The Invention of the Jewish People
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The Invention of the Jewish People

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  311 ratings  ·  62 reviews
A historical tour de force, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a groundbreaking account of Jewish and Israeli history. Exploding the myth that there was a forced Jewish exile in the first century at the hands of the Romans, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues that most modern Jews descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered across the Middle East and E...more
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Published June 14th 2010 by Verso (first published September 3rd 2008)
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The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand

"The Invention of the Jewish People" is an interesting yet controversial scholarly book about Jewish history through the eyes of leading historian Shlomo Sand. What makes this book controversial is the fact that the author denies such a thing as a Jewish "race" that were descendents of the first exiles with everything that it entails. This 344-page book is composed of the following five major chapters: 1. Making Nations: Sovereignty and Equality,...more
"The Invention of the Jewish People" is one of the most original, honest and historically accurate books I’ve read to date. Professor Sand’s expels the myth of the Jewish "people" and the myth of the "exile" of these people from the land of “Israel”. The Jews were never expelled in large numbers from Palestine as it was called even then; there is simply no historical evidence to back this claim up. The evidence shows that the vast majority of Jews living in Palestine simply converted to Christia...more
I have written reviews of many books here. If there is one above all the rest that I would like others to read it would be this one.

Regardless of the country you call home, it rests on a foundation of myths, stories of the distant past that unite the citizenry. Israel is no exception, yet the story of the historical Jews is one that more people in the United States are familiar with that that of any other people.

Shlomo Sand begins his book discussing definitions - what are a people? What is a na...more
بثينة العيسى
Oct 23, 2011 بثينة العيسى rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Arabs, Palestinians, and especially Jews
What a book!
This book exposes how fragile and vulnerable is the state of Israel, mainly because it is relying on biblical myths to construct its Zionist ideology and Jewish identity, rather than on actual history proven by archeological and biological research.

It is said that this book is another nail in the coffin of Zionism and I couldn't agree more. Unless the state of Israel starts acknowledging it's moral Schizophrenia and political hypocrisy, and it's discriminatory/ racist policies ( .. a...more
Steve Cran
Forget about everything you may have learned in Hebrew school, this book is a myth buster. It is common knowledge that according to the Bible the Jewish people started with Abrahamin Mesopotamia and then went to Egypt to be slave and then was redeemed. After wandering the desert for forty years under the leadership of Moses they came to Canaan where Joshua the brilliant military commander drove out the Canaanites in a lightning fast victory. King David and his son Solomon would form man empire a...more
Even though it is a detailed academic study, it is a pleasure to read. The language is crisp (some of the plaudits here must go to the translator). But what I found particularly enjoyable was the progressive building of the argument, citing source after source, evaluating them as adding (or not) to the tower of knowledge he constructs.
What is a 'nation'? Is there (was there ever?) a Jewish nation? The constuction of myths cast as history, such as the invention of the exile of the Jews.There was...more
I attempted to read this book in preparation for a trip to Israel figuring that if I can't find objective sources at least I know the particular author's bias. I enjoyed the story-telling in the introduction of the book; however the discussion of nations and modern nationalism in the first chapter quickly showed me that bias would not be my biggest criticism. Sand focuses entirely on black-and-white thinking. He seemingly argues that the modern notion of the Nation (or nationalism or nation stat...more
Христо Блажев
Как сa измислени еврейската и другите нации по света – “Изобретяването на еврейския народ” от проф. Шломо Занд

Да напишеш такава книга е безкрайно трудно. Още повече ако се числиш към еврейския народ, въобразил си уникалност и самовнушена богоизбраност. И готов на всичко, за да превърне в несъмнена истина хардкор фентъзито “Стар Завет”, без подбор на средства и методи. Не, това не е антисемитизъм, както ще има вряскания до небето. Това е наука, това е исто...more
This is a really excellent and brilliantly original book written about the origins of the 'Jewish people'. Shlomo Sand, who is an Israeli historian, shows that in fact European Jews were converts to the religion rather than being descendents of a Jewish 'race'. By the same token, he maintains and that the original Jews who stayed in their country of origin eventually converted to Islam and are today's or many Jews wish to hear though I gather it was a best seller in Israel. As a 'Jew' in name, b...more
Everyone who is concerned about the conflicted land of Palestine should read this book. It is not always an easy read, but this makes the nuggets of historical investigation even more surprising and revelatory when they appear. We need more books like this which show the way towards a sensible debate on the Middle East and how a people - the Palestinians - are being persecuted on the basis of a false claim that others have a stronger entitlement to the land that is theirs.
Shlomo Sand, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, writes about the genesis of the idea "Jewish People." His main goal is to demonstrate that this idea, contrary to its inherent myth of being timeless, originated with the rise of nationalism in the 19th Century, at the same time that other national ideas such as "German People," "Italian People," and so on were being developed.

