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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Reading the reviews is almost as interesting and revealing as reading the book, 3 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Invention of the Jewish People (Paperback)
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. I read with some anxiety the description of these generally excellent works as 'phylogenetic'. I read with terror the way these papers are used to support 'phylogenetic' hypotheses. These papers describe links between people, they may explain common susceptibility to disease. They do not describe formation of new 'species' separate from other 'species' of humans. They can only be properly used to join people not to exclude them.

The detractors of Shlomo Sand seem to want to say that a separate species has evolved that is Jewish. This is just simply wrong. The people living in Israel may have a right to the land because of conquest; because they are now a majority; or simply because they have got bigger and better weapons (there is a long history of people establishing nations on this basis). There is also a theological argument to say they have a right to the land because they believe themselves to be Jewish and God gave the land to the Jews (not an argument I find particularly convincing). They can provide a theological argument, they cannot provide a genetic argument. No one has a genetic right to any particular piece of real estate (Jewish or Palestinian).
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