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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland
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83 of 100 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 6, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sand

"The Invention of the Land of Israel" is the follow up to the fascinating and controversial "The Invention of the Jewish People". This excellent book serves as a complementary addition to the aforementioned book and fills gaps left behind. Historian and outspoken professor, Shlomo Sand does it again with this enlightening and educational book that reveals the history behind the Land of Israel. This 304-page book is composed of the following five chapters: 1. Making Homelands: Biological Imperative or National Property?, 2. Mytherritory: In the Beginning, God Promised the Land, 3. Toward a Christian Zionism: and Balfour Promised the Land, 4. Zionism Versus Judaism: The Conquest of "Ethnic" Space, and 5. Conclusion: The Sad Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.

1. A well-researched and well-cited book that takes you into the always fascinating world of Jewish history.
2. As candid and forthright a book as you will find. Professor Sand provides solid and well-cited evidence in support of his arguments.
3. Enlightening and thought-provoking book to say the least.
4. An excellent complement to his best-selling book "The Invention of the Jewish People".
5. The myth that was the forced uprooting of the "Jewish people."
6. The book does a wonderful job of explaining how the dissemination of a formative historical mythos occurred. "Never did I accept the idea of the Jews' historical rights to the Promised Land as self-evident."
7. Clarifies some of the misunderstood points made in his previous book.
8. Professor Sand takes pride in his historical scholarship and it shows. The quest for primary sources. The author does a good job of letting the readers know what he does have a good handle on and what he doesn't.
9. Explains what really precipitated the establishment of the State of Israel.
10. The book achieves its goal of tracing the ways in which the "Land of Israel" was invented.
11. The book achieves the main goal of disparaging the official historiography of the Zionist Israeli establishment.
12. The notion of "homeland" in perspective. "It is important to remember that homelands did not produce nationalism, but rather the opposite: homelands emerged from nationalism." The concept of territorial entity.
13. Was the Land of Israel the ancestral land of the descendants of the children of Israel? A biblical perspective...
14. The great minds behind the Jewish connection with the Land of Israel. Fascinating history.
15. The history of the three main revolts. Their causes and results.
16. The factors that revitalized interest over the Holy Land for all three Abrahamic religions.
17. The evolution of Zionism including the Christian variety. The colonization of the Middle East. The main players and factors involved. The Balfour Declaration.
18. An interesting look at the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. The increasing use of the moral superweapon "historical right."
19. A condensed history of the Diaspora. Zionism versus Judaism.
20. The "redemption" of the land to "Judaization of the country". The 1947 resolution regarding the partition of Palestine. The acquisition of land. The three most significant moments in the long history of the occupations and the settlements in the occupied territories that most likely were decisive in shaping the future of Israel and its neighbors.
21. An excellent final chapter that summarizes the main points of this interesting book.
22. Excellent citations.

1. Lack of visual aids to assist the reader. As an example, maps would have added much value.
2. The book at times is repetitive.
3. No formal bibliography.
4. A cast of characters, timelines, even glossaries would have immensely assisted an American audience that may not be familiar with this fascinating history.
5. The book lacks panache. English is not the author's main language. This book is about substance over style.

In summary, this is a fascinating and enlightening book. I really enjoyed it and I must thank the author for the education. Professor Sand succeeds in educating the reader on the history of the "Land of Israel". It's a great complement to his previous best-selling book. I highly recommend it!
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Shlomo Sand does it again. After his ground breaking "Invention of the Jewish People", this new book deconstructs the idea that Israel is the homeland of all Jews and calls Zionism into question by showing that the holy land is not the homeland that the Jewish people long for. The true homeland is a mental, spiritual ideal, and has nothing to do with property rights. He quotes one of the "earliest voices of the Enlightenment to emerge from eighteenth-century European Jewry", Moses Mendelssohn: "The Talmud forbids us to even think of a return (to Palestine) by force (i.e., to attempt to effect Redemption through human effort). Without the miracles and signs mentioned in the Scripture, we must not take the smallest step in the direction of forcing a return and a restoration of our nation. The Song of Songs expresses this prohibition" ........ "That you stir not up, nor awake my love, Till it please."

