[Marxism] Shlomo Sand reinvents "the Jewish people"

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 10:03:56 MDT 2009

I went to the talk by Sand at the Brecht Forum last night (see
Sebastian's post announcing it). It was disgraceful. If anyone goes to
the one today, make sure to ask Sand about his position on the right
of return of the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, he opposes it.
Sand deconstructs the myth of a worldwide Jewish people and shows how
this myth was used to justify the theft of Arab land (he doesn't think
there was a Palestinian people until 1948, when it was formed by
antiZionist consciousness!).
But in the decades since 1948, Sand believes, a new Israeli people has
been formed -- and therefore only a two-state solution is possible,
and the right of return of the Palestinian people can only be admitted
verbally but not in practice.
Like the hypocritical Zionist "soldier who weeps," Sand is a historian
who weeps. Israel should recognize the tragedy of the Palestinian
people, but doing anything about it is impossible. He calls the
creation of Israel a "rape," to impress us with how radical and
sorrowful he is, but insists nothing can be done to rectify this
injustice. He even calls "criminal" those who teach Palestinian
refugee children that they can and should return!
Asked why return is impossible, he says because Israel has nuclear
weapons, and because Israelis will never consent to being a minority.
These reactionary positions seem to me to derive from two sources.
First, the backward theory of Matzpen, of which he was once a member,
supporting the "Hebrew right to self-determination" (a theory opposed
when it was first formuilated by other Trotskyists groups, first and
foremost the US SWP. Second, Sand's own further conservatization. The
notion that a country like Israel, with all its wealth, can't
accommodate the return of Palestinian refugees, flies in the face of
material realities. And the notion that Palestinians SHOULDN'T return
and that the current colonizers won't accept being a minority, flies
in the face of a variety of historical examples, from Algeria to South
Africa and so on. The main lesson of those examples being, of course,
that the majority will find a way by whatever means it can to assert
its rights.
Andy Pollack

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