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 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon

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PostSubject: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:27 am

The talented jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who is a keen critic of Israel in Palestine recently wrote a review of controversial research by a Tel Aviv University historian, Prfessor Shlomo Sand. "When and how the Jewish people was invented" is a review of Jewish history dating back two thousand years and longer which casts serious doubt on whether there is any truth to the idea that there is/was of cohesive Jewish nation.

Atzmon's review is a succinct summary of what Sand has written and which goes to the heart of the controversy Sand's research has caused. The thrust of Sand's arguments are maybe best encapsulated in the quotation from Karl Deutsch which Atzmon cites at the top of his review:

'A nation is a group of people united by a common mistake regarding its identity and a collective hostility towards its neighbours.'

Atzmon continues:

Quote :
“When And How the Jewish People Was Invented” is a very serious study written by Professor Shlomo Sand, an Israeli historian. It is the most serious study of Jewish nationalism and by far, the most courageous elaboration on the Jewish historical narrative.

In his book, Sand manages to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Jewish people never existed as a 'nation-race', they never shared a common origin. Instead they are a colourful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion.

In case you follow Sand’s line of thinking and happen to ask yourself, “when was the Jewish People invented?” Sand’s answer is rather simple. “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.”(2)

Accordingly, the ‘Jewish people’ is a ‘made up’ notion consisting of a fictional and imaginary past with very little to back it up forensically, historically or textually. Furthermore, Sand - who elaborated on early sources of antiquity - comes to the conclusion that Jewish exile is also a myth, and that the present-day Palestinians are far more likely to be the descendants of the ancient Semitic people in Judea/Canaan than the current predominantly Khazarian-origin Ashkenazi crowd to which he himself admittedly belongs.

Astonishingly enough, in spite of the fact that Sand manages to dismantle the notion of ‘Jewish people’, crush the notion of ‘Jewish collective past’ and ridicule the Jewish chauvinist national impetus, his book is a best seller in Israel. This fact alone may suggest that those who call themselves ‘people of the book’ are now starting to learn about the misleading and devastating philosophies and ideologies that made them into what Khalid Amayreh and many others regard as the “Nazis of our time”.

It's a fascinating and thought-provoking read -well worth the 10 mins or so that it takes - the rest of the article here:

Other Atzmon writings here:

Last edited by Aragon on Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos, spelling errors, incomrehensibility)
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PostSubject: Re: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:43 pm

Actually that sounds quite interesting. (Incidentally, shouldn't the title be When and How The Jewish People Were Invented? And where's this 'Palestine' you speak of? Only joking!)

There have been plenty of critiques of nationalism along this line: The Invention of Tradition and Imagined Communities are two that spring to mind. I haven't seen any that considered the Jewish ethnicity though. In fariness the Israelis have as good a claim as many to being a 'primeval' nation, with the Old Testament and history. It's a bit academic who are the exact descendents of this old tradition; by adopting the ethnicity and religion the modern Jews have as legitimate a claim to it as any. The racial idea was nuts anyway, and frankly dangerous.

One great truth to emerge from critiques of nationalism and traditions is that they are all made up and mixed up, often in quite a deliberate manner. There are two other points to be considered though. First, the Israeli or the French or the Norwegian nation is no more a lie than any other aspect of culture. All traditions are invented and none is more truthful than the other. The second point is that none of this matters on a day-to-day level. The idea of the Israeli ethnic nation won't be affected by this book any more than any European nation was affected by revelations about their false past over the past few decades. It is no surprise that the Israelis buy this book, it is an interesting topic as I have said. But I doubt it will affect how they feel about their ethnicity.
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PostSubject: Re: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:51 pm

Shlomo Sand demolishes the Israeli-Jewish claim to Palestine and demonstrates how, ironically, modern day Palestinians probably have more genuine biological Paelstinian Jewish origin than most Jewish people around the world. Staggerlingly, he is the first Jewish historian ever to attempt a genuinely academic assessment of the history of the Jews right back to the beginning of their history. He also, rightly imo, attacks the faux-historical and non-existent scientific Jewish claims to the territory. Nobody in their right mind would take the bible as reliable evidence of anything at all - the book of books was written, as you probably know, several centuries after the events it depicted, in a different language to that spoken by the people it described and was based on surviving stories, half-remember myths and surviving parchments in an era which such things were few and far between. It was also written by people with their own agenda on the subject and was subject to major revisions as time went on depending on which way the wind was blowing theologically and politically. It's notoriously unreliable. Our modern day version is yet another best guess translation, over a thousand years later. Jews, Shlomo says, like practitioners of many other religions are no more than a collection of disparate groups of people of differing races and cultures who happened to take up a certain religion at different points in time and in different places. The same is true of Christianity which of course started out in life in the same region but Christians don't claim a right to return to Palestine which they could just as easily do. So why one thing when it is Jewish people in the case and something entirely different for other groups? We justifiably ridicule fundamentalist Christians and Ceationists for adhering to a literal interpretation of the bible. And yet the basis for the Jewish case for displacing the Palestinians is grounded massively on a literal interpretation of the bible. It's bizarre that pointing that simple fact out will get you set down as a rabid 'anti-semite'.
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PostSubject: Re: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:06 pm

interesting theory.
so who was herod agrippa king of again?
who did the romans crush a revolt of?

unless of course those dastardly 19th century jews managed to falsify roman records aswell!

and is there any evidence that jewish tradition about israel did not predate 19th century, i mean the relic in the alhambra representing the 12 tribes of israel which predates muslim invasion of the iberian peninsula is a fake also planted by 19th century jews?
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PostSubject: Re: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 4:13 pm

There is a book of similar character called "When Was Wales?"
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PostSubject: Re: 'The Wandering Who?' by Gilad Atzmon   Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:08 pm

Aragon wrote:
Shlomo Sand demolishes the Israeli-Jewish claim to Palestine and demonstrates how, ironically, modern day Palestinians probably have more genuine biological Paelstinian Jewish origin than most Jewish people around the world.
The main Israeli-Jewish claim to the country is that there's been been a whole shower of them living there for the past sixty years at least. The book doesn't change that. When books started coming out about Ireland having no real independent history from before 1798 did we all go cap-in-hand back to the British? Of course not, even though our claims to independence were about as spurious as their ancient claim to the Holy Land.

As for the Palestinians, I can't see them jumping on the Jewish bandwagon just yet. These things should never be judged by biology, the idea of a distinct Jewish race is clearly bad. Are we going to start judging who gets to live on land by their biological ancestry now? If Israeli nationalism ever went about its business in this way then bigger the fools them. But it changes nothing for the rest of us, and I doubt for them either.

As Zakalwe points out, it's a bit of a stretch to say the concept of the Jew originated in the nineteenth century. The Israelis and Jews we have running around nowadays are the historical, ethnic and religious descendents of whoever the hell was in Jerusalem at the time. And history, ethnicity and religion are not things to be cast aside lightly.

As for Christian claims to the Holy Land, well the Crusades aside, we have no designs on the place because we have no concept of exile from the place. It's no good saying the concept of the wandering Jew is a modern invention when it's a very real thing for millions in the area, the displaced Palestinians not least. You might as well tell the Americans they have no right to most of the American territory or tell the Irish Catholics they have no reason to want a united Ireland. As made up as these concepts are they are a reality that no historians can bury.
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