The thesis of a new book, The Invention of the Jewish People, by Tel Aviv University's Shlomo Sand, is actually quite old: That "Jewish peoplehood" is a rather big lie. Sand writes that the Jews are the descendants of converts -- specifically North African Berbers and Turkic Khazars -- not Israelites, and never inherited their homeland of Israel. We've been down this road before, with Arthur Koestler, author of the discredited "The Thirteenth Tribe." Sand acknowledged to Tablet's Evan Goldstein that his book, could provide fodder for those who are trying to delegitimize Israel:
While Sand is quick--and arguably disingenuous--to portray his personal politics as "very moderate," he doesn't flinch from describing his work on Jewish historiography and Israel as "radical" and "courageous." Verso has used adjectives like "bold" and "ambitious" to promote his book. But Hebrew University historian Israel Bartal, among others, has pointed out that Sand's politics have undermined the credibility of his scholarship. "Sand's desire for Israel to become a state 'representing all its citizens' is certainly worthy of a serious discussion," Bartal wrote in Haaretz, "but the manner in which he attempts to connect a political platform with the history of the Jewish people from its very beginnings to the present day is bizarre and incoherent."
Goldstein asked me for my thoughts on the book and here's what I told him:
"Sand is dropping manufactured facts into a world that in many cases is ready, willing, and happy to believe the absolute worst conspiracy theories about Jews and to use those conspiracy theories to justify physically hurting Jews. It is nothing new."
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