- Here is a fascinating review review by well known Israeli
writer Tom Segev of a book titled, "When and How Was the Jewish
People Invented?" (published by Resling in Hebrew). It is authored
by Israeli historian Shlomo Zand. Prof. Zand teaches at Tel Aviv University.
Segev writes "..in one of the most fascinating and challenging books
published here in a long time. There never was a Jewish people, only a
Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened - hence there was no
return. Zand rejects most of the stories of national-identity formation
in the Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily,
the horrors of the conquest under Joshua. It's all fiction and myth that
served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel, he asserts."
- I should add that this information and arguments have
been around for a long time but it is nice to see it published in one
of Israel's leading daily newspapers and presented in a book written
by an Israeli historian.
- Ed Corrigan
- An Invention Called 'The Jewish People'
- By Tom Segev
- Israel's Declaration of Independence states that the
Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland.
Every Israeli schoolchild is taught that this happened during the period
of Roman rule, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which
it began to return after two millennia of exile. Wrong, says the historian
Shlomo Zand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published
here in a long time. There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion,
and the exile also never happened - hence there was no return. Zand rejects
most of the stories of national-identity formation in the Bible, including
the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest
under Joshua. It's all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the
establishment of the State of Israel, he asserts.
- According to Zand, the Romans did not generally exile
whole nations, and most of the Jews were permitted to remain in the country.
The number of those exiled was at most tens of thousands. When the country
was conquered by the Arabs, many of the Jews converted to Islam and were
assimilated among the conquerors. It follows that the progenitors of the
Palestinian Arabs were Jews. Zand did not invent this thesis; 30 years
before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by David Ben-Gurion,
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others.
- If the majority of the Jews were not exiled, how is it
that so many of them reached almost every country on earth? Zand says
they emigrated of their own volition or, if they were among those exiled
to Babylon, remained there because they chose to. Contrary to conventional
belief, the Jewish religion tried to induce members of other faiths to
become Jews, which explains how there came to be millions of Jews in the
world. As the Book of Esther, for example, notes, "And many of the
people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."
- Zand quotes from many existing studies, some of which
were written in Israel but shunted out of the central discourse. He also
describes at length the Jewish kingdom of Himyar in the southern Arabian
Peninsula and the Jewish Berbers in North Africa. The community of Jews
in Spain sprang from Arabs who became Jews and arrived with the forces
that captured Spain from the Christians, and from European-born individuals
who had also become Jews.
- The first Jews of Ashkenaz (Germany) did not come from
the Land of Israel and did not reach Eastern Europe from Germany, but
became Jews in the Khazar Kingdom in the Caucasus. Zand explains the
origins of Yiddish culture: it was not a Jewish import from Germany, but
the result of the connection between the offspring of the Kuzari and Germans
who traveled to the East, some of them as merchants.
- We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples
and races, blond and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers.
According to Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared ethnicity
and historical continuity produced a long series of inventions and fictions,
along with an invocation of racist theses. Some were concocted in the
minds of those who conceived the Zionist movement, while others were offered
as the findings of genetic studies conducted in Israel.
- Prof. Zand teaches at Tel Aviv University. His book,
"When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?" (published by
Resling in Hebrew), 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. Personal stories, a prolonged theoretical discussion and abundant
sarcastic quips do not help the book, but its historical chapters are
well- written and cite numerous facts and insights that many Israelis
will be astonished to read for the first time.
- The Mosquito From Kiryat Yam
- On March 27, 1948, a meeting was held in Hiafa concerning
the fate of the Bedouin of Arab al-Ghawarina in the Haifa area. "They
must be removed from there, so that they, too, will not add to our troubles,"
Yosef Weitz, of the Keren Kayemeth (Jewish National Fund), wrote in his
personal diary. Two months later, Weitz reported to the organization's
director, "Our Haifa Bay has been evacuated completely and there
is hardly a remnant of those who encroached our border." They were
probably expelled to Jordan; some were allowed to remain in the village
of Jisr al-Zarqa. The fate of the Arab al-Ghawarina Bedouin has recently
made the headlines thanks to Shmuel Sisso, mayor of the Haifa suburb of
Kiryat Yam. He has filed a complaint with the police against Google. The
reason is the addition that one of the site's surfers, a resident of Nablus,
attached to the center of Kiryat Yam in the world satellite photo, stating
that the city is built on the ruins of a village that was destroyed in
1948, Arab al-Ghawarina. Sisso's complaint says that this is slanderous.
- The facts are as follows: The lands of the Zevulun Valley
were purchased in the 1920s by the JNF and by various construction companies,
among them one called Gav Yam. The Zionist Archives have the plan for
the establishment of Kiryat Yam, dated 1938, and a letter from 1945 states
that there were already 100 homes there. Government maps from the British
Mandate period identify the territory on which Kiryat Yam was built by
two names: Zevulun Valley and Ghawarina. Thus it appears that this was
not a settlement but an area in which Bedouin resided.
- The Web site of the Israeli organization Zochrot (Remembering)
states that there were 720 people at the site in 1948 and that the area
was divided among three kibbutzim: Ein Hamifratz, Kfar Masaryk and Ein
Hayam, today Ein Carmel.
- This story has been making the rounds on the Internet
and drawing responses, which can be summed up as follows: "If Sisso
is suing Google because they stated that he is living on a destroyed Arab
village, the implication is that he thinks this is something bad."
Sisso, a lawyer of 57 who is identified with Likud and was formerly Israeli
consul general in New York, says, "I don't think there is anything
bad about it, but other people might think it is bad, especially people
abroad, and that is liable to hurt Kiryat Yam, because people will not
want to invest here. Since we are not sitting on a Palestinian village,
why should we have to suffer for no reason?"
- Moroccan-born, Sisso arrived in Israel in 1955. "I
wandered around the whole region and I saw no trace of anyone's having
been here before us and supposedly expelled." He asked an American
law professor how, if at all, Google could be sued for slander or for
damages. This, he says, is the contribution of Kiryat Yam to the struggle
against the right of return (of the Palestinian refugees).
- It could turn out to be the most riveting trial since
Ariel Sharon sued Time magazine, but mayor Sisso has no illusions: "Me
against Google is like a mosquito against an elephant," he said this
- Who America Belongs To
- Two professors, Gabi Shefer and Avi Ben-Zvi, were guests
this week on Yitzhak Noy's "International Hour" current events
program on Israel Radio. The anchor, sounding slightly concerned, asked
whether the achievements of Barack Obama show that the United States
no longer belongs to the white man. Prof. Shefer confirmed this: Obama
is an immigrant, he said. Prof. Ben-Zvi asked to add a remark: Gabi Shefer
is right, he said. They are both wrong. If Obama were an immigrant, he
would not be eligible to be elected president. He was born in Honolulu,
some two years after Hawaii became the 50th state of the union.