Shlomo Sand: Israelis could massacre the non-Jews in Israel.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Gilbert Achcar asked me to leave last night’s talk at SOAS given by Shlomo Sand. If I didn’t he said he would call security.

The talk was called On the Nation and the ‘Jewish People’, although it was all taken from Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People.

For an hour I bit my lip while Sand tore into the idea that the Jews had any connection with Israel. He said there had never been an exile of the Jews under the Romans and so, as there was no exile, there could never be a return.

But all Israeli school textbooks spoke of this mythical “exile” he said.

He claimed the Jews were merely a religious phenomenon and as they came from all over the world, and so had no connection with each other, they could not be described as “a people”. Sand is an Israeli Jewish atheist.

Today’s Jews, he said, are just descendants of converts from African tribes i.e. the Khazars and the Berbers. These tribes had simply converted en masse to Judaism.

Zionists had only recently taken Jewish myths and cultured them into a nationalist ideology.

But Jews had never wanted to originally go to Palestine. Only after 1924, when America closed the gates, and eventually the British too, did they finally set sail for Palestine.

Most Jews don’t live in Israel, but outside it.

And Golda Meir had, apparently, said that when a Jew marries a non-Jew he or she “adds to the six million”.

Then, after defining Nazi Germany as an ethnocentric state, he said he was against Israel being defined as a Jewish state because “I am sure it will finish with the massacre in the Galilee, because 20% are non-Jews in this state.” (Listen to audio at end)

What is the point of an unopposed two hour verbal attack on Israel and the Jewish people at a British university? No one learns a thing apart from more anti-Israel propaganda.

During the Q&A I asked Sand what is the problem with the Jews calling themselves “a people” if they wanted to. He might not like it but most Jews think of themselves as being part of “a people”. That is how nationalism works.

I challenged him on whether Jewish history really spoke of the Jews being “exiled” by the Romans. Instead, the Jews had lost sovereignty to the Romans and many Jews left the area to become the Jewish diaspora. Therefore, Jews have a historical right to return.

What about “Next Year in Jerusalem” and the ancient religious festivals when Jews look to return to Israel and Jerusalem one day? Was that all made up by Zionists?

Anita Shapira’s destruction of Sand’s book is good on this.

Sand answered that 93% of the Jews living under the Romans were peasants and so they couldn’t leave. And diaspora Jews had only ever thought of Israel as a “Holy Land”, not as a “Home land”. “Israel” is a theological notion, not a political one.

Jews felt that the land did not belong to them, but to G-d and Jews went to Palestine only to die, not to live, so they could be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah came.

I understood the religiousness of the “Holy Land” point he was making but Sand wasn’t answering my main question: What is wrong with Jewish nationalism?

I called him a coward for not answering that question, which eventually spurred him into action.

“The Jews only came to Palestine because the doors to America and Britain were closed,” he screamed at the audience.

Even if that were true it still doesn’t preclude Jews from recognising themselves as “a people” and calling for a Jewish state.

It is not too disimilar from what the Palestinians have done. Many of them are not indigenous to what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories either, but came to the area when Jews started arriving from Europe. But they are also demanding a state.

I continued to try to question Sand but he just mocked me for being a Zionist who can’t speak Hebrew and who doesn’t even live in Israel like he does.

By then Achcar was out of his chair and bearing down on me insisting that I leave or he would call security.

I refused to leave but sat there, silent, like a good boy for the rest of the Q&A.

On the way out I was surrounded by people wanting to lecture me, including one woman who insisted that I apologise to Sand for calling him Shlomo, instead of Mr Sand, and a coward.

Shlomo Sand SOAS talk.

Shlomo Sand on a massacre in the Galilee (after 31 minutes) (This is in the Q&A).


99 responses to “Shlomo Sand: Israelis could massacre the non-Jews in Israel.

  1. Once again Richard, you’re performing an important service. You’re bringing these debates to wider attention and reminding people that niche subject journalism thrives beyond newspapers.

  2. Richard
    thanks as usual for reporting from the nuthouse

    Be nice to your stomach, it must be in need of some special care after such a treatment.

  3. Well done Richard for performing a much need service in what must be a place that is a cross between a nuthouse and a lions den

  4. Sand must have some deep-seated psychological problems, but why does SOAS give him a soapbox for his delusions?

  5. why does SOAS give him a soapbox for his delusions?

    maybe they have to compete with LSE who opened up its Middle East Center with this endearing event – “enjoy”!

  6. Hilarious. But dark too. Did Achcar really arise to have you thrown out? On what grounds?

    The notion that Judea was the homeland of the Jews, and that homeland had been destroyed, and Jews thus exiled, is uttered by the emperor-to-be that presided over the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem himself, Titus, son of Vespasian (whence it evolved to become the view normative in Christendom and Islam for most of Christian and Islamic history). From the review by Martin Goodman, Professor of Jewish studies, Oxford:

    From the introduction:

    ‘In ad 67, a year after the Jews of Jerusalem had begun their war against Rome, a certain Antiochus, the son of the leader of the local Jewish community in the great city of Antioch in Syria, brought about a massacre of some in this community by alleging that his fellow Jews were plotting to burn the city to the ground. Those who survived were compelled, at Antiochus’s instigation, to sacrifice in the pagan manner: Antiochus wanted to prove his change of allegiance, and he knew the most effective way to attack his fellow Jews. Soon afterwards the remaining Jews were accused of responsibility for a fire which did in fact burn down the market square and surrounding buildings. The Roman authorities only with great difficulty restrained the local mob from killing the rest of the Jews in the city, even though it turned out on investigation that the incendiaries had been not Jews, but debtors who had hoped to free themselves from their burdens by destroying the public archives.

    What was to happen to these diaspora Jews when, some three years later, the city of Antioch was visited by Titus, conqueror of Judaea, who had destroyed Jerusalem so thoroughly as to “leave future visitors to the spot no ground for believing it had ever been inhabited”? The people of Antioch greeted Titus with acclamations and a petition to expel the Jews from their city, to which Titus responded that this was not possible: “their own fatherland, to which, being Jews, they ought to be banished, has been destroyed, and no place would now receive them”.’

  7. “Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.”
    (M.F. Hammer, Proc. Nat’l Academy of Science, May 9, 2000)

    In other words the twat just has to look at the science to realise he’s talking out of his posterior

  8. “Achcar” is Hebrew for “cold brother” … that’s acceptable, apart from the “brother” part.

    “I continued to try to question Sand but he just mocked me for being a Zionist who can’t speak Hebrew ”

    Maybe no Hebrew, but your approach is very Israeli in not abandoning the court to the opponents; keep up the good work!

    Avraham Reiss

  9. ‘I challenged him on whether Jewish history really spoke of the Jews being “exiled” by the Romans. Instead, the Jews had lost sovereignty to the Romans and many Jews left the area to become the Jewish diaspora. Therefore, Jews have a historical right to return.’

    Not only Jewish tradition, but also Christian and Islamic, including Palestinian Christian and Islamic, tradition assumes an exile and dispossession.

