‘It’s Not Your Homeland’: An Interview With Shlomo Sand

Shlomo Sand shot to prominence and controversy with his 2008 book The Invention of the Jewish People. His follow-up, The Invention of the Land of Israel, examines a nationalist mythology of land which forms a crucial part of the Zionist story of, and justification for, the Jewish State. In this interview Shlomo talks to Lewis Turner about his journey re-discovering his country’s history, his hopes for Israel’s future and the role of historians in social change.

What has the reaction been like to the second book within Israel?

First of all it was a bestseller for ten weeks. Secondly, a few weeks after it was a bestseller one of my colleagues, a historian from Haifa University, attacked me very strongly, but it wasn’t serious so I decided not to respond. I was covered nicely by Ha’aretz, in a long interview. But it’s not so easy for a lot of people to read these books, I know that. I respect them, but I don’t respect the fact that people don’t want to accept what I think is true about the past and true about the present. I started this voyage five years ago, when I decided that I have to deal with Zionist and Israeli history because it was too easy for me to be occupied only with European history. But when I started to touch Jewish history, some people became crazy. Historians today in Israel, I can compare them to British historians a hundred years ago....

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