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on November 29, 2009
This is a fascinating exploration of how the mythology of the Old Testament has been exploited by Zionists to claim that Greater Israel is the ancient Jewish homeland and therefore our rightful contemporary home. Sand makes a compelling case pointing out that the Bible is not an historical tome, but was written centuries after the events it describes by authors with particular religious and political motivations. The absence of archaelogical evidence for Biblical stories is the final nail in that coffin. There is also no evidence that European Jewry, the Ashkenazi, are related to the ancient inhabitants of Judea. We are likely descended from the Khazars, a kingdom of Jewish converts that existed in Eastern Europe between the 8th and 12th centuries CE. It turns out Israel isn't our ancient homeland, but the homeland of the Arab Jews who are a minority in Israel and the Palestinians who are both descended from the ancient Judeans. Sand also points out that both of these issues have been repeatedly raised in Israeli academic circles, but that these findings have always been suppressed in defense of the Zionist narrative.
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on January 27, 2013
This is one of the most important non-fiction books (outside of science) published in years, dealing as it does with a topic which has caused immense pain and difficulty to so many, particularly in the last century.

A great many non-fiction books today are little more than essays or magazine articles padded into the size of books. Many are true disappointments to read, let alone failing to be genuine contributions to thought.

Here, though, is a book in which every chapter says something challenging and interesting.

And do not skip the introduction - something of which I am often guilty, being anxious to get to the heart of the matter - for in this case the introduction is fascinating, and Mr. Sand could not have provided a subtler or better way to introduce the nature and complexity of his topic.

The book was written in Hebrew - I know it caused quite a sensation in Israel a couple of years ago - and only now has been translated into English. Just one of the things which surprised me was the clarity and flow of the language, something for which social scientists are not noted, Mr. Sand being a historian. I don't know whether Mr. Sand is that unusual thing, a social scientist who is a truly excellent writer or whether he has found a gifted translator. Perhaps it is both.

Mr. Sand has not done original research into the topic, but he has done a massive and perceptive review of the literature, the kind of effort which in medicine often proves extremely valuable in bringing together the results of scores of scattered original studies, and, as the reader will discover, the author is an impressive scholar.

I knew just one of the topics which caused such upset in Israel was the idea that today's Palestinians are at least in part the actual descendents of the children of Israel, it being a well-known fact that Rome in her conquests never disturbed the original people of a place unless they refused to acknowledge Rome's authority. While Roman Palestine did have a couple of revolts, they were by zealots and not the population as a whole, and there is absolutely no historical record of the resident Hebrews having been expelled.

But the author covers much more of interest than that one topic and weaves a cohesive story of the history of the Jewish people which is both challenging and fascinating. He covers the Khazars, the people of a ninth and tenth Jewish kingdom in what is today the Crimea and part of Ukraine. There is no evidence of their having any ancient Hebrew ancestry, and, on the contrary, there is good evidence that the kingdom was the product of Jewish evangelism.

Jewish evangelism sounds mighty odd to a modern ear, but the evidence is there. After all, Christianity started as merely a sect of Judaism and has evangelized much of its history. Christianity's first great evangelist was Paul, a converted Jew. And we know there were even different early sects of Christians, such as the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, documents which show considerable differences with the content of the accepted Gospels.

There is also the fascinating possibility that Khazar migrants settling in Poland and Germany and other places in Europe are the actual source for the European Jews we call the Ashkenazi. The author cites many clues which suggest this, including clues in the Yiddish language, and in the dress and customs of Eastern European Jews. And it is an idea of which some determined Zionists were aware but chose to ignore or excuse away.

The book is dotted with interesting anecdotes such as quotes from early documents which show Jewish warriors fighting for the Moors in Spain, being perhaps part of the substantial Jewish population from North Africa - again a people with no ancestry to ancient Israel - as well as providing the foundation of what would come to be the Sephardic Jews, later deported from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella.

This is a book which will stimulate discussion and additional research for a long time, and what is a more important criterion for a truly important book?

Mr Sand has a few pretty hair-raising quotes from some Zionists which in almost no material way differ in attitude and outlook to the early gutter literature of the Nazis - stuff about blood and destiny. It is one of the author's major themes that a combination of Zionists and modern Israeli history professors, conspiring to justify the foundations and practices of modern Israel, have worked assiduously to promote the old idea - he calls it a myth - that the Jews were thrown out of their ancient land and have wandered for centuries without a home.