    That is how Jews regarded themselves, that is how they were regarded. And one can see the roots of the gentile Greco-Roman Christian view of the Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed, in the discourse of the Roman emperor, and the gospels themselves e.g. Lk 21, 20-24:

    20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    This was, for Christians, who are/were, after all, what the Romans became, how it was/was to be for Jews, and their imperial policies reflected that, post factum justifying the suppressions as God’s just wrath on the Jews, and further enacting discriminatory, alienating and marginalizing measures against Jews in the land and without.

    Jews were, over several centuries, eroded into a minority in their own land:

    The ‘myth’ of Jewish exile is only a ‘myth’ because the process whereby Jews came to be defined, by themselves and others, as a people in exile and a state of humiliation and dispossession, as ‘Palestinians’, if you will, was more complex than merely the two suppressions of the first and second centuries. It took several centuries for it to become the normative view. But it remained the normative for the better part of two millennia.

  10. I’d like to know what was the composition of the audience — general public? SOAS students? Known anti-Israel activists? In other words: was Sands speaking to the already converted or to new ears?

    • richardmillett

      It was open to members of the public, so it was probably 50:50 general public to students. These things are usually composed of mainly anti-Israel audiences. But he spoke at the RSA yesterday lunchtime, SOAS last night and there are two more talks planned for today in London before he departs for other countries. The talks are planned by his publisher VersoBooks, which publishes all the extreme anti-Israel stuff.

  11. ‘I’d like to know what was the composition of the audience — general public? SOAS students? Known anti-Israel activists?’

    One does wonder where on earth are Professors Colin Shinder and Catherine Hezser of Israel and Jewish studies at SOAS. Perhaps they were there, though, understandably, the hosts of such talks are unlikely to inform or invite them, their presence not being conducive to their political agenda.

    Perhaps Richard to should inform the relevant academics at such institutions of these events, to give them a heads up.

    • richardmillett

      Colin is on a one year sabbatical but when Operation Cast Lead started he gave a brave talk at SOAS explaining what Israel is up against with Hamas.

  12. Please take me off your mailing list, Richard. I asked you time and time again, very politely, to discipline DM for his unremitting, utterly vile, unprovoked personal attacks on me. I asked you to ban him for a mere couple of weeks. I asked you to require him alternatively to post an unreserved apology. You refused flatly, citing some absurd reasons that would not be out of place coming from the most weasely of lawyers.
    Fine. In that case, I don’t wish to be associated with this site.

    • Shavua Tov,

      On the 30th of December the author of this blog asked me to refrain from attacking the above poster personally. Out of deference to the fact that this is Richard’s blog and because of the fundamental respect I have for him, I immediately agreed to comply and have since, been as good as my word.

      Now that he has made absurd charges and revealed himself for the coward and snitch that he is, my every instinct is to retaliate terribly and once again expose him in all his ignorance and filth. I shall, however, not to so, but choose to take the moral highway and instead wish him all the best and G-d’s speed as he finally parts this excellent blog.

      May G-d lift up his face upon him and help him to find elsewhere tranquility and good mental health.

      Yoni – Go in peace!

      • Trust a cowardly shit, non-stop liar and disgusting fascist like you to accuse others of cowardice.

        (I am replying to this little scum’s renewed attacks, because my attention was drawn to them by a friend who visits this blog and very rarelyalso posts on it.)

  13. Yoni is that really you?

  14. If the ridiculous Mr Sand would leave his Tel Aviv University ivory tower and seemingly endless propaganda trips abroad and come to the Galilee, he would find Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians living and working together and getting along very nicely, thank you.
    Funny how it’s always those who don’t actually choose to live in ethnically-diverse areas who make these ridiculous statements.
    You really do deserve a medal Richard.

  15. In other words the twat just has to look at the science to realise he’s talking out of his posterior.

    I cited the genetic studies to Sand at his book launch in London last year. His ploy is to throw his hands up in horror and say he will not listen to genetic studies as these are redolent of Nazi academia and no one else should dabble in such a discipline. Utter disingenuous rubbish of course.

    It is a disgrace that Gilbert Achcar is presenting at Jewish book week.

    • richardmillett

      You’re kidding? He is? What are they like at JBW! I wanted to get onto genetics but Achcar had stopped me long before then.

  16. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Shlomo Sand is totally unqualified to talk about the origins of the Jewish people. He has no expertise in genetics, anthropology, Middle Eastern and East European history or the languages and culture of these regions either in the past or now. His “lectures” are worthless` he could just as easily “lecture” on neurosurgery.

  17. richardmillett

    Thanks. I just wish more people were there to point things like this out.

  18. @ amie ..yes thats a nasty way of evading the question

  19. Richard, well done, sorry I could not make it.
    Here is my demolition of the obnoxious arrogant prick Sand when he was last in the UK:

  20. Thank you Richard for being one of the lone voices in the UK that has the courage to stand up to this hate.

  21. Well done.

    I wish, however, you had gone beyond his historical arguments to ask him what he made of scientific studies which found that not only are all Jewish communities, all over the world more closely genetically linked to one another than to the majority population, but that these disparate Jewish communities are each more closely linked to each other, all over the world.

    There is also a “Cohen gene”, showing that all Cohen males descend from the same male ancestor, but I can’t find an article to that effect.

    • richardmillett

      Thank you. I wanted to but was cut short by Achcar! But see comment above when someone else tried to question him on genetics. He just threw his hands up in the air saying he won’t listen to arguments to do with genetics.

  22. Michael Goldman

    A lot of respect for leaving Yoni’s comment on the blog.
    Your liberal editorial policy is very refreshing.
    You have insulted almost everybody you have ever conversed with, but for some strange reason feel that you should be telling Richard how to run his blog.
    Please make good on your threat!

    • Just passing through:

      “You have insulted almost everybody you have ever conversed with”

      Were you born a liar, or did you have to take lessons?

  23. ‘But see comment above when someone else tried to question him on genetics. ‘

    I think that was Sand not Achcar.

    ‘How convenient, seeing as how that’s the most fatal flaw of his argument.’

    I don’t think it is. I think it is the fact that Jews have been regarded, by themselves and others, as an ethno-national group or people historically or originally exiled and dispossessed for most of Christian and Islamic history.

    Including Palestinian Christian and Islamic history, more to the point. It’s only comparatively recently that Palestinian Arabs have been having selective amnesia on that point. Occasionally western translations betray Hamas’ very traditional Islamic view of Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed for their sins; to which state they seek to “return” them.

    It’s only recently that they have not been: in the west since the Enlightenment and French Revolution in the 18th century, at the earliest, and not ubiquitously; in the east, no earlier than 1917. And even in the USSR, “Jewish” was a “natisionalnost”, sharpened by decades of state sponsored “anti-Zionism”.

    Israel exists, in no small part, because that post-Enlightenment view was not universal, even in the west, and certainly not in most of the Arab, Islamic world, including the Palestinian.

  24. * It’s only recently that they (Jews) have not been (regarded as a people historically exiled or dispossessed).

  25. Yoni,

    Look, in case you haven’t noticed the Mubarak regime has just fallen in Egypt and there really are weightier issues to deal with.

