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Competition among the plethora of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist academics found in Israeli universities and abroad can be likened to that of the business world. There are so many anti-Israel academics out there now that if one of them wants to be noticed (and make any real money), he or she needs to be the most outlandish of the pack. Simply being an egghead who claims to want "peace," but then supports Arab terror groups that murder Jews isn't a ticket to notoriety as much as it once was; even infamy has competition, and, while it may get someone tenure, it's not necessarily outrageous enough to garner mainstream media attention such as received by a Neve Gordon, who served as a human shield for Arafat and recently reaffirmed his leadership among Israel's tenured radicals by calling in an American newspaper article for further boycotts against the Jewish state to hasten its destruction.
A skill the Arab universities can usually be expected to use is to revise history to justify their jihad against the West and the Jews. Almost any day on Arab television an Arab or Muslim PhD can be watched explaining how the Holocaust was a fabrication to create Israel, or that Jews never lived in the ancient Holy Land at all. In the West, revisionist history against Israel is, of course, an excellent way to draw attention to oneself in academia and sell lots of books and get speaking engagements funded by anti-Semitic sources. If one can alter history enough to justify the dismantling of the Jewish state, the time is now ripe for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic academics to make hay.
Thus we have Tel Aviv University history professor Shlomo Sand who has written a book. "The Invention of the Jewish People" suggesting the existence of the Jewish people was "invented" and implying that the bulk of Jews who created Israel were in fact not the descendents of the real Jews of the Bible. Those real Jews, Sand contends, are the Palestinians themselves, the "indigenous" people who were converted to Islam after the 7th century when the Muslims took over.
And today's Jews of Israel? Well, they are the descendents of the Khazars, says Sand. The Khazars were a country and culture of horsemen (one theory is Khazar was the source for the word "Hussar," a military term for a cavalryman for centuries). Khazaria, today in what was once the Soviet Republic of Georgia, was a kingdom trapped between expanding Islam and Christianity in approximately 1200 A.D. The pagan King of Khazaria, being under pressure from both groups to convert his country, asked religious leaders what religion was closest to their own. When they both said Judaism, the King imported rabbis from Jerusalem and converted Khazaria, the entire kingdom, to Judaism.
Sand then postulates that Ashkenazic, or European Jews were all the later offshoots of Khazarian Jews who moved westward toward Poland, Germany and Northern Europe. Hence, the "Jews" of Israel are not "real Jews" from the land of Israel and deserving of a return to a national homeland, a fabricated people created to justify stealing the land from the "Palestinian" Arabs who are the "indigenous" people, possibly even the real Hebrews converted later to Islam.
Sand's history is not only faulty, but a cheap attempt at copying Arab revisionist history about Israel and the Jews in order to push a political agenda of denying the Jewish state's right to exist. First of all, a Jewish presence in the Holy Land can be traced back 3,500 years, a presence that existed even after the major expulsion of much of the Jewish population into the Diaspora. No serious scholar can dispute these facts except in the controlled media of the Arab world and inside the heads of assorted anti-Semites. While the Zionist leadership did spring from Europe before and after the Holocaust, the majority of Jews that make up Israel's population are not from Europe, but from the Middle East and North Africa, the Sephardim and Mizrahi Jews. Sand certainly knows this, but prefers to overlook it as his Arab peers always do.
Not enough people today, even many Jews, know enough history to understand how the Diaspora Jews link to the land of Israel. During the time of the third Jewish revolt of Rome, a Jewish slave was worth less than the value of a horse. In fact, historical records of the siege on Masada tell us that the ramp that was built to storm the fortress was built by Jewish slaves who became targets themselves while used as forced labor. The reason for this was because the nearest water was 40 miles away in Ein Gedi it was cheaper and easier to bring Jewish slaves to the battle zone and make them work on the ramp until they died of thirst than to supply them drinking water.
After the Third Revolt ended, Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Fewer people still, even Jews, know that the Roman Coliseum was built by Jewish slaves. If one visits Pompeii and Herculaneum, both cities that were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, one can see the remnants of Jewish slaves left behind as caretakers in many cases because their owners fled the city in anticipation of a great disaster.
There were Jewish communities composed from Jewish slaves along the
Rhine Valley as part of the Roman Empire long before Khazaria
converted to Judaism. Those Jews migrated into Germany and Eastern
Europe and developed a bastardized German known as Yiddish.
SHLOMO SAND IS IN FACT A CHEAP SCAMMER AND PSEUDO-SCHOLAR also rehashing the anti-Semitic tracts of another Jewish-born anti-Semite named Benjamin Freedman who from 1946 through the 1950's tried to sell the idea the Khazarians-are-the-real-Jews theme in America to alienate Christian support from Israel. Freedman also claimed that Yiddish developed as the result of the Khazars' Turkish tongue borrowing some German words and he falsely maintained that Yiddish does not have one word of Hebrew in it.
The only difference between Sand and Freedman was Freedman also tried to falsely suggest that the Talmud encourages pedophilia and sex with animals.
Just give Sand time to copy those ideas also as part of his future "research"; anything in the name of anti-Zionism, eh?
What Sand really seeks to do with his revisionist book, is hammer another nail into the perceived coffin of the Jewish state to bolster the rhetoric of the anti-Israel crowd of leftists and communists in alliance with Arabs in the region. As mentioned, he's not even original in doing this; Friedman advanced the same argument that the Jews of today's Israel are nothing more than the Khazars and therefore having no rights to the land that is today Israel. Sand can't even do his own pseudo-scholarly work; he has to steal it from Freedman.