Sand makes additional controversial claims based on his historical research, especially that most Jews alive to...more
Massir Destin
Comment le peuple juif fut inventé

J'ai lu ce livre il y a quelques temps. Je l'ai beaucoup aimé. On y apprend beaucoup, mais surtout, on y trouve une autre manière de voir l'histoire, peut-être même plus plausible.

Shlomo Sand a du avoir beaucoup de courage pour écire ce livre.

Je suis tombée aujourd'hui sur cet article. J'ai eu envie de le partager avec vous, en espérant vous donner envie de lire le livre.

Une fois que l'on a dépassé le chapitre relatif au concept de nation, le livre est facile à...more
Keith Akers
Many people think of today's Jews as descendants from ancient Israelites, in fact I probably vaguely believed in this myself for a long time, without thinking about it. This book attacks this idea in detail. If someone had said, "you know, a lot of Jews over history were converts, and Jews tend to resemble other people in whatever area they come from," I would have said, "hmmm, maybe you're right." In fact, I remember reading something like this before I encountered this book, so I know that thi...more
One of the great paradoxes of nations, and one of the things that gives them such emotional power, is the sense that they have always existed, that they represent and embody a people who have always been, much as they are now, a people. Equally, all nations gain their legitimacy from their citizenship – the terms they use to grant people legitimate membership of the nation. For many it is civic – the idea that we live in a place, fulfil certain residence criteria and on that basis become legitim...more
Shlomo Sand is one of the academic writers that Israel loves to hate. He vigorously researches his work and turns up evidence of things that the Israeli leadership, and Zionist academia would rather keep hidden. The more evidence unearthed that disproves the fictitious historic claim to the land of Israel, the more grasping and ill-tempered these people get. This book is a wide ranging work detailing the early history of the Jewish people and their subsequent diaspora which came about largely as...more
While Shlomo Sand’s “Invention of the Jewish People” has attracted endless accolades from partisans with an axe to grind – though not always exactly the same axe as the author – any close scrutiny reveals the book to be little more than a collection of strawmen arguments forming a feeble foundation for a weak argument. Time and again, Sand rails against a scholarly consensus which seems to exist only in his mind and ignores the considerable primary source evidence that undermines his case.

