When a far-left Tel Aviv University historian penned a tome dedicated to disputing the historicity of Jewish peoplehood, it — unsurprisingly — caused something of a stir in Israel. Then the book was translated and published in France, where it — also unsurprisingly — was given a prestigious prize. (This prompted the estimable Hillel Halkin, writing in the pages of the Forward, to note that “if one is talking about the ‘construction’ of national identities… it is the French and Spanish who are the parvenus, having undertaken the task only in the late Middle Ages,” whereas Jews “had a fully developed national consciousness at least 2,500 years ago.”)
Shlomo Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People” is slated to come out in English next month from the self-described “radical publisher” Verso. So it’s safe to expect the media furor to begin any day now.
True to its name, the online Faster Times appears to be the first out of the gate with a write-up on the controversial book. Faster Times religion-books correspondent (and Forward contributor) Gordon Haber offers a notably unfurious but nevertheless critical assessment, writing that “Sand comes off like the relative that corners you every Thanksgiving to harangue you about politics.”