Of course, if one were to use Sand's own logic, the Palestinian Arabs he is working so hard for to help destroy a Jewish state would also be denied the right to live in what they call "Palestine." The definition of an Arab is someone who speaks Arabic and comes from the Arabian Peninsula. Today, of course, Arabs extend from Iraq all the way to the Atlantic because of Muslim conquests. The so-called Palestinian Arabs today who he says are "indigenous" to the Holy Land are very much a minority and can claim indigenous status no greater that that of Jews who remained after the Roman expulsion. His claims that some of those Arabs who can trace their lineage back a thousand years (and few can, most migrating to the region from other Arabs countries as the Jews did) were once the real Jews (Sand by this logic seems to at least admit Israel was a Jewish country).
But based on Arab conquests and the wiping out of Jews and Christians in Arabia, one can hardly find a true historical and scholarly basis for Sand's thesis, that is, that the Jewish people was invented to steal the land from the Arabs. One has to say the land of the Jews was forcibly stolen and its people converted by Islam and the Arab world.
However, even arguing these points is fruitless when we see the background of Sand and his associations that revolve around the thesis of his book.
Sand was born in 1946 in Europe. His Jewish Polish parents (Khazarians?) were ardent communists and "anti-imperialists" who managed to survive the Holocaust and then fled to Israel as refugees in 1948 (apparently being a little imperialistic themselves according to theirs and Sand's beliefs). Being like mommy and daddy, Sand then joined the Israeli communist youth and later the communist-inspired anti-Zionist Matzpen (most of Israel's anti-Israel academics are members of assorted communist and radical socialist groups still clinging to Stalin's crusade against Zionism).
Although he dropped out of high school at age 16, he later finished while serving in the IDF. His communist affiliations helped promote his academic career afterwards as another Israeli communist party, Maki, composed of Arabs and Jews offered him a scholarship to study cinema in Poland. After declining the offer, Sand graduated Tel Aviv University with a BA in History. Winning a scholarship, he went to Paris where he majored in French history and received a PhD based on Georges Sorel, a Marxist who advocated violence. At the age of 36, Sand was hired by Tel Aviv University as a history professor and has guest taught at UC Berkeley and the Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France (both foreign schools heavy on the communist ideology).
Sand's pseudo-scholarship in his book denies that the Diaspora was as big a deportation of the Jewish population by Rome than it was, and that it was exaggerated by Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. This tying of Christians to the myth of Jews belonging to or even coming from Israel is, as mentioned, a blatant rip off of the anti-Semite Benjamin Freedman's work. Since Freedman's work is now dated and the author is dead, enter Shlomo Sand to carry on the calumny and make lots of money selling books based on someone else's pseudo-scholarship.
Sand partially admits his scholarship is questionable: "It is true that I am an historian of France and Europe, and not of the ancient period," and that "I've been criticized 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."
What Sand really should admit is as a communist dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, this opportunity came along to promote an ideology in an incredibly easy way to make lots of money and get his name out there. Verso publishing, (its former name was New Left Books), who published the book for Sand, publishes all manner of communist and Marxist diatribes against Israel and the West. It recently brought out a book promoting Osama Bin Laden. Sand's book is less a publisher's scholastic dream than another tract by a communist-anarchist-pro-jihadi publishing house.
Sand in his book has written that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God." He 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, according to one source.
The historical truth is the Romans, after the Bar Kochba revolt renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and forbade circumcision. Pogroms against Jews who remained in the Holy Land continued under Roman rule and there are historical records of Jews being murdered by the Crusaders, so the Jewish presence was certainly there. Somehow, those Jews who held their presence in Israel up until 1948 did not exist but became the Palestinian Arabs according to Sand when they in fact migrated mostly from the Arabian Peninsula through wars and from other Arab countries seeking work among the Zionists in the 19th and 20th centuries.
More form Sand: "At 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."
But when it comes to revising history to fit the Arab agenda, why let little things like historical facts get in the way?
The earliest Zionist movement first looked to Uganda as a new home for the Jews, so did not necessarily expect to go back to "its birthplace." But even more importance regarding that birthplace is that the Jews never left either in person or in spirit. Jews all over the Diaspora recited for two thousand years during Passover and Chanukah "Next year in Jerusalem". The fact is they never really left and despite being forced into slavery they held to their belief and desire for the Jewish homeland.
And the Khazars? They were converts and converts in Judaism are accepted as part of the fold. Those who were not converted or killed by the later conquering Russians may have contributed to world Jewry, but they were by no means the only or largest contributor to Jews making up the reconstituted Jewish homeland.
Tom Segev, another anti-Israel Israeli praised Sands book for its implications that Israel no longer be a Jewish state but a secular one and called the tome "well written." Since Segev is yet another Israeli scholar frequently quoted by the Arabs in seeking the dismantling of the Jewish state, one can see the value of creating such a book for Verso Publishing: it has a built in rooting section of other anti-Israel academics to praise its message that the Jews don't belong in a Jewish state, it should be dominated by the Arab majority. Hillel Halkin best summed up Sand's book with a comment that "no book too foolish to go un-admired by someone."
What a shame that the Israeli taxpayer should subsidize a tenured salary for such a phony scholar.
6. http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:kAr7VsoqsiEJ:frontpagemag.com/ Articles/ReadArticle.asp%3FID%3D19301+Verso+Press+%2B+anti-Israel&cd= 1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Editor's Note: See also Evan R. Goldstein, "Inventing
Lee Kaplan is an investigative journalist. He is also a regular columnist for Front Page Magazine, the Israel National News and a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was submitted October 6, 2009. An earlier abridged version appeared on www.Isracampus.org
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