Small wonder the book stirred a controversy in Israel. I can only say that were Mr. Sand any less a scholar and writer, he would have been crushed, but here his research and ideas spring to life for readers everywhere to consider.

The book is highly recommended to all those with an interest in the affairs of the Middle East, the history of Europe, the history of religion, the history of ideas, the nature of political movements, the eccentricities of human nature, human psychology, or those who just enjoy a stimulating read.
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on December 18, 2009
This book establishes that the real genetic descendants of the ancient Israelites are the Near Eastern Jews and their Palestinian brothers (Jews who subsequently converted, willingly or unwillingly, to Islam and Christianity). European Jews by contrast are genetic Khazars, who converted to Judaism, and who have no historical connection to the Holy Land. These facts, acknowledged but suppressed by Israeli historians, have finally been exposed by Professor Sand, driven by conscience and integrity to publish despite the prospect of being damned by zionists within and outside Israel. Every country and people needs professionals like Prof Sand, and I give his book five stars despite it being so massively documented it is tough to read.
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on March 17, 2011
The tragedy at the core of The Invention of the Jewish People is the rich and fascinating history of Jews in the ancient world, that has been suppressed or ignored simply because it fails to serve, or is seen to discredit Zionist objectives. Sand chronicles a complex history of the ancient world, full of endlessly changing forces, one of which was the rise of monotheism, driven by Jewish proselytization and forced conversions that transformed humanity.

Zionism, by contrast, in Shlomo Sand's readable and fascinating book, remains shackled to a crude nationalism that embodies discredited essentialist ideas that have not changed much since the first Zionist Congress in 1897. Out of this has arisen an instrumental view of history, where facts that do not meet the realpolitik objectives the movement that brought the State of Israel into existence are ignored or suppressed, and where trained historians, archaeologists and scientists face pressure to adapt their findings to political exigencies.

But Sand also paints a portrait of a country fraught with contradictions that are, inevitably percolating up to create a new consciousness of Jewish History, where the tools of modern historiography bring the possibility of change. Whether this is too little too late, Sand clearly understands that the mistakes and brutality of Israel's Zionist ideology, and the contradictions that the 4 and a half decades occupation of Palestinian lands, have created the conditions where change is inevitable.

Sand seems to suggest that Israel's best chance is to try to guide, rather than control these forces, to bring israel into line with the normative standards of democracy, liberalism and identity of the modern states Israel compares itself to. Sand has no doubt that Israel is not in any real sense a democracy, but an ethnocracy; this alone no doubt will offend many Israelis, but his ideas require consideration: he has done the work to support them, and it is fortunate that Israel remains a country where debate can encompass this kind of issue, even as dogmatic Zionists might insist that he is overstepping the bounds of permitted free speech in a country that disallows parties that do not support the idea of a Jewish State from running.

Notably, Sand suggests that Israel's constant claim to be the only democracy in the middle east does not hold water, because Israel has not connected their democracy to the basic liberal expectation of universal rights and equality among citizens. This, and his summary chapter on the history of nationalism, two chapters that bracket the book, are worth the attention of any reader, even one without an interest in Israel per se.

Recommended highly.
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on April 9, 2016
People reject tough reality.. This book reveals the truth of modern Jews,
Now a lot of Jews as you see in reviews don't want to believe or don't want the truth to be revealed.. That's their problem.
I suggest also to read with this, the thirteenth tribe by Arthur Koestler.
You can dig for unedited copy of Talmud and you will even learn more, and be certain that Israel which was established upon the "declaration of sympathy " is a fake and is not Jew
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on June 1, 2012
The book delivers some cutting edge research on the racial origin(s) of Jewish people around the world today. The author dispels the myth that the majority of Jewish people today are racially derived from the same stock as those who peopled the ancient land of Canaan. In fact, due to extensive proselytizing under the fertile conditions of the Hellenistic conquests of Alexander the Great and later, the Roman Empire, Judaism spread far and wide throughout the Mediterranean basin, into the Arabian Peninsula (before Mohammed), and even into the Khazar Kingdom in West Asia. The author disputes that the Jewish people were ever exiled by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple and fills in 2000 years of Jewish history since the end of the chronicles of the Old Testament. A very interesting read, indeed!
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Reading this book was a revelation. Growing up in the West, I pretty much assimilated the 'party line' when it comes to issues on the Middle East 'conflict', albeit the liberal party line. You know the schtick, "the situation is ... complicated." In other words, neither side is right or wrong, and at the same time perhaps they are both right and wrong. Again, it's ... complicated. Then there were the mantras of divine right, Palestinian mendacity, and the long, epic history of the people of Israel. The last several years have disabused me of all of those notions. Shlomo Sand helped, putting a lot of the research I've found elsewhere, and more, into one coherent, well-researched, elegantly written account that reaffirmed for me just how much I was a victim of Hasbara media trolls.

