2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
but where do go from here?,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Paperback)
What I particularly liked about this book is that Sand takes a lot of time to give his potential oppenents a run for their money. It is a very impressive work of scholarship - the reading list is amazing - though there is certainly no sense of laboured prose in the sprightly English translation. All national and communal self images are exercises in imagination - I'm a Scot, so I know - so criticing them in the light of scholarly research is pretty easy, and can cause offense. This does not invalidate the scholarship, and Sands takes us through not only the history of Jewish communities, but the history of the development of the idea of a special type of biological/racial community, calling themselves Jews. He is pretty convincing that this is an implausible idea, based on the Christian myth of the wandering Jew (punished for murdering God) amd married to 19th Century German racial theories. I doubt if a dispassionate observer would be able to demolish this thesis, at least so long as they are not living in the Middle East. But if you are a Jew living in Israel, it is hard to see how you can give up the current myths in favour of others, unless you can see some security for the future, and it is not obvious how this can be done. It is hard to think of Palistinian "Israelis" happily becoming full citizen "Israelis" - the name would not endure, or Jewish Israelis giving up the idea of Israel. Still, it is a step forward to do away with, or at least question, the more obviously racist forms of Zionism, and this book is a formidable challenge to that idea. Maybe there is some value in the idea of a "Jewish Democracy" (I live happily in a Monarchical democracy, with Republicanism as a respectable weekend pursuit). Great book, but no real road map anywhere at present, so perhaps it is meant only to ginger up intenal Israeli debates.