Shlomo Sand resigns from being an invented Jew (or something like it)

Tel Aviv University, which was recently ranked Israel’s best, also has the doubtful distinction of employing a professor of history who is regarded as a first-rate authority on Jews by lots of first-rate Jew-haters. Shlomo Sand earned the admiration of antisemites everywhere with his “Invention of the Jewish People,” a book that was hugely successful as it appealed to both old-fashioned Jew-haters and supposedly progressive “anti-Zionists”. In a comprehensive review that takes Sand’s ramblings perhaps too seriously, his truly accomplished Tel Aviv University colleague Anita Shapira has politely noted that Sand “bases his arguments on the most esoteric and controversial interpretations, while seeking to undermine the credibility of important scholars by dismissing their conclusions without bringing any evidence to bear.”

Needless to say, Sand enjoyed his new-found celebrity and eventually delighted his fans with yet another fanciful screed, this time on the “Invention of the Land of Israel.” Since he apparently promised to come up with a trilogy, he has now published another volume where he announces his resignation from being a – presumably invented – Jew. In response to this publication, my very erudite Facebook friend David Sigeti wrote a comment that echoes Shapira’s point quoted above and highlights the important question how Sand’s specious “scholarship” could be so shamelessly promoted by many academics and intellectuals:

“I think that the best short phrase to describe Sand is ‘serial crackpot’. [According to Sand] All the genetic evidence is fabricated and the Ashkenazim are really from Central Asia, Yiddish is a Slavic language in spite of being mutually comprehensible with various dialects of German, the ancient Romans were incapable of transporting large numbers of slaves across the Mediterranean in spite of having fed Italy from Egypt for centuries etc., etc., etc. He is almost certainly the only author in the modern, democratic world to write a book that relies on so many crackpot hypotheses in fields as diverse as genetics, linguistics, and history and to get it taken seriously by other academics and intellectuals.

That this nonsense gets taken seriously may be the most telling example of the confluence between ‘anti-Zionism’ and classical antisemitism. It is almost impossible to imagine anything like Sand’s ideas being taken seriously on any subject other than the Jews. The willingness of supposedly respectable academics and intellectuals to give Sand a respectful hearing is eerily reminiscent of the willingness of otherwise apparently rational academics and intellectuals to believe the most insane ideas about the Jews back before open, self-declared antisemitism became a social faux pas.”

Below just a small sample of screenshots illustrating the company Sand’s admirers in intellectual and academic circles keep: Sand’s work is of course quite popular on Stormfront (here e.g. https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t660227/ and https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t660836/ ); Amazon UK customers who buy David Duke’s insights on “Jewish Supremacism” also tend to buy Sand’s first book as well as Gilad Atzmon’s vile screed “The Wandering Who” (and apparently, the official website promoting Sand’s first book linked to an enthusiastic review by Atzmon);  Iranian Press TV invited Sand to promote his book on the “Invention of the Land of Israel;” and Sand’s defense against criticism of his most recent book in Ha’aretz was reposted at the viciously antisemitic blogThe Ugly Truth”.

Sand on Stormfront1

Sand on Stormfront2

Duke Atzmon & Sand

Sand on Iran Press TV

Sand on Ugly Truth

Needless to say, Sand’s book on “The Invention of the Jewish People” was also positively reviewed on websites dedicated to demonizing the world’s only Jewish state in the service of the “Palestinian cause,” such as The Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss. In its 2012 end-of-year fundraising campaign, Mondoweiss rewarded donors who gave $60 or more with a copy of Sand’s “Invention of the Land of Israel.”

When Sand was told about his admirers on sites like Stormfront after the publication of his first book and asked if he was worried that the book might “be exploited for pernicious ends,” he answered dismissively: “I don’t care if crazy anti-Semites in the United States use my book.” Reportedly, he did express concern about “how the forthcoming Arabic translation might be received in the Muslim world” – but it seems that ultimately, he was just “disappointed” that he wasn’t even invited when the Arabic-language edition of his book was published in Ramallah. However, Sand was hosted at Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University by Professor Sari Nusseibeh, who served as the university’s president at the time, and this was certainly an honor that would not have been bestowed on anyone who had written books on “The Invention of the Palestinian People” and “The Invention of the Land of Palestine.” Indeed, one shudders to think how an author promoting those titles would be received by Sand’s admirers.

11 responses to “Shlomo Sand resigns from being an invented Jew (or something like it)

  1. Terrific piece–sharing with my FB crowd!!

  2. Sand is an expert on the French cinema. He is also the worst Stalinist at Tel Aviv University. He knows nothing at all about Jewish history.