Take your pick: the "Unified Kingdom", the great "Exodus", the great historical "nation" of Israel, etc. ad nauseam. Sand takes each myth perpetuated by and about the "Jewish" people and exposes it for what it is: absolute, complete fiction. He uncovers the ethnocentrism that hides behind all of the slogans, their historical roots, and he does so with precision. He documents the rise of "nationalism", how played itself out in our history, and the different methods and means people go about creating these fictional divisions we now call "nations", with particular reference to the "Jewish nation". This is the essence of the book that makes it all makes sense. Sand shows HOW such myths could become so thoroughly entrenched and believed, and why they were created in the first place. In that regard, the book is so much more than a treatise on how much of a misnomer the term "Jewish People" really is. It gets to the heart of modern society and the lies we tell ourselves to keep the facade in place.

Sometimes shocking, always enlightening, Sand's book is a great look at propaganda and the way out from the prison in which it keeps the minds of those who believe in it. I read this one around the same time I read Ilan Pappe's _The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine_, and I heartily endorse both. You won't be disappointed.
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on September 5, 2015
A fascinating exploration of the history of the Jewish people. The fact that it is written by a Jewish professor of history at Tel Aviv University increases its impact. Understanding the history makes the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict even more of a tragedy. Well worth a read by anyone interested in the history of that part of the world.
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on February 1, 2016
First, I will give my own background in the context of trying to understand such a book. I have a degree in molecular biology and am an MD. I went to Hebrew school like many Jewish children, and have been to the Middle East including Israel, and including the Paleatinian West Bank. I say this as I'm not some predfoessr or journalist or armchair expert writing a review about a place that I have never seen. I've been there for a while, and seen how people interact with each other and and often heard their views about each other and so forth. I have also read, purely out of interest on Jewish, Arab/ Muslim early history, and have taken some courses on the Classics, again not that I'm an expert but that I have at least some small foundation.

The goals of the author are laid out early, and unfortunately this is not a dispassionate piece of authorship and he divulges his biases fully a priori.

This leads to the transition of the problems with this work. I will start by saying that if something like this were to be attempted to be published in a reputable peer reviewed medical journal, it would be thrown away. In general, one needs a hypothesis and then needs to test it or have observational evidence to support/ refute it. The issue with this work is that he presents his prepositions and assumptions and then applies references to support his views in stead of having the evidence speak for itself. He's applying the scientific method in reverse. the author may have some credibility were it not that he essentially says the whole of Judaism, not just biblical events, but also its people are all invented. Jewish history and what folks have called Jewish memory sometimes have indeed inter twined - but sometimes not. He chooses to focus on only the one, not the other. A bias of omission.

As an example, the concept of Jews going into exile is turned into myth by him. However, from my own readings of multiple other sources, and again for those who want to know more than surface statements from books like this you can find this info in many other more independent books that are concerned with history not politics, about half of the Jews around the destruction of the 2nd temple 70 CE lived outside of what is now Israel. During this revolt, and crushing Roman defeat, I don't know that all the Jews left or were expelled, but the place was razed and there was really nothing for which to stay. Whether some Jews remained, info on their numbers, and exactly the sequence hereafter is ambiguous stuff. It is known that Jews were not permitted back to Jerusalem for several centuries. How well this was enforced in those times again is hard to know now. I mention this episode in particular as the diaspora had already been a major component of Jewish life and the exile was more of catastrophic event, writings fromCasious Dio and others at the time estimate 500-600 thousand Jews were killed. Again, it's difficult to substantiate or refute such claims. However, The Diaspora became the de facto actively survivng Jewish community as there was no place left in which to return - it was essentially destroyed. This leads to him assert that the diaspora was a converted group of people into Judaism. His references here are dubious, but for those interested you can look them up yourself

