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Is a book about Jews of “Jewish Interest”?

Waterstone’s in Hampstead has a “Jewish interest” section containing The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand.

The main thesis of the book is that there is no “Jewish people”, just Jews.

Sand claims that Jews have no connection to what is now Israel and so no right to return there.

He states there was no expulsion of Jews by the Romans so the only true descendants of the original Jews are the Palestinians after all those Jews eventually adopted Islam.

So how could there at one stage have been 19 million Jews worldwide (13 million now)?

Easily, according to Sand, as all Jews are converts.

Sand says that eastern European Jews do not originate with the Jews who came from the Middle East via Ashkenaz (Germany) to Poland but with the Khazars, nomadic tribes that built an empire between the Black and Caspian Seas, converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and were scattered when their state was eventually destroyed.

Anita Shapira
does a solid deconstruction of this sorry book and notes how most websites that contain discussions of this subject are either those of White Power members or Islamic extremists:

“White Power members denounce Jews in U.S. government along the lines of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and explain that they are not really Jews but the descendants of the Khazars; they are therefore unworthy of American aid to restore them to the land of Israel.”

Some Jews of the time migrated to other areas in the Roman Empire but whether there was a violent expulsion or not there was a loss of Jewish sovereignty which was catastrophic enough to have been retained in Jewish memory. This loss is what has been passed down through the years by Jewish writers and historians. It was not a recent “Zionist creation”, as Sand implies.

A recent study has shown that Jews from the different regions of the world were found to share many genetic traits that are distinct from other groups and that date back to ancient times.

So The Invention of the Jewish People is just another anti-Zionist tome. The final chapter gives Sand’s real intentions away. In it he accuses Israel of racism and apartheid, he talks of worldwide Jewish power and calls for a bi-national state; all the default positions of your average anti-Zionist/Israel-hater.

That all said my argument is not with Sand. He can write what he likes. My argument is with respectable outlets that actively seek to promote this sort of anti-Jewish diatribe, Waterstone’s being a main culprit.

It is likely that The Satanic Verses would be considered too offensive for a “Muslim interest” section.

I was told that many Jewish customers have bought Sand’s book. Of course they have, just like they buy other books too.

Sand’s book is an attack on long-held Jewish beliefs and traditions. Being offensive to most Jews does not make it of general “Jewish interest” (by that reasoning Waterstone’s could place Mein Kampf there also, as was suggested to me by a Waterstone’s employee).

But Waterstone’s is emboldened by the Jewish Quarterly having nominated Sand’s book for its literary prize, among three other books.

The result of who wins the £4000 is soon to be announced and with anti-Zionist Anne Karpf being a judge Sand stands a decent chance.

The Independent recently published this letter:

No evidence of expulsion of Jews
C Cameron (letters, 27 March) is right to debunk the enduring myth of the “Jewish People”, a tale perpetuated by anti-Semites as well as Zionists. The “Wandering Jew”, expelled from his land, left stateless for centuries and waiting for his return to the promised land of his ancestors, is purely imaginary. There is no historical evidence of forced expulsion of the Judeans, and the overwhelming majority of Jews are descendants of converts.
Israel is a legitimate state because it was sanctioned by the UN in 1947. It should always remain a safe haven for persecuted Jews, but I don’t see why an assimilated European or American Jew should have any right to settle in Israel while denying that right to a poor Palestinian refugee whose grandparents were expelled from their own house 50 years ago.
Philippe Bareille
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

I went to hear Sand speak once and noticed a black woman clutching a signed copy of the book. I asked why she wanted to read it and she said that it is “finally proof of all she has ever been thinking”.

I would never usually mention skin colour but I feel it is relevant here. During the campaign for civil rights American Jewry was at the forefront fighting for all those deprived of such rights.

How short a person’s memory can be.