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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland [Hardcover]

Shlomo Sand , Geremy Forman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 20 2012
What is a homeland and when does it become a national territory? Why have so many people been willing to die for such places throughout the twentieth century? What is the essence of the Promised Land? Following the acclaimed and controversial The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand examines the mysterious sacred land that has become the site of the longest-running national struggle of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The Invention of the Land of Israel deconstructs the age-old legends surrounding the Holy Land and the prejudices that continue to suffocate it. Sand’s account dissects the concept of “historical right” and tracks the creation of the modern concept of the “Land of Israel” by nineteenth-century Evangelical Protestants and Jewish Zionists. This invention, he argues, not only facilitated the colonization of the Middle East and the establishment of the State of Israel; it is also threatening the existence of the Jewish state today.

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Review

“Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.”—Tony Judt, In praise of The Invention of the Jewish People

“Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.”—Eric Hobsbawm, In praise of The Invention of the Jewish People

“A thought-provoking, readable, and important work.”—Publisher's Weekly

“... there is much to enjoy and learn in the evidence in the potentially incendiary material [Shlomo Sand] assembles here.”—Electronic Intifada

“[Sand] critically consider the ways in which the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel have been justified by claims of ancestral lands, historical rights, and millennia-old national yearnings, all of which he proceeds to critically undermine as either justifiable reasons for mastery over the land of Palestine/Israel or even representative of longstanding mass Jewish aspirations.”—Book News

“This groundbreaking new historical work from a highly controversial author undoes the myth of the Jewish people’s historical right to the ‘Land of Israel.’”—SirReadaLot.org

About the Author

Shlomo Sand studied history at the University of Tel Aviv and at the École des hautes études 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, LIllusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le débat intellectuel 1900, Georges Sorel en son temps, Le XXe siècle à lécran and Les Mots et la terre: les intellectuels en Israël.

Geremy Forman teaches in the Department for Land of Israel Studies at the University of Haifa. He has most recently contributed to the collection Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel–Palestine.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A great book by a very courageous man. June 16 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A book that people around the world should read to understand the Palestinian plight and how they lost their identity.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
70 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Complement! Dec 6 2012
By Book Shark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sand

"The Invention of the Land of Israel" is the follow up to the fascinating and controversial "The Invention of the Jewish People". This excellent book serves as a complementary addition to the aforementioned book and fills gaps left behind. Historian and outspoken professor, Shlomo Sand does it again with this enlightening and educational book that reveals the history behind the Land of Israel. This 304-page book is composed of the following five chapters: 1. Making Homelands: Biological Imperative or National Property?, 2. Mytherritory: In the Beginning, God Promised the Land, 3. Toward a Christian Zionism: and Balfour Promised the Land, 4. Zionism Versus Judaism: The Conquest of "Ethnic" Space, and 5. Conclusion: The Sad Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.

Positives:
1. A well-researched and well-cited book that takes you into the always fascinating world of Jewish history.
2. As candid and forthright a book as you will find. Professor Sand provides solid and well-cited evidence in support of his arguments.
3. Enlightening and thought-provoking book to say the least.
4. An excellent complement to his best-selling book "The Invention of the Jewish People".
5. The myth that was the forced uprooting of the "Jewish people."
6. The book does a wonderful job of explaining how the dissemination of a formative historical mythos occurred. "Never did I accept the idea of the Jews' historical rights to the Promised Land as self-evident."
7. Clarifies some of the misunderstood points made in his previous book.
8. Professor Sand takes pride in his historical scholarship and it shows. The quest for primary sources. The author does a good job of letting the readers know what he does have a good handle on and what he doesn't.
9. Explains what really precipitated the establishment of the State of Israel.
10. The book achieves its goal of tracing the ways in which the "Land of Israel" was invented.
11. The book achieves the main goal of disparaging the official historiography of the Zionist Israeli establishment.
12. The notion of "homeland" in perspective. "It is important to remember that homelands did not produce nationalism, but rather the opposite: homelands emerged from nationalism." The concept of territorial entity.
13. Was the Land of Israel the ancestral land of the descendants of the children of Israel? A biblical perspective...
14. The great minds behind the Jewish connection with the Land of Israel. Fascinating history.
15. The history of the three main revolts. Their causes and results.
16. The factors that revitalized interest over the Holy Land for all three Abrahamic religions.
17. The evolution of Zionism including the Christian variety. The colonization of the Middle East. The main players and factors involved. The Balfour Declaration.
18. An interesting look at the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. The increasing use of the moral superweapon "historical right."
19. A condensed history of the Diaspora. Zionism versus Judaism.
20. The "redemption" of the land to "Judaization of the country". The 1947 resolution regarding the partition of Palestine. The acquisition of land. The three most significant moments in the long history of the occupations and the settlements in the occupied territories that most likely were decisive in shaping the future of Israel and its neighbors.
21. An excellent final chapter that summarizes the main points of this interesting book.
22. Excellent citations.

