Thursday, October 09, 2008

The myth of the 'Jewish people'

Jonathan Cook describes (or here) the Israeli best seller When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? There does not appear to have been any serious attempt to refute the main points made by its author, Shlomo Sand (who waited until he was a professor to publish the book, as "There is a price to be paid in Israeli academia for expressing views of this sort."):
  1. the idea that Jews existed as a people separate from their religion is completely new, with no basis in Jewish thought, and was created by Zionist ideologues in the nineteenth century (presumably inspired by the popularity of various ethnic nationalisms in vogue at the time, concepts which caused great tragedy in the following century);
  2. the kingdoms of David and Solomon are legends;
  3. there never was an exile as the Romans did not exile people and all evidence shows that the Jews stayed on their lands (other have pointed out that there never was an expulsion from Egypt as no contemporary Egyptian records make mention of it, and the whole concept of exodus is fishy as the area where Moses supposedly headed, Palestine, was also under Egyptian control at the time);
  4. the idea of exile may have come from early Christians, who used it as a conversion tool in explaining that the exile was punishment from God;
  5. the modern Zionist idea of Jews being obligated to return from exile to the Promised Land was entirely alien to Judaism, and is in fact senseless as there was no exile to return from (the history of Jews spreading around the world comes from the religious necessity of the time of proselytizing);
  6. most of today's Jews have no historical connection to Israel;
  7. "It is not taught in Israeli schools but most of the early Zionist leaders, including David Ben Gurion [Israel's first prime minister], believed that the Palestinians were the descendants of the area's original Jews. They believed the Jews had later converted to Islam."

Here is more Cook, this time on the misuse of Biblical archaeology in the 'City of David'.


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