Along the way, Sand deconstructs the Balfour Declaration from which the Zionists take the "legal" right to invade and occupy Palestine. Balfour had no interest in the Jewish claims to Palestine other than to arrest immigration of the Jews of Eastern Europe from entering England, and to use them as a buffer in its imperialist claims to colonize the Middle East.

"The Invention of the Land of Israel" is an important work which describes the history of the creation of Israel, and should be read by all those, Jews and non-Jews alike, who are still in thrall of the myth of Zionist claims to Eretz Israel.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In response to the pathetic propagandist troll below, Professor of History Shlomo Sand, Ph.D. (who is on the history faculty at Tel Aviv University; a University which sits on land stolen from the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Al-Shaykh Muwannis. As Professor Sand notes in his own dedication in this book of his) showed how among many others historian Israel Jacob Yuval completely debunks your "exile" mythology in Yuval's article "The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel: A Demonstration of Irenic Scholarship"

Also in response to the very pathetic attempted "attacks" on Professor Sand, Ph.D.'s credentials once again:

Dr Sand attributed his colleagues' reticence to engage with him to an implicit acknowledgement by many that the whole edifice of "Jewish history" taught at Israeli universities is built like a house of cards. The problem with the teaching of history in Israel, Dr Sand said, dates to a decision in the 1930s to separate history into two disciplines: general history and Jewish history. Jewish history was assumed to need its own field of study because Jewish experience was considered unique.

"There's no Jewish department of politics or sociology at the universities. Only history is taught in this way, and it has allowed specialists in Jewish history to live in a very insular and conservative world where they are not touched by modern developments in historical research. "I've been criticised in Israel for writing about Jewish history when European history is my specialty. But a book like this needed a historian who is familiar with the standard concepts of historical inquiry used by academia in the rest of the world."

And a further debunking of this only attempted "charge" the Zionist propagandists clowns (like the one below this comment) attempt to bring: [...]

Other than that the only real "substantive" claim made is when some occasionally note that Professor (of History) Shlomo Sand, Ph.D.'s main area of academic expertise is the historical study of nationalism (and in particular French and European nationalism if I recall, think Rousseau, etc. etc.). But this attempted "charge" against Sand really comes to nothing as Sand's expertise in the study of nationalism actually makes him PERFECTLY suited to study Zionist ideology (especially as Zionism itself was invented in late 19th century CE EUROPE by Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl to start with).

To conclude Professor Shlomo Sand includes among the many thank yous to his colleagues in this book of his' introduction a Johns Hopkins University geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik who has now conclusively and definitively proven Professor Sand correct from the genetic angle in addition to the clear historical angle!


Dr. Eran Elhaik "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses"

Dr. Elhaik "Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis"

Genome Biol Evol (2013) 5 (1): 61-74. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs119 First published online: December 14, 2012


Gene study settles debate over origin of European Jews

(AFP) - Jan 16, 2013

PARIS -- Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries.

Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today.

According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

They settled in southern Europe and then, in the late Middle Ages, about 50,000 of them moved from the Rhineland in Germany into eastern Europe, according to the hypothesis.

But detractors say this idea is implausible.

Barring a miracle --which some supporters of the Rhineland Hypothesis have in fact suggested -- the scenario would have been demographically impossible.

It would mean that the population of Eastern European Jews leapt from 50,000 in the 15th century to around eight million at the start of the 20th century.

That birth rate would have been 10 times greater than that of the local non-Jewish population. And it would have occurred despite economic hardship, disease, wars and pogroms that ravaged Jewish communities.

Seeking new light in the argument, a study published in the British journal Genome Biology and Evolution, compares the genomes of 1,287 unrelated individuals who hail from eight Jewish and 74 non-Jewish populations.

