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428 of 466 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to the ancestral land?
About a fifth of this book shows how Biblical criticism and archaeological discoveries have undermined the reliability of the Hebrew Bible as history. Archaeology, among other things, has played havoc with the chronology of the Bible, especially in connection with the invasion of Canaan, nor has it found any evidence that would support the story of the Exodus or the...
Published on November 7, 2009 by Ralph Blumenau

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History or Another Myth?
Sand offers an interesting speculative theory, viz., that the Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Khazars, a Turkic people from what is now western Russia who converted to Judaism. On his view, the Zionists from Europe did not return to Palestine because they never left. Additionally, he denies that the Romans drove the ancient Israelites from their land. So, the story...
Published 4 months ago by I.O.Pine


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428 of 466 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to the ancestral land?, November 7, 2009
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Hardcover)
About a fifth of this book shows how Biblical criticism and archaeological discoveries have undermined the reliability of the Hebrew Bible as history. Archaeology, among other things, has played havoc with the chronology of the Bible, especially in connection with the invasion of Canaan, nor has it found any evidence that would support the story of the Exodus or the splendour of Solomon's kingdom.

But the main subject of the book is the denial that there is such a thing as the Jewish People, descended from the inhabitants of Biblical Palestine from which they have been scattered, and that they are a nation which has now returned to the land of its ancestors. This undermines one of the principal arguments with which the State of Israel legitimizes itself. (There are, of course, other arguments which Sand does not discuss in any depth.)

He says that the Jews began to see themselves as an ethnic people, rather than as a religious community, in the 19th century. (In a 40 page long and massively theoretical opening chapter, Sand explains why for him the word `people' implies ethnicity - hence the provocative title of his book. Others might well say that what has for centuries kept the Jewish `people' together was not their ethnicity but their religion, and even secular Jews belong to that people because their ancestors were religious Jews.) He traces the claim of the Jews to be a nation from the 1880s - when scholars like Heinrich Graetz described the work of Julius Wellhausen, the father of modern Biblical Criticism, as anti-Jewish - to those who present the Biblical account as the foundation charter of the State of Israel, where it is the staple of the state educational system.

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, aided by the Septuagint (the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek), "hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions" of gentiles around the South-Eastern Mediterranean, from Rome to Armenia, converted to Judaism. A substantial proportion today's Jews cannot be linked genetically to the Jewish Homeland at all. Roman writers expressed unease at the growing number of converts. Around 400 CE the king of Himyar, in Yemen, converted to Judaism and so did many of their Arabic subjects in his and the following reigns during the next century. Most of the strong Yemenite community of Jews would be descended from these converts. There was a strong Jewish presence among the Berbers of North Africa, who took such a part in the later Arabic conquest of Spain. Sand thinks that many of these Berber Jews were also converts, though his formulations here are more tentative than elsewhere, and to support this idea he produces few hard facts beyond a complaint by the Christian Tertullian (2nd c.) against proselytes in North Africa and one quotation from the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun (14th c.). The best known conversion is that of the Khazar kingdom (between the Volga and the Dnieper) in the 8th century CE. In his famous book Arthur Koestler called the Khazars `the Thirteenth Tribe', and Sand espouses the notion that after the Khazar kingdom was destroyed in the 11th century, many of its people fled westwards to form a substantial proportion of the Jews in the Ukraine, in Poland and in Hungary.

Sand shows the resistance of many Israeli historians to the idea that so many Jews might not be descendants of the Jews of Israel and Judah: they either deny it or ignore it in their researches and their text books.

He also supports the notion, advanced in 1918 even by the young Zionists Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi, that the majority Muslim fellahin in Palestine were the descendants of Jewish peasants who had converted to Islam, perhaps to escape the jizyah (poll tax) which was levied on all non-Muslims after the Arab conquest. This idea was swiftly abandoned in the face of Arab nationalism, to be replaced by the notion that the Arab invaders had expelled the Jews (for which there is no evidence) and therefore had no right to the land which the Jews who had been forced into exile were now reclaiming.