    We have had a tranquil week without insults or cursing – just intelligent conversation. Why don’t you just get all your anger out of your system, say all the nasty things you want to, to whoever you wish and then go and find a place where your bizarre literary style is more appreciated.

    I, for one, have no intention of getting drawn into any kind of slagging off match. There are many remarkable people here, with interesting points of view. I don’t agree with all of them, but they all treat each other with respect and I try to do the same. Why should I want to waste my time exchanging abuse with the likes of you?



  26. Michael Goldman

    “Just passing through”

    Well goodbye then..

  27. I always thought that there was something sad about the way Yoni had to swear at everybody. He may have had opinions, but he never seemed capable of expressing them, without talking in such a foul manner, that it was just highly unpleasant to read. This might have been a language problem.

    I have a feeling that Yoni will be back much sooner than anyone thinks, and that makes me feel rather uncomfortable.

    • richardmillett

      I wish we could all get on and discuss Israel without getting personal. Some of the commenting and knowledge is incredible, including Yoni’s, but it is a shame that it breaks down like this at times.

  28. Richard,

    Wouldn’t it be wiser to go in greater force to these kind of events? Is there no way to recruit ten or fifteen like-minded activists for such an occasion?

    • richardmillett

      No, it seems impossible, really. We do try but there are so many of these meetings. Sands had four talks set up over his two day visit to London and then i think he was off to France. Jonathan Hoffman is usually there and there is a good crowd on saturday at Ahava. Apart from that the speakers are generally unopposed and given too much respect by the, generally, anti-Israel audiences.

      • 1. Have you made contact with already existing Jewish youth movements, schools, etc?

        2. Maybe in a case like Sand it would be better to focus on one talk, and to that one to bring along all your fire power.

        3. The son of my cousin from Surbiton (wherever that is) is a first year Political Science student. He was just here and asked me many questions about the 70’s and the Soviet Jewry struggle. He complained that there is nothing going on like that today. I’ll send you his details off-blog.

        I say this because it causes me to think that there might be an untapped pool of potential Jewish activists who need reaching, and after all we are talking about 20 or 30 students out of tens of thousands. I would not be surprised if you’d find some gentile Zionist sympathisers too.

        4. In Israel grants are given to soldiers who have served their country towards their education, job training etc. Perhaps 20 or 30 such grants could be offered in the UK too, for youngsters (Jewish or not) who are involved in Zionist activism. I believe that there must be a similar number of Anglo-Jews prepared to finance such grants.

        5. In terms of Israeli English-speaking students; organize plane tickets and accommodation and I’ll arrange for as many as you like. Next time they fly in Sand, you guys could fly in fully trained hecklers.

  29. “The Jews of Khazaria, Second Edition” is available in the SOAS Library as well as bookshops worldwide. For those who don’t know, in the book I demolish the claim that the majority of Ashkenazic ancestry stems from the Khazars, although there appear to be small traces. Much of the genetic evidence is collected in Chapter 10. Someday there’ll have to be a 3rd edition but for now this should be adequate for anyone to debunk Sand on both the historical and genetic points – it’s the only book on the Khazars that does so.

    Interesting to see further evidence that Sand and Achcar can’t handle a real debate.

  30. I shall read your book with great interest Kevin. I understand that you are offering a special price for regular posters of this excellent blog.

    I am in all probability the descendant of some extremely handsome Khazar aristocrat. When my eldest daughter was hiking through New Zealand many German hikers refused to believe that she was either Jewish or Israeli and one told her flat out that he knew she was a German like himself. None of us look very “Jewish”, and anyone will tell you that our table manners are certainly far more Khazarian than they are Mosaic. So what?

    Abraham was some sort of idol-worshipping nomad before he chose to believe in, and serve one G-d. The midrash tells us that the majority of those who left Egypt were not his descendants at all. King David was of Moabite descent as were all the greatest kings of Israel and later Judah.

    I am delighted that DNA evidence seems to prove that most of us are offspring of the early Israelite people, but if it didn’t that would be fine too. We are not racists and we have no idiotic conceptions of the purity of our blood. I’m A+ and apparently can give to A+ or AB+ Jews and gentiles alike, nothing to do with their theological beliefs.

    Furthermore, a non-Jew who converts to Judaism is fully Jewish in every way. A few years ago we adopted the family of a French ex-priest who wished to take upon themselves the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. I remember our joy when Elyahu was finally called up to the Torah and uttered blessed G-d “…Who chose us from all the nations and gave us His Torah.” From that moment Elyahu had been chosen too. He had become one of those to whom our Father spoke at Sinai:

    “I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.”

    Elyahu blessed G-d for choosing him, but had no illusions that like his me and his other brothers he had been chosen for a life of being a servant of G-d. A life in which that choice and our acceptance of His covenant would alter every facet of his life, from the way he washes his hands in the morning to the way he goes to sleep at night. It is a covenant between a slave and his master, a king and his subject, a father and his son. By virtue of that covenant all three of his children have served in the IDF as combat soldiers.

    Elyahu’s daughter Gavriella married another Jew and they have two sons. The first was called Oriel “The light of G-d” Like his parents and grandparents, and like his great-great grandfather Abraham; he will live up to his name and be a brilliant light unto nations.

    So if it transpires one day that my ancestors were desert nomads, or Egyptian slave-masters or Moabites or Kuzaries or French Protestant priests, that’s all okay by me. To this aging Jew, being what I am was never a question of where I came from, but of where we are going.

    • That’s a lovely post, Daniel.

      I can never understand why these people think it’s some great coup to point out that many (if not most) Jews today have one or more ancestor somewhere in their family tree who converted to Judaism [in addition to Abraham, of course].

      So what? What on earth does that prove? I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “The majority of Muslims today are converts or descended from converts, and their ancestors were never anywhere near Mecca, so therefore Muslims have no claim on Mecca.” And if anyone WERE to put forward that argument, I’m sure most people would consider it to be completely void of any merit. But somehow the equivalent argument regarding Jews is considered to be a devastating blow against Jewish claims to a connection with Jerusalem.

      Makes no sense to me.

  31. Thank you CBA, or can I call you just C?

    In an off-blog conversation the evergreen Nick Kopaloff asked the same thoughful questions and expressed similar sentiments to yours. Like you, Nick is very knowledgable and told me he had read that many Jewish names beginning with Kop frequently suggest Kuzarian descent. He confided that the notion gladdened his heart.

    It goes without saying that nothing that we’ve said should in any way detract from the crucial work that wonderful people like Kevin Brook and the author of this excellent blog are effecting.

  32. This blog is brilliant! I stumbled across it by accident after looking up the odious turd that is Bruce Levy. Shlomo Sands is obviously unwell and needs medication for his delusional beliefs.
    SOAS:What can one say? A nasty, racist little club where the more anti-semitic you are, the more floor time you get! Oh, but I forgot:they are anti-Zionist, not anti-semitic! Silly me……….


    Now if only Michael Greenstien would join in.

  33. Richard,
    Congratulations on your bravery. Sometimes I think the bravery of those who stand up to the mob is greater than those (like me) who live in Israel but feel secure because of the IDF, walls and fences and being, for once, a majority in our own land.

    In terms of history I’d stand the debatable Jewish historical claim to Israel against the completely unsupportable Arab Palestinian claim, any day.

