Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Shlomo Sand speaks on The Invention Of The Jewish People

shlomo_sand_book_coverYou may recall historian Shlomo Sand re-ignited a debate last year (The Invention of the Diaspora: Shattering a National Mythology?) upon the release of his book When And How The Jewish People Was Invented (translation from Hebrew Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi?).  The book is now forthcoming in English with the title The Invention of the Jewish People.

Like Arthur Koestler’s work before him, the book confronts the myth that Jews are a discernibly national group that can claim a biological-genealogical connection to the biblical Jews of 2000 years ago. This is significant because it challenges the claims in both Judaism and zionism that are predicated upon the notion of exile and return.

If Jews now living in Israel are not direct descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the Kingdom of Judah, who are? According to the research, the present-day Palestinians, the bona-fide Semites (with, one presumes, Oriental Jews), are very likely the descendants of the ancient Semitic people in Judea/ Canaan.

From KPFA‘s Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, the very genial Khalil Bendib presents this conversation with Austrian-born, self-described ‘post-zionist’ Sand. The interviews runs for around 25 minutes and is one of few available in English.

See also Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage (1976), available online in its entirety, and The Controversy of Zion by Douglas Reed, also available online in its entirety.

Recent related reviews:

11 comments on “Shlomo Sand speaks on The Invention Of The Jewish People

  1. Anarchist Queer
    16 April, 2009

    While I think his views on the “Jewish people” or “Jewish race” as a Jewish historiography invention, I disagree with his on the meaning of “anti-Zionism”. I don’t think people who oppose Zionism all agree on their opposition to the existence of Israel per se as much as they agree on the existence of Israel “as” a Jewish state, as an occupation state, and as an apartheid state. I think many anti-Zionists believe in the one-state solution because it’s a democratic solution and a just solution for Palestinians to return to historic Palestine since the very foundation of building a mere Jewish-Israeli state, is an a myth and only proves that Israel is an occupation state. To be anti-Zionist means that you’re against occupation and apartheid, and you advocate justice for the indigenous people of Palestine. I will believe in Israel only in the process of one-state solution, never before.
    I think his views are mixed up when it comes to anti-Zionism.

  2. peoplesgeography
    17 April, 2009

    Thanks AQ, I’m inclined to agree. I also would qualify other assertions, even from the great Khalil Bendib, such as in his generous characterization at around minute 17 of israel as “sophisticated”. I think a lot of us would beg to differ … Its nevertheless an interesting interview that manages to pierce through Sand’s English as a second (or third) language to convey the ideas in his scholarship.

  3. Verena Asher
    8 June, 2009

    I am very interested to buy the Book from
    Shlomo Sand

    when and how where the Jewish people invented.
    But I want it eather in English or German.
    Could you let me know when and where it is available.
    Best regards Verena Asher
    [email protected] or
    [email protected]

  4. peoplesgeography
    8 June, 2009

    Verena, The book is due out later in the year, around October. You can pre-order it from Amazon.

  5. DB
    30 June, 2009

    All reputable geneticists agree that there are genetic links among Jewish populations around the world that go back to a time before the Roman conquest in 70 AD. Sand just writes off this evidence, and repeats the Khazar nonsense that is based on pure speculation and is contrary to the linguistic evidence. Anti-Zionists should be able to do better than such shoddy scholarship.

  6. Chrysalis
    1 July, 2009

    All “reputable geneticists” my foot, this is an unbacked and contentious claim unsupported by evidence. Present evidence or your claims are themselves speculative and in no way prove Professor Sand’s and others scholarship as anywhere near shoddy.

  7. David
    28 July, 2009

    The genetic evidence does in fact support Sand’s claims:

    Ellen Levy-Coffman (at

    for a recent review.

    Also it is important to remember that Sand’s thesis is not original. This view of Jewish history was common in the writings of pre World War II Zionists, David Ben-Gurion notably among them, and advocated as “Canaanite Zionism”.

  8. miriam garfinkle
    6 October, 2009

    All this talk about the Palestinians being indigenous to Israel is a fairy tale. The Jews are the aboriginal people of the Holy Land according to the Qur’an so where does Shlomo Sand get off with his racist nonsense. Mahmoud Abbas stated in 1976 “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, we are all Arabs from one tribe in the Hedjaz”.

  9. Max Ajl
    7 October, 2009

    Satire, right?

  10. Carlos Sardiña
    8 October, 2009

    An excellent review of Sand’s book by Gabriel Piterberg:

  11. ralf ellis
    15 November, 2009

    Mr Sand is wrong. The answer to the problem of the lack of archaeology for the Exodus, is that there were two exoduses (as recorded by the Egyptian historian Manetho).

    The main Exodus as we would know it, was the Exodus of some 500,000 Hyksos Egyptians from Avaris (Pi-Ramesse) to Jerusalem in about 1590 BC. This is a historical event, and it accords very closely to the entire biblical description of an Exodus – including the record of darkness, hail, ash and plagues (caused by the eruption of Thera/Santorini).

    The second exodues was the smaller exodus of 80,000 ‘lepers and maimed priests, according to Manetho. This was undoubtedly the exodus of Pharaoh Akhenaton and his Amarna followers in about 1320 BC. It was Akhenaton’s brother Tuth-Moses, who was recorded in the Torah as the leader of this exodus.

    See Ralph Ellis


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 16 April, 2009 by in Audio, Books, History, Israel, Jewry and tagged , .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"