A rain of insults greeted Shlomo Sand in Israel when he published a book entitled, "The Invention of the Jewish People" - a book that breaks down the biblical myths that are the foundations of the Zionist State of Israel.
A professor of Contemporary History at the University of Tel Aviv, Sand refutes the claim that Jews constitute a people with a common origin and maintains that it is by sharing a specific culture that was the main instrument of proto-national ferment and not by being descendants from an ancient community united by ties of blood.
For him "the Jewish state of Israel," far from realizing the dream of a national ethnic community with over 4,000 years of existence, was made possible by a falsification of history in the 19th century spurred by intellectuals such as Theodor Herzl.
While Israeli academics insist that the Jews are a people with their own DNA, Sand, based on comprehensive documentation, ridicules this unscientific thesis.
There are indeed no biological bridges between the ancient inhabitants of the kingdoms of Judea and Israel and the Jews of our time.
The ethnic myth contributed mightily to the civic fantasy. Its roots are deep in the Bible, the source of Hebrew monotheism. Like the Iliad, the Old Testament is not the work of a single author. Sand defines the Bible as an "extraordinary library," which had been written between the Sixth and Second centuries BCE. The myth begins with the invention of the "chosen people" who were called out for the promised land of Canaan.
The endless journey of Moses and his people toward the Holy Land and its subsequent conquest lacks any historical foundation. It is worth remembering that the current territory of Palestine was then a part of the Egypt of the Pharoahs.
The mythology of successive exiles, scattered through the centuries, eventually gained the appearance of historical truth. But it was forged starting from the Bible and expanded by the pioneers of Zionism.
The mass expulsions of Jews by the Assyrians are a fabrication. There is no record of these in credible historical sources.
The great Babylonian exile is as false as the major diasporas. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he destroyed the Temple and drove out of town a segment of the elites.
Babylon was long the home city of a large Jewish community, by its own choice. It was the core of the creativity of rabbis who spoke Aramaic and introduced important reforms in the religion of Moses. It should be noted that only a small minority of the community returned to Judea when the Persian emperor Cyrus conquered Jerusalem in the Sixth century BCE
When the centers of Jewish culture in Babylon disintegrated, Jews emigrated to the Abbasid Baghdad and not to the "Holy Land."
Sand devotes special attention to the "Exiles," which served as founding myths of ethnic identity.
The two "expulsions" of the Jews in the Roman period, the first by Titus and the second by Adriano, who had been the driving force behind the great diaspora, are the subject of a detailed study by the Israeli historian.
Young people learn in schools that "the Jewish nation" was driven into exile by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in 70, and later by Hadrian in 132 CE. By itself the fanciful text of Flavius Joseph, bearing witness to the revolt of the Zealots, removes credibility from that version of history, which is now official.
According to him, the Romans then massacred 1.1 million Jews and captured 97,000. This was at a time when according to contemporary demographers the total population of Galilee was much less than half a million ...
Archaeological excavations in the last few decades in Jerusalem and the West Bank created insurmountable problems for Zionist universities and theologians who "explain" the history of the Jewish people by taking the Torah and the word of the Patriarchs as infallible references.
The denials of archeology findings troubled historians. It has been proven that Jericho was little more than a village, without the powerful walls cited in the Bible. The revelations about the cities of Canaan also alarmed the rabbis. Modern archeology buried the discourse of religious social anthropology.
In Jerusalem not even traces of grandiose constructions were found that according to the Book in the 10th century BCE, the golden age of David and Solomon, transformed that town into the monumental city of the "people of God" that dazzled all who saw it. Neither walls nor palaces, nor even quality ceramics could be found.
The development of the technology of carbon-14 allowed one conclusion. The large buildings in the North were built not during the age of Solomon, but in the period of the kingdom of Israel.
"There is really no trace - writes Shlomo Sand - of the existence of the legendary king whose wealth is described by the Bible in terms that make it almost the equivalent of the mighty kings of Babylon and Persia." "If a political entity existed in Judea in the 10th century BCE," the historian adds, "it could only be a traditional tribal organization and Jerusalem only a small fortified city."
It is also significant that no Egyptian document refers to "conquest" of Canaan by the Jews, so that the territory had belonged to Pharaoh then.
Shlomo Sand. Photo RAZI/Télérama
THE SILENCE ABOUT CONVERSIONS
Israeli official historiography, to elevate the dogma of racial purity, attributes to the successive diasporas the formation of Jewish communities in dozens of countries.
The Declaration of Independence of Israel says, forced into exile, Jews strove throughout the centuries to return to the country of their ancestors.