Geneticist Eran Elhaik of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, trawled through this small mountain of data in search of single changes in the DNA code that are linked to a group's geographical origins.

Such telltales have been used in past research to delve into the origins of the Basque people and the pygmy people of central Africa.

Among European Jews, Elhaik found ancestral signatures that pointed clearly to the Caucasus and also, but to a smaller degree, the Middle East.

The results, said Elhaik, give sound backing for the rival theory -- the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

Under this concept, eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, a hotchpotch of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries AD and, influenced by Jews from Palestine, converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

The Judeo-Khazars built a flourishing empire, drawing in Jews from Mesopotamia and imperial Byzantium.

They became so successful that they sent offshoots into Hungary and Romania, planting the seeds of a great diaspora.

But Khazaria collapsed in the 13th century when it was attacked by the Mongols and became weakened by outbreaks of the Black Death.

The Judeo-Khazars fled westwards, settling in the rising Polish Kingdom and in Hungary, where their skills in finance, economics and politics were in demand, and eventually spread to central and western Europe, according to the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

"We conclude that the genome of European Jews is a tapestry of ancient populations including Judaised Khazars, Greco-Roman Jews, Mesopotamian Jews and Judeans," says Elhaik.

"Their population structure was formed in the Caucasus and the banks of the Volga, with roots stretching to Canaan and the banks of the Jordan."

Many things are unknown about the Khazars, whose tribal confederation gathered Slavs, Scythians, Hunnic-Bulgars, Iranians, Alans and Turks.

But, argues Elhaik, the tale sketched in the genes is backed by archaeological findings, by Jewish literature that describes the Khazars' conversion to Judaism, and by language, too.

"Yiddish, the language of Central and Eastern European Jews, began as a Slavic language" before being reclassified as High German, he notes.

Another pointer is that European Jews and their ancestral groups in the Caucasus and Middle East share a relatively high risk of diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The investigation should help fine-tune a fast-expanding branch of genomics, which looks at single-change DNA mutations that are linked with inherited disease, adds Elhaik.

Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
In 2008 the Israeli historian Sand published “The Invention of the Jewish People” (see my Amazon review). Four years later he has followed it up with this volume which has much the same agenda: to destroy a myth which has been fostered by the State of Israel to give itself a legitimacy based on history. Whatever reasons there are for supporting the existence of the State of Israel, but historical legitimacy, according to this book, is not one of them:

He begins by pointing out that there is no reference in the Hebrew Bible to the Land of Israel: God promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants; the kingdom of Israel referred to the northern kingdom and excluded Jerusalem; the title of the Hasmonean kings and of Herod when they ruled over the two old kingdoms and other lands was King of Judea; the New Testament refers to the area as Judea (except for one exception in Matthew 2:19-21 where Joseph is bidden to take his family from Egypt to the Land of Israel); later the area between the sea and the Jordan was referred to, even by Jews, as Palestine. Sand goes on to stress that Abraham, the four matriarchs, Moses and the Israelites who conquered and depopulated Canaan were all born outside the Promised Land.

The motives of the Jewish revolts in Judea and in Egypt were religious, not territorial. So was the spiritual attachment to Jerusalem of the diaspora Jews in the ancient world, and the same is true of the expression “the land of Israel” which we begin to find in the Talmud. One passage in the Talmud specifically warns Jews against collective migration to the Land of Israel, though another passage urges Jews to live there, and so did the Karaites. Those Jews who did go there - especially with the intention of being buried there - did so for spiritual, not territorial reasons. After Jerusalem had been conquered by the Muslims who put no obstacles in their way, Jewish pilgrims to the city were very few in number, nothing like as many as Christian or Muslim ones. “Next year in Jerusalem” was not “a call to action”.

