Shlomo Zand

Shlomo Zand

They especially love it when it’s written by an anti-Zionist, Socialist Israeli professor.

Ha’aretz reports that Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv University history professor has won the Aujourd’hui Award, which is “given to the best non-fiction political or historical work from French journalists.”

The book that Sand wrote, “When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?” which in its American translation is known as “The Invention of the Jewish People,” presents a theory that the entire idea of Judaism as a nation was concocted by wily Jews back in the 1800s. It suggests that most Jews are not genetically linked to those Jews who lived in Israel 2000 years ago but are, instead, the descendants of converts to Judaism such as the Khazars. He also claims that the Jews who lived in Israel were never exiled but converted to Islam and are today’s Palestinians.

And guess which political view he holds?

Hey, you got it on the first guess! A one state solution where Jews and Arabs, or should I say, fake Jews and the Real Jews all get together and make yet another country because everybody is the same except for the Jews who are fakes and the Palestinians who are real.

Of course, the book doesn’t stop there, but lists the incredible conspiracy that the Israeli government and Israeli scholars have been running for decades to fool the idiot fake Jews that they are…a nation.

At least Professor Sand, a former member of Matzpen, an Israeli Socialist organization, is honest in his book and outlines his vision for a one state outcome. I assume he also believes that he’ll have the same freedom to research and publish that he enjoys now as a government-funded employee of a national Israeli university under the future regime. Good luck with that.

So far, the best critique of Sand’s book is Anita Shapira’s which can be found here. Talk about a takedown! Of course, she’s also part of the conspiracy Sand discusses. Not to worry, though, because the far-Right loves this book.

There is also a rebuttal article in Ha’aretz by an Israeli scholar who, of course, is also part of the conspiracy that Sand describes and needless to say, dismisses Sand’s premise and research. But don’t worry, because the French journalists love this book and so do the French public.

This article is being mostly reprinted because Ha’aretz tends to erase or change links to old articles. It is, however, currently available on their site and I encourage all to read it there for as long as it stays up. They published it and deserve whatever advertising revenue that is generated by your click. So please go there to check if it’s still up!

Inventing an invention
By Israel Bartal

The first sentence of “When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?” reads: “This book is a historical study, not a work of pure fiction. Nevertheless, it will open with a number of stories rooted in a collective memory that has been adulterated with a considerable degree of imagination.” I recalled these words when I found myself utterly astounded by the statements of the author of this learned, fascinating study, concerned with the “period of silencing” in the “Jewish-Israeli collective memory,” a period that, to quote Sand, gave rise to a total avoidance of “any mention of the Khazars in the Israeli public arena.”

This assertion, according to which an entire chapter in Jewish history was deliberately silenced for political reasons, thrust me back to my days as a ninth grader, in the late 1950s. I recalled the Mikhlal Encyclopedia, an almost mythological reference text that nearly every Israeli high school student relied on in those years, the flagship of what is termed “mainstream Zionism,” in the lean Hebrew of 21st-century Israel. …

Sand suggests that it was “the wave of decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s [that] led the molders of Israeli collective memory to shield themselves from the shadow of the Khazar past. There was a profound fear that, should the Jews now rebuilding their home in Israel learn that they are not direct descendants of the ?Children of Israel,’ the very legitimacy of both the Zionist enterprise and the State of Israel’s existence would be undermined.”

With considerable trepidation, I returned to my yellowing copy of volume IV of the Mikhlal Encyclopedia.

The remainder of this article is also published here.

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  • Hilarious and terribly sad all at the same time. I haven’t laughed out loud for a while from the computer but this paragraph really did it for me:
    “one state solution where Jews and Arabs, or should I say, fake Jews and the Real Jews all get together and make yet another country because everybody is the same except for the Jews who are fakes and the Palestinians who are real.”
    This shlomo dude sounds like a perfect candidate for the ‘collective memory’ of the wacked out UFO group, Raelians that I read about lately,7340,L-3642845,00.html

  • OK, the guy appears to be on the periphery. (Moshe Arens’s son was/is too.) I’m not quite sure if you actually read the book. And I’m sure you know that Israel was started by a big honking Socialist, David Ben-Gurion.

