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Daniel Lazare writes:
‘The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.’So says the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, issued in Tel Aviv on 14 May 1948. Shlomo Sand’s last two books have questioned the document’s assumptions: were the Jews ‘forcibly exiled’ or did they go abroad in search of new opportunities? If they ‘never ceased to pray and hope for their return’, why did so few bother to visit their homeland for centuries on end? How do we know that the people who ‘kept faith’ throughout the Diaspora were the same as the ones who headed out to begin with?