The last chapter falls into two parts. The first part discusses the debate about whether there is any genetic evidence for the theory that most Jews are descended from the original Jews of Palestine. Students of genetics are apparently divided about this, and while Sand gives the supporters of the theory a good run for its money, it is clear that he sides with their opponents, and sees a conscious or unconscious agenda in those Israeli studies which have been looking for a widespread common ancestry. Sand quotes many Zionist sources which claimed (as the Nazis did) that the Jews were indeed a race. That EXPRESSION has now lost all respectability, but the debate is still carried on, though now in terms of genetics rather than of `blood'.

Sand never leaves any doubt about the political conclusions he draws from all this. They are spelt out most explicitly in the second, hard-hitting, part of the last chapter, which dismisses the definition of the State of Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state. It not only implies but in many ways acts in such a way that its non-Jewish people, though technically Israeli citizens, cannot be part of an Israeli nation, in the way in which, for example, Scots and Welshmen are part of the British (not English) nation. With little hope that it can happen, Sand calls for the Jews of Israel to transform their ideology into one that would "grant the Palestino-Israelis not only complete equality but also a genuine and firm autonomy" - not only in the interests of justice, but also to save the state from ultimate disaster.

With its political implications, it is no surprise that this book has attracted both hatred and enthusiasm.
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459 of 531 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Confused Nation Pretending to be a Wandering People, October 4, 2009
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This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Hardcover)
Although he never mentions the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in "The Invention of the Jewish People" Israeli historian Shlomo Sand implicitly rejects it in favor of what has come to be called the "one-state solution":

"The ideal project for solving the century-long conflict...would be the creation of a democratic binational state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River." (p. 311)

Sand, however, is deeply pessimistic concerning the likelihood of any solution being reached at all. Implicitly he takes the position that the possibility of peace rests not so much on the Palestinians, or on the Arabs in general, as on the Israeli Jews themselves. They must somehow come to understand that the Israeli policy of apartheid (Sand's term, p. 309), and the false notion that Israel can be a "Jewish state" and yet a democracy at the same time, doom the chances of peace. But is it possible that the Israelis will ever come to believe that they must share the land on an equal basis with the Palestinian non-Jews?

Sand identifies two major factors - two associated myths -- which stand in the way. 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.

Sand is a scholar and in style the book is a scholarly work. The general reader may be put off at first. I suggest the book may be more approachable if you begin by reading Chapter 2, "Mythhistory: In the Beginning God Created the People". The first chapter "Making Nations" is a bit difficult to get through, and might be dispensed with. The Introduction contains four personal histories whose relevance is at first obscure. I suggest you read the Introduction after you finish the rest of the book, not before. For only then is the point of these personal stories, which are quite moving, readily understood.

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.

(The title of this review comes from p. 13 of the book.)
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240 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, one of the most interesting books I've read this year, October 24, 2009
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This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Hardcover)
(this review is of the Hebrew edition, published by Resling in 2008)

"The Invention of the Jewish People" is one of the most original, intriguing and thought provoking book I have read this year. Professor Sand begins by laying out the difficulties in "objectively" determining identity through the stories of 4 different people he has interacted with in Israel and abroad, and then proceeds to discuss how the concept of national identity as a core tenet of European nationalism evolved, with important differences in how it did so in Eastern versus Western Europe. He discusses the importance of promulgating and emplying founding myths in creating cohesive nations out of the hitherto mostly indifferent and politically nonincluded masses, and then proceeds to examine those of the Jewish People, which, despite what one might think, was not always regarded as such, either by itself or others throughout the ages (similar to the French People, German Volk, or Russian People). He starts by examining the biblical history of the Exodus from Egypt, the traces of which, despite its described magnitude, have never been found by archeologists, proceeds to explore the exile from Judaea after the destruction of the temple (which seems to have been a Christian theological concept and not one embraced by Jewish or non-Jewish historians of the first half millenium). He continues to discuss the mass conversions to Judaism in Arabia, North Africa, and Khazaria, and ends by analyzing identity politics in Israel and their significance to Israel's future.

While there has been (and is sure to be more) controversy about some of Professor Sand's conclusions, it cannot be denied that this is a brilliant piece of scholarship, and it should be read by anyone, Israeli and non-Israeli, Jewish or not, who is interested in getting a broader perspective on how identity is defined, and how mutable these definitions can be over time.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading the reviews is almost as interesting and revealing as reading the book, December 7, 2013
The basic premise of Shlomo Sand's book should be totally uncontroversial, I can see that the delivery might cause offense to some ultra Zionists, but it is common sense that no group of people could possibly remain racially pure while scattered across Europe and the middle East (and ultimately across the entire world).