  • From Middle’s description, Sand’s political agenda borrows from a French conception of citizenship, of a state of all its citizens irrespective of ethnicity. Is it stacking the deck to cast that as anti-Zionist (as opposed to another approach to implementing Zionism)?

    Have you read the book, btw?

  • I like Socialists and have nothing against the Left…until it goes so far as to attack Israel unfairly. Some of my best friends are staunch leftists and except for the shouting matches, we get along just fine. My right wing friends don’t even get the shouting matches, they just get condescending looks and nods from me.

    Tom, yes, his conception of citizenship does strike me as French. But his book is by definition anti-Zionist. What he seeks to do is discredit early Zionism and its concepts which is the point of claiming they are a fabrication, that they only originate in the past century and that collusion between government and scholars has kept all of this, as well as “true” Jewish history under wraps so as to keep the national mission of Israel strong.

    Zionism is a nationalistic movement. I’m not sure what you mean by “another approach to implementing Zionism.” To remind you, the Arabs who live inside Israel are citizens with equal voting rights. Yes, there’s discrimination and some of it has been conducted by the government, but in the eyes of the law, they are entirely equal. So what Sand is talking about is re-adjusting the status of the Palestinians who are not citizens, namely the ones in the Territory and the former other Territory by making them citizens. By seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the nationalist view of Zionism, his goal is to make some of the key raisons d’etre of Israel moot and unequal to the determination that the state should be a combination Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli state all rolled up into one.

    You see, I always ask “Why don’t Jews have a right to self-determination,” and his book answers that question by saying, “They don’t because they’re not a nation, they’re not descended from this area and they lie about their history.” And, of course, to this series of insults, he is adding that the Palestinians are the real heirs to the country and the real Jews.

    Admit it, Tom, you are amazed that such a small people can offer you so much entertainment.

    The book is on my Amazon wishlist, right after “Chas Freeman’s Guide to Loving Jewish Activism.”

  • The Israelis have passed the Irish in that regard, Middle….

  • Rabbi, now we take Jewlicious Festivals national, what else?

    Tom, I don’t even get a chuckle for my Chas Freeman title? You’re a tough customer.

  • Nah, that was good, Middle!

    When does Jewlicious-Fest hit Boston?

  • Boston? They need a benefactor. Know any Jewish philanthropists who want to see young Jews have an amazing, affirming experience created by an experienced team that has seen its audience nearly double every year?

    You’d think this one would be a no-brainer.

  • Festival at my place tomorrow night! Plenty of booze, negligible spiritual content.

  • But the spirit content won’t be negligible, right, Tom?

    But, Jesus, the Khazars? Talk about old news. That “theory” is long discredited.

    My guess is that the French idea of citizenship will undergo a rethinking as soon as there are too many Muslims to do anything about it except sit in coffee shops nursing espresso and chain-smoking Gauloises.

  • Tom Morissey:
    I am not opposed to a book challenging the origins of jews and I definately think we should challenge the idea that jews are a race but it should be done with strict professionality not with a political or publicity motivation. It seems that Shlomo Sand is pimping out the most controversial fringe theories to get publicity and in his case sell a lot of books in the arab world to serve his own ego.
    About his arguments regarding the origins of jews, he frequently makes blatant lies in order to justify his theories. He claimed that the Yiddish language orginated as a Slavic language and later switched the words to German and he neglected to mention that the Berber tribe which he claims Sephardic jews decended from, was actually a black tribe from Mauritania. Shlomo Sand is an attention seeking whore.

  • Middle isn’t helping, Olive, even throwing in that oh-so-sensitive portrait photo. Calling the site administrator….

  • The middle: As if you havent forced your opinions on us. I was just giving a background argument on this. I read his book in French and I did some research on his claims and it seemed that whenever he had holes in his reasoning, he made up something ridiculous to validate his claims.