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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland

Groundbreaking new work from the controversial author of The Invention of the Jewish People
Following his acclaimed and controversial Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand examines the mysterious sacred land that has become the site of the longest-running national struggle of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The Invention of the Land of Israel deconstructs the age-old legends surrounding the Holy Land and the prejudices that continue to suffocate the region. The modern concept of the "Land of Israel" came into being in the nineteenth century, he argues. It motivated the early Zionists to colonize the Middle East and establish the State of Israel, and today it threatens Israel's political stability and continued existence.

Reviews

  • “Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.”
  • “Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.”
  • “His achievement consists in debunking a nationalist mythology which holds sway in large sections of popular opinion...Truth-telling may be painful but necessary.”
  • “Extravagantly denounced and praised.”
  • “A thought-provoking, readable, and important work.”
  • “There is much to enjoy and learn in the evidence in the potentially incendiary material [Shlomo Sand] assembles here.”
  • “[Sand] critically consider the ways in which the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel have been justified by claims of ancestral lands, historical rights, and millennia-old national yearnings, all of which he proceeds to critically undermine as either justifiable reasons for mastery over the land of Palestine/Israel or even representative of longstanding mass Jewish aspirations.”
  • “This groundbreaking new historical work from a highly controversial author undoes the myth of the Jewish people's historical right to the 'Land of Israel'.”

Blog

  • The horrifying reality of living in the West Bank for Palestinian families



    What follows is an extract from Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

    Laith Al-Hlou

    Farmer, day laborer, 32
    Born in Bethlehem, West Bank
    Interviewed in the West Bank

    [Editors] The first thing we notice as we drive to Laith Al-Hlou’s home southeast of Bethlehem is the challenge presented by the roads. Some roads are almost too steep to climb, and others almost too muddy or rocky to navigate. The bottom of our car crunches and scrapes as we creep along toward his village. Eventually we reach the compound where Laith lives with his family. Laith’s house, the family’s olive trees, and two other houses belonging to his extended family are surrounded by a short rock wall topped with barbed wire. When we pull up in our car, a dozen or more kids come spilling out to greet us—Laith’s children and nieces and nephews. Some wear cracked plastic shoes, some wear no shoes at all.  Laith is a skinny thirty-two-year-old with a wife and five young kids. The seven of them sleep in a twelve-foot by twelve-foot room that includes a wardrobe, a crib for the baby, and twin bunk beds piled with blankets. This is the main room of the family’s living space. They also have a small kitchen and toilet, all of which is on the second floor, above a chicken coop.

    After a tour of his house, we sit with Laith on plastic chairs outside, and he tells us about the ways his community has changed since 1996, when Israeli settlers first moved near his home. His wife stays close by, and even though she is hard of hearing, she interjects periodically with her own stories. Laith is one of up to 300,000 Palestinians living in Area C—the roughly 60 percent of the West Bank that is still under full military and administrative control of Israel following the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993.1 Area C also contains many of the West Bank’s Israeli settlements, a collection of villages established by Israeli citizens following the occupation of the region in 1967. Today, there are 400,000–500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank outside of Jerusalem. The guard tower of a nearby settlement looms above Laith’s property as we sit and talk. He tears up as he tells us that pressure from the settlements may force him to someday relocate his family.

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  • Return: A Prologue


    Ghada Karmi and Ellen Siegal, 1973

    By Ghada Karmi in Return: A Palestinian Memoir


    As I sat at my father’s bedside, listening to his irregular breathing and the sound of the pulse monitor attached to his finger, I thought how frightening it was to be brought up sharp against the awareness of one’s own mortality. I feared death equally as much as I knew my father did. He was a very old man, but age had not dimmed his ardour for life and I imagined I would be the same. Like most people, I did not like to contemplate my dying and avoided thinking about it, but it was always there, waiting in the background to be attended to. An elderly doctor I knew once told me, ‘I believe that people must prepare for death. Avoidance and denial are foolish. If we face up fair and square to the inevitability of death it will lose its terrors.’

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  • A Country in Darkness



    Introduction to Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupationedited by Vijay Prashad 


    Forget Palestine 

    Palestine is easily forgotten. There is war. There is suffering. The war ends. The suffering vanishes. Silence.

    Was there even a “war”? Palestine is under occupation, and has been since 1967, since 1948. An occupied land is not at war, can never be at war. It is occupied. Occupation is a state of war. The occupied space retaliates. It seeks its freedom. It is punished. Was Operation Protective Edge a war or a punishment? Operation Grapes of Wrath, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Cloud—names less of defense and more of vengeful retribution.

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Other books by Shlomo Sand Translated by Geremy Forman