Steven Salaita
This book is worth reading no matter your politics. Sand is a decent writer and shares lots of interesting information. I'm skeptical in general of claims of the past as inspirations for ethnonationalism and so I agree with Sand's broad anti-nationalist pov despite not knowing enough about Jewish history to comment on that aspect of his book. I wish that he would have made a better historical and theoretical distinction between "nation" and "nation-state." He often uses the term "nation" when he...more
Shlomo Sand has a mission which is to show to you that the Jews are not a Volk in the sense of a genetically homogenous entity to be traced back over somewhat three thousand years or even farther to the biblical Abraham but a mash up of all kinds of different peoples. For example the Khazars, a people located someplace between the Black and the Caspian Sea that were to become the ancestors of the Ashkenasim. It's an interesting book over all but it's mission is just absurd insofar as the evidenc...more
Un livre documenté, courageux et fourmillant d'idées . En dénoncant l'histoire officielle qui a créé un état ethnique et religieux en refusant l'héritage culturelle de ses communautés - du Yiddishland au Yemen et des royaumes berbères aux khazars-, en rappelant les ascendances judééennes des palestiniens d'aujourd'hui, il ouvre aussi un espace de reflexion pour un devenir commun aux deux peuples qui se disputent la terre d'Israel. Un historien brillant à lire absolument.
Frank Jacobs
Few things can cause a bigger shitstorm than to question the foundations of the state of Israel as a homeland for the Jews, by exposing the flawed nature of its ethnoreligious raison d'etre: zionism is built on the quicksand of 19th-century nationalism; and the Jews of today may be largely the descendents of converts, fighting the descendents of the Jews who didn't go into Diaspora... and converted to Islam; all in all a very academic, technical and unputdownable book.
Peter Chamberlain
This was a difficult read for someone that isn't a trained historian. The author has a confusing (for me) way of writing and coupled with the history jargon made it hard for me to understand. He did bring up some interesting points about my assumptions of the history of the Jews. It did give me new avenues to investigate in the Jewish-Palestinian subject.
Sally Rosalina
For now I can only put the book on my wish-listed. But some references point out that it reveals no Exodus but Jews converting to Islam. If Jews converted to Islam then it means the Palestinians are the Chosen People. Also see this:
Vickie Mansour-hasan
Clear and concise analysis of the idea of a Jewish state. The author is well researched and nd relies on empirical data for his analysis.
It is a book which documents a surprising revision of the history of the those who follow the Jewish religion.
Sand is a professor of French history and film history who wrote a book claiming that "the Jewish people" is a 19th-century invention, that modern-day Jews are largely descended from Hellenistic- and Roman-era converts, and Ashkenazi Jews may be descended from Khazar converts, and that all this has been suppressed in Zionist historiography. A British historian of ancient Rome says in The Times Literary Supplement that Sand is wrong about Roman history; an Israeli historian says in Haaretz that S...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Sand starts by taking up a lot of pages to make the point that the concept of a 'nation' is primarily culturally defined. Beyond the tribe, or small village, the concept is abstract by design, so what's left is a sense of inclusion to a group of individuals who share a number of things in common.
Then, the 'nation-state' could only have come about in a post-agrarian society, one where a certain amount of social mobility, universal suffrage and access to education for all exists. This, because in...more
Tamer Goueli
أهميه هذا الكتاب انه يعرض الخرافات المتصله بتعريفات أساسيه قامت عليها الدوله اليهوديه, و كانت حجرالزاويه في الهجره الي فلسطين ثم قيام دولة اسرائيل.الكاتب عالم تاريخ و لذلك استخدم المنهج العلمي في تفنيده لكثير من الخرافات و الأفكار الحاكمه للدوله الصهيونيه منذ ظهورها كفكره ثم تطورها مع قيام الدوله و خلال الفترات الفارقه مثل حرب 67 و الانتفاضتين الاولي و الثانيه مع توضيح كيف تمكن عتاة الصهيونيه من تطوير فكرة الشعب اليهودي لخدمة فكرة اسرائيل كوطن شرعي ليهود العالم.
أبرز الأفكار التي تمكن الكاتب من ه...more
Dominique Perregaux
This book is extremely interesting and, obviously, extremely sensitive due to the nature of its subject.
Shlomo Sand's core theme is to demonstrate that Judaism is a religion and people following this religion are as diverse as people following Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religion. Indeed, even though now a days Judaism is not a proselyte religion, it was still very active in promoting conversion until the late 19th century and today on can convert to Judaism easily. The...more
J'ai trouvé très intéressant la manière d'aborder la question de la nation : un retour aux significations et aux évolutions étymologiques de la nation, de même que leurs appréhension dans le contexte historique qui prédétermine bien souvent l'orientation de la définition. De manière concise, les termes de race, peuple, ethnies sont envisagés avec l'idée de nation, ses relations avec la religion, l'État mais aussi les intellectuels, et le corps professoral.

«La naissance de la nation est, bien sû...more
The book makes the point that there really wasn't a diaspora and that the majority of European Jews really do not have Semitic genes because most of the Jews in Europe historically were converts. Hence, the author says that Israel was founded on a sham, and that there should be steps taken to include Palestinians as rightful residents of Israel along with the present Jewish population. The book is extremely well documented though tedious for me to read at times because of that. Maps would have b...more
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He is professor of history at Tel Aviv University and author of the controversial book The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso Books, 2009). His main areas of teaching are nationalism, film as history and French intellectual history .

Sand was born to Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. His parents had Communist and anti-imperialist views and refused to receive compensations from Germany f...more
More about Shlomo Sand...
The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland Comment j'ai cessé d'être juif On the Nation and the Jewish People Le XXe siècle à l'écran The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents)

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“Dans chaque démocratie libérale s'est élaboré un imaginaire de citoyenneté au sein duquel la projection dans l'avenir est devenue plus significative que le poids du passé. Cet imaginaire s'est traduit par des normes juridiques, et a même pénétré par la suite à l'intérieur du système éducatif étatique.[...] La souffrance du passé justifie le prix exigé de la part des citoyens dans le présent. L'héroïsme des temps qui s'éloignent promet un avenir rayonnant pour l'individu, du moins sûrement pour la nation. L'idée nationale est devenue, avec l'aide des historiens, une idéologie optimiste par nature. De là, notamment, vient son succès.” 2 likes
“One of the secrets of the Muslim army's power was its relatively liberal attitude toward the religions of the defeated people-provided they were monoththeists, of course. Muhammad's commandment to treat Jews and Christians as "People of The book" gave them legal protection.” 1 likes
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