Negatives:
1. Lack of visual aids to assist the reader. As an example, maps would have added much value.
2. The book at times is repetitive.
3. No formal bibliography.
4. A cast of characters, timelines, even glossaries would have immensely assisted an American audience that may not be familiar with this fascinating history.
5. The book lacks panache. English is not the author's main language. This book is about substance over style.

In summary, this is a fascinating and enlightening book. I really enjoyed it and I must thank the author for the education. Professor Sand succeeds in educating the reader on the history of the "Land of Israel". It's a great complement to his previous best-selling book. I highly recommend it!
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zionism vs. Judaism Jan. 27 2013
By Eugene Schulman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Shlomo Sand does it again. After his ground breaking "Invention of the Jewish People", this new book deconstructs the idea that Israel is the homeland of all Jews and calls Zionism into question by showing that the holy land is not the homeland that the Jewish people long for. The true homeland is a mental, spiritual ideal, and has nothing to do with property rights. He quotes one of the "earliest voices of the Enlightenment to emerge from eighteenth-century European Jewry", Moses Mendelssohn: "The Talmud forbids us to even think of a return (to Palestine) by force (i.e., to attempt to effect Redemption through human effort). Without the miracles and signs mentioned in the Scripture, we must not take the smallest step in the direction of forcing a return and a restoration of our nation. The Song of Songs expresses this prohibition" ........ "That you stir not up, nor awake my love, Till it please."

Along the way, Sand deconstructs the Balfour Declaration from which the Zionists take the "legal" right to invade and occupy Palestine. Balfour had no interest in the Jewish claims to Palestine other than to arrest immigration of the Jews of Eastern Europe from entering England, and to use them as a buffer in its imperialist claims to colonize the Middle East.

"The Invention of the Land of Israel" is an important work which describes the history of the creation of Israel, and should be read by all those, Jews and non-Jews alike, who are still in thrall of the myth of Zionist claims to Eretz Israel.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More debunking of Zionist mythology March 31 2013
By Brent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In response to the pathetic propagandist troll below, Professor of History Shlomo Sand, Ph.D. (who is on the history faculty at Tel Aviv University; a University which sits on land stolen from the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Al-Shaykh Muwannis. As Professor Sand notes in his own dedication in this book of his) showed how among many others historian Israel Jacob Yuval completely debunks your "exile" mythology in Yuval's article "The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel: A Demonstration of Irenic Scholarship"

Also in response to the very pathetic attempted "attacks" on Professor Sand, Ph.D.'s credentials once again:
[...]

Dr Sand attributed his colleagues' reticence to engage with him to an implicit acknowledgement by many that the whole edifice of "Jewish history" taught at Israeli universities is built like a house of cards. The problem with the teaching of history in Israel, Dr Sand said, dates to a decision in the 1930s to separate history into two disciplines: general history and Jewish history. Jewish history was assumed to need its own field of study because Jewish experience was considered unique.

"There's no Jewish department of politics or sociology at the universities. Only history is taught in this way, and it has allowed specialists in Jewish history to live in a very insular and conservative world where they are not touched by modern developments in historical research. "I've been criticised in Israel for writing about Jewish history when European history is my specialty. But a book like this needed a historian who is familiar with the standard concepts of historical inquiry used by academia in the rest of the world."

And a further debunking of this only attempted "charge" the Zionist propagandists clowns (like the one below this comment) attempt to bring: [...]

Other than that the only real "substantive" claim made is when some occasionally note that Professor (of History) Shlomo Sand, Ph.D.'s main area of academic expertise is the historical study of nationalism (and in particular French and European nationalism if I recall, think Rousseau, etc. etc.). But this attempted "charge" against Sand really comes to nothing as Sand's expertise in the study of nationalism actually makes him PERFECTLY suited to study Zionist ideology (especially as Zionism itself was invented in late 19th century CE EUROPE by Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl to start with).

To conclude Professor Shlomo Sand includes among the many thank yous to his colleagues in this book of his' introduction a Johns Hopkins University geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik who has now conclusively and definitively proven Professor Sand correct from the genetic angle in addition to the clear historical angle!

