Friday, March 23, 2012

Shlomo Sand - The Invention of the Jewish People

It is rare indeed when a person writes a book whose aim is to help in the destruction of the state he is living in. But this is Shlomo Sand's self- proclaimed aim. He has written this book in order to delegitimize Israel, the Jewish people's claim to a state of their own. There is presently a world-wide campaign to delegitimize Israel as prelude to destroying the Jewish state. Just as Yassir Arafat in rejecting peace with Israel in September 2000 claimed that the existence of two Jewish temples in Jerusalem was a 'myth' and that Jews in fact had no real history in Jerusalem, so Sand claims that the Jewish people itself is a 'myth'.

In making this claims Israeli historian Israel Bartal claims that Sand uses misleading citations, shows disrepect for historical details and shows a 'slippery tendency to present extreme theories as though they reflect the scholarly consensus'. One of the most distinguished of historians of Jewish modernity Anita Shapira of Tel Aviv University found something warped and objectionable in the assumption that for Jews to integrate into the Middle East they, and they alone of all the peoples in the region, must shed their national identity and historical memories and reconstruct themselves in a way that may (perhaps) find favor with Israeli-Palestinians."

Sand essentially joins the camp of those who would make the Jewish people the only people in the world who have no right whatsoever to their own national and communal identity. He not only in doing this sins against the truth of history but insults that great majority of Israelis who actually care for and believe in the value of their own people and state.
Sand claims that his own parents Polish refugees from the Shoah came to Israel not because they wanted to , but because they had no choice. They could never really feel themselves a part of the Jewish people just as the parents of another Israel- basher Norman

Finkelstein's parents could never really feel sympathy and any solidarity with their fellow survivors of the Shoah. Out of such self- hating and people- denying parents comes this work, one which will certainly join with the Koestler's work on the Khazars as documents which seek to make the Jews a people who do not know their own origins and ancestors.

Intellectual treason may not be the greatest sin in the world, but when it contributes to a worldwide campaign aimed at destroying one's own nation and people it certainly makes one a candidate for one of the Underworlds's lower circles. Sand has already received much publicity and will receive a large royalty for his work. But my suspicion his ultimate reward will be that he will be wholly despised by the great share of Jews who know of his work.

If there is a Circle lower than the Ninth he should be in it. Permalink | Why no voting buttons? We don't let customers vote on their own reviews, so the voting buttons appear only when you look at reviews submitted by others.

What kind of person is Shlomo Sand? He is the kind of person who compares Israel in an interview to a child born of a rape, he is a S.H.I.T (Self Hater Israel Threatening) Jew who denies his own roots, that's what is written in his book:

“Most Israeli Jews believe in a historical right. If there is no such right, what justifies our existence here? Arabs also ask me, after writing this book, how can I justify the existence of Israel. I say to them that even the son of a rape has the right to live. It was a kind of rape in 1947 and ’48 and the Palestinian tragedy continues. But you can say the same about the USA and Australia.”

...“I think Israel belongs to the Israelis, not the Jews. We have a language, a culture, a theater, a literature, our jokes our football and our politics. We are a people but we are not just a Jewish people. I want to change the borders and definition of the state. I want to make it a more civil nation — to separate religion from its existence, to normalise and democratize Israel. I think that Israel has to belong to all its citizens, not just the Jewish ones. People call me radical but from a democratic perspective this is not so radical.....”

Therefore, we glean that he’s a scholar working at an Israeli university which affords him the freedom to attack his country and society viciously and then have his ideas travel the world with him so he can call the country subsidizing his salary, the child of a rape.

And you can imagine he has serious support from the anti-Israel crowd, Jewish especially.

Shlomo Sand Ridiculed by Historian Simon Schama

Some of you may recall our celebration of French journalistic standards which permitted “The Invention of the Jewish People,” a sad, ideologically bent book by Shlomo Sand to win the Aujourd’hui Award, “given to the best non-fiction political or historical work from French journalists.”

Schama writes:

"Sand’s self-dramatizing attack in The Invention of the Jewish People is directed against those who assume, uncritically, that all Jews are descended lineally from the single racial stock of ancient Hebrews – a position no one who has thought for a minute about the history of the Jews would dream of taking."