    • richardmillett

      Thanks, David. I think we feel the same about you living in Israel with all the concerns you have there. Going to these vile meetings and seeing what they say doesn’t seem as worrying, although, that said, I have seen where these nasty meetings lead with verbal insults and attacks on Jewish kids just minding their own business in the UK.

  34. Also loved your comment, Daniel Marks, and will cut and keep for distribution. Richard you got the biggest byline in your article in the Jewish Times I have ever seen. Good article as well.

  35. thanks Richard
    it was really a worthwhile read – summarizing all the views out there

  36. People here forget –or didn’t know– that Sand is a Communist by background. That is, his family were Communists or Communist sympathizers. That explains his attitude toward Jews, Judaism, Zionism, etc.

    Further, Sand makes a typically dishonest effort in his book to discredit the DNA research by professional medical/genetics researchers. He insinuates that those who discovered common modal DNA of various far flung Jewish communities were agents of the Israel govt and/or Zionist agents, and seems to argue that all such research was done in Israel. However, much of this research was done outside of Israel, by both Jewish and non-Jewish researchers. Several researchers are located in Spain and Italy. Spain, in any case, has been rather hostile to Israel politically and this goes back to the early years of Franco’s dictatorship when he cultivated the Arab nationalists. Were all those researchers Israeli or Zionist agents?
    Also see links:

    • I have gathered from my reading that how endogamous communities fare is very interesting to geneticists. If that is so, why should they not have a look at Jews who maybe the eldest such nation or minority or community or now country.

      If I remember correctly they also focus for similar reasons on Iceland

  37. i know this comment will be pointless, but i have to make it anyway. richard, you are absolutely entitled to your opinion. i am sure you have many good reasons for it, have done a lot of reading, and quite obviously feel passionate about this subject. what i take issue with is the fact that you try to act like professor achtar was trying to bully you out of the room, but in reality he was just responding to the fact that you were disrupting the lecture. you made your point during the question and answer section (which was much more of a statement than it was a question) and after you finished, you proceeded to interrupt professor sand repeatedly, until a girl got up and shouted “shut the f*** up!” which was not a mature response to your interruptions, but reflected the mood of the audience (NOT because they are anti-semitic, but because the lecture was getting out of order and losing an academic tone and instead was falling apart into a jerry springer style event). like i said, i understand that you feel very strongly about this, but if you act like a three year old repeating “you’re a coward shlomo” you only make a fool out of yourself and in no way will attract people to what you are really trying to say. if there was someone from the IDF giving a lecture and pro-palestine activists shouted at him or trying to disrupt his speech, i would be equally angered. it’s not a matter of what my opinion is, it’s a matter of being respectful in an academic setting. would you like it if you were giving a speech and someone continued to interrupt you? you disrupted the lecture to the point that professor acthar had to threaten to get the security guards to forcibly remove you. so in the future, please act your age.

    • richardmillett

      No, not pointless at all. I appreciate your view and i am sorry you feel i disrupted. But i was silent for the hour that Sand was speaking, and i was silent for the remainder of the Q&A. As i see it i “disrupted” for 10 minutes out of a two hour one sided Israel hatefest. All i wanted was my question answered i.e. why cannot the Jews call themselves a people if they want to irrespective of their origins?

      Sand didn’t answer and Achcar was going to take another question until i called him a “coward”. Then he did try to answer it and i shut up after that.

      Anyway, people want debate at these things and they want to see the passion. We heard that female student recognise that there was a lot of passion on both sides after my exchange with Sand

      Also, Achcar cut me off during my statement/question. I appreciate i was taking time but that was because after what Sand had stated in his talk there was so much to address.

      But i apologise if it ruined the event for you. I will try to be more concise in future.

      Meanwhile, what do you think of this?:

    • I don’t doubt that Millet behaved like a pratt, and probably deserved to be thrown out.

      But it is strange that Sand is promoting for his notions on Jewish and nation the views of the ant-semite Ernst Renan.

      Renan may not have believed Jews to be a ‘pure’ biological race. But he believed that they were guilty of a common crime like no other nation i.e. the death of Jesus. In other words, he said the essence of the Jew qua nation was little short of pure evil!

      He thought that the Jews as a race and nation were essentially predatory and aggressive. That Talmudic Judaism essentially thirsted to shed blood, in contrast with pure Christianity.

      To put it another way, he denied the Jews all the benefits and advantages of being a race or nation and the worst of disadvantages, for which they had, he said, to be dissolved among the nations.

      Of course, the reason why Israel exists is because the Christian and Islamic nations among whom Jews lived did not, as it turned out, much let them be dissolved.

      Here is PSC’s espousal and report of the event and Sand’s thesis:

      Sand is plugging his new book

      Which is 128 pages long (!), and consists in Renan’s essay, What is a Nation? And Sand’s new essay relating it to Jews.

      Click to access Renan1882EN-Nation.pdf

      It is odd that Sand delivers an apologetic for the antisemite Ernst Renan and his views of Jews, whom he thought not only to be a nation, but a nation responsible for the death of Jesus, even until his own time. It could even be the case that he was the first writer to describe Jew as a “race”, as one can see from his Life of Jesus:

      In any case, it looks like Achcar was en effait hosting a Pro-Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian, but anti-Jewish, national polemicist, and was doing so for like minded people for whom Sand’s deconstruction of Jewish nationality was highly conducive for modern nationalist reasons.

      The two people who should most have been there, SOAS professors of Israel and Jewish studies, Colin Shindler and Catherine Hezser, who would have most disputed Sand’s thesis, were not present, perhaps not even invited.

      Which would have made the greatest intellectual coward of all Lebanese Arab (Christian?) Gilber Achcar.

  38. Correction: Did Sands really say, “Today’s Jews, he said, are just descendants of converts from African tribes i.e. the Khazars and the Berbers. “?

    Just for the record the Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established Khazaria or Khazar Empire between 7th and 10th centuries. Their territory comprised much of modern-day Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the Northern Caucasus (Circassia, Dagestan), parts of Georgia, the Crimea, and Northeastern Turkey. They were European/Asian but definitely not African.

    • richardmillett

      Possibly not but i was just trying to paraphrase that part. If it is in quotes then it is verbatim, otherwise it is not verbatim. My point is that he claimed they were certainly not descended from Jews from the Holy Land, and, therefore, had no right to return to Israel.

  39. Richard
    I am delighted to read what “an observer” reports about you. All that after I remember that when I was new on this blog you reported on an invent where you had been denied entrance and even people opposed to you unanimously testified that you are always well behaved.

    it is also interesting how “an observer” tries to blur the distinction between lecture and Q&A – very revealing – I listen to a lot of that stuff as podcast – there is a definite distinction and actually for a lecturer to dodge a question is exceedingly rare

    all in all I think “an observer” is not an observer but a slanderer and an obfuscator.

  40. Isn’t it interesting how Sand says Israeli Jews could massacre Israeli Arabs, even as his hero and mentor, Ernst Renan said that the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea, and their heirs, the Jews of Talmudic and rabbinic Judaism, were, if left to their own devices, savage against non-Jews, then each other?

