Invention of the Jewish People – Book Review
This is the book if you’re looking for a fresh approach to Israel’s history
(The Invention of the Jewish People. Shlomo Sand. Verso, New York, 2009.)
Myths are powerful because they tell the story of origins – the origins of tribes and the origins of a people and nations. Myths tell us who we are and where and how we began. Incorporating folktales and legends, myths tell us what truth is and how it makes us different from others. Groups of people use myths in the creation of histories of themselves as people who are different from others. National myths, involving politics and patriotism use myths and myth-making to construct the national identity: what makes our country and people different from every other? Israeli historian and Professor of History at Israel’s Tel Aviv University calls this process “mythistory”. “From this surgically improved past emerge[s] the proud and handsome portrait of the nation.”
“Every history” writes Professor Sand “contains myths, but those that lurk within national historiography are especially brazen. The histories of peoples and nations have been designed like the statues in city squares – they must be grand, towering, heroic… ‘Us’ and ‘All the Others’ was the usual, almost the natural division. For more than a century, the production of Us was the life’s work of the national historians and archaeologists, the authoritative priesthood of memory.”
In this fashion, a group of Jewish writers, political activists and others began in the second half of the nineteenth century to shape the history (mythistory) of the Jewish people. All Jews, they said, come from a single stock originating from the loins of the founding patriarch, Abraham. In the ancient past, they were citizens of a powerful Jewish state called Israel, were exiled after the destruction of the second temple in AD 70, and since that time have lived as exiles in nations where they have suffered persecution. It is time, they said, to recreate the Nation of Israel so that its people can return to it and live there.
Using the Biblical narrative as a history text, they began to construct the history of the Jewish people as a People Set Apart from all others. Their history, so the story line goes, “rests on firm and precise truths.” The problem with this is, none of it can be shown to be scientifically verified truth. Instead, it is what Professor Sand calls “mythistory”… Using what we now know was pseudoscience, early Zionist thinkers turned to physical anthropology, social Darwinism and, later to eugenics to build their case for identifying the Jewish people as being biologically different from all others. “The purpose of Jewish biology,” Professor Sand writes “was to promote separation from others… It sought to serve the project of ethnic nationalist consolidation in the taking over of an imaginary ancient homeland.”
The next step was to find a homeland to which all Jewish people could be invited. Though it wasn’t the first choice, the most logical choice was Palestine. The goal became immigrating to Palestine with the aim of taking it over and recreating the ancient and very mythical Nation of Israel. The obvious problem was that Palestine was already inhabited by a mostly Arab population that had lived there for over a thousand years.
What to do? Simple: build alliances with those who can and will help you. The golden opportunity arrived with Hitler’s massive annihilation of Europe’s Jewish population in the 1930s and 40s. Jewish immigration into Palestine, almost overnight, turned into a tsunami. Granted nationhood by the United Nations, Israel was “reborn”. “The land of Israel” reads the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel “was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identify was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”
Out of the mists of ancient myth came the modern Nation of Israel and its armies. Built on the racially exclusionary ideological foundation of Zionism, this new Nation of Israel quickly began expelling the non-Jewish people who lived there. Beginning in 1948, almost overnight more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were dispossessed of their homes and lands and became refugees, a process that continues as I write. It is deeply cynical, racist and destined, so Professor Sand believes, to fail. It is still possible to close one’s eyes to the truth. Many voices will continue to maintain that the ‘Jewish people’ has existed for four thousand years, and that ‘Eretz Israel’ has always belonged to it. And yet the historical myths that were once, with the aid of a good deal of imagination, able to create Israeli society are now powerful forces helping to raise the possibility of its destruction.”
To say that Professor Sand’s thesis and his research is not well-received in official Israeli circles is perhaps a bit too mild. Protective of their past and paranoid about their future, most of Israel’s political and religious leaders seem bent on maintaining the course they have pursued for the past sixty-two years and more. Only time will tell us the final outcome. My hope is that good sense will win the day and that Israel will become a new land that belongs to and serves all its citizens, not just its Jewish ones.
If you’re looking for a fresh approach to Israel’s history, Professor Sand’s book is one that I heartily recommend.
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on StumbleUpon (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
1 Comment »
or go to
By Jeff Schmidt | Dissident Voice | October 18, 2014
To understand Denis Rancourt and his book, Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism, you have to know the difference between critical thinking and independent thinking.
Critical thinking is nothing special. Every college student is taught to do it, to prepare for employment fielding matters for employers. On the job, critical thinking amounts to little more than the ability to say, “The boss isn’t going to like this.” You don’t need your own ideology to say that. You need only understand the boss’s ideology and use it to guide your work.
The safest way to avoid making a fatal mistake in such work, and to advance through the ranks, is to adopt the assigned way of thinking as your own. Your life becomes routine and you vanish from history, but you get a roof over your head and more than enough food for your pie hole. It’s the Devil’s bargain for survival in hierarchical organizations.
