Shlomo Sand on BBC Radio Three

It did not begin well. Philip Dodd’s introduction to the BBC Radio Three ‘Night Waves’ programme of February 19th 2013 (available here), in which he interviewed Shlomo Sand, went like this: 

“Also, an interview with a man who’s received death threats in his own country for denying the Jewish people are a people or have any right to feel morally superior.”

That is a very unfortunate choice of wording. If Dodd was trying to suggest that his interviewee thinks that the Jewish people feel “morally superior” (to whom, exactly, and according to what evidence?), then he should have made that clearer. Otherwise, the impression audiences receive from that throwaway phrase – which is not qualified or clarified later in the programme – is that Jews do think themselves “morally superior” – just as most of them think that they are a people – and issue death threats to those who disagree. 

The introduction continues with a recording of Sand himself saying:

“It has to be clear: we came there. They didn’t come there – we came. My parents came there. You pushed us out from Europe and threw us on the backs of the Palestinians. This is the reality. This is history.”

The interview itself begins from around 25:00 in the link above. Dodd did challenge Sand on key issues relating mostly to Leftist thought including the subject of nationalism and homeland as well as Sand’s use of what Dodd rightly termed “a classic sort of Leninist phrase” – “the masses”.  Dodd also made a pretty good job of clarifying Sand’s realistic status within Israeli society: a somewhat totalitarian product of an introverted, elitist academia for whom the country ends with the Tel Aviv municipal boundaries. 

“You’re a city man. You’re a Tel Aviv man; not an Israeli.”

Unfortunately, Dodd did not appear to be sufficiently informed (or perhaps inclined) so as to be able to challenge even the worst of Sand’s misrepresentations about Israel itself. Sand’s obviously false  claim that the Palestinian “resistance” understood in the 80s that “Israel cannot vanish” and that it accepts “the principle of the existence of Israel” passed unremarked, as did his claim that “Iran is not a menace”.

Also unchallenged was Sand’s bizarre claim regarding Jerusalem:

“All these buildings, all these walls are Islamic. There is not a [sic] Jewish architecture. I was looking at it and say [sic] how come they call it the Jewish city and it is a Muslim city. Physically it’s Arab – it’s not Jewish.”

The overall tone of this interview was obviously defined by the fact that Dodd elected to relate to the subject as though he was discussing an academic work with its author rather than a politically motivated polemic with a man who has jump-started what would have otherwise been a fairly obscure academic career by tapping into the flourishing market for anti-Israel propaganda created by Israelis. 

Dodd chose not to explore the broader subject of the motivations of the echo chamber in which Sand’s polemics are smash hits. He ignored the fact that Sand chuckles all the way to the bank after having sold the pseudo-intellectual ammunition for further attacks on the “masses” he so despises, but which pay his professor’s salary. Had he elected to explore those aspects of Sand’s book, this interview might have been interesting – and perhaps met Dodd’s own description of it as “spirited”.  


21 comments on “Shlomo Sand on BBC Radio Three

  1. Yes how terrible that anyone should point out that Israel is really Palestine and that the Palestinians paid the price for Hitler’s attempted genocide. Jewish people should have a homeland but they should have been given a part of Germany : Bavaria perhaps.

    • The Palestinians paid the price for their brother Arabs not being able to countenance the existence of a Jewish country even on the smallest of areas. They gambled and lost.

      And now–irony of ironies!–Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, and other Arab countries are treated far worse than Israel treats Palestinians. I know that doesn’t bother you, because the truth of the matter is, you’re not pro-Palestinian, you just dislike those uppity Jews who think they have the right of self-determination.

      • How predictable – anyone who says anything other than ‘Israel is great and all Palestinians are terrorists who deserve what they get’ will get attacked with the anti-semitic card. What a weak and cliched ‘argument’ if it can be called that.

        • The reason comments like yours are often seen as having undertones is that they seldom express any real and genuine concern for the Palestinian people. Instead, they seem only to focus – often hatefully and obsessively – on Israel. Yours, to date, fall into that category. You fling ridiculous and loaded accusations around – such as the one in which you claim Israel is committing genocide, and in which you fail to mention that it is Hamas calling for this to be perpetrated on Jews worldwide.

          I;m not even sure whether you believe what you write. If you do, then you’ve clearly not even taken the time to learn the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and so your ‘concern’ is questionable. Or, you prefer to peddle untruths and myths.

