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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland

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Groundbreaking new work from the controversial author of The Invention of the Jewish People

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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland

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Groundbreaking new work from the controversial author of The Invention of the Jewish People

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Editorial Reviews

Tony Judt
“Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.”
Eric Hobsbawm
“Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.”
From the Publisher
“Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.”—Tony Judt, In praise of The Invention of the Jewish People

“Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.”—Eric Hobsbawm, In praise of The Invention of the Jewish People

“A thought-provoking, readable, and important work.”—Publisher's Weekly

“... there is much to enjoy and learn in the evidence in the potentially incendiary material [Shlomo Sand] assembles here.”—Electronic Intifada

“[Sand] critically consider the ways in which the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel have been justified by claims of ancestral lands, historical rights, and millennia-old national yearnings, all of which he proceeds to critically undermine as either justifiable reasons for mastery over the land of Palestine/Israel or even representative of longstanding mass Jewish aspirations.”—Book News

“This groundbreaking new historical work from a highly controversial author undoes the myth of the Jewish people’s historical right to the ‘Land of Israel.’”—

Publishers Weekly
In his newest, Sand (The Invention of the Jewish People), a professor of modern history at the University of Tel Aviv, seeks “to deconstruct the concept of the Jewish ‘historical right’ to the Land of Israel and its associated nationalist narratives.” Supported by religious and historical sources, he shows that the term “Land of Israel” gained primacy in the early 20th century, and that before that time, observant Jews thought of the land as “an internal spiritual state” rather than a “concrete territorial site.” However, early secular Zionist pioneers began to incorporate notions of redemption into their migrational aspirations. In the process, Zionist and Israeli leaders often rode roughshod over the rights of Palestinian Arabs. Finally, Sand unpacks the radical “Judaization” of Israel after 1948, and shows how, post-1967, a “mythic Land of Israel” that included the West Bank and East Jerusalem “continued to inhabit the interstices of Zionist consciousness.” A thought-provoking, readable, and important work. (Nov.)
New York Times
“Extravagantly denounced and praised.”
on The Invention of the Jewish People Guardian
“A radical dismantling of a national myth.”
Alexander Cockburn
“Zionism’s quest for a historical homeland is brilliantly excavated by Shlomo Sand.”
on The Invention of the Jewish People Haaretz
“Sand’s questions about how Israel’s democracy can be liberalized and stabilized are thought-provoking and deserve serious discussion.”
Kirkus Reviews
A Jewish scholar harshly criticizes the founding narrative of the State of Israel. The concept of "homeland" is a relatively new historical construct, "one of the more surprising, and perhaps the most destructive creations, of the modern era," writes Sand (Contemporary History/Univ. of Tel Aviv; The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth, 2011, etc.). From this general perspective and from the argument made in his highly controversial book, The Invention of the Jewish People (2010), which disputed the idea that Jews "belong to an ancient race-based people," the author doubles down with an attack on the whole notion of an ancestral home for the world's Jews. The idea of a Jewish homeland, he insists, is a turn-of-the-century Zionist invention (given urgency by the Holocaust), a political construct designed to lend moral legitimacy to the seizing of territory to which the Jews have no historical right. He accuses Zionists of getting not only the history wrong, but the religion too. Properly understood, he writes, the Holy Land is an allegorical, intangible expression of the faithful. Well aware of the incendiary implications of his argument and knowing that it will likely be willfully misunderstood both by anti-Semites and zealous nationalists, Sand maintains that his deconstruction of the mythology at the heart of Israel's founding is a necessary prerequisite to a "pragmatic and realistic" resolution of the current conflict with Palestinians. The author attempts, but does not fully succeed, in lightening the relentlessly professorial prose with a few personal anecdotes--his placid complicity in the murder of a Palestinian, a great-grandfather buried on the Mount of Olives, the uncommemorated Arab village that once occupied the site of the Israeli university where he teaches. However, these demonstrate that, unlike many of his prominent Zionist critics, he has some skin in the game. Will appeal primarily to specialists or to general readers with an abiding interest in Israel's future.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781680834
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 351,253
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Banal Murder and Toponymy 1

Memories from an Ancestral Land l Rights to an Ancestral Land 10

Names of an Ancestral Land 22

1 Making Homelands: Biological Imperative or National Property? 31

The Homeland-A Natural Living Space? 33

Place of Birth or Civil Community? 39

Territorialization of the National Entity 53

Borders as Boundaries of Spatial Property 60

2 Mytherritory: In the Beginning, God Promised the Land 67

Gifted Theologians Bestow a Land upon Themselves 68

From the Land of Canaan to the Land of Judea 86

The Land of Israel in Jewish Religious Legal Literature 102

"Diaspora" and Yearning for the Holy Land 107

3 Toward a Christian Zionism: And Balfour Promised the Land 119

Pilgrimage after the Destruction: A Jewish Ritual? 121

Sacred Geography and Journeys in the Land of Jesus 132

From Puritan Reformation to Evangelicalism 141

Protestants and the Colonization of the Middle East 156

4 Zionism Versus Judaism: The Conquest of "Ethnic" Space 177

Judaism's Response to the Invention of the Homeland 179

Historical Right and the Ownership of Territory 196

Zionist Geopolitics and the Redemption of the Land 214

From Internal Settlement to External Colonization 230

5 Conclusion: The Sad Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion 255

Afterword: In Memory of a Village 259

Forgetting the Land 260

A Land of Forgetting 271

Acknowledgments 283

Index 285

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014


    You should become deputy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Excellent read

    This is a great extension of Sand's first Invention book. Extremely valuable and informative resource about the hazards of extreme nationalism and racism, especially that based on religiously influenced ideals. I thought this was better than the first one

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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