Jewish is on the one hand a term defining a religion, on the other a race, but more than both it has become a self defined term. If I say I am Jewish you will find it very difficult to disprove my assertion (I do not need to be circumcised, I do not need to go to synagogue and although you may believe my Mother will need to be Jewish - frankly I don't need to agree with you). If I tell my Children they are Jewish they will probably believe me. If my children tell their children they are Jewish they will almost certainly think they are Jewish and identify with every other person who says they are Jewish, regardless of DNA or religion. Anyone who believes that integration of "outsiders" as Jews over the many centuries of the diaspora has not made the Jews at the very least a hybrid group frankly needs to believe in a supernatural force. I would never wish to argue with someones faith - but a faith in a God who requires racial purity is just a little worrying.

It is also a little worrying that so many obviously intelligent and reasonable people have taken such vehement offence when reading "The invention of the Jewish People". Perhaps it is the title? Perhaps it is a perceived threat to the state of Israel? I find the most frightening arguments those based on the DNA analysis. I am a molecular biologist, I have read with great interest the papers on mapping human population spread using DNA profiles. I read with some anxiety the description of these generally excellent works as 'phylogenetic'. I read with terror the way these papers are used to support 'phylogenetic' hypotheses. These papers describe links between people, they may explain common susceptibility to disease. They do not describe formation of new 'species' separate from other 'species' of humans. They can only be properly used to join people not to exclude them.

The detractors of Shlomo Sand seem to want to say that a separate species has evolved that is Jewish. This is just simply wrong. The people living in Israel may have a right to the land because of conquest; because they are now a majority; or simply because they have got bigger and better weapons (there is a long history of people establishing nations on this basis). There is also a theological argument to say they have a right to the land because they believe themselves to be Jewish and God gave the land to the Jews (not an argument I find particularly convincing). They can provide a theological argument, they cannot provide a genetic argument. No one has a genetic right to any particular piece of real estate (Jewish or Palestinian).
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book on history/current events I have read in years, March 14, 2012
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I very much appreciated Schlomo Sand's explanation of how present-day concepts of Jewish national identity first developed and matured in the fervor of awakening European nationalisms, a process that accelerated in the 19th and 20th centuries. I learned a new perspective to apply to my own family history, which has been entangled in conflicts on the German-Polish border.

I am saddened by the bald attemps of some reviewers, both on Wikipedia and on Amazon, to discredit Mr. Sand by ad-hominem attacks, calling him a Jewish anti-semite, and worse. Some reviewers cited some recent genetic studies to refute Sand's statements, and after reading these studies myself, I was shocked to see the length's to which some of Sand's detractors would go in misrepresenting the sources they quoted.

For example, a closer reading of the 2010 Ostrer study shows that it actually opens the door for more questioning of some established notions of Jewish origins, of the same sort that Sand did in his book. The paper actually states that " ... besides Southern European groups, the closest genetic neighbors to most Jewish populations are the Palestinians, Bedouins, and Druze." The paper also states that among the populations in this study, there was a " ... high degree of European admixture (30-60%) amongst Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Italian, and Syrian Jews ...." These genetics results were imputed by the study to "... individuals who converted to Judaism during Hellenistic and Hasmonean times, when proselytism was a common Jewish practice."

In addition, some other studies have shown that paternal gene pools of Jewish communities and the Middle East (including Lebanese and Palestinians) descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, with a high frequency of Y-DAN haplogroup J. Ritte et. al. (1993) "... found that genetic distances among Jewish communities and Israeli Arabs were comparable to those found among five globally dispersed populations, with Ethiopian Jews more as an outgroup than Israeli Arabs. "

Having lived in the metro New York City area for many years, I have grown to love the intellectual contributions of my Jewish fellow citizens, in government, academica, and business. Mr. Sand's book is an extremely fine addition to those traditions.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review, March 29, 2011
By 
W. Willers (Madison Wisconsin) - See all my reviews
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The following is a book review that was published on OpEnNews in February, 2011
-----------
Book Review: The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand. 2009. Verso Books, London and New York. English translation from the Hebrew by Yael Lotan.

by Bill Willers

Justification for the Zionist venture that has displaced Palestinians and resulted in the nation of Israel hinges on the story of a Semitic ethnic group exiled from its homeland in 70 CE, thereafter to wander during a two-millennium "Diaspora". In this book, Shlomo Sand, an historian at Israel's University of Tel Aviv, and part of a "post-Zionist" movement contesting this "imagined universe" with its "mythological kingdom of David", accuses rabbinical Judaism of avoiding its own history. He is firm in challenging "the nationalization of the Bible and its transformation into a reliable history book" and its basis for "the sacred trinity of Bible-Nation-Land of Israel".