    What Sand says about Israel and Zionism, Renan said about Jewish Jews and Judaism before any state of Israel existed.

  41. Here is a 100 minute lecture by Sand:

  42. Just found this latest review by Yaacov Shavit is Nations and Nationalism (subscription access only, but pasted below):

    New York : Verso , 2009 . 332pp , £18.99 (pbk) .

    In the 1900s, many pro-Westernisation Jews argued that the Jews were a people (volk), but not a nation. Others maintained that the Jewish people was dead and only the Jewish spirit was left. Historically, the drive to “reinvent” the Jewish nation was engendered in reaction to the disintegration it had undergone in the nineteenth century, when Judaism was divided not only into different forms but also into German Jews, French Jews and so forth. Thus, a movement that sought to reconstruct the Jewish identity and experience by employing notions that had become intrinsic to the scholarly and popular dialogue in that century – culture and race – appeared.

    Shlomo Sand’s book, which has become very popular (though certainly not for its scholarly merits), does not argue that the Jewish people died in the nineteenth century – it argues that it was never born. He claims that only in the 1900s was the Jewish people “invented” by Jewish historians and proto-Zionist and Zionist thinkers, and that this “invention” managed not only to propagate the myth, by various means, but also to establish a state on its basis. Sand does not have to deny the Jews the title nation, because in his counter-history of the Jews he takes a much more radical stand: not only are the Jews not a nation, they were never a people; they never constituted the platform upon which a nation is built, as other peoples created (or invented, as it were) their nationalities in the nineteenth century. To him, the Jews were, at best, an assortment of religious communities, ethnically and culturally diverse.

    The very term people (Am, and often Goy for Gentiles, in Hebrew) occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It is considered the main progenitor of the corresponding terms in European languages. (In German, for instance, the word volk had several different meanings; see Grimm’s dictionary, Deutches Worterbuch, vol. 12, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1951), col. 454 ff.) Only in the late 1800s did this word assume its modern sense in Europe, so the Jews’ use of it was nothing out of the ordinary. But all this does not concern Sand, nor does the fact that Christian literature had always regarded the Jews not as mere practitioners of a certain religion (Judaism) but as a separate group, distinguished by various attributes. Until the late 1900s, this literature is almost entirely devoid of proclamations that current Jewry is not the descendant of Second- or First-Temple Jews. The task, or perhaps the political mission, that Sand has undertaken is to prove that post-biblical Jews are pagans who converted to Judaism. He arbitrarily presupposes, apparently, that if modern Jews are not autochthonic or authentic (so to speak), the whole Jewish-national (Zionist) narrative of ancestral and historical right to the Land of Israel is undermined, and so is the legitimacy of this national-territorial restoration – namely the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland, the place where the people of Israel came into being and where a Jewish national-political-territorial entity historically existed.

    In other words, Sand is well aware that a population defined by religion can be transformed into, and can develop and nurture, a national culture. He knows that the Jewish existence, even before the nineteenth century, was a system based on historical memory as well as religious norms. Its holidays were of a religious and national substance. It had ingrained communal institutions. There was indeed a rich cultural stock out of which Jews (or a significant portion thereof) could create new Jewish cultures, including a secular, national one. Therefore, true to his ignoring line, he must prove that the Jews were always just a religious sect and, moreover, that they are not even Jewish by origin. This line of reasoning alleges that various pagan peoples and tribes were assimilated into Judaism, hallowing the Old Testament and the Talmud as their holy scriptures and authoritative canons, but this just makes them Jews in spirit and does not entitle them, à la Sand, to any national claim over the Land of Israel.

    Sand’s next logical step is to prove the lack of ethnic (or “biological”) continuity between the ancient Jews and those of the Roman-Hellenistic period and thereafter. A truly miraculous Jewish history ensues: without any missionary action or employment of ruler or conqueror powers (barring during the Hasmonean period), Judaism – the religion of a persecuted and demeaned minority – magnetically drew several peoples: the Himyars of southern Arabia, the Berbers of the Maghreb and the Khazars between the Volga and the Caucasus. The Khazars are purportedly the ancestors of Polish and Russian Jewry (whose demographics are erroneously stated by Sand). This miraculous history also suggests that the Jewish creed, allegedly forced upon these hordes of pagans by their sovereigns, was so deeply and sincerely instilled that they chose not to forsake it. To corroborate this description, Sand quotes sources whose credibility he is not qualified to evaluate, including, lo and behold, Jewish historians of the nineteenth century – the very ones he accuses of misrepresenting “historical truth” and of “inventing the Jewish people”.

    I cannot systematically discredit Sand’s sources in this brief review. I will just mention that the legends about mass conversions are reminiscent of legends about the ten lost tribes of Israel rediscovered in remote regions. Jewish literature was fond of these legends, because incorporating tales of ancient kingdoms of warrior Jews added a new dimension to Jewish history (and to the Jews’ self-image), which might have been of solace to some.

    The third move in Sand’s counter-history is to argue that the Zionist historiography and the predominant historic narrative of the Jewish population of modern Israel omitted the converters’ pagan descent because it collided with the hegemonic narrative of an historic (rather than merely religious) continuity of the Jewish people. The contention that this was a deliberate enterprise of denial and suppression is typically unfounded and ludicrous, and the scene he depicts of Israeli geneticists toiling in their laboratories to come up with proof of the continuity and homogeneity of the Jewish gene pool can only be termed as Sand’s Protocols of the Elders of Genetic Studies. In truth, Israeli society, although perhaps rife with ethnic stereotypes and prejudice, is quite liberal when it comes to racial origins (despite the fact that conversion to Judaism is officially governed by the Orthodox rabbinate). However, Sand, who wishes to purge all “myth” from the history taught in Israel so as to pave the way for a utopian “state of all citizens”, essentially proposes replacing proper history with sheer legends.

    In conclusion, Sand’s book is a conspicuous example of dogmatic and distorted history that manipulates sources and makes them conform, a priori, to the arbitrary interpretation. This book offers no new valid insight into the phenomena of nationalism and of modern Jewish nationalism (which, of course, constitutes just part of Jewish history in modern times). Its staggering commercial success does not stem from any revelations about the history of the Jews or from enabling readers to better judge historic sources. Its “success” is probably because of the inherent popularity of superficial, quasi-historical literature that challenges common wisdom and purports to unearth the truth. In this case, it is the “truth” about the origins of the Jewish national movement and the justifications for the existence of the State of Israel. One could scarcely imagine a book about the “invention” of another people and its national movement becoming such a sensational bestseller.

  43. I’d just like to quote Shavit here:

    ‘The very term people (Am, and often Goy for Gentiles, in Hebrew) occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament. ‘

    What Shavit means is that, the propagation of the Old Testament and its traditions, via Christianity, first in Latin and Greek, then vernaculars, probably had one of the greatest effects on the formation of modern European nationalisms.

    The earliest indigenous British history, that of the monk Gildas, writing in the 6th century, writes of the Welsh/British nation in terms drawn from the Old Testament.

    To put it another way, the literary and cultural formation of European national identities owed a great deal to that of ancient Israel via the Christians who propagated it.

