How Shlomo Sand Ceased to be a Jew – or Did He?
GA: The following is my book review of Shlomo Sand's latest book. It was published a year ago. Following the publication of the English edition of How I Stopped Being A Jew last week, I decided to post it again.
Sand’s latest book, How I Stopped Being A Jew, is a tragic testimony made by a morally awakened Israeli Jew who comes to realise that his spiritual, cultural and political existence is contaminated with Judeo-centric exclusivism and is fuelled by ethno-centric racism. Shlomo Sand decides to stop being a Jew – but has he succeeded?
Sand, as we all know, is a wonderful writer; witty, innovative, poetic and fluent, his voice is personal, at times funny, occasionally sarcastic and always genuinely pessimistic.
Sand’s writing is scholarly, deep, reflective and imaginative; however, his scholarship is pretty much limited to French liberal thinking and early post-modernist theory. The outcome is disappointing at times. How I Stopped To Be A Jew is a ‘politically correct’ text, saturated with endless caveats inserted to disassociate the author from any possible affiliation with anyone who may be viewed as an opponent of Jewish power, critical of Jewish identity politics or a challenger of the mainstream historicity of the Holocaust.
“I don’t write for anti-Semites, I regard them as totally ignorant or people who suffer from an incurable disease,” (p. 21/Hebrew edition) writes the author who claims to be humanist, universalist and far removed from Jewish exclusivism.[*] It all sounds very Jewish to me. When it comes to the Holocaust, Sand uses the same tactic and somehow manages to lose all wit and scholarly fashion. The Nazis are “beasts”, their rise to power metaphorically described as a “beast awakening from its lair.” I would expect a leading historian and ex-Jew to have moved on beyond these kinds of banal clichés.