[Marxism] NOW IN PAPERBACK: Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People

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Tue Aug 3 04:20:56 MDT 2010




Revised and with a new afterword

Published July 5th 2010



"Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book.  In cool, scholarly prose he has, quite simply, normalised Jewish history.  In place of the implausible myth of a unique nation with a special destiny - expelled, isolated, wandering and finally restored to its rightful home - he has reconstructed the history of the Jews and convincingly reintegrated that history into the general history of humankind. The self-serving and mostly imaginary Jewish past that has done so much to provoke conflict in the present is revealed, like the past of so many other nations, to be largely an invention.  Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book." - TONY JUDT

 "I could not have gone on living in Israel without writing this book.  I don't think books can change the world - but when the world begins to change, it searches for different books." - SHLOMO SAND


After sending shockwaves around the world, and being translated into over a dozen languages, the international bestseller is now available in paperback. This new edition contains a brand new afterword in which the author responds in detail to the main arguments of his critics.

Few modern conflicts are as attached to ancient history as that of Israel and Palestine.  Shlomo Sand's measured and analytical research into the biblical origin of the Jewish people - their slavery, two exiles and (continuing) journey to the Promised Land - finds no record of any Jewish exile.  Sand's explosive and inescapable conclusion is that without exile, there is no right to return.

Sand's investigation uncovers a false historiography based on surviving fragments of Jewish and Christian religious memory.  He finds early Rabbis and 19th century Zionist Scholars responsible for the construction of a continuous genealogy for the Jewish people.  Israel, states Shlomo, has deliberately forgotten its history, and replaced it with a myth. "The disparity between what my research suggested about the history of the Jewish people and the way that history is commonly understood - not only within Israel but in the larger world - shocked me as much as it shocked my readers" he writes in the book's preface.

Sand's research attributes the Jewish diaspora to early Judaist evangelism across North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East, not a biological lineage.  The biblical narrative of Jewish exile and enforced dispersal already discredited, Sand finds present-day Palestinian Arabs to be the true heirs of the biblical Jews.

There have been few significant developments in national history over the past 60 years.  The facts that have emerged in Shlomo Sand's thesis face any honest historian with fundamental questions.


With reviews ranging from rapturous to apoplectic, the book caused a storm on its release in the UK last year, with Shlomo Sand speaking to packed out audiences at a series of explosive events. THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE was also chosen as a book of the year, 2009, by Eric Hobsbawm (OBSERVER), Terry Eagleton (TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT) and Simon Schama, who had previously called the book "self-dramatising" and "sensationalist" in the FINANCIAL TIMES.



 "Israel's declaration of independence states that the Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland.  Every Israeli school child is taught that this happened during the period of Roman rule, in 70 CE.  The nation remained loyal to its land, to which it began to return after two millennia of exile.

Wrong, says the historian Shlomo Sand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time.  There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened - hence there was no return."  - Tom Segev, HA'ARETZ

"Shlomo Sand's THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE is both a welcome and, in the case of Israel, much needed exercise in the dismantling of nationalist historical myth and a plea for an Israel that belongs equally to all its inhabitants. Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don't change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark" Eric Hobshawm, OBSERVER, BOOKS OF THE YEAR: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/22/books-of-the-year-2009

"A formidable polemic against claims that Israel has a moral right to define itself as an explicitly and exclusively Jewish society, in which non-Jews , such as Palestino-Israelis, are culturally and politically marginalised." Max Hastings, SUNDAY TIMES CULTURE: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article6912556.ece

"Sand takes on a formidable tradition in claiming that moral validity in the Middle East needs good history, and no discussion of the region any longer seems complete without acknowledgement of his book." INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, BEST HISTORY BOOKS OF 2009: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/best-history-books-of-2009-first-came-the-doomandgloom-pillaging-ndash-then-the-raging-battle-between-wainscotting-and-marble-1832803.html

"I am one of many Jews who would agree with Sand that a decisive factor in the future of Israel will be its capacity to be far more attentive to the narratives and rights of its Palestinian and other non-Jewish citizens." Jonathan Wittenberg, GUARDIAN: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jan/09/invention-jewish-people-sand-review


SHLOMO SAND is a Jewish scholar and historian based at the University of Tel Aviv. His book, The Invention of the Jewish People, has been translated into more than a dozen languages and won a number of awards, including France's coveted Aujourd'hui Award.

Find out more about the book and events at http://inventionofthejewishpeople.com/

ISBN: 978 1 84467 623 1 /£9.99 / $16.95 / Paperback / 356 pages


THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE is available from all good bookshops and:








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