How can one man, or even one documentary, tell the entire story of a group of nearly 14 million people? For Simon Schama, whose new documentary 'The Story of the Jews' elaborates on the complicated history and culture of the Jewish people, it is a matter of looking at trends and misconceptions and using this to build toward a healthy future.
Jewish history has been co-opted in many ways, often relegated to the Holocaust-onward and mired in debates on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Schama is taking things back a few thousand years to look at some of the most fundamental trends in Jewish history.
As Schama told HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps in a recent interview, the history of the Jews is one of great diversity and adaptation.
"The Jewish story is the story of wandering," Schama says. "It is the story of extraordinary heterogenous complication."
The question of Israel as a Jewish state, contrary to the heterogenous nature of the Jewish past, Schama says, is an argument that goes on even within Israel.
"The argument between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the argument between those who want a peace with Palestinians, like me; who want side by side a Jewish state and a Palestinian state are those who feel that the story of the Jews is about finding a place to live with people who are not like you."
This long-standing value, Schama says, gets lost among Orthodox Jews, who the historian believes are "in denial about what the complicated reality of Judaism, as well as Jewish culture, has been."