This is the first time I have read of Jews converting of Gentiles during this period of time. It may be well true, but again, the details are key here: were they small numbers, huge numbers, isolated events, etc. I have to say from this book it's hard to tell. He also implies that the Jews were never considered an ethnolinguistic by the Romans, ancient Greeks, etc, however this is part is absolutely not true, and anyone who has taken even anintro undergrad course on this topic will know that Jews were unequivocally perceived as such by Greek, Roman, and other ancient nations at this time. This is based on the source materials from the Romans and Greeks themselves. Again, he is trying to have the evidence fit his assumptions as opposed to the other way around.

The next issue which he also has no evidence either for or against is the origins of the current Jewish people, especially the Ashkenazim, those of Central and Easyern Europe. His claim is that they likely decend from Khazars, a little known Turkic speaking people whos ruling classes converted to Judaism around the 8-9th century in the area around the Caspian and Caucuses. There are indeed letters, though some have had their authenticity disputed, that support this. But to say that all Ashkenazim decend from them is a pretty bold statement. There are no widespread remaining synogogues, artifacts, or any archeological finds that have ever supported this premise to the extent that the entire majority of European Jews were such converts and that such a mass migration occurred incognito from this region into Eastern Europe. Furthermore, there are no remaining linguistic Turkic words, expressions, cultural references, types of dress, that support this premise within the Ashkenazim. I recall how Elhaik et al published the initial population genetics study on the Ashkenazim and concluding their Khazar origins, and Sand flew off his chair and said "I knew it". Unfortunately, he implicated his own aforementioned bias as the study was so poorly conducted its essentially uninterpretable. Here I can give details as this is molecular biology and content I understand well. The study evaluated huge numbers of genetic markers - but in only 8 Jewish individuals!! It's impossible to draw any conclusion with such methodology using such a tiny sample size and hundreds of metrics - something called multiple testing - if interested those that want a headache can look this up, but it has to do with analysis of huge datasets with small sample sizes. The Proceedings from the Russian Academy of Sciences for example, published a stinging analysis and review of this paper but it never came to light as it was not in English. The Elhaik paper also had no control group as there are no decendents of Khazars that can be used as reference. This sham result created so much debate, there were later at least three further population genetics on the origins of the Jews, one being the largest ever conducted with a team from several countries, that although still had methodological limitations proved the following: Jews from North Africa and Europe, two communities geographically far apart, had significantly more haplotyic similarity to each other than their host populations. Whether they were related to the Jews of ancient times is impossible to know and this was never attempted to fully answer, as there is no population of ancient Jews to reference as a control group. It was found that about 70% of these markers are commonly shared with Palestinians. At least this outcome I can understand phenotypically, i truly could not routinely distinguish Jews and Paleatinians when I lived in Israel. I don't say this last and largest study is absolute, but it at least fits with major historical events rather than an outlier explanation attempted by Shlomo Sand. He was quite defensive when these large latest studies came out and skirted some direct questions during interviews on this topic - - and at his assertion of Jewish inventedness. His rebuke, to defend this book, is that we're giving Hitler, a posthumous victory - an irony given that he asserts Jews are frauds.

In short, I understand his goal, and again he states it at the outset; the problem is he is doing the same as he accuses all nation states, and Israel in particular, of doing: choosing from history to support his model of truth as opposed to having evidence brought forward to speak for itself.

Sadly, one of the reviewers here has drank from the cool aid and now thinks that she is a Khazar because Shlomo Sand has assumed this to be true. more sad, is the reviewers on this site continue to accept such writing (imagine if it was proposed Native Americans are actually the ancient Israelites) without any critical thought. Is this the author's interpretation alone? Is it contested by other evidence? Is it well supported or is it a bold statement with a tiny reference. Even the scientific method here is backwards, the most basic and essentially in inquiry.

Ultimately, this work would be laughable were it not that the history of the Jewish people is one of endless tragedy and persecution. Even 70 years after the Nazi holocaust, it seems that's not enough.
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on June 13, 2010
I was inspired by Mr. Sand's interview on BBC. It was a "Hardtalk" on a hard topic. that was last year and the book was not yet available in English so I pre-ordered it on Amazon. Now I have it and use all my free time reading it.
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