“The Invention of the Jewish People,” by Shlomo Sand (2009)
Mr. Sand identifies two major factors — two associated myths — which stand in the way of peace. These have served the Zionist cause well but they are historically false: the myth of the Jewish “people” and the myth of the “exile” of this people from the land of Israel. If essentially there is no Jewish people — rather only a Jewish religion; and if the Jewish diaspora was driven not by forced exile — rather by the impulse to proselytize, then the Zionist-sponsored “return” of the Jewish “people” to the land of Israel in the mid twentieth century has lost its entire theoretical framework.
According to Sand, Zionism’s traditional discrimination against non-Jews (“gentiles”) has rested upon and required the false notion that Jews constitute a distinct biologically-grounded race. This idea originated and first thrived amidst the nineteenth century obsession with “nations”. Political Zionism grew up in the atmosphere of that obsession. But the history of Judaism undercuts it. In three cases in particular, Sand demonstrates that gentile populations found the religion attractive enough to adopt it en masse. Thus there is no racial or biological distinction between Jews and gentiles. These are the case of the Himyarites in what is now Yemen, the Berbers in northwest Africa and the Khazars who lived in what is now southern Russia. Zionist historians, for whom Sand has special scorn, have downplayed or ignored the facts surrounding this history.
If proselytizing Jews have spread Judaism to gentile populations, it could still be true that the movement of Jews into gentile lands in the first place was due to their having been expelled long ago from the land of Israel. According to traditional Jewish thinking, this expulsion happened after the Roman emperor Titus destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in the year 70AD - or, perhaps it was after 135AD when the Bar Kochba revolt was put down by the Romans. Or again, perhaps the forced exile of the Jews occurred in the 7th century after the Muslims took ownership of Palestine. In fact the historical record contains no evidence of any forced exile of Jews from Palestine - ever — according to Sand. He believes that a significant portion of the Arab population in Palestine is probably descended from early Jewish inhabitants of that land - who were never expelled but who were eventually converted to Christianity or to Islam in later centuries. Sand points out that some of the early Zionists, including Ben-Gurion himself, believed the same thing (until it eventually became inconvenient for them to do so.)
Unsurprisingly “The Invention of the Jewish People” has aroused controversy well before its publication in English translation. That will only increase now. The fact that it is the work of an Israeli academic will make it so much harder for Zionists in America to ridicule or ignore it.
You can download the book below.
Please support Zionist Report & buy the book on Amazon:
The Invention of the Jewish People
A historical tour de force, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a groundbreaking account of Jewish and Israeli history. Exploding the myth that there was a forced Jewish exile in the first century at the hands of the Romans, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues that most modern Jews descend […]