Rancourt is having none of it. Having become an activist and thereby having experienced the excitement, exhilaration and fulfillment of helping to shape the society he lives in, Rancourt sees cog-in-the-wheel life as a living death. … continue
Aletho News Exclusive Content
This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
Also by Aletho News:
September 19, 2011
March 8, 2011
January 2, 2011
October 10, 2010
July 5, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 7, 2010
January 5, 2010
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 4, 2009
May 9, 2009
- Palestinians dismantle illegal settler outpost October 18, 2014
- Mosque burnt in apparent price tag attack October 15, 2014
- Stories from Burin during the olive harvest October 15, 2014
- Tear gas and stun grenades used against schoolchildren October 13, 2014
- Jewish holiday leads to large influx of settlers, zionist tourists, and Israeli soldiers October 12, 2014
- ISIS and the USA: Expansion and Resistance by Decapitation September 26, 2014
Looking for something?
TagsAfghanistan Africa al-Akhbar Al-Manar American Civil Liberties Union American Israel Public Affairs Committee Argentina Bashar al-Assad Benjamin Netanyahu Brazil Britain Canada Central Intelligence Agency China CIA Colombia East Jerusalem Egypt European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation France Fukushima Gaza Germany Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights India Intelligence International Atomic Energy Agency International Middle East Media Center International Solidarity Movement Internet Iran Iraq Iraq War Israel Israeli settlement Japan Jerusalem John Kerry Latin America Lebanon Libya Ma'an Middle East National Security Agency NATO New York Times NSA Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Police Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia South America Syria Turkey UK Ukraine United Nations United States USA Venezuela Washington Post West Bank Zionism
Visits Since December 2009
- 1,904,332 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
- MH17 FULLY EXPOSED October 20, 2014
- National Service is Anti-Liberty and Un-American October 19, 2014
- New Seeds, Old Pesticides: A Farmer on 2,4-D and Next Gen GMOs October 19, 2014
- What Happens When You Talk With Americans About Drone Murders October 19, 2014
- Lavrov: West’s ‘colonial-style’ sanctions on Russia have little to do with Ukraine October 19, 2014
- Official: PA forces regularly conduct politically motivated arrests October 19, 2014
- Washington Post’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb October 19, 2014
- Terror-scaremongering designed to erode freedoms, stamp out dissent October 19, 2014
- Beyond Critical Thinking October 19, 2014
- NYPD gets itself a Glomar doctrine October 19, 2014
- Top Venezuelan Legislator Calls for Investigation of NGOs funded by USAID October 18, 2014
- A Deafening Silence October 18, 2014
- Nigeria Announces Truce With Boko Haram October 18, 2014
- Israel creates mock Jewish graves south of Aqsa Mosque October 18, 2014
- History of Key Document in IAEA Probe Suggests Israeli Forgery October 18, 2014
- PBS and NPR appear to have collaborated on their responses to the David Brooks controversy October 18, 2014
- Russia at the gates? US State Dept, Pentagon grilled over NATO expansion October 18, 2014
- Putin: Ukraine’s new Donbass law ‘not perfect, but a step in right direction’ October 18, 2014
Categories"Hope and Change" Aletho News Civil Liberties Corruption Deception Economics Environmentalism Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism False Flag Terrorism Full Spectrum Dominance Illegal Occupation Islamophobia Mainstream Media, Warmongering Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity Militarism Nuclear Power Science and Pseudo-Science Solidarity and Activism Subjugation - Torture Supremacism, Social Darwinism Timeless or most popular Video War Crimes Wars for Israel
This site is provided as a research and reference tool. Although we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the information and data provided at this site are useful, accurate, and current, we cannot guarantee that the information and data provided here will be error-free. By using this site, you assume all responsibility for and risk arising from your use of and reliance upon the contents of this site.
This site and the information available through it do not, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult your own attorney.
Nothing within this site or linked to by this site constitutes investment advice or medical advice.
Materials accessible from or added to this site by third parties, such as comments posted, are strictly the responsibility of the third party who added such materials or made them accessible and we neither endorse nor undertake to control, monitor, edit or assume responsibility for any such third-party material.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
The word "alleged" is deemed to occur before the word "fraud." Since the rule of law still applies. To peasants, at least.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
This is information for anyone that wishes to challenge our “fair use” of copyrighted material.
If you are a legal copyright holder or a designated agent for such and you believe that content residing on or accessible through our website infringes a copyright and falls outside the boundaries of “Fair Use”, please send a notice of infringement by contacting email@example.com.
We will respond and take necessary action immediately.
If notice is given of an alleged copyright violation we will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the material(s) in question.
All 3rd party material posted on this website is copyright the respective owners / authors. Aletho News makes no claim of copyright on such material.