Nowhere within Rome's detailed records is there documentation of an expulsion from Judea that could be a basis for an "Exile" and a "Diaspora". Rather, Judaism's history has been one of converting non-Semitic peoples. Judaism was historically evangelistic, and within officially polytheistic Rome, itself struggling with hedonism and corruption, the monotheistic religion offered moral grounding for converts. From there Judaism spread throughout the Empire, only to slow in the fourth century when a repressive Christianity, having become differentiated from its Judaic root, became official state religion.

Proselytizing and conversion to Judaism was widespread in the Mediterranean and north into the Caucasus. In particular, the now vanished empire of Khazaria, which extended from the Black and Caspian seas well into Russia, underwent massive conversion to Judaism in the eight century, thereafter to become the primary source of Jewry in Eastern Europe. This was an accepted history among scholars until the 1970s, when it became condemned as anti-Semitic by what Sand refers to disparagingly as "Israel's establishment historians ". occupied in inventing the eternal history of the "people of Israel' ". Sand writes that the "Exile", in fact a creation of early Christians, was ultimately accepted by Jews and evolved into "truth engraved in history".

Zionists have concealed the historical conversions to Judaism, adopted the Old Testament as the "storehouse of national memory" and created a "metanarrative" of contemporary Jews as stemming from the Jews of the Bible. Sand refers to this ethnic identity as "wholly fictitious [but] discriminatory" and portrays Jews as "a heterogeneous mosaic of human populations" emanating from "a great variety of cultural-linguistic groups, each with a distinctive origin" and no more a race than Christians are. But "[W]ithout the Old Testament in its hand and the "exile of the Jewish people' in its memory, it would have no justification for annexing Arab Jerusalem and establishing settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and even the Sinai Peninsula."

Meanwhile, periodic emigrations out of Judea through history were voluntary, not forced. Also, in the seventh century there was an invasion by Arabs leading to a mass conversion of Judeans to Islam due to an imposed tax system exempting Muslims. Until the rise of contemporary Palestinian nationalism, it was widely accepted that Palestinians were descended from original Judeans, with admixtures of other bloods. However this view is now condemned, as it is obviously inconsistent with the Zionist mission.

Sand describes Judaism as "a major religious culture" in which, over time, "communal isolation " eventually became their distinguishing mark." The nationalistic Zionism seen now on the world stage arose in 19th century Europe not through religion but within a secular and separatist Yiddish culture unlike Jewish communities elsewhere that were inclined toward association with surrounding cultures. It is this distinctly Yiddish brand of Judaism that has yielded an Israeli nationalism that "explicitly and culturally segregates the majority from the minority [and that] promises eternal proprietary rights to an even greater human mass that does not choose to live in it."

A distinct Israeli culture has now developed in which privilege is reserved not only for the Jewish majority within Israel but also for the world's Jews. As the old Yiddish culture has waned, Israel has been able to consolidate substantial political power through its worldwide Zionist network. But although overseas Zionist Jews who live close to the "centers of power and communications" of Western democracies may see Israel as a potential "reserve home", they prefer to remain in the "rich, liberal, comfortable "diaspora' ". Sand points out that emigration now exceeds immigration in Israel, and he warns that Jewish Israeli society will endure only if it can "cease isolating itself in the name of a fanciful history and dubious biology and excluding the "other' from its midst." Support for Zionism among Jews of the world is now found primarily in those over 60, but it is waning among the young, and mixed marriages are on the increase.