It is a lie that blatantly falsifies the history.
The vast diaspora is fictional, like the rest. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the building of Aelia Capitolina only a small minority of the population was expelled. The overwhelming majority remained in the country.
What is the origin then the ancestors of some 12 million Jews outside Israel exist today?
In answering this question, the book by Shlomo Sand, simultaneously destroys the myth of racial purity, that is, of Jewish ethnicity.
An abundant documentation gathered by prestigious world historians reveals that in the first centuries CE there were massive conversions to Judaism in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Three of them were particularly important; they upset theologians and embarrassed the Israelis.
The Quran clarifies that during the flight from Mecca, Muhammad found large Jewish tribes in Medina; they came into conflict and eventually he ended up expelling them. But that does not explain why in the extreme south of the Arabian Peninsula, in current-day Yemen, the kingdom of Hymar adopted Judaism as its official religion. It had arrived in order to stay.
In the seventh century Islam was implanted in the region, but, after thirteen centuries had gone by, when the State of Israel was formed, tens of thousands of Yemenis who spoke Arabic still professed the Jewish religion. Most emigrated to Israel where, incidentally, they face discrimination.
In the Roman Empire, even in Italy, Judaism also took root,. The subject attracted the attention of the historian Cassius Dio and the poet Juvenal.
In Cyrenaica, the revolt of the Jews of the city of Cyrene required the mobilization of several legions to fight them.
But it was above all on the extreme western end of Africa that there were mass conversions to the rabbinical religion. A considerable part of the Berber populations adhered to Judaism, owing to its introduction in Al Andalus.
These were North Africans who spread Judaism to the peninsula, pioneers of Sephardim who, after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, were exiled in different European countries, in Muslim Africa and in Turkey.
More importantly its consequences was the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism; these were a nomadic Turkic people, akin to the Huns, who, coming from the Altai, settled in the steppes of the lower Volga in the fourth century.
The Khazars, who tolerated Christianity well, built a powerful Jewish state, an ally of Byzantium in the struggles of the Eastern Roman Empire against the Sassanid Persians.
This forgotten medieval empire occupied a huge area, from the Volga to Crimea and from the Don to current-day Uzbekistan. It disappeared from history in the thirteenth century when the Mongols invaded Europe, destroying everything in their path. Thousands of Khazars, fleeing the hordes of Batu Khan, dispersed throughout Eastern Europe. Its main cultural heritage was unexpected. Great medievalist historians medievalists like Renan and Marc Bloch indentify in the Kahzars the ancestors of the Ashkenazi whose communities in Poland, Russia and Romania were to play a pivotal role in Jewish colonization of Palestine.
A NEOFASCIST STATE
According to Nathan Birbaum, the Jewish intellectual who in 1891 invented the concept of Zionism, it is biology and not language and culture that explains the formation of nations. For him, race is everything. And the Jewish people would have been almost the only one to preserve its purity of blood through millennia. He died without understanding that this racist thesis, to prevail, would erase the myth of the holy people chosen by God.
That's because the Jews are a people son of a chain of miscegenation. What gives them their own identity and culture is an allegiance to a religious tradition rooted in the falsification of history.
In the passports of the Jewish State of Israel, Israeli citizenship is not accepted. The full citizens write 'Jew'. The Palestinians have to write 'Arab', with their nationality nonexistent.
Being a Christian, Buddhist, Mazdean, Muslim, or Hindu religious result of a choice, not nationality. Judaism is also not a nationality.
In Israel there is no civil marriage. For Jews, even if they are atheists, religious marriage is obligatory.
This aberration is inseparable from many others in a confessional state, liberal etnocracia built on myths, a state that exchanged Yiddish, spoken by the pioneers of the "return to the Holy Land," for the sacred Hebrew of the rabbis, a language unknown to the people of Judea who expressed themselves in Aramaic, the language in which the Bible was written in Babylon and not in Jerusalem.
The "State of the Jewish People" is assumed to be democratic. But this reality denies the fundamental law passed by the Knesset. No state can be democratic that treats 20 percent of the population them as pariahs of new type, a state born of monstrous genocide in a foreign land, a state whose practice shows neo-fascist colors.
Shlalom Sand's book about the invention of the Jewish people is, beyond a lucid historical essay, an act of courage. I recommend it to all those for whom the line in the sand for the left today passes for solidarity with the martyred people of Palestine and condemnation of Zionism.
The Invention of the Jewish People
by Shlomo Sand Translated by Yael Lotan