  44. Oh, Yaacov Shavit is professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv university.

  45. Another excellent review by Professor Michael Berkowitz of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish studiee at UCL ( a mere stone’s throw from SOAS: I doubt Achcar invited him). A taste:

    ‘Yet there is a bizarre symmetry to this book, as a phenomenon, and Sand’s argument about Israel. Sand infers that Jews are not an authentic people (compared to other nations), and Israel, contrary to the old tourist slogan, is not ‘real’. With a little critical distance, it is possible to criticize this book as a far cry from a ‘real’ work of scholarship. It is flimsy, haphazardly built, slap-dash. There is no foundation in archival research, and Sand does not seem to have fully read (or understood) many of the secondary works on which his thesis relies. He apparently has never heard of Aviel Roshwald and George Mosse, who are among the first names that should spring to mind in any consideration of Jews and nationalism.(6) Shlomo Sand may be a genius for cultivating and managing the hype for his book. But its success as a ‘bestseller’ is no more indicative of the insight of his argument than, he might say, Israel’s military prowess reflects a humane and democratic national character.
    With some exceptions, The Invention of the Jewish People has been ardently embraced by those who wish to either weaken or totally undermine the relationship between Jews, Zionism, and the territory that became the State of Israel. Interestingly, it is not as hostile to Zionist ideology and the foundational legitimacy of the State of Israel as are two recent books published under the same imprint: The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics, and Scholarship in Israel by Gabriel Piterberg and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel, by Arno J. Mayer.(7) Sand’s book is superior to those of Piterberg and Mayer. The Invention of the Jewish People also is more serious than From Time Immemorial (8) by Joan Peters, which tried to do to the Palestinian Arabs what Sand does with Israeli Jews – show that they aren’t really a ‘people’ and that their claim to Palestine is dubious.’

  46. Richard’s defiant stand sadly says less about his valor than it does about the “I’m alright Jack” type of apathy that seems to have taken a grip on our people in the UK.

    Having said that, I prefer to look on the brighter side, and cannot but take delight in Yoni’s timely departure, as he has chosen to take up the cause of profanities and expletives on more manure-ridden pastures.

    While I do not hesitate for an instant to join the calls of other bloggers in wishing him well in all his endeavors, I simply cannot replicate Daniels’s benevolent qualities in publicly blessing Yoni, with the same benediction as performed by a father cupping his child’s head entreating God to do some countenance shining and other nice things like that.

    Though Yoni was censured for his impertinence on many an occasion and went on to respond with further doses of impudence, he will nevertheless be sorely missed.

    As for the Khazar nonsense, Nathan Pollock, a minnow in the world of discredited Khazar revisionist historians, has postulated that any Jew with the name Kaplan Halperin, Koppel or derivatives thereof, is most certainly of Khazar descent. That would mean that I qualify – and may be eligible for a Mongolian passport, or for Tajikastani pension rights, or be accorded Kyrgystani non-resident status, – although I think I will pass on the sheep’s eyes and yak milk.

    I embrace his findings with gusto, love the image of my ancestral eastern warriors on horseback, and I hereby want my name changed to Attila – although why this negates my claim, and the claim of my fellow Khazarians to the land of Israel, I cannot quite comprehend.

    • Nick, there was never a historian of the Khazars named “Nathan M. Pollock”. It’s a distorted version of Abraham N. Poliak, who wrote a book about the Khazars in the 1940s and taught at Tel Aviv University. The forged article with Leo Heiman in the byline was written by someone other than Heiman (a military writer) to try to prove that the Israeli government was suppressing Khazar history. Just like Sand claimed Israeli historians ignore the Khazars. These claims happen to be false.

  47. I welcome the evergreen Nick back to this excellent blog, but would point out that there is a new unofficial policy in place, of not personally attacking other bloggers who declare themselves to be Zionists.

    Against those who are ant-Zionists any kind of personal abuse is permitted if not welcomed, however, in dealing with those “on our side” good manners and strict etiquette are to be the order of the day.

    Please try to adhere!

  48. Thank you Richard for exposing one who harbors hatred for his own People. Paradoxically, he is to be pitied and reviled at the same time.

  49. I thnk this discussion needs a little uplifting. Try the following:

    “And where shall this wealth of accumulated great impressions, which Jewish history constitutes for every Jewish family, this wealth of passions, virtues, decisions, renunciations, fights and victories of all kinds – where shall it flow, if not eventually into great spiritual men and works? Then, when the Jews can point to such gems and golden vessels as their work, such as the European peoples with their shorter and less deep experience cannot produce and never could; when Israel will have transformed its eternal revenge into an eternal blessing for Europe; then that Seventh day shall come once again on which the ancient Jewish G-d may rejoice in himself, his creation, and his chosen people – and all of us, all of us want to rejoice with him!”

    Who wrote that? Friedrich Neitzche, in “The Dawn”.

  50. Richard, I’m sorry I called you a ‘prat’. I appreciate it must have been very difficult to restrain yourself in difficult circumstance, and it is very easy to sit in judgment.



  51. ‘when Israel will have transformed its eternal revenge’

    That the Jews were engaged in ‘eternal revenge’ was pretty much the normative anti-semite’s view, including Ernst Renan’s, who Sand sets up as the model for understanding nation and nationality with regard to Jews.

    From Renan’s POV, Jews returning to the land of Israel and restoring their ancient state would have been the ultimate expression of that revenge, and Palestinian Christians and Muslims the bearers of the brunt of it, being the descendants and inheritors of the Jews’ displacers and dispossessors.

  52. I also see I omitted a crucial part of a quotation from a comment I made on it:

    ‘The very term people (Am, and often Goy for Gentiles, in Hebrew) occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It is considered the main progenitor of the corresponding terms in European languages. ‘

    What Shavit means is that, the propagation of the Old Testament and its traditions, via Christianity, first in Latin and Greek, then vernaculars, probably had one of the greatest effects on the formation of modern European nationalisms.

    The earliest indigenous British history, that of the monk Gildas, writing in the 6th century, writes of the Welsh/British nation in terms drawn from the Old Testament.

    To put it another way, the literary and cultural formation of ‘modern’ (by which I mean from the post-Late Antique period on) European national identities owed a great deal to that of ancient Israel via the Christians who propagated it.

  53. Conchovor,
    I sign in here as JCWmoderator for technical reasons , but my name is Avraham Reiss.

    Regarding Nietzche’s “when Israel will have transformed its eternal revenge” – that is not a thought that would ever have occurred to me, and I dont agree with it, but there is some of the substance in an article I published recently:
    “The Secret of Israel’s Eternity” found at:
    – the idea there is that what Nietzche considered “revenge” ws in fact a Jewish survival tactic.

  54. an observer – how do you know there weren’t anti-Semites in the audience?

  55. Benjamin Mueller

    Hi Richard,

    I just came across this blog-post as I was researching the alleged Golda Meir quote about how every Jew marrying a non-Jew joins the six million. I was unable to find evidence of it beyond a few blogposts which seem to simply quote each other. I was wondering whether anyone knows if this is actually something Golda Meir said? Because that is a truly monstrous statement.

