jew as if It will Magically Turn Him Into a Human Being” was the Daily Stormer headline. The article elaborated further: “There is no getting away from it, Shlomo, the blood of Christ is upon you and your children for ever, whether you go to the synagogue or not is immaterial.”

Sand has been asked whether he’s concerned by the unappetizing characters who flock to his work. In one 2009 interview in the Wall Street Journal, he countered: "I don’t care if crazy anti-Semites in the United States use my book." (I’m sure he wouldn’t mind including a crazy Brit in that – the conspiracist and anti-Semite David Icke.)
Sand added: “Anti-Semitism in the West, for the moment, is not a problem.”
Ah. Perhaps this is where the issue of responsibility gets more complicated. Is Sand suggesting that if anti-Semitism in the West becomes a problem (and right now, we’re talking after Pittsburgh and a decade of particularly ferocious terrorist attacks against Jews in Europe), he would reconsider his language?

When it comes to how words can be weaponized for hate and hate crimes, there must clearly be a question of intent. The most current example is clearly Donald Trump. For some, his racist incitement has obvious real-world consequences, a conclusion rejected by others.

Another, perhaps closer, example is the Italian-Israeli academic Ariel Toaff, scion of a community in Rome with thousands of years’ experience of Catholic theological anti-Semitism, who decided to write a book entitled “Bloody Passover: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders.”

A member of the Italian-Jewish community in Jerusalem noted that despite Toaff’s subsequent attempt to clarify – no, he didn’t think 15th-century Jews ritually murdered a 2-year-old boy – the damage was already done: "The simple people don’t read professors’ articles. The simple people will only remember that Toaff’s son said that Jews murdered Simonino."

Toaff eventually withdrew the book from circulation. But there's a guerrilla translation available to buy on Amazon which amps up the title towards its intended audience: "The Bloody Satanic Sacrifice Rituals of the Jewish Race: Blood Passover, English Version," whose blurb announces that Jews didn’t want the Gentiles to know about the "murders they had committed" and enjoins readers to "Come out of the darkness and strike a blow for the light. READ AND PASS ON."

The defense of naivety is no defense, as Sand is entirely aware how his language has been applied, and of the rise of anti-Semitism in the past decade. This is not to suggest silencing him, but it seems reasonable to reassess what platforms should be volunteered – and for Sand himself to reassess the language in which his theses are couched.
There’s a lesson here for a wide range of people legitimately opposed to Israel’s policies and the occupation about whether the language they use strays into anti-Semitism – and provides sustenance for violent anti-Semites.

There is one final irony to Sand’s Haaretz piece, and not one he intended. The photo illustrating his op-ed is a Jew entering a synagogue in Sarcelles, a Paris suburb that is 25 percent Jewish and which was, as Anshel Pfeffer reported, “the [2014] scene ... of the first pogrom in Europe in the 21st century” – an anti-Jewish riot that took violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as a trigger for a rampage.

That seems to indicate that, despite Sand’s contention that "the Jewish people" is a damaging imaginary fiction, there are plenty of Jews whose lives pivot around  just that identity. And plenty of anti-Semites who target that collective identity, too.

 

Esther Solomon is the Opinion Editor of Haaretz English. Twitter: @EstherSolomon 


=============================================



Opinion  

The Twisted Logic of the Jewish ‘Historic Right’ to Israel

Our political culture insists on seeing the Jews as the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews. But the Jews never existed as a ‘people’ – still less as a nation

 

Shlomo Sand

 

I enjoy the vacillations of Chaim Gans, even if I don’t always understand them. I have the highest esteem for his intellectual honesty – even if at times, perhaps like everyone, he tries to resolve contradictions with lame arguments.

However, before going into the heart of the matter, I must pause over an annoying mistake – I’m certain that at bottom it’s not deliberately misleading but a folly – concerning my writings. In the article, “From rabid Zionism to egalitarian Zionism” (November 9), Gans writes, “because, according to [Sand], there is purportedly no genetic continuity between ancient and modern Jewry, it follows that the Jewish nationhood engendered by Zionism is a total fabrication, a nationhood created out of thin air.”