"But, he argues, there actually was no mass forced “exile” so there can be no legitimate “return”. This is the take-away headline that makes this book so contentious. It is undoubtedly right to say that a popular version of this idea of the exile survives in most fundamentalist accounts of Jewish history. It may well be the image that many Jewish children still have. But it is a long time since any serious historian argued that following the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans emptied Judea. But what the Romans did do, following the Jewish revolt of AD66-70 and even more exhaustively after a second rebellion in AD135, was every bit as traumatic: an act of cultural and social annihilation – mass slaughter and widespread enslavement. But there was also the mass extirpation of everything that constituted Jewish religion and culture; the renaming of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina, the obliteration of the Temple, the prohibition on rituals and prayers. Sand asserts, correctly, that an unknowable number of Jews remained in what the Romans called Palestina. The multitudes of Jews in Rome had already gone there, not as a response to disaster but because they wanted to and were busy proselytizing."

"All this is true and has been acknowledged. But Sand appears not to notice that it undercuts his argument about the non-connection of Jews with the land of Palestine rather than supporting it. Put together, the possibility of leading a Jewish religious life outside Palestine, with the continued endurance of Jews in the country itself and you have the makings of that group yearning – the Israel-fixation, which Sand dismisses as imaginary. What the Romans did to the defeated Jews was dispossession, the severity of which was enough to account for the homeland-longing by both the population still there and those abroad. That yearning first appears, not in Zionist history, but in the writings of medieval Jewish teachers, and never goes away."

"There are many such twists of historical logic and strategic evasions of modern research in this book. To list them all would try your patience...."

"His assumption that the Jewish state is an oxymoron built on illusions of homogeneity is belied by the country’s striking heterogeneity. How else to explain the acceptance of the Beta Israel Ethiopian Jews or the Bene Israel Indians as Israeli Jews? Certainly that acceptance has never been without obstacles, and egregious discrimination has been shown by those who think they know what “real jews” should look like. Sand is right in believing that a more inclusive and elastic version of entry and exit points into the Jewish experience should encourage a debate in Israel of who is and who is not a “true” Jew. I could hardly agree more, and for precisely the reason that Sand seems not to himself embrace: namely that the legitimacy of Israel both within and without the country depends not on some spurious notion of religious much less racial purity, but on the case made by a community of suffering, not just during the Holocaust but over centuries of expulsions and persecutions. Unlike the Roman deportations, these were not mythical."

"Sand would counter that such a refuge for the victims could have been in China, or on the moon, for all that Palestine had to do with the Jews. But since his book fails to sever the remembered connection between the ancestral land and Jewish experience ever since, it seems a bit much to ask Jews to do their bit for the sorely needed peace of the region by replacing an ethnic mythology with an act of equally arbitrary cultural oblivion."

Very soon, expect to hear on campuses, in news programs on the radio and occasionally in TV programs that the Jewish people are a myth. This stuff used to be said by the neo-Nazi loonies who inhabit this world, but now we have a Jewish, son of Holocaust survivors, professor from an Israeli university, ideologue whose ideology so blinds him to the basic identity of the Jewish people that he has put this lie into the mainstream.

The problem with his argument is that HE’S the one who is touting the biological issue. It is clear to most Jews that their identity stems from our thousands of years of common heritage and that heritage is directly linked to our past in Judea and Israel. It isn’t material whether my genes are directly connected to those of some Jerusalemite from 2000 years ago – although they might well be – it’s that their ideas, beliefs, practices and lives have filtered down to our time and resonate with our identity. They define who we are, and not because of a couple of 19th Century historians, but precisely because our traditions, our shared histories, our literature and even the enduring hatred we’ve suffered, are a part of every Jew. If a prayer was being said 2000 years ago, and then 1000 years later a Jew who descends from a convert says the same prayer and teaches it to his children, and that prayer is repeated 500 years later and again a thousand years later by Jews, even if they are descended from converts to Judaism, that does not lessen their connection to the place where that prayer, language and culture originated. It does not change the fact that they faced Jerusalem when praying and wished that they could visit it and even live there upon the messiah’s arrival.

Whether Sand approves or not, these ideas that form us exist because our ancestors – and here I may mean biological and I could mean ancestry in terms of ideas, faith and religious practice – lived in Jerusalem and Hebron and Shechem and Judea and Samaria.

If his problem is that Israel, a state defining itself as a Jewish state, exist on disputed land that the Palestinians claim as theirs, then that’s an entirely different issue and question. Trying to use questionable history to address this complex situation is reprehensible.