          • How bizarre to question my concern for the Palestinian people. There is nothing in my comments to indicate anything other than empathy with them. Please five examples of anything ‘hateful’ that I have said? Or is this, like the supposed anti-Israel bias of the BBC, a figment of your imagination? Yes I do believe that Israel is attempting genocide on the Palestinians – or at the very least ethnic cleansing. Do Hamas call for the worldwide genocide of Jewish people? Well if they do then I disagree strongly with that but it does not justify genocide by Israel. Given what the Palestinians have suffered from Israel it is not surprising that some have extreme views. What is more surprising is that many do not and are more than willing to reach a negotiated settlement. But Israel does not offer a fair settlement – instead they think they can win a war of attrition – gradually reducing and wearing down the Palestinian population, through illegal settlement, through imprisonment, through blockade, through bombs and guns.

        • Oh, here we go. Another blogger showing nothing but a picture of the “all seeing” eye. Give us break already.

    • How terrible that you lack any knowledge of history. That you ignore the fact that the leage of nation voted for palestine under British mandate to be the home of the jewish people. How terrible for you that it took place years before Hitler. But people like don;t really care about the fact do they?

    • that’s historically inaccurate. The basic institutions of the future state of Israel were laid down in Mandate Palestine in the several decades prior to WWII – it is not the case that the State of Israel came into being because of the “attempted genocide” (I am not sure why you say “attempted” — genocide was carried out; it’s just that it did not succeed in killing 100% of Europe’s Jews). You omit, as well, the 800,000 Jews kicked out of Muslim countries after 1948. As far as Sand is concerned, you should know that many serious academic historians have discredited much of what he says.

    • After the defeat of five Arab armies in 1948 invading Israel, the Arab League got its revenge by expelling 875,000 Jews in ten Arab countries. Jewish expropriated assets amount to lands at least four times the size of Israel. We don’t need Bavaria. We just need the League to stop playing propaganda games and sanction a peace settlement with restitution to all persons and parties involved. More than 3 million Jewish residents of Israel today are descendants of the Jews from Arab countries.

  2. It is not remotely bizarre to question your concern for the Palestinian people: you’ve not mentioned them as a ‘people’, but as a cause. There are very real and genuine human rights abuses occurring, perpetrated by the Palestinian leadership on its own people. In your haste to cite just one side of this conflict, are you willing to overlook the other? Surely ‘caring’ about others means you care regardless of who is causing them harm?

    It is difficult to exchange views with you because you’re tunnel visioned. You have mentioned ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ more than once and you have been supplied with evidence that this is not the case. A population experiencing either decreases -it’s really very simple mathematics and yet here you are again with the same ridiculous accusation. Is there a point in responding to your posts if you aren’t prepared to enter into discussion in good faith?

    The Hamas could end the troubles in Gaza tomorrow if they so wished. It’s simple – they agree to live in peace. But that is not their aim. They want to eradicate Israel, which of course would mean only more bloodshed and suffering on both sides. So I say again: where is your concern for the Palestinians as people?

    The PA have similarly been offered exactly what they wanted – and still refused. It takes two sides to make peace.

    Given the stated aims of both the PA and Hamas, do you really think Israel should be different to any other country on the face of the planet and not imprison those plotting to carry out acts of terrorism?

    How are settlements a factor in this?

    • Do Hamas call for the worldwide genocide of Jewish people?

      You’ll find the answer to your question in the Hamas Charter, which you obviously haven’t ever read:

      Read it all, in particular Article 7:

      “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

      As to your accusations of “genocide” and “ethnic cleaning”, I showed you statistics on another thread in response to those lies which show that the “Palestinian” population is instead growing.

      Now begone, evil creature!

        • How typical when Plaesitinain supporters have to deal with Hamas charter they find all kind of exuse not to deal with it. Calling people crazy is just one of them.

          • I believe it was ‘biodegradable’ who started the name calling…always a sign that someone has run out of evidence and argument. Anger and tears are never far behind..think I’ll give it a miss. This is not a place for rational debate but simply groupthink.

          • “…always a sign that someone has run out of evidence and argument.”

            I’ve given you evidence that your accusations of Israel exterminating “Palestinians” are false. What do you say about that?

            I’ve given you evidence that the Hamas Charter does indeed call for “the worldwide genocide of Jewish people”. What do you say about that?

            I’m prepared to provide evidence to counter any false accusation and lie you choose to regurgitate.

            You have no argument.

          • Following the link from the troll’s Gravatar reveals a squalid family feud among the O’Driscoll sisters accusing each other of lying about paying for the funeral of their mother. Distasteful, disgraceful, disrespectful, but an insight into the real lives of the trolls who would lecture Jews on morality and righteousness.

  3. I’ve been traveling and living in Israel many times over the last 60 years and finally decided to spend the rest of my life here. I’ve enjoyed the best in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Charlottesville, a 300 acre Virginia farm, but nothing, for me, compares with Israel. The US seems dangerously unaware of the inroads of the Jihadists. I feel much safer in Israel and enjoy the stimulating cultural and intellectual activity from immigrants from more than 85 countries. I was brought up a Spanish Catholic.

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