    Anyways, I was at the talk as well. As the son of a Jew and a Christian (nominally raised as a Christian, but only at school, not in an extra-curricula sense) I am generally well-disposed toward the plight of the Jews and the State of Israel.

    I found the Sand talk genuinely unsettling and disturbing. Mostly because of the spectacle of Jews screaming at each other, and the divisions this exposed and the lingering tensions at the core of what it means to be a Jew.

    I would say that while your points are well-taken, you were far, far too aggressive when you challenged Sand. ‘C’est le ton qui fait la musique,’ after all. Shouting and screaming and heckling achieves nothing, and also made you looked somewhat crazed and Sand like the voice of reason (despite the fact that you had valid points to make and Sand is anything but the voice of reason, he has his own agenda which he pursues but fails to acknowledge).

    I hope that the internal factions within Judaism do not lead to the kind of strife and divisions that are apparent within Islam (Shia v Sunni). Israel should be a liberal democracy, governed by the rule of law, with equal rights for all. Yes, it can have a pro-Jewish immigration policy (just as the UK is trying to have a pro-skilled labour immigration policy) but I do not believe in this antiquated notion of Jewish exclusiveness. The bloodline of Abraham has been diluted millionfold since the days of Ancient Judea. Judaism is a religion, a cultural-historical construct, and while elements of Jewish ethnicity remain (particular traits), these are too weak to make Jewishness a race or ethnicity in any meaningful sense. Being a Jew today is mostly about identity, customs, rites and so forth. Of course, Jewish nationalism works just as British nationalism does (after all, Britain is a ‘construct’ too). But just as British nationalism doesn’t condemn non-Brits to a second-class existence, it should be possible for a non-Jew to lead a normal, dignified life in Israel.

    • I happen to agree that heckling is not the way to go.


      ‘The bloodline of Abraham has been diluted millionfold since the days of Ancient Judea. ‘

      Which is irrelevant, since the traditional Christian and Islamic view, normative or entirely unremarkable for most of Christian and Islamic history, is that that, not only are the Jews a people, they are a people exiled and dispossessed for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets.

      A belief which led, in the 19th and 20th centuries, to most European, North African and Asian Jews being regarded as, not so much nationally European or, say, Arab, but nationally Judean, that is to say ‘Palestinian’; with the result that most were either killed or effectively expelled: before 1914 mostly to America; after 1914 mostly to Palestinian or what became Israel.

      As for the issue of the status of Israeli Arab Muslims and Christians: there is nothing wrong with seeking to better it.

      However, it cannot be on the basis of revising history to the cost of Israeli Jews.

      The buzzword these days is ‘resistance’.

      Well, Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian resistance is rooted in a resistance to Jews living in Palestine in other than tiny numbers, when Jews began to slip in through the cracks of the crumbling Ottoman Islamic empire.

      Asides being further rooted in a very traditional Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian apartheid against Jews that was centuries old, its successor, the nascent Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian nationalist movement evolved from seeking to exclude Jews utterly, to seeking to expel or eliminate them: the case of the P.L.O. until 1988; in the case of Hamas, until today.

      Those who seek to dissolve the Jewish state, to end a Jewish right of return, for instance, and implement a Palestinian, as does the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and perhaps also Sand who supports them, are seeking to work a fundamental injustice on Israeli Jews, if not Jews generally.

      It is a policy, eliminationist towards the Jewish state, that can only make matters worse, intensifying Israeli Jewish national identity and, in contrast, Palestinian national identity of Israeli Arab Christians and Muslims with Israel.

      These are two mutually exclusive forces, that redound against further integration.

    • ‘Judaism is a religion, a cultural-historical construct, and while elements of Jewish ethnicity remain (particular traits), these are too weak to make Jewishness a race or ethnicity in any meaningful sense. ‘

      That’s ridiculous: you are clearly fantastically ignorant as to just what has been Jewish history, ancient, mediaeval and modern.

      Jews defined themselves as people; they were regarded as a people, especially in the areas of the world where they mostly lived i.e. Eastern Europe.

      Even in the USSR, every Jew’s paper had on it ‘Natsionalnost: Evreiski’: ‘Ethnicity: Jewish’, equivalent to ‘Ruski’, ‘Polski’ or ‘Litvaki’.

      In the Arab world, Jews were defined as de facto foreign Israeli Jewish nationals, and kicked out or compelled to ultimately leave.

      These definitions did not arise ex nihilo: they arose from pre-existing cultural and traditional Christian and Islamic beliefs, that the Jews were in some sense a distinct people, historically displaced or dispossessed.

      Jews should not have to pay the price for the fact that those who are of Christian provenance, such as yourself, are fantastically ignorant of just what has been Christian tradition and culture with regard to Jews for most of Christian history in most of the parts of Christendom whence Israeli Jews originated.

      But they do, in no small part because it is exploited by the studiedly ignorant like Sand, who, increasingly, tells them exactly what they want to hear, to fill the space left by their own highly selective cultural and traditional amnesia.

  56. I am generally well-disposed toward the plight of the Jews and the State of Israel

    what a beautiful example of a Freudian slip, perfectly in synch with wannabe disciplinarian who wrote the comment – congratulations Benjamin Mueller, really really well done.

    We can’t have Jews debating eachother, no never, that is a privilege accorded only to all the rest of us …

  57. Benjamin Mueller, I think your characterization of what it is to be a Jew is rather simplistic. I don’t accept that Jews have been “diluted” a millionfold. Whilst I accept your point about heckling (and I don’t think that’s waht Richard did), it never seems to do the hysterical Israel bashing brigade any harm, does it?

  58. richardmillett

    Thanks, Benjamin,
    Out of interest why did you or do you presume i’m Jewish? I don’t believe I stated it. And if i am, so what? The points i made can be made by both a Jew and a non-Jew. Why do you bring up someone’s religious background? Aren’t we supposed to be post all that?

    And i don’t believe i heckled but then that depends on what your definition of heckling is. I stayed totally silent for an hour while Sand presented his thesis. Then Achcar said i could ask a question, which i did although he cut me short. Then Sand started making jokes while answering my question, so i complained. Finally, Achcar was about to call for another question and i felt that Sand had not answered my question properly: “why can’t Jews call themselves a people irrespective of their roots?” I called him a “coward” for not answering. It was 6 or 7 minute vigorous exchange out of an almost two hour event. I don’t think anyone was harmed.

    As for “it should be possible for a non-Jew to lead a normal, dignified life in Israel”, please give examples of where they don’t instead of making unsubstantiated statements.

    As for Golda Meir, personally I don’t believe anything Sand says.

  59. As for “it should be possible for a non-Jew to lead a normal, dignified life in Israel”

    for quite some time now I have been following this blog letter by letter.

    By now I know, that she is German, she kept her citizenship, she is protestant Christian, she didn’t convert and says she doesn’t intend to, she feels there is no need to. She currently has two kids in the IDF with a third one due to go i.e. she has been living in Israel for close to a quarter century and she is prone to moan as any typical German would. One thing she has never found reason to moan about is the status her non-citizenship provides her with. She teaches art history btw.

    All in all her life is a terribly out of synch, devoid of any dignity whatsoever. If you are courageous, dare to inform her about that.