If Walt & Mearsheimer’s “The Israel Lobby” wins TheMiddle’s “21st Century Protocols of the Elders of Zion” Award, Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People” wins the “Temple was Never Here, It Was in Nablus” Upside Down History Prize, which I dedicate to Yasser Arafat.

Shlomo Sand is Angry at His Critics
Posted by "themiddle" in Jewlicious

Ooooh, the man is really angry. Shlomo Sand (also known as Shlomo Zand) is angry that historians like Simon Schama have critiqued his work unfavorably. Does he bother to refute their claims? No, he has a different response: “I live there and you don’t, therefore I can speak and you should not criticize me.” (LOL - what a pathetic joke of a man)

Here is how he put it to The Guardian:

“The book fails to sever the remembered ­connection between the ancestral land and Jewish experience,” Schama wrote. “What chutzpah coming from Simon Schama, speaking about his ancestral land!” Sand says, eyes widening. “He doesn’t want to come to his ‘ancestral land’ to live!”

"Sand is scathing about accusations made by Jews living elsewhere that his book is anti-Israel. From the comfort of the diaspora they charge him with sedition. Some say his thesis fuels antisemitism. Overseas donors to Tel Aviv University have called for him to be sacked."

"But Sand has voted for Israel with his feet. He is not anti-Zionist, he says, but post-Zionist: accepting modern Israel as a faith accomplice. Besides, his interest in the country’s survival as a democracy is not theoretical. His family lives there."

"Diaspora Zionists can nurture the Jewish myth of biblical nationhood as dual citizenship alongside their passports from safer states. When they refer to “Israel” and “Jerusalem” in their prayers, they do not have to distinguish between scriptural metaphor and political reality. It is a distinction on which Israel’s survival depends."

“A lot of pro-Zionists in London and New York don’t really understand what their great-grandparents felt about Zion,” says Sand. “It was the most important place in the world in their imagination, as a religious, sacred land, not a place to emigrate.” That “Israel” was a metaphysical destination to be reached at the End of Days. The modern Israeli state is a political enterprise, conceived in the late 19th century, made necessary by the Holocaust, founded in 1948.”

Methinks Mr. Sand doesn’t get it. First of all, he is forgetting that well-regarded Israeli historians such as Anita Shapira have criticized his work for shoddy scholarship and they also live in Israel.

He also forgets that a person who lives outside of Israel, Jewish or not, has the right to find flaws with his work and point them out. They don’t need to live in Israel in order to do that and their arguments and claims are no less valid just because they live elsewhere. His resources for the research of history are no greater than the resources available to Simon Schama. The same goes for the discussion of a link between Jews and their ancestral homeland. A Tibetan monk could discuss this link and if his resources or knowledge are good and the argument is historically sound, his views are just as valid as those of Israeli scholars.

Why does Mr. Sand think that he gets a pass on doing good research and coming to correct conclusions simply because he lives in Israel? He doesn’t.

What is particularly galling is that he actually admits that his thesis is wrong!

”A lot of pro-Zionists in London and New York don’t really understand what their great-grandparents felt about Zion,” says Sand. “It was the most important place in the world in their imagination, as a religious, sacred land, not a place to emigrate.” That “Israel” was a metaphysical destination to be reached at the End of Days.”

Precisely, Mr. Sand. Except for the part about it not being a place to emigrate. This is exactly what your critics have been telling you. For almost two millenia this particular idea has been at the center of Jewish life and Jewish imagination. Whether a person was genetically connected to our ancestors in Judea or Israel is not what defines our connection as Jews to the Land of Israel. It is exactly what you say it is: “the most important place in the world in their imagination, as a religious, sacred land.” After all, you’re the one who talks about the Jewish people being the result of mass conversions. Yet, you know well that the idea of Israel that you mention in the interview was a bond that Jews shared throughout the world, whether in Yemen, Morocco, Germany or anywhere else. It is this link that made them a nation and a people. It is this link that connected them and connects us to modern Israel.

The claim that the Jews did not envision Israel as a place to which they could emigrate is a red herring. They did not have the option. Not only was there no economic infrastructure in the area, but there were often hostile forces, Christian and Muslim, who controlled the place and who would have made it difficult to travel there or live there. Sand knows the story of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi who traveled to visit the Western Wall and was then, according to legend, run over by a horse and killed. Why would such a legend crop up? Because Jews did not believe they could safely return to their homeland.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Video Players

Israel & Judaism Islam & Terrorism