Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gabriel Pieterberg on Shlomo Sand's Invention of the Jewish People

A friend just called to tell me about this book review in New Left Review, which finally explains to me why Claude Lanzmann's filmed interviews with Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) and Samuel Merlin (stars of my documentary Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?) were not included in Shoah:
He is no stranger to controversy and confrontation. In 1983 he took part in a heated exchange over Zeev Sternhell’s Ni droite, ni gauche: l’idéologie fasciste en France, and later drew the ire of Claude Lanzmann with his 2002 book in Hebrew, Film as History, in which he not only passed scathing judgement on Lanzmann’s Shoah, but also revealed that the film had been secretly funded by the Israeli government. When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? too has attracted agitated commentary, as well as gaining considerable commercial success: its Hebrew edition was on the bestseller list for several months, and the French translation has been through three editions, selling over 25,000 copies and winning the Aujourd’hui Award. Its appearance in English from Verso later this year is sure to stir further debate.