  60. A Funny story teller, never the less, I have never heard such a banch of nonsense. It is very obvious that he let he’s own privet views as an secular left wing, post-zionist, post jewish non-beliver into he’s research. This is so unprofessional, so superficial. so much political views put into an “historical” lecture.
    Facts: There are many many archaeological evidence for the history of the hebrew people the jewish people as told in the bible all over the middle-east in general and in the land of israel in particular. It is no more than a promotion show for he’s book. that is very sad to my opinion.
    If we’r talking about political point of view & refer to the so called “palastinian” people which are in fact bedouins & arabs from arebian teritories such as saudi-arebia,yeman,eygept,syria,northen africa,etc.
    populisem has no limit and what academic studies oblige us is to look at fact
    to find the truth and to disconnect it from political private views.

  61. Sand is a pseudo-historian whose specialty is the French cinema and who knows nothing at all about Jewish history. He is also a hardcore Stalinist. His “theories” about the Jewish people are recycled myths he has copied from Neo-Nazi groups and web sites.

  62. Richard,
    If Sand is Jewish as you claim in the article and you are Jewish then this necessarily means that you, Sand and the rest of the world Jewry automatically belong collectively to whatever the contemporary Jewish administration define and decide you belong to at any given moment according to its latest political policy. So why should it matter at all to anyone what you, Sand or others in your class (= regular members of the Jewish collective) individually think about the issue if neither of you have any impact on the latest political definitions regarding your religion/nationality/heritage/genetics etc. ? Why the unnecessary in-fighting among fellow nation/religion/race [etc] members? If you and Sand are, say, found to share a similar genetic makeup then you are found to share a similar genetic makeup and if you aren’t then you aren’t. Either way, what is there to be so critical or rationalize so much about?

    • richardmillett

      I agree with you A.V. although i do not see what my or Sand’s religion has to do with it. Why are you obsessed with someone’s religious background? I would make the same point about the Palestinians and I am not Palestinian or Muslim.

      But Sand is going around Universities and media outlets unchallenged portraying the Jew as not being a people and having no connection with Israel and saying that Israeli Jews might end up killing the non-Jews in the country.

      I challenge him on both those theses whether i be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Jayne etc.

      • “i do not see what my or Sand’s religion has to do with it”

        Let us go even further and leave everyone’s religion out of the discussion, talking simply about people in general.

        “But Sand is going around Universities and media outlets unchallenged portraying the Jew as not being a people and having no connection with Israel and saying that Israeli Jews might end up killing the non-Jews in the country. ”

        Whatever Sand says is his responsibility alone, I don’t believe that grownup people should nanny each other and decide for each other what they can or cannot say.

  63. It is an absurd to claim that Jews were not exiled by the Romans. If the Jews had not been exiled would the Romans build the Titus Arch in ROME where a procession of Jews carrying the Menora of the temple is engraved? The same conclusion follows from the many coins of the period showing the captive symbolic Judea woman representing those exiled. See also

    All archeology and history confirm that Jews were exiled. But as Richard Millet says, even if that did not happen, the longevity of those supposedly converted Jews is much longer than this of the Palestinians, which dates to the sixties. All Arab documents (such as the manifestoes of the Iraqi and Syrian Baath party, the PLO and Hamas charters…) claim that the Arab are one nation (which indeed they are by history, language, culture, religion…). Therefore by their own claims they deserve one state. But they have 22 states which is a great anomaly. Also four fifths of Palestine (I.e. Eastern Palestine) is already an Arab state!

    • richardmillett

      I agree with you on both points there, A.V.

    • Dear Yoram,

      You raise valid points. However, archeologist have never found a proof for a massive exile out of Palestine in the Roman period. While the Titus arch does depict the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple, it does not prove that more than a few slaves where taken to Rome along with the spoils.

      In fact, there is serious evidence that the Jews stayed in Palestine after the distraction of the Temple. First of all, in all of their conquests of the Ancient world, the Romans never exiled any people anywhere. Second, a very large revolt (Bar Cochva) happened half a century later – so apparently enough Jews have stayed there. Thirdly, despite the historical documents telling of massive distraction and massacres, hard archeological evidence shows that the population recovered in quantity and activity within a generation. Finally, Jewish life in the area has prospered for a couple of centuries, culminating with the works such as the Mishna (200 a.d.) and Gemara (500 a.d.). What really made Jewish life in the area end was the Arab conquests, in which most jews converted to Islam.

  64. richardmillett

    “However, archeologist have never found a proof for a massive exile”.
    Even if there was not a “massive exile” there was Jewish emigration and a loss of Jewish sovereignty to the Romans. But so what anyway, the Jews originate from there and the Jews wanted to go back there, whether they were from converted stock or not.

  65. Dear Jonathan

    The idea that the Jews converted to Islam does not make sense in view of the known Jewish tenacity to hold to their Jewish culture. In fact Jews lived as Jews (as second class) under Islam.

    Also to conclude from what the Romans did to other nations would apply to the Jews is incorrect since the Roman were in particular angry with the Jews in view of their strong defiance of Rome. For example they burned Jerusalem to the ground, and called the city built in its place Ilia Capitolina and did whatever they could to dissociate the Jews from their homeland which included exile. Hence the unique terminology involving words such as Ilia Capitolina and Palestine.

    An absolute proof that the Jews the world over belong to the same historical Jewish nation is the recent finding that they share the same genetic stock. Had the Jews been descendents of converted Jews in different (and far away) parts of the world they would not share the same genetic features.

    We also know that many travelers reported that they found Palestine derelict, abandoned and almost uninhabited. Indeed most of “so-called” Palestinians came to Palestine from the neighbouring countries. One can follow the names of “Palestinians” and they correspond to Egyptian, Syrian and other names corresponding to their countries of origin. Most came to Palestine following the economic boom, medical facilities and job opportunities brought by the returning Jews and the British Mandate. The prior almost empty country also does not correspond to the Jews forcefully converting. If they converted why would they also leave Palestine.

  66. richardmillett

    Thank you for this answer, Yoram. This is good to know.

  67. Recently an Israeli lady close to age 100 and born in Petach Tikva (an Israeli town) was reminiscing in Israeli radio childhood memories and she recalled how as a child she saw one Jewish doctor treating hundreds of Arab families who were parked in his garden, who came from all over the middle east.

    This is analogous, as a visit can confirm, to modern Israeli hospitals treating not only ‘Israeli Arabs’ but many Arabs from all over the middle east.

    The Jewish entity had the same power of attraction then (it was also encouraged by the British) as it has now. Correspondingly now, Arabs in Eastern Jerusalem, and elsewhere, want to be part of the Jewish state, and not of a Palestinian entity, where they enjoy many social and democratic facilities.

    The history of the “Palestinians” and “Palestinianism” is reviewed in:

    Click to access palestinians.pdf

    “Family names of many Palestinians attest to their non-Palestinian
    origins. Just as Jews bear names like Berliner, Warsaw and Toledano,
    modern phone books in the Territories are filled with families named
    Elmisri (Egyptian), Chalabi (Syrian), Mugrabi (North Africa).”
    There are many more examples.