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          Guest For Friday May 21, 2010



                                      (Originally aired 11-04-09)

                         SHLOMO SAND Ph.D




                                  Professor of History

                                  Tel Aviv University




                 "The Invention of the Jewish People"

                         The Invention of the Jewish People




The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCPW6EXa8-o - SHLOMO SAND Ph.D



A talk was given by Shlomo Sand Ph.D, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and Author

of “The Invention of the Jewish People” which has newly been translated into English. The

event took place at the Brecht Forum on October 15, 2009.  He was introduced by Michael

Smith. Commentary was made by Joel Kovel - Author of “Overcoming Zionism” and questions

were taken from the audience. The event was approximately two hours duration. Video was

produced and made available to the public by Joe Friendly.



The event can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk6gQcPMROM - SHLOMO SAND BRECHT FORUM TALK





More about SHLOMO SAND


Shlomo Sand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Shlomo Sand (Hebrew: שלמה זנד‎, sometimes transliterated as Shlomo Zand), born 10 September 1946, 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.[1]



[edit] Biography

Sand was born in Linz, Austria, to Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. His parents had Communist and anti-imperialist views and refused to receive compensations from Germany for their suffering during the Second World War. Sand spent his early years in a displaced persons camp, and moved with the family to Jaffa in 1948. He was expelled from high school at the age of sixteen, and only completed his bagrut following his military service.[2] His military experience during the 1967 war, and his boredom following its end, led him to leave the Union of Israeli Communist Youth (Banki) and join the more radical, and anti-Zionist, Matzpen in 1968. Sand resigned from Matzpen in 1970 due to his disillusionment with the organisation.[3][4]

He declined an offer by the Israeli Communist Party Rakah to be sent to do cinema studies in Poland, and in 1975 Sand graduated with a BA in History from Tel Aviv University. From 1975 to 1985, after winning a scholarship, he studied and later taught in Paris, receiving an MA in French History and a PhD for his thesis[5] on "George Sorel and Marxism". Since 1982, Sand has taught at Tel Aviv University as well as at the University of California, Berkeley and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.[1]

The Invention of the Jewish People

Book's topic

In his book Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi? (The Invention of the Jewish People), "[Sand] tries to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a "nation-race" with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion. He argues that for a number of Zionist ideologues, the mythical perception of the Jews as an ancient people led to truly racist thinking".[6]

One component of Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, contrary to what is official, accepted history, were not exiled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. He has suggested that much of the present day world Jewish population are individuals, and groups, who converted to Judaism at later periods. Additionally, he suggests that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. Sand writes that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God."[7] Sand argues that most of the Jews were not exiled by the Romans, and were permitted to remain in the country. He puts the number of those exiled at tens of thousands at most. He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated among the conquerors. He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews.[8]

Sand's explanation of the birth of the myth of a Jewish people as a group with a common, ethnic origin has been summarized as follows: "[a]t a certain stage in the 19th century intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. From historian Heinrich Graetz on, Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as the history of a nation that had been a kingdom, became a wandering people and ultimately turned around and went back to its birthplace."[6]

He also comments that: "It is true that I am an historian of France and Europe, and not of the ancient period. (...)",[6] and that: "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."[7]


Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University, in a commentary published in Haaretz,[9] writes that Sand's basic thesis and statements about Jewish historiography are "baseless". Bartal answers to "Sand's arguments (...) that no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically "pure" [and that] Sand applies marginal positions to the entire body of Jewish historiography and, in doing so, denies the existence of the central positions in Jewish historical scholarship." Bartal refers to Sand's overall treatment of Jewish sources as "embarrassing and humiliating." He adds that "The kind of political intervention Sand is talking about, namely, a deliberate program designed to make Israelis forget the true biological origins of the Jews of Poland and Russia or a directive for the promotion of the story of the Jews' exile from their homeland is pure fantasy." Bartel summarizes his critique of Sand's characterization of Jewish historiography as follows: "as far as I can discern, the book contains not even one idea that has not been presented earlier in their books and articles by what he insists on defining as "authorized historians" suspected of "concealing historical truth,"" and calls the overall work "bizarre and incoherent."[9]

Tom Segev wrote that Sand's book "is intended to promote the idea that Israel should be a 'state of all its citizens' - Jews, Arabs and others - in contrast to its declared identity as a 'Jewish and democratic' state" and that the book is generally "well-written" and includes "numerous facts and insights that many Israelis will be astonished to read for the first time".[8]

