Who Invented the Idea of a Jewish Nation / DR.Shaul Bartal

When and how was the idea of a Jewish Nation invented? Many Palestinian researchers have tried to answer this question. Recently, a book was published. We are talking about the book written by Shlomo Sand, the Tel Aviv University philosophy professor. The uniqueness of his book lies in its rich flowing language presentation of the Palestinian narrative on the formation of the Jewish nation. In this book, he broadly reviews the process of the creation of an absolutely "imaginary" nation based upon a mythical past of a "nation" and a "race," one which was cursed when exiled from the Holy Land due to the murder of the Messiah God and who settled without an invitation among the other nations. This nation is made up of different nations which became Jewish over the course of history. The Jews of today, according to Sand, are the descendants of the Punici, Barbarians, Khazarim, and Hamirim. Sand recognizes, therefore, that the Jewish group has a right to self-determination, "Even if she was never like this and her whole past was just totally imagined." But it is forbidden that this should happen at the expense of another group, which is exactly what happened in Palestine, according to Sand.
Sand ignores the rich rabbinical history that he accuses of avoiding involvement in Jewish historiography and instead turns to the historians of the new era, both Jews and non-Jews as one, who wrote the history of the Jews. Thusly, Sand bases his theories of the creation of the imagined Jewish nationality. As a lecturer on Palestinian affairs at Bar Ilan University who teaches the updated Palestinian narrative, the words of Sand sounded to me amazingly familiar. Sand succeeded to write in clear artistic Hebrew the "updated" Palestinian narrative of the Jewish people.
Dr. Abdullah Frangi - a Palestinian born in Beersheba in 1943, a member of the Palestinian National Council and the PLO Ambassador to Germany between the years 1970-2004. He was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of the Rais, Yasser Arafat, in November 2004. Between the years 2004-2006 he served as a Senior Political Representative on behalf of the Fatah until the Hamas Revolution in June 2007. Today, he serves as a Foreign Affairs Advisor in the Fatah movement to President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). In his book, PLO and Palestine, which was published in 1983, Frangi surveys the Palestinian conflict. This is what Frangi writes about the Jewish nationality:
The few Jews who stayed in Palestine kept their religion. These are the only Jews. These are the only Israelis who have the right to call themselves the descendants of Abraham and the Palestinians. And what about the others? Does a similar fate buy an appropriate background for a community to call itself "race?"... But the assertion that all of the members of the Jewish "race" are the descendants of Abraham and therefore have a right to Palestine cannot be accepted…We must look at the Jews spread throughout the world in an ethnographic manner. According to Raoul Roy, only 10% of the world's Jews are Semitic. The rest are at best a mixture of Semites and other races or others that were converted to Judaism.| (The emphasis is mine S.B.)
Frangi continues to describe the Kingdom of the Khazars. For example:
In 740 A.D. the King of Khazar and his princes and his citizens converted to Judaism. Asiatic Jews and Semites were mixed with other races for many generations. It is not logical that Jews from Ethiopia, Poland, Russia, China, Spain or Yemen describe themselves, without any justification, as members of a single race.
True, Frangi admits, as does Zand, that the communities of Jews that are spread throughout the world have a joint destiny of persecution, a fate which developed in the culture of the Jewish ghetto, plus a special spiritual tie to Palestine. But, according to Frangi, this tie is exactly like the tie of the Indonesian Moslems to Mecca or the Irish Catholics to Bethlehem or to Rome.
These are the exact conclusions of Sand! But Frangi, who published his book in 1983 in Germany, still insisted that the Bible stories were true. The Hebrew conquest during the period of Joshua actually took place and Solomon's temple actually existed. The period of the "Hebrew Conquest" was cruel and was accompanied by many massacres by a cruel and barbaric people, the Hebrew nation. In the end, the Jewish capturing elite left the country but the Palestinian nation that was mainly made up of farmers, continued to cling to the land of Palestine. Sand is not able to accept this approach. As far as Sand is concerned, the Bible is an amazing epic of gifted theology but the distance between it and attention to historical facts is great. At the conclusion of the 1980s, after Frangi's book was published, the "mythistory" of the Bible was decided by the new archeological battles.
Why was there a need to mobilize archeological knowledge, Biblical verse investigation and history in order to create a fictitious narrative, something from nothing of an ancient "nation" that was exiled from its land? Sand's conclusions are simple and reflect the historical development of the Palestinian narrative:
The main myths regarding the ancient origins of the miracle nation that appeared suddenly from the desert and forcefully captured for itself a spacious land and built a magnificent kingdom which loyally served the rise of the Jewish nationality and the Zionist settlement enterprise.
In other words, the goal of the Bible myth is to serve as an "ethnic" marker that shows a common ancestry for the men and women who were absolutely different in their backgrounds and in their secular cultural ingredients, nevertheless still hated due to their religious beliefs that practically were not adhered to…It was a foundation in the branding of the image of an ancient "nation" that exists almost from the time of the creation…"
Sand points out, in his words, the intended tie between the shattering of the "mythistory" and the breaking of the intifada in 1987. In this period, the Islamic stream of Palestinian nationalism rose which finally shattered the Jewish Bible myth. Therefore, for example, Sand's colleagues wrote the following about their research on Jewish history from the Islamic Jihad point of view. They had these ideas published in a pamphlet called The Negotiations from the Islamic Point of View in which the PLO leadership is attacked due to the existence of its negotiations with the Zionist enemy.
Palestine and the way she fell [and deteriorated] on the sharp fingernails of the Crusaders and didn't even approach even 100 years [until] she was weakened by the Muslims [the Crusader Kingdom] during the same period up until she was freed, but they in no way recognized the rights of the Crusaders to be present there [in Palestine]. In no way did they leave the choice of Jihad and in no way did they desert their weapons [this is what should be done today], until our criminal enemy who is in no way supported or guided by any right or truth of lying Biblical proof that is built around imaginary historical rights to Palestine. Because this criminal enemy continues to cling to these imaginary stories and copies them [in the Biblical Texts] generation after generation in order to make it important [The Palestinian Problem] and into a holy problem, [and we] cannot forget or allow this situation [in Palestine] at any time that she [Palestine] is found under these conditions. The Zionists continue to hold onto this imaginary right which does not exist and which no one agrees to. But, [only] they are the owners of the uniqueness which is confirmed by their counterfeit Torah and of tales of historical lies. You see, the criminal enemy is not ready in any way to give up on the lying arguments and the nonsense that have been lasting thousands of years. (the emphasis is mine S.B.)
So, for example, argues Dr. Nazami al-Ju'beh, from the history department of Birzeit University. He also belongs to the same school of thought as Professor Zand:
We do not agree with the Biblical version, according to which there was a tremendous kingdom or the capital of a tremendous kingdom. No castle has been uncovered and no remnants have been found of the first temple, the one that was supposedly built in the period of Solomon that would testify to this size…The Hebrews reached Jerusalem in the first century BCE and their sovereignty over Jerusalem was only for a short time…Up until today, it is impossible to point to any characteristics in Jerusalem that are can be attributed historically to this period. There is no historical characteristic that is related in this manner to a Hebrew