If my assumption that Gans has perused my books is correct, he appears to have read them both too quickly and at a diagonal. Since the publication of my first book "The invention of the Jewish people" a decade ago, I have made a point of emphasizing that it’s not only Jews who don’t possess a common DNA – neither do all other human groups that claim to be peoples or nations – besides which I have never thought that genetics can confer national rights. For example, the French are not the direct descendants of the Gauls, just as the Germans are not the offspring of the Teutons or of the ancient Aryans, even if until a little more than half a century ago many idiots believed just that.

One trait that all peoples have in common is that they are retroactive inventions with no distinctive genetic "traits." The acute problem that genuinely disturbs me is that I live in a singular political and pedagogical culture that continues persistently to see the Jews as the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

The founding myth of Zionism – which proceeds in an unbroken line from Max Nordau and Arthur Ruppin, to worrisome geneticists in several Israeli universities and at Yeshiva University in New York – acts as the principal ideological glue for the nation’s everlasting unity, and today more than ever. The justification for Zionist settlement/colonization (choose your preferred term – they mean the same thing) is the meta-paradigm that is expressed in the declaration of the establishment of the state, namely: “We were here, we were uprooted, we came back.”

Full disclosure: Even when I believed, mistakenly, that the “Jewish people” was exiled by the Romans in 70 C.E. or 132 C.E., I didn’t think that this conferred on the Jews some sort of imagined “historic right” to the Holy Land. If we seek to organize the world as it was 2,000 years ago, we will turn it into one big madhouse. Why not bring Native Americans back to Manhattan, for example, or restore the Arabs to Spain and the Serbs to Kosovo? Of course, such twisted logic of “historic right” will also commit us to supporting the continued settlement/colonization of Hebron, Jericho and Bethlehem.

As I pursued my research, my realization that the Exodus from Egypt never happened and that the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were not exiled by the Romans, left me nonplussed. There is not one study by a historian who specializes in antiquity that recounts that “exile” or any serious historiographic study that reconstructs a mass migration from the place. The “exile” is a formative event that never took place, otherwise it would be the subject of dozens of research studies. Judahite farmers, who constituted an absolute majority of the population at the first century C.E., were not seafarers like the Greeks or the Phoenicians, and did not spread across the world. It was Jahwist monotheism, which since the Hasmonean era had become a dynamic religion engaged in conversion, which laid the foundations for the Jews’ age-old existence around the globe.
Here’s where we get to the heart of Gans’ arguments. This distinguished jurist and political theorist is not prepared to accept the standard justifications for settlement and for Zionism’s conception of land ownership since the end of the 19th century. He is well aware that such popular propositions would oblige him to justify continuation of the present-day settlement project, and perhaps also to deny the rights of the natives who still remain in "the land of Israel.”

Gans even knows that there never actually was a Jewish nation, which is why he resorts to the literal image of a “profile” – a surprising and original term in the national context – wholly based on ignorance. For him to understand what Clermont-Tonnerre meant in his famous speech (a subject I addressed in an article in the Haaretz Hebrew edition last August), a perusal of Wikipedia would have sufficed. He’d have learned immediately that by “nation,” the French liberal was referring to a closed, insular religious community. Did the Jews, in contrast, not see themselves as a people or a nation according to the modern usage of these terms?

Until the modern era, the terms “people” or “nations” were used in a variety of senses. In the Bible, Moses goes down to the people and speaks with them directly (without a loudspeaker, newspapers, television or Twitter). The people also gathers to welcome Joshua and to congratulate him on his victories. In the Middle Ages the Christians viewed themselves as “people of God,” a term in wide use for hundreds of years. In our time, the terms “people” or “nations” are applied in a different way, albeit not always accurately. A “people” is, generally, a human community living within a defined territory, whose members speak a common language and maintain a secular culture with the same, or similar, foundations. “Nation,” on the other hand, is a term that is today generally applied to a people that claims sovereignty over itself or has already achieved it.