Anita Shapira wrote "Sand bases his arguments on the most esoteric and controversial interpretations, while seeking to undermine the credibility of important scholars by dismissing their conclusions without bringing any evidence to bear."[10]

For Ofri Ilani, "(...) most of [the] book does not deal with the invention of the Jewish people by modern Jewish nationalism, but rather with the question of where the Jews come from."[6]

Hillel Halkin has cited the book as an example of the notion that there is "no book too foolish to go un-admired by someone."[11]

Jeffrey Goldberg likened the book to Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe, another book with a controversial thesis on the genesis of the Jewish people published in 1976.[12] "Today," Jeffrey Goldberg said, "The Thirteenth Tribe is a combination of discredited and forgotten." Goldberg also accused Sand of having disingenuous motives:

"Sand is not publishing this book at a dignified conference in Bern at which scholars of the Middle East debate the origins of the Jews ... He is dropping manufactured facts into a world that in many cases is ready, willing, and happy to believe the absolute worst conspiracy theories about Jews and to use those conspiracy theories to justify physically hurting Jews. ... It is nothing new ... We [the Jews] survived ... The Thirteenth Tribe; we can survive this.”[1

Publishing history

The book was in the best-seller list in Israel for 19 weeks and quickly went to 3 editions when published in French.[7] In France it received the "Aujourd'hui Award", a journalists' award for top non-fiction political or historical work.[13]

In October 2009 it was published in English by Verso.

In March 2010 it was published in Russian by Eksmo.

In April 2010 it was published in German by Propyläen Verlag.


  • L'Illusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le débat intellectuel 1900 , Paris, La Découverte, 1984
  • Georges Sorel en son temps, with Jacques Julliard (eds), Paris, Seuil, 1985
  • Intellectuals, Truth and Power: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2000 (in Hebrew)
  • Le XXe siècle à l' écran, Paris , Seuil, 2004 — also as Film as History – Imagining and Screening the Twentieth Century , Tel Aviv, Am Oved & Open University Press, 2002 (in Hebrew)
  • Cinema and Memory – A Dangerous Relationship?, with Haim Bresheeth & Moshe Zimmerman (eds), Jerusalem , The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2004 (in Hebrew)
  • Historians, Time and Imagination, From the “Annales” School to the Postzionist Assassin, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 2004 (in Hebrew)
  • Les Mots et la terre - Les intellectuels en Israël, Paris, Fayard, 2006
  • The Invention of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, Resling, 2008 (in Hebrew) — also as Comment le peuple juif fut inventé - De la Bible au sionisme, Paris, Fayard, 2008, and The Invention of the Jewish People, New York, Verso 2009.

 See also


  1. ^ a b CV on Tel Aviv University website
  2. ^ History as Film, Shiur Hofshi (Free Period) no 67, June 2005, Israeli Teachers' Union (in Hebrew)
  3. ^ Matzpen site
  4. ^ Conversation with Shlomo Sand, by Asaf Shor, Me'asef, 10 December 2004 (in Hebrew)
  5. ^ PhD Thesis : Georges Sorel et le marxisme. Rencontre et crise 1893-1902. (Georges Sorel and Marxism. Encounter and crisis 1893-1902), École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France, 1982.
  6. ^ a b c d Shattering a 'national mythology' by Ofri Ilani, Haaretz, March 2008
  7. ^ a b c Idea of a Jewish people invented, says historian Book Review by Jonathan Cook at MediaMonitors. 17th Oct 2007. Verified 12th Dec 2008.
  8. ^ a b Segev, Tom (2008-03-01). "An invention called 'the Jewish people'". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/959229.html. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  9. ^ a b Bartal, Israel (July 6, 2008). "Inventing an invention". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/999386.html. Retrieved October 22, 2009. 
  10. ^ The Journal of Israeli History Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2009, 63–72 [1]
  11. ^ Jewish Peoplehood Denied, While Israel’s Foes Applaud, Hillel Halkin, Published June 24, 2009, issue of July 03, 2009. [2]
  12. ^ a b Goldstein, Evan R. "Inventing Israel." Tablet Magazine. 13 October 2009. 30 October 2009.
  13. ^ Maya Sela, "Israeli author of controversial book on Jewish lineage wins French prize", Haaretz 12 March 2009

External links


                                     Friday May 21, 2010

                                 10:30 - 11:30 AM  / (NYC Time)

                 Channel 34 of the Time/Warner & Channel 82 of the RCN 
                       Cable Television Systems in Manhattan, New York.

The Program can now be viewed on the internet at time of cable casting at


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