The first territorial “Zionists”, calling for the return of the Jews to their Land, were not Jews, but 17th century English Protestants - not as refuge for oppressed Jews of the diaspora, but because of the curious belief that the Second Coming of Jesus would happen only after the return of the Jews to their Land and their eventual conversion there to Christianity - a belief that grew in strength among certain 19th century Evangelicals in Britain, led by the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and which is still held today by some Evangelical Christians in the United States.

According to Sand, the first Jewish figures who promoted Jewish immigration to the Land were Montefiore. The persecution of the Jews in Russia led to the advocacy of Zionist territorialism (Kalischer, Smolenskin, Lilienblum, Pinsker and then Herzl) and to the first Jewish settlements in Palestine. Herzl had to give up the idea of accepting the offer of Uganda because the majority of his followers would settle for nothing other than the Land. That this “invention of the Land Of Israel” became a reality was due to the Balfour Declaration, whose motives were, as Sand describes it, a mixture, to a small extent, of Christian Evangelicanism and, to a much larger extent, of Imperialism and of a wish to divert Jewish immigration away from Britain and towards Palestine.

Even then, in 1917, a very small minority of world Jewry saw Palestine as a territorial homeland which they were willing to support, let alone to which they felt the longing to “return”. (Many of the refugees who did go to Palestine and, later, to Israel did so because other countries would not receive them.) In Western Europe and the United States Haskalah and Reform Jews had insisted that their territorial home was the land of their birth. And the majority of orthodox Jews, from the Middle Ages until the second half of the 19th century, rejected the creation by human hands of territorial Zionism. For them the coming of the Messiah should precede rather than follow the establishment of a Jewish state in the Promised Land. They opposed territorial Zionism in its early days, and some of them still exist today even in Israel itself, although they are now a small minority among orthodox Jews. The rabbis of Tsarist Russia, despite their congregations suffering so much from persecution, also firmly rejected territorial Zionism. All this makes Sand describe Zionism as the negation of Judaism. And he writes that territorial Zionism would never have won so many adherents if Western European countries and the United States had not, from the early 20th century onwards, put such serious obstacles in the way of the immigration of persecuted Jews. Many of these HAD to go to Palestine and Israel, and it is not surprising that they should have constructed for themselves a right to that Land (and to ignore the rights of the people who were living there).

The invention of territorial Zionism required also the invention that all Jews are the descendants of those Jews who were forcibly exiled from the Land (it was also important to stress that some Jews always remained in their Land under the foreign occupation of the Arabs) and that they are now returning to it - a myth which Sand has thoroughly exposed in his previous book. Zionist historians now produced histories based on these ideas, establishing the right of the Jews to the Land. Some Zionists adopted Biblical texts, like Genesis 15:8, that make the Promised Land stretch from the Nile to the Euphrates, and they regarded any borders less than that - such as those that the State of Israel had to accept in 1949 - as a necessary, but temporary compromise.

The Suez War of 1956 gave them the opportunity to seize the Sinai peninsula, though under American pressure they had to withdraw from it. They seized it again in the Six Day War of 1967, but again had to give it up after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. But they were able to keep the other gains they made in the Six Day War: the Gaza Strip (which they kept for 33 years), East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The West Bank was not formally annexed, but many Zionists regretted that, feeling they had the right to annex what they called Judaea and Samaria. Short of that, ardent Zionists built settlements in the West Bank in pursuance of that same right which they invoked against those Israeli governments which initially vainly tried to restrain them, but which governments from 1977 onwards have supported. All this, of course, at the expense of the right of the Arabs.

