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The Invention of the Jewish People [Paperback]

Shlomo Sand
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Jun 2010
Bestselling evaluation of the national myth of the Jewish exile from the promised land, by leading Israeli historian

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The Invention of the Jewish People + The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland + The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (14 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844676234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844676231
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Praises for the hardback edition of The Invention of Jewish People: 'Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book. ... Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.' -- Tony Judt '...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 'Shlomo Sand's The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso) 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

'A string of firecrackers.' -- Stephen Howe, Independent, Book of the Week '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

'An important book one that hammers another nail into Zionism s ideological coffin.' -- Tony Greenstein, Weekly Worker '[Sand's] quiet earthquake of a book is shaking historical faith in the link between Judaism and Israel.' --Rafael Behr, Observer

About the Author

Shlomo Sand studied history at the University of Tel Aviv and at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, in Paris. He currently teaches contemporary history at the University of Tel Aviv. His books include "The Invention of the Jewish People," "On the Nation and the Jewish People," "L'Illusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le debat intellectuel 1900," "Georges Sorel en son temps," "Le XXe siecle a l'ecran" and "Les Mots et la terre: les intellectuels en Israel."

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
293 of 313 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to the ancestral land? 7 Nov 2009
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
About a fifth of this book shows how Biblical criticism and archaeological discoveries have undermined the reliability of the Hebrew Bible as history. Archaeology, among other things, has played havoc with the chronology of the Bible, especially in connection with the invasion of Canaan, nor has it found any evidence that would support the story of the Exodus or the splendour of Solomon's kingdom.

But the main subject of the book is the denial that there is such a thing as the Jewish People, descended from the inhabitants of Biblical Palestine from which they have been scattered, and that they are a nation which has now returned to the land of its ancestors. This undermines one of the principal arguments with which the State of Israel legitimizes itself. (There are, of course, other arguments which Sand does not discuss in any depth.)

He says that the Jews began to see themselves as an ethnic people, rather than as a religious community, in the 19th century. (In a 40 page long and massively theoretical opening chapter, Sand explains why for him the word `people' implies ethnicity - hence the provocative title of his book. Others might well say that what has for centuries kept the Jewish `people' together was not their ethnicity but their religion, and even secular Jews belong to that people because their ancestors were religious Jews.) He traces the claim of the Jews to be a nation from the 1880s - when scholars like Heinrich Graetz described the work of Julius Wellhausen, the father of modern Biblical Criticism, as anti-Jewish - to those who present the Biblical account as the foundation charter of the State of Israel, where it is the staple of the state educational system.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old lie belies an ugly problem 16 July 2014
Why read this book? Because the Israelis treat the Palestinians like animals. They're walled in, their lands are routinely confiscated and 'settled upon' and whenever Islamic terrorists cause trouble, which admittedly they do, they attack, kill, and maim the civilian population as retribution. If any other country did this, America would send in the 82nd airborne. Why not Israel? Because of the Jewish-American vote, and the fact that Israelis have a 'right' to be there, because the land of Israel is by rights, the land of the Jewish people.

Well, turns out, that's bulls***.

An academic work which seems to be as rigorously researched as it is readable. If like me you see rights and wrongs on both sides of the argument, Israel vs Palestine, this work will teach you why it's important not to forget that though most modern Israelis were born there and have as much right to remain as any other 2nd generation immigrant anywhere, their arrogance, violence, and bombast in pursuit of their sole claim on the land is reprehensible, racist, and should be revealed for the ugly lie that it is.
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184 of 206 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Shlomo Sand's `The Invention of the Jewish People' is fascinating. It is a wide ranging study that is well written, well translated and easily read. It is about how, when, why and by whom the notion of the Jews as a people was invented and the consequences of this invention.

Sand starts with an exploration of theoretical understandings of nationalism and references such authors as Ernest Gellner and Benedict Anderson. I found this chapter a little bit scatter-gun and readers don't really need to read chapter 1. Nevertheless, Sand makes his case that nations are the product of nationalism - not the other way around.

Chapter 2 launches straight into what Sand calls `Mythistory'. Here he examines the evolution of historiography of the Jews and how this has been distorted by both the Bible and by nationalist and racial ideologies. When was the Old Testament written? By whom? Why? Sand then goes on to show that philological and archaeological research has undermined the notion that the Old Testament is older than the Persian and Hellenistic periods and that events such as the arrival of the Patriarchs and the Exodus did probably not occur.

Sand then tackles the myth of exile. The fact that Jews were not exiled from Judea in 71 CE upon the destruction of the Temple. Nor were they exiled after the Bar Kochba revolt some 80 years later. Sand follows the Zionist historiography as it tries to settle on it's third choice of when exile occurred after the 7th century Arab conquest. Here Sand is a little weak, I feel, in that he doesn't make the obvious link in Zionist ideology between the concept of Arab dispossession and the later justification of the dispossession of Arabs in 1948.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The basic premise of Shlomo Sand's book should be totally uncontroversial, I can see that the delivery might cause offense to some ultra Zionists, but it is common sense that no group of people could possibly remain racially pure while scattered across Europe and the middle East (and ultimately across the entire world).

Jewish is on the one hand a term defining a religion, on the other a race, but more than both it has become a self defined term. If I say I am Jewish you will find it very difficult to disprove my assertion (I do not need to be circumcised, I do not need to go to synagogue and although you may believe my Mother will need to be Jewish - frankly I don't need to agree with you). If I tell my Children they are Jewish they will probably believe me. If my children tell their children they are Jewish they will almost certainly think they are Jewish and identify with every other person who says they are Jewish, regardless of DNA or religion. Anyone who believes that integration of "outsiders" as Jews over the many centuries of the diaspora has not made the Jews at the very least a hybrid group frankly needs to believe in a supernatural force. I would never wish to argue with someones faith - but a faith in a God who requires racial purity is just a little worrying.

It is also a little worrying that so many obviously intelligent and reasonable people have taken such vehement offence when reading "The invention of the Jewish People". Perhaps it is the title? Perhaps it is a perceived threat to the state of Israel? I find the most frightening arguments those based on the DNA analysis. I am a molecular biologist, I have read with great interest the papers on mapping human population spread using DNA profiles.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Extremely well-researched and referenced. A book everyone ought to read - especially our politicians.
Published 5 days ago by sandra yvonne yehya
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 19 days ago by Julian Piggott
5.0 out of 5 stars The dangerous lies
A extremely important book for those who wants to understand the Zionist propaganda based on the Bible as a true history book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by karsten hald nielsen
4.0 out of 5 stars An invented people justifying an invented state
Like all other people, the Jewish people is an invented concept. Although for long the Jews have been forced to live apart from the rest of the society and as a result there has... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Farhang Jahanpour
3.0 out of 5 stars Inventions, correct thyselves

It is necessary, considering the controversy of Sand's overall work, to defend him and his position as a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by E. Hernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force
An important book that shows the forced Jewish exile from the land that today is called Israel to be nothing more than a myth. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bakaralph
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book about History, Historiography and Politics
Until recently I naively assumed that if you were Jewish you were directly descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ray V
5.0 out of 5 stars Palestine
I have often wondered in the past about this notion of a Jewish people. Shlomo Sand has enlightened me a great deal. Read more
Published 10 months ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and forthright expression of the author's deeply held...
It is difficult to avoid the robust display of the author's effort to give a balance and fair view in offering a new and enlightening perspective on what the world had been led to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by D. Njoku
5.0 out of 5 stars O love it
A scolarly work by an objective scholar on a very important issue that affects not only the middle east but the world today-
A few home truths are much in order!
Published 10 months ago by A. Stamboulieh
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