[...]

Dr. Eran Elhaik "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses"

Dr. Elhaik "Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis"

Genome Biol Evol (2013) 5 (1): 61-74. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs119 First published online: December 14, 2012

[...]

Gene study settles debate over origin of European Jews

(AFP) - Jan 16, 2013

PARIS -- Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries.

Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today.

According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

They settled in southern Europe and then, in the late Middle Ages, about 50,000 of them moved from the Rhineland in Germany into eastern Europe, according to the hypothesis.

But detractors say this idea is implausible.

Barring a miracle --which some supporters of the Rhineland Hypothesis have in fact suggested -- the scenario would have been demographically impossible.

It would mean that the population of Eastern European Jews leapt from 50,000 in the 15th century to around eight million at the start of the 20th century.

That birth rate would have been 10 times greater than that of the local non-Jewish population. And it would have occurred despite economic hardship, disease, wars and pogroms that ravaged Jewish communities.

Seeking new light in the argument, a study published in the British journal Genome Biology and Evolution, compares the genomes of 1,287 unrelated individuals who hail from eight Jewish and 74 non-Jewish populations.

Geneticist Eran Elhaik of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, trawled through this small mountain of data in search of single changes in the DNA code that are linked to a group's geographical origins.

Such telltales have been used in past research to delve into the origins of the Basque people and the pygmy people of central Africa.

Among European Jews, Elhaik found ancestral signatures that pointed clearly to the Caucasus and also, but to a smaller degree, the Middle East.

The results, said Elhaik, give sound backing for the rival theory -- the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

Under this concept, eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, a hotchpotch of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries AD and, influenced by Jews from Palestine, converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

The Judeo-Khazars built a flourishing empire, drawing in Jews from Mesopotamia and imperial Byzantium.

They became so successful that they sent offshoots into Hungary and Romania, planting the seeds of a great diaspora.

But Khazaria collapsed in the 13th century when it was attacked by the Mongols and became weakened by outbreaks of the Black Death.

The Judeo-Khazars fled westwards, settling in the rising Polish Kingdom and in Hungary, where their skills in finance, economics and politics were in demand, and eventually spread to central and western Europe, according to the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

"We conclude that the genome of European Jews is a tapestry of ancient populations including Judaised Khazars, Greco-Roman Jews, Mesopotamian Jews and Judeans," says Elhaik.

"Their population structure was formed in the Caucasus and the banks of the Volga, with roots stretching to Canaan and the banks of the Jordan."

Many things are unknown about the Khazars, whose tribal confederation gathered Slavs, Scythians, Hunnic-Bulgars, Iranians, Alans and Turks.

But, argues Elhaik, the tale sketched in the genes is backed by archaeological findings, by Jewish literature that describes the Khazars' conversion to Judaism, and by language, too.

"Yiddish, the language of Central and Eastern European Jews, began as a Slavic language" before being reclassified as High German, he notes.

Another pointer is that European Jews and their ancestral groups in the Caucasus and Middle East share a relatively high risk of diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The investigation should help fine-tune a fast-expanding branch of genomics, which looks at single-change DNA mutations that are linked with inherited disease, adds Elhaik.

Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-and mind-opener... Very important reading March 21 2013
By Thinkerthinker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Just finished Shlomo Sand's book, The Invention of the Land of Israel" and my head is spinning! So much has clicked into place regarding the intransigent situation in the Middle East. My particular area of interest is in the history and development of world religion, in particular of the three major monotheistic, Semitic-in-origin religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Coming upon this book was a thrill, but reading it was also quite shocking. The last couple of chapters, especially, were shocking in the revelation of the degree of injustice that has been perpetrated upon innocent people in the creation of a literal, nationalistic "Land of Israel". This book is important reading. It is so relevant to politics and foreign policy today and serves to increase understanding of just how difficult the situation regarding Israel and the Palestinians is--and why it is so. As much as many Israelis and Jews around the world wish the Palestinians and the "Palestinian problem" would just "go away", this book tells why this is not going to happen. Sand sees the 1967 war as having had tragic consequences for his country, and, after reading about it, I must agree. It's quite heart-breaking, all the way around.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opener. Nov. 23 2013
By Michel Haddad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent review of historical facts that are rarely addressed and even made taboo to be addressed. This is an eye opener for all to read and as such a first real step for peace. It takes guts to write about this topic when you live and work in Israel. Shlomo Sand shows how to be a historian.
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