The scenario of people largely of Euro-Russian blood, armed with myth and a religious book, displacing in the name of "return" the people genetically best representing original Judeans, is irony of colossal proportion. Still, understanding the events coming out of what Sand calls a "surgically improved" Jewish history is important for all Americans wanting to understand current events. America's global reputation is due, in no small way, to her lead in creating and maintaining the state of Israel and, by extension, in the assault on a blameless people -- facts carefully sidestepped in U.S. news coverage but nevertheless at the heart of much rage in the world that is directed at the U.S.
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70 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth at last Explodes, October 30, 2009
This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Hardcover)
Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, long suspicious of the "received truth" marketed in Judaic Studies departments as a linear history of the "Jewish people," had to establish firm academic security before daring to print the results of his explorations into the evidentiary basis of Jewish "mythistory" in Israel. There is simply no archeological or other contemporaneous evidence, he concludes, to support the claims upon which the Zionist Project rests. The Ashkenazi Jews of Europe, he explains, were a non-Semitic people originating in the Kazarian culture of the Caucasus, who converted to Judaism in the 8th-9th century CE and emigrated into Russia and Eastern Europe. In the late 19th century, Zionism arose in this population, claiming a right to reclaim the land of Palestine in which their ancestors had never set foot. Moreover, he continues, the alleged expulsion of Jews by the Romans in 70 CE never happened. The Romans brutally crushed the rebellion but never expelled any populations (from which they derived revenues and resources). Consequently, the Palestinians and not European Jews are descendants of the early Israelites (and other cultures of the area), who converted to Christianity in the 4th century and Islam in the 7th century in adaptation to historical changes.

The book is densely packed with technical historical material supporting his theses that will not be of interest to many casual readers. These detailed historical data were necessary armor in anticipation of the predictable Zionist howls, but the overall conclusions are immensely interesting and important in moving Israel toward acknowledgement of the terrible injustices it has inflicted upon the Palestinians and breaking the long-standing impasse caused by its insistence on the "right" to a "Jewish" state rather than a sectarian state with equal rights for all its citizens, including those it has dispossessed. It is encouraging that the book was a 19-week best-seller in Israel.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and important book, August 10, 2013
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I like Sand's style: serious, rigorous, somewhat ironic and very entertaining if your are interested in the subject matter, which is Jewish identity. The first chapter about the concept of nation is a little dry, and I suggest skipping it in the first reading. The rest of the book is thrilling, even though Sand himself acknowledges that he is not writing 'anything new', and that everything that he writes about is already known, at least to the specialists. I dispute this claim: I considered myself rather knowledgeable in Jewish history, having studied it as a young boy and being interested in it my whole life. Despite that fact, I've learned some very important facts,which includes the following concepts:

- The Jewish Bible as Mythistory: even though there are no evidences for most of the histories told in the Bible, and the invocation of God is pervasive in it, Jews in general and Israelis in particular read and teach the Bible as a history text. Thus, Jewish identity is based on myth rather than on historical facts.

- Jewish proselytism from about 200 B.C to 400 A.D: even though we consider the Jewish religion as a "non proselytist religion", in contrast with the Christian religion, that was not the case in that period. Proselytism is the origin of the Jews in Europe, in North Africa, in the Caucasus and in Asia.

- The exile of the Jews, Jewish Diaspora. Galut : this is perhaps the most important and recurrent myth in both jews and gentiles alike. There was no Exile during the Roman period, and this fact is widely known in history experts circles. However, most Jews believe that they are the 'historical descendents' of the Hebrew people that inhabited Canaan (or Palestine) duringthe biblical times,and that the were exiled by force.

- The origin of the Ashkenazim and Sefaradim : the Sefaradim are probably descendents of the tribes from North Africa that invaded Spain in the 8th century, which converted to Judaism before the invasion. The Ashkenazim probably descend from the Khazars, a reign in the Caucasus that converted to Judaism in the 8th century to reject islam civilization and retain political independence, This point is very well developed in the book, as it is so important for current Jewish identity.

- Zionism and history manipulation: the ups and down in Zionism ideology, how Zionism selects and rejects historical facts to create a coherent narrative of the Jews in order to support its own goals and agenda.

