The Invention of the Jewish People is a wonderful and fascinating book. It is a must read book for anyone at all interested in the background to the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. The book was written by Shlomo Sand, an Israeli historian at Tel Aviv University. Despite his bona fide credentials as an Jewish Israeli, Sands has generated a fair amount of displeasure among Israelis, at least among the Zionists. For as the title of the book suggests, Sand has amassed a great deal of evidence which pretty much destroys the key claims of Zionism
- Jews do not share a homogeneous biological origin and are not the direct descendants of the Jews who lived in Judea some two thousand years ago. Judaism is a religion and probably the first of the great monotheistic religions. And contrary to the image presented by most Jews today, it was at various times in its history a missionary religion. Though initially the creation of the Jews who settled in Judea, Judaism the religion acquired many hundreds of thousands of converts in the Hellenic and Roman world. Not to mention the famous Kingdom of the Khazars which flourished in the middle ages in central Asia. These Khazar Jews are almost certainly the ancestors of the great Yiddish speaking Jewish communities which lived in Eastern Europe before World War Two. The Jews that Hitler tried his best to exterminate.
- The Jews who lived in Judea were not expelled out of their homeland and there was no exodus. While many Jews will have left, some voluntary, others not, there was no mass expulsion of the Jewish population, whether in 135 CE or in 643 CE after the Arab conquest. So what did happen to the Jewish population of Judea? Strange as it may seem and bad news to Zionists, the Jews of Judea stayed put and over time became Muslims. They are still there, only now they are known as Palestinian Arabs. Strange world!
- The final Zionist myth which Sand demolishes it the claim that Jews always and everywhere kept alive their longing to return to the land of their forebears. The did no such thing. While Jews everywhere exalted Jerusalem, this was purely in a spiritual sense. At no time throughout their long history have Jews sought to physically go to Palestine, even when they could have done so. It is telling for example that the millions of Jews who fled from persecution in Czarist Russia, fled to the USA and not to Palestine. Hence the great Jewish communities in the USA. It is also worth noting that it was only in the mid 1920s that significant numbers of East European Jews began to arrive in Palestine. The reason? The USA had introduced immigration controls and effectively barred Jews, and others, from entering the USA. It is somewhat ironic that if the USA had allowed all Jews who wanted to emigrate to the USA to do so, there would not be an Israeli state today. Strange world.
These three assertions of course form the whole basis of the Zionist claim to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine, the source of the present conflict. And as Sand documents in his book each one is a myth. A myth which has become the accepted truth for Zionists, most Israelis and I guess, most people in the non Arab and Muslim world. The more people who read this book, the more shaky becomes the foundations on which the Zionist project rests. Go out and buy it or borrow it from your library.