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Tel Aviv University
TAU Historian Shlomo Sand's new post-Zionist book "The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth"



Feb 2011
The Words and the Land
Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth
By Shlomo Sand

Translated by Ames Hodges

The idea of the Jewish nation was conceived before the organization of the
Zionist movement in the nineteenth century and continued long after the
creation of the state of Israel. In The Words and the Land, post-Zionist
Israeli historian Shlomo Sand examines how both Jewish and Israeli
intellectuals contributed to this process. One by one, he identifies and
calls into question the foundation myths of the Israeli state, beginning
with the myth of a people forcibly uprooted, a people-race that began to
wander the world in search of a land of asylum. This was a people that
would define itself on a biological and “mythological-religious” basis,
embodied in words that today feed Israeli political, literary, and
historical writing: “exile,” “return,” and “ascent” (Alyah) to
the land of its origins.

Since 1948, most intellectuals in Israel have continued to accept this
ethno-national image and embrace an exclusive state identity to which only
Jewish people can belong. The first challenges to this dominant idea
didn’t appear in Israel until the 1980s, in the innovative work of the
“post-Zionist” historians, who were bent on dismantling the nationalist
historical myth and arguing for a state that would belong equally to all
its citizens. Analyzing how Israeli intellectuals positioned themselves
during the Gulf War and in the new era of communication technologies, Sand
extends his analysis globally, looking at the status of intellectuals in
all societies.

About the Author

Shlomo Sand teaches contemporary history at Tel-Aviv University. He is the
author of The Invention of the Jewish People, On the Nation and the Jewish
People, and other books.



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