In summary, even though the facts may be known to some history experts, they do not constitute the 'popular wisdom' of the masses, both in and outside Israel. The consequences to the Jewish identity if these facts were more widely known, debated and discussed would be enormous. A delicious read, an important and brave contribution, all I can say is: Bravo Shlomo ! And many thanks.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating History, April 1, 2011
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The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand

"The Invention of the Jewish People" is an interesting yet controversial scholarly book about Jewish history through the eyes of leading historian Shlomo Sand. What makes this book controversial is the fact that the author denies such a thing as a Jewish "race" that were descendents of the first exiles with everything that it entails. This 344-page book is composed of the following five major chapters: 1. Making Nations: Sovereignty and Equality, 2. Mythistory: In the Beginning, God Created the People, 3. The Invention of the Exile: Proselytism and Conversion, 4. Realms of Silence: In Search of Lost (Jewish) Time, and 5. The Distinction: Identity Politics in Israel.

Positives:
1. A well written, well researched book that will take you deep into the fascinating Jewish history.
2. Professor Sand provides a lot of eye-opening arguments in support of his views.
3. A thought-provoking and enlightening book.
4. Professor Sand does not hold back. He says what he has to say and has conviction and passion behind his words while providing compelling arguments in defense of his theories.
5. A good history lesson on nationalism.
6. A fascinating look at Zionism.
7. A myth buster of a book. Including the exile...
8. The impact of Darwin's grand theory of evolution.
9. A controversial look at the Old Testament and how the Bible became a decisive starting point of the Jewish past.
10. The impact of archaeology. Exiles? Legendary kings? Great flood?
11. Polytheism to monotheism.
12. Jewish genealogy...The DNA findings controversy.
13. The fascinating history of proselytizing Jews. Berber Judaization...and the fascinating story of the Judaized queen. Khazars...
14. The importance of religious identity.
15. Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Arabian Jews.
16. Understanding the Law of Return and the concept of "ethnocracy".
17. Fascinating conclusions.
18. Links worked great.
19. Excellent notes.
20. Great afterword.

Negatives:
1. As a non-Jew, I found myself looking up the proper pronunciation of many people, places and Jewish traditions. It's not a strike against the author more so a limitation for any potential reader who is not familiar with Jewish terms.
2. Once again, as a non-Jew I have no cultural ties to the Jewish community but I can see where the issues brought up by Professor Sand can and has stir up a hornet's nest. In other words, the issues brought forth will and has upset Jewish people.
3. The initial chapter was a bit obscure until "revelations" were made.
4. My skeptical nature keeps me from accepting everything at face value despite the compelling arguments. There is so much information in this book it makes me wonder what is truly historically accurate and what is not, so it will entail further reading and research on my part. Ones beliefs should be based on the best evidence possible but one must not also jump to conclusions.
5. It was bit repetitive.
6. Illustrations and or charts could have added value to the book.

In summary, "The Invention of the Jewish People" is one of the most interesting, enlightening books you will ever read. My skeptical nature and my limited knowledge of Jewish history keeps me from accepting all the assertions at face value but at the very least Professor Sand has kindled my curiosity enough to pursue more research. I highly recommend reading this book with some noted observations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History or Another Myth?, March 18, 2014
Sand offers an interesting speculative theory, viz., that the Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Khazars, a Turkic people from what is now western Russia who converted to Judaism. On his view, the Zionists from Europe did not return to Palestine because they never left. Additionally, he denies that the Romans drove the ancient Israelites from their land. So, the story of the wandering Jews is retained, but the direction changes, i.e., from what is now Russia to Hungary, Poland, etc.. (There is a similar story about the Oriental Jews and Jews from Africa. Apparently, most of these descend from converts as well.)

Such speculative thinking is interesting, but is there any evidence of the migration of the Khazars? How many migrants to where? Given the rate of natural increase, were the original numbers of migrating Khazars sufficient to account for the Jewish populations in central Europe prior to the Holocaust?

Moreover, since converts often retain elements of their earlier beliefs and memories of their history along with their new religion, do we have any evidence of these among the European Jews? There are traces of earlier beliefs found in very old cathedrals in England, viz., gargoyles representing pre-Christian deities. There are Egyptian memories and physical evidence of their ancient pre-Islamic history. There are pre-Christian beliefs noted among modern Christians. But I am as yet unaware of anything like this in the case of the Ashkenazi Jews and their Khazar ancestors.

Without such evidence, we have speculations or perhaps new myths.
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The Invention of the Jewish People
The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand (Hardcover - October 19, 2009)
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