Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Shlomo Sand, the Arabs' Darling

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Shlomo Sand, the Arabs' Darling

Article excerpt

Jewish Israeli researchers whose books and writings achieve great appreciation among Arab communities in the Middle East are few and far between. Shlomo Sand is the exception. Since the initial publication of The Invention of the Jewish People five years ago,1 every interview with the Tel Aviv University historian has achieved great popularity in Arab media. Headlines refer to his name endlessly though his theories are anything but new and have long been popular in the Arab world, just as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf have been widely distributed in the Arab language for many years.2 In essence, Sand's book has become a plank of Palestinian and Arab propaganda, the purpose of which is to undermine the right of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland.

Old-New Denial

According to Sand's "revolutionary" theory, throughout history the Jews were never one common nation but rather a mixture of different races that happen to share one faith. In his opinion, the biblical stories are amazing and interesting, but at the same time, historically inaccurate. The Bible is a literary creation, "a historical myth" written in the sixth century B.C.E., that shaped the world of the Jewish communities, who received Judaism from many different sources. But the Jews never returned to their land because they were never actually exiled from it. As a result, modem Zionist history developed a racial theory of Jewish unity, a national Jewish myth of exile and return that did not exist earlier. This myth was primarily created to enable the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population that may actually have originated in the ancient kingdom of Judah.3

It is an argument that runs against the entirety of legitimate scholarship on Jewish history, and Sand's specific claims have been disproved by scores of historical writings and archaeological discoveries. Since Sand published his book, many distinguished historians have disagreed with him, including Israel Bartal who published a powerful response.4 Similarly, Dov Ben-Meir's book, Exile and Redemption of the Jewish People, is also a pointed and well-researched refutation of Sand's theory.5 Furthermore, it has been shown that Sand's ideas regarding race theory are borrowed from Nazi, Islamic, Arab, and Palestinian sources that claimed to have scientifically proven that the Jews of today do not descend from ancient Israel stock.6

One example is a book by the Islamic activist Hassan Bash, at-Tarbiya asSahyonia, Min Ânsariyat at-Torah ila Damn ya al-Ihtilal (Zionist Education, from the Racism of the Torah to the Bloodletting of the Occupation).7 Bom in 1947 in Haifa, Bash and his family fled during the 1948 war to Syria where he received his teaching certificate in Arabic at the University of Damascus in 1973, completed a doctorate in religious studies, and worked in journalism. Bash is considered a leading researcher of Zionist culture and Jewish religion and has written thirty-two books, most of which slander the Jewish religion, the Torah, and Christianity. His primary conclusions are that

* Palestine is Canaanite Arab land originating from 3,000 B.C.E. with the Jews arriving there in flocks from the start of 1,200 B.C.E.

* The Jews, who founded Zionism, do not have roots among the ancient Hebrew peoples, which are distinct. The new Jewish people of today are descendants of the Khazar Aryan people and do not belong to the Semitic race.

* An in-depth review of the Jews shows that they are not associated with only one race but rather comprise seventeen races, all of which have common communal traditions.8

The first edition of Bash's book was published at least five years prior to Sand's book. Bash also analyzes what he calls "Zionist incitement literature," which he claims is based on the belief in an imaginary Jewish past. This literature allegedly teaches violence and aims at justifying the theft of Palestine from the Palestinian people, who are "descendant of the ancient Canaanite Arab and Amalekite people and of others who lived in this country since the beginning of time. …

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