November 8, 2012
Can Jews Write History?
Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily
In his well-known book Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, historian Eric Hobsbawm made the remarkable assertion that “no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist.” Being Irish might be compatible with writing serious Irish history, he said; but to be “a Fenian or an Orangeman”—that is, an ultranationalist—“is not so compatible, any more than being a Zionist is compatible with writing a genuinely serious history of the Jews, unless the historian leaves his or her convictions behind when entering the library or the study.”
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