Tag Archives: Shlomo Sand

Shlomo Sand: “The Invention of the Jewish People”

The following video is a discussion by Israeli professor, Shlomo Sand , about his book, The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2009), which critically examines and deconstructs the idea of a Jewish nationality (“the Jewish People”) and consequently the Zionist claim for a Jewish homeland (Israel) in Palestine. The video is interesting in its exploration of the national question.

Joseph Stalin gave the Marxist-Leninist definition of a nation as a “historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture“. He goes on to say, regarding Jews,

Bauer speaks of the Jews as a nation, although they “have no common language”; but what “common destiny” and national cohesion is there, for instance, between the Georgian, Daghestanian, Russian and American Jews, who are completely separated from one another, inhabit different territories and speak different languages?

The above-mentioned Jews undoubtedly lead their economic and political life in common with the Georgians, Daghestanians, Russians and Americans respectively, and they live in the same cultural atmosphere as these; this is bound to leave a definite impress on their national character; if there is anything common to them left, it is their religion, their common origin and certain relics of the national character. All this is beyond question. But how can it be seriously maintained that petrified religious rites and fading psychological relics affect the “destiny” of these Jews more powerfully than the living social, economic and cultural environment that surrounds them? And it is only on this assumption that it is possible to speak of the Jews as a single nation at all. (Marxism and the National Question)

The point of this argument is to say that Jews of course have the right to full equality, but not to territorial self-determination (i.e. in Palestine). This is very similar to the argument that Professor Sand makes in this video. I would also suggest the book One Country by Ali Abunimah on the need for single, secular and democratic state in all of historic Palestine. As Ahmad Saadat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has argued in an interview with Fight Back! News,

Some have argued that the current reality is pushing towards a two-state solution – an Israeli state next to a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders. Of course, this solution involves ignoring the Right of Return, or replacing it with reparations. We in the PFLP argue that forcing such a solution on the Palestinian people will not end the struggle, because the facts and reality contradict such a solution. The two-state solution that is based on the racist notion of ‘a national, homogeneous Jewish state’ totally disregards the fact that over 1.3 million Palestinians – 20% of the entire population – live inside ‘Israel.’ This will continue to permit the causes of conflict to remain inside Israel. Therefore, the solution based on two states is a myth.

Our people’s quest, like any other people, is a democratic and free society. This democratic state – the only state form that can produce social and economic development – cannot be led or dominated by the parasitic and comprador bourgeoisie, but by a unity of the popular forces that share structural interests in national independence, return to the homeland, popular democracy and economic development. This is, simply, our view in the PFLP, and the view of the national, democratic liberation movement.