Friday, August 18, 2017

De Facto, De Jure or...?

Shlomo Sand is the author of The Invention of the Jewish People and The Invention of the Land of Israel. Though his early years were apparently spent in Israel, he eventually came to oppose Zionism, and in particular the treatment of Palestinians. In his review of Sand’s latest book Twilight of History, Richard J. Evans makes the following comment: “Sand does not think that the Jews have a historical right to occupy the land of Israel; like other nations, it has in effect been ‘invented’ by nationalists (in this case Zionists) in modern times and then provided with pseudo-historical lineage.” The question of provenance applies to art as well as nation states. Kwame Anthiony Appiah for instance has written about the dubiety of certain claims for the return of art to its so-called source ("Whose Culture Is It?," The New York Review of Books, 2/9/06) Almost every nation has been created by conquest. What creates legitimacy? The Indians predated the colonial settlers and there have been numerous claims by tribes which if sanctioned would pull the carpet out from existing political entities and communities. The answer is not simple, but plainly the Israelis would not be alone in claiming sovereignty for their country on a de facto basis. Whether one does or does not accept biblical justifications is besides the point. Israel is now 69 years old. Modern Russia is l00. Britain almost l000, if we look at l066 and the ascension of William the Conquer as a significant date. But when does a country or civilization begin or end and who ultimately has the authority to countenance its existence? 

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