Host: As the killings continue in Palestine today away from the eyes of the mainstream media we speak to the son of holocaust survivors professor Shlomo Sand who's received death threats for his latest book.
This week Palestinian political prisoners, hundreds of them, went on hunger strike. In solidarity protests outside prisons in the west bank were greeted with bullets and tear gas from U.S. backed IDF soldiers. One of Zionism's great critic joins me now, professor Shlomo Sand author of the invention of the Jewish people as a new work out in English "The invention of the Land of Israel-from Holyland to Homeland". His enemies have sent him death threats over the book and told him that he will not "live" much longer. Professor Sand, Shlomo, thank you very much for coming on "double standards". First of all let's get straight to the death threats.
Sand: Yeah, you see there are crazy people and a few don' t like me but you have to know that there are also other letters, very nice letters, even from Israelis, that praise me for the courage to write this book.
Host: Well, let's start with the dedication. To Sheikh Muanis, the people of this village. Why have you…?
Sand: Why this village? Because you see I'm working in Tel Aviv university, I am a professor of history in Tel Aviv university. And Tel Aviv university is built on the land of this village that disappeared in the 30 of march 1948. Now it was a friendly village, it wasn't against Zionist colonization, I'm speaking till '48 and the university is built on this land and also my apartment in the same area, in the same neighborhood. And I think that to write about the land of Israel, to me the land of Israel, I'm obliged also to confront myself with the fact that I am working in a place that has no sign that this village existed.
Host: Your previous book was against an idea of a Jewish people, this one is against the idea of a homeland from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan.
Sand: After the first book I was attacked that I tried to, you know, to cut the affinity between Jews and the land of Israel and I tried to show in this book that the holyland, I mean Palestine, Judea, was never the homeland for the Jews because you have to understand that Muslims have not a homeland, Christians have not a homeland, Jews have not a homeland.
Host: Well, since you're in London, I'm going to bring up the name of Simon Schama the BBC's favorite historian, whose said about your previous book-"You just don't get it when it comes to Jews, you don't understand about the shared experience."
Sand: Yeah, Schama that amaze me in a lot of his books. You have to know he wrote a book that the title was "Ho Chi Min and the land of Israel". And the time that he's speaking everybody called it Palestine, not the land of Israel, but he insists. He attacks me that I try to cut all the relationship between Jews and the land of Israel. This is one of the reasons that I wrote the book. To show those that have a lot of relationship to this land but not as a homeland, but as a holyland.
Host: Let's talk about the horrific event in your past which you talk about in your new book. A murder.
Sand: A few events in this war. I started this book in this war because it changed completely. I mean there is a continuation, you know, the Zionist colonization, but it also, something happened in '67, and for me personally. You have to know I participated in the war in Jerusalem, I am one of, that you can blame.
Host: Well, it’s horrifying to read about the dumping of a Palestinian body in a river.
Sand: Yeah , you see I participate, I was assistant in a murder, a murder after the war. I was a young soldier so afraid, afraid of my colleagues by the way, we have guns in hands and you know the evening of Friday night I saw the first time and the last time in my life how friends of mine can torture an old Palestinian and finishing by killing him and I think this is one of the turning point in my life in face of all the collective situation that we are living. I couldn't forget it and this is the reason I decided to put forward in the beginning of this book. This short story of mine in the face of the war of citizen.
Host: You're also critical of Americans not just Zionists, especially of immigration.
Sand: You know, first of all if you want to know the real date of the establishment of the Israeli society, Israeli state, is 1924 when the Americans decided to put forward to fix laws, anti-emigration laws. And I think the reason that Jews started to come to Palestine was because of these laws that closed the gates of united states before Jews. If not, most of us in Israel was today between New York and San Francisco like Woody Allen. In '24 it was closed till '48 and this is the reason that you know the refugees from the Russian empire and after, the refugees from the Nazi Germany hadn’t a place to go. The Jewish didn’t want to go there. They were obliged or most of them like the Russians…
Host: And you say that Eastern European Jews weren't even descendants of the people of Canaan or the area between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan.
Sand: Most of the Jewish community are conducted communities. You see in the first book this was a scandal. I was educated about the exile, the Jews exiled from Judea by the Romans in the first century. This is a myth, you can say even a lie because there is not even one book that is speaking of the act of the exile of the Romans. The Jews were not expelled from Palestine. And they didn't want to go back to Palestine.it was a very very important place for them as a holy place, but mecca is also a very important place for the Muslims and the Ganges is a very important place for the Hindus. You have to understand and people don't admit it because of the nationalist modernity thinking that it was a homeland, the promised land. The point is that Israel wasn't a homeland for the Jews, and you know Zionism is someway I can say,is one of the modern invent a very anti- Jewish invent, because Judaism couldn't accept a nation state that could be called Jewish state then Judaism is not Zionism and Zionism is not Judaism and by the way all the establishment of the Judaism in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century were anti-Zionists. It was clear for them until the second world war. I tried to show it in my book. About Americans you know, the fact that they closed the gates in '24 until now if you want, our power, Israeli power is not only the power of the Israeli society, we are backed by Americans with everything that we are doing. You see, the fact that we are occupying 45 years, we are occupying a population without any civic or political right. For me it's impossible the western world accepted it and continued to accept it.
Host: We're running out of time but I think a lot of anti-Zionists will agree with what you're saying. They won’t agree though with your views about the right of return of Palestinians.
Sand: My historical analysis is very radical. I don't accept any of the Zionist myth. Politically you know the word of politics is a lot of compromise. You cannot propose one of the most racist society in the western world, Israel, to live together today in a state that they will become very quickly a minority. It's not possible. Why I am for the solution of two states, because to oblige Israel to go out from the occupied territory it's possible. To oblige them to live in one state, it's not possible. You have to look to the consensus, you understand.
Host: We got lots of mail about professor Shlomo Sand, I know that, well let's hope it’s another best seller and let's hope the death threats against you stop, thank you very much for coming on "Double Standards".
Sand: Thank you.