Last week, I criticized a review by Prof. Stephen Howe of Shlomo Sand’s book, The Invention of the Jewish People. Given the somewhat personal nature of the criticism, I invited Prof. Howe to respond, which he does below:
Thanks for your courtesy in letting me know about your posting on Volokh, which I read with great interest (as I also did the ensuing comments from others).
Surely it’s clear that my remark about people with no discernible expertise refers to those who have launched wild and abusive attacks on Sand, not to every blogger who has commented on the book. The latter would indeed have been a wild, absurdly over-general charge – and in any case I have of course not read more than a fraction of the truly remarkable outpouring of commentary, in several languages, which continues to appear. I do not find abuse of that kind in your own criticism, so naturally did not have you among my implied targets. However, where you say you ‘haven’t seen anyone call Sand anti-Semitic’, I’m afraid I have come across many such instances. Just try Googling the relevant words!
As to my own knowledge or lack thereof, a more careful glance through my past publication list would reveal that I have written a fair bit over the years on Israeli history and politics, in both journalistic and more academic veins. I have been working for some while on a book on Israel’s ‘history wars’, and from both that and a more longstanding ‘layperson’s interest in Jewish history’ am I think fairly well acquainted with most of the very disparate controversies into which Sand ventures. Insofar as, in my view, the real point and purpose of Sand’s polemic is not about ancient history but present-day Israeli politics, I have followed these [...]