There cannot be any doubt about Sand’s attitude to all this - but his Afterword drives it home by narrating the fate of the peaceful Arab village of just over 2,000 inhabitants, on whose obliterated site now stand Sand’s Tel Aviv University and the four museums on its campus which are devoted to the Zionist narrative of the Land of Israel.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Just finished Shlomo Sand's book, The Invention of the Land of Israel" and my head is spinning! So much has clicked into place regarding the intransigent situation in the Middle East. My particular area of interest is in the history and development of world religion, in particular of the three major monotheistic, Semitic-in-origin religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Coming upon this book was a thrill, but reading it was also quite shocking. The last couple of chapters, especially, were shocking in the revelation of the degree of injustice that has been perpetrated upon innocent people in the creation of a literal, nationalistic "Land of Israel". This book is important reading. It is so relevant to politics and foreign policy today and serves to increase understanding of just how difficult the situation regarding Israel and the Palestinians is--and why it is so. As much as many Israelis and Jews around the world wish the Palestinians and the "Palestinian problem" would just "go away", this book tells why this is not going to happen. Sand sees the 1967 war as having had tragic consequences for his country, and, after reading about it, I must agree. It's quite heart-breaking, all the way around.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Shlomo Sand deserves the Nobel Prize. His careful and very insightful work at humanizing a myth that is the core of three major, global religions each with innumerable sects is much needed and very courageous.

His first book, How the Jews Were Invented, will change how we look at that forever. Not because he is right about everything. He may not be. But because he has the courage to poke through the mists of time and legend and suggest how it all really happened. This book, his second on How Israel Was Invented, is every bit as good. One assumes it will be followed by another, How the Book Was Invented. That is his trinity approach - the people, the land, the book.

It would be unfair, and impossible, to encapsulate what he has to say in a simple sentence. So I'm going to do it. There is no such thing as a pure ethnic group with a long attachment to a particular land based on the written word of a God. All of these things are fantasies.

Sand is almost certainly not the first person to think that. But he is the first to publish a careful and well-researched case for it. And it has, and will, make many people, in three major global religions each with innumerable sects, very angry. As the truth always does. But there's another thing the truth, once digested, always does. Set you free.

Thank you for these books Dr. Sand.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Excellent review of historical facts that are rarely addressed and even made taboo to be addressed. This is an eye opener for all to read and as such a first real step for peace. It takes guts to write about this topic when you live and work in Israel. Shlomo Sand shows how to be a historian.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Sand makes very interesting, compelling arguments that enlarge one's understanding of a complex situation.
He discusses Judaism as a religion and dismisses the notion of Jews as a "a people" by "blood" and categorizes Jews as simply those who belong to the Jewish religion. On that basis, why not give Catholics their own state, he reasons. But Jews are members not only of a religious group but of a cultural group, a wider and more inclusive definition than he allows. Just as Kurds want their own homeland or the Irish wanted their own state, so do the Jews. He counters that Jews were not struggling to repopulate Palestine until recently, that most Jews remained in the respective countries in which they were born, even despite persecution. And when they did move, they moved to neighboring states that welcomed them. However, that same thing was true of other persecuted minorities--they moved close by, they moved to areas where they could get work, where relatives already lived. People did not really set out for lands unknown until settlement in the New World, the Americas, began. Greater knowledge has made choices more available and understandable for many people now; these options didn't exist in a real and practical sense for the average household throughout most of European history.
In short, Sands book(s) allow the reader to understand a perspective with which he may be unfamiliar; it allows the reader to evaluate his own positions more carefully and realize there are other, often diametrically opposed opinions, that have validity. The careful reader can come away from reading, I think, with a broader understanding of the issues, a more empathic understanding of the complexities of the situation and, perhaps, a renewed understanding of the basis of his own viewpoint . This book evokes a reasoned discussion with a scholar, not an exchange of slogans.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Solomon Sand begins this book with a description of his service during the six day war in 1967. He was traumatised by the ruthless way in which his comrades treated Arab prisoners and civilians during that conflict, which lasted more than six days of course. One may say that it has never really ended. As a historian at the University of Tel Aviv Sand has made I an intensive study of the mythology of Zionism and how the state of Israel has used this mythology to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the land. This book is a worthy sequel to his 'The Invention of the Jewish People' and thoroughly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book makes you realize the mythology that pervades our understanding of why Israel as a nation exists. Now the politics of the Middle East begins to make more sense. Each time I listen to the news from Israel, my analysis of what is really happening will be deeper and more perceptive.
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