I don’t think peoples existed before the modern era – that possibility would have been ruled out by the level of communication they had. There were large clans, tribes, powerful kingdoms, large principalities, religious communities and other groups with various forms of political and social bonds – usually loose ones. In an age when few people could read and write, when each village had a different dialect and the lexicon was appallingly meager, it’s hard to talk about a people with a shared consciousness. Minorities of educated literates do not yet constitute nations, even if they have sometimes created that impression.

I don’t understand why all cats have to be called cats and all the dogs, dogs – and only one cat has to be called a dog. The Jews, like the Christians, Muslims or the followers of the Bahá'í Faith, had in common a strong belief in God alongside diverse and closely linked religious practices. However, a Jew from Kiev could not converse with a Jew from Marrakesh, didn’t sing the songs of the Yemeni Jew and didn’t eat the same foods as the Falash Mura, or Beta Israel, community of Ethiopia. The whole fabric of day-to-day secular life was completely different in each community. Accordingly, to this day – and rightly so – the only way to join the “Jewish people” is through an act of religious conversion.

The Christians, by contrast, viewed the Jews as members of an abominable money-worshipping faith. The Muslims perceived them as adherents of an inferior religion. With the advent of progress in the modern era, many Europeans started to treat them as a defiled race. Anti-Semitism endeavored mightily to cast the Jews as an alien people-race with different blood (DNA hadn’t yet been discovered).

But what in blazes was their self-“profile”? A salient product of the Zionist education system, Chaim Gans tells us that they saw themselves as a kind of nation that dreamed of getting to the “Land of Israel.” I would not suggest that Gans should read distinctively Jewish authors such as Hemann Cohen or Franz Rosenzweig, or the Talmud, which rejected collective emigration to the Holy Land. I’m sure he won’t have time for that. I would only ask him to read a short history that is slightly more reliable.
Until World War II, the vast majority of Eastern and Western Jews – traditionalist, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Communists and Bundists – were avowed anti-Zionists. They did not wish for sovereignty over themselves within a nation-state framework in the Middle East. The Bundists did in fact see themselves, and quite rightly, as a Yiddish people in need of cultural-linguistic autonomy, but they rejected outright the proposal to immigrate to Palestine as part of a project of a trans-world Jewish nation.

And here we come to the last desperate attempt to justify the Zionist enterprise retroactively: Zionism as a response to an emergency situation. History, unfortunately, was more tragic. Zionism failed utterly to rescue Europe’s Jews, nor could it have done so. From 1882 until 1924, the Jews streamed in their masses – about 2.5 million – to the North American continent of promise. And yes, had it not been for the racist Johnson-Reed Immigration Act that prevented continued immigration, another million or perhaps two million of these souls might have been saved.

Additional full disclosure: I was born after the war in a DP camp in Austria. During my first two years I lived with my parents in another camp, in Bavaria. My parents, who lost their parents in the Nazi genocide, wanted to steal into France or, alternatively, immigrate to the United States. All the gates were closed, however, and they were compelled to go to the young country of Israel, the only place that agreed to accept them. The truth is that for Europe, after its participation in the mass slaughter of the Jews, it was convenient to spew out the remnant of a native population that hadn’t taken part in the awful murder, and thereby created a new tragedy, though of a completely different scale.

Chaim Gans isn’t comfortable with this historical narrative, especially when the oppression of the natives and the plundering of their land is continuing even now. Zionism, which succeeded in forging a new nation, is not prepared to recognize its political-cultural-linguistic creation, nor even the specific national rights which that process conferred on it. But Gans, ultimately, is right. From Meir Kahane to Meretz, all Zionists continue to view the state we live in not as a democratic republic belonging to all its Israeli citizens – who definitely have a right to self-determination – but as a political entity that belongs to the Jews of the world, who like their forebears have no wish to come here or to define themselves as Israelis.

What remains for me, then, is to go on being a-Zionist or post-Zionist while doing what I can to help rescue the place I live in from an ever-intensifying racism, due, among other reasons, to the teaching of a false historical past, fear of assimilation with the Other, revulsion of the indigenous culture and so on. For, as the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet wrote, “If I don’t burn / if you don’t burn / ... if we don’t burn / how will the light / ... vanquish the darkness?”

Shlomo Sand is a historian and professor emeritus of Tel Aviv University.






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