Bibi freezes settlements; Shlomo Sand reviewed

Shlomo Sand’s book is reviewed in Ha’aretz and NYT and they both argue that his central claims are in fact not controversial among experts.


Despite the fragmented and incomplete historical record, experts pretty much agree that some popular beliefs about Jewish history simply don’t hold up: there was no sudden expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem in A.D. 70, for instance. What’s more, modern Jews owe their ancestry as much to converts from the first millennium and early Middle Ages as to the Jews of antiquity.

Other theories, like the notion that many of today’s Palestinians can legitimately claim to be descended from the ancient Jews, are familiar and serious subjects of study, even if no definitive answer yet exists.


For a number of days now, the NYT review of Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People, which has recently been published in an English translation, has been on the list of ‘most emailed articles’ – a remarkable feat for a book review. As the reviewer points out, the hype around the book was mostly generated by some of Sand’s less controversial claims.

Yes, Jewish public consciousness continues to be formed by the idea that Jews were exiled from Israel by the Romans, whereas the truth is that close to two million Jews continued to live here until the fall of the Roman empire. Yes, a large portion of the Roman Empire Jews became Jewish by conversion, and hence most Jews today are unlikely to be descendants of Jews who lived here two thousand years ago. But, as Sand repeatedly points out, none of this is disputed by historians.

Meanwhile in settlement news:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze order, but at the same time allowed the construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements.

Okay, so during the newly announced “freeze”, within days Israel built more settlements. This isn’t surprising at all: I’m sure I have a post in the past treating the announcement with derision. I think this means Likud is becoming more like Labour/Kadima. Talk about concessions, moderate rhetoric of defiance, and colonise the West Bank quietly. In essence, there has emerged a complete consensus among Likud, Kadima and Labour on policy regarding the occupied territories.


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