  3. Pingback: Guest Post – Middle East news you might have missed over the chagim | Anne's Opinions

  4. Guilt by association is, of course, a very basic error of logic. It accomplishes nothing to point out that Person A is cited by Terrible Entity B. At least, pointing this out says nothing whatsoever about the content or value of Person A’s work. Yet this appears to be your major mode of operation.

    It is also useful to note what you don’t do. You don’t provide any citation and refutation of Sand’s actual work. Only rants and talking points against him. A serious refutation would cite the relevant passages of Sand’s actual arguments, then point out error or problems in them. You haven’t done this. Your reader is then left to conclude that you haven’t read Sand, or that you have but don’t bother to refute him.

    Note as well that it doesn’t get us anywhere to point out that Intelligent Person W has said that Sand is “a crackpot,” etc. This is also a simple and basic error of logic, argument by authority.

    If you are serious about debunking Sand, please actually cite the relevant parts of his argument and his sources, and then point out any deficiencies you see in them.

    • There are more refutations of Sand’s screeds than his shabby work deserves, and I have linked to some of them, notably Shapira’s comprehensive demolition job. My own interest is primarily in antisemitism, and when Jew-haters everywhere lap up what you write &say, it means something. It also means something that Sand agreed to be on state-controlled Iranian Press TV — an outlet for which no Jew-hater is too crackpotty.
      Let’s say the author of a book painting blacks in very unfavorable light would be cheered on Stormfront, David Duke etc. — you would just shrug your shoulders and say oh well, it doesn’t mean anything that wherever there are racists, this book is a big hit?

      • In what sense is Sand’s work anti-Semitic? This is a claim you make, but what is the evidence? The assertion of guilt by association is, again, a basic fallacy. Again, if Bad Person X appreciates Work W, that doesn’t make Work W itself bad. So Hitler may have loved opera and celebrated Darwinism, but that does not discredit opera and Darwin. Likewise, the fact that Sand was played on an Iranian television service demonstrates nothing.

  5. You’re absolutely right that “if Bad Person X appreciates Work W, that [by itself] doesn’t make Work W itself bad”. But if Hitler loved opera because countless operas actually confirmed the Jewish stereotypes of Nazi ideology, his love for opera would (further) discredit opera. Easy, no?

    So in Sand’s case (and e.g. in the case of Max Blumenthal), he/they are so popular on Stormfront &Co because they express views about Jews much appreciated on Stormfront &Co. And of course, Stormfront &Co are exclusively interested in what Sand has to say about Jews — they don’t care about his other work; pretty much the same is true for Max Blumenthal. Indeed, Blumenthal has achieved the rather remarkable feat to move White Nationalists to sympathize with African migrants — not in general, but hey, when African migrants are treated badly by Jews, even White Nationalists discover that they have a soft spot for Blacks!

    Finally, Sand was not “played” on Iran’s Press TV, but he agreed to be interviewed by them — here just a few examples of Press TVs antisemitic programming: http://archive.adl.org/nr/exeres/04bd070f-5923-42c8-9fee-f3d244c761f6,db7611a2-02cd-43af-8147-649e26813571,frameless.html
    If Sand had agreed to be interviewed by Der Stürmer to hold forth on how devious Jews are in constructing their identity, you’d shrug your shoulders and say so what?

  6. Brian Goldfarb

    It is also fascinating to follow up on Sand’s general claim about the Jewish people being invented. Some 4 years ago, in the context of a discussion of someone else entirely, one DavidD posted the following:
    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/awl-statement-on-clare-solomons-antisemitic-comments/#comment-13706
    on the engageonline website. The comment included a further range of links to various articles on the DNA links Jews share with each other.

    These DNS links demonstrated that Jews shared dna links greater than chance and these links traced back over 3000 years to common ancestors in the Middle East. Further, there was clear evidence that Cohanim (the Jewish priestly “caste”) can, as a group, be traced back to one individual, similarly, 3000 years ago.

    Aaron (whatever his name actually was) lived!

    Sorry, Shlomo, you can resign from the ethnic group (defined in cultural terms), but you are stuck with the dna legacy.

    Tough.

  7. Eliyahu Ben Abraham

    I read the several in Sand’s first book where he discusses the research on Jewish DNA. I don’t recall that he actually calls the research false but what he does is to say insinuate that all of the researchers on Jewish DNA were Israelis or Jews. And he further insinuates that therefore, these researchers were really working on behalf of the Israeli govt and commissioned to come up with the results that they did. And in this way he insinuates that the research and its results are false.
    In fact, not all of the researchers were Jews or Israelis. This research has also been done by non-Jews, including in Spain and Italy. The results of the many studies have been largely in agreement with differences to be sure, between the results of the various studies.
    http://cifwatch.com/2010/04/27/shlomo-sands-lies-dont-go-away/

  8. Eliyahu Ben Abraham

    correction:
    I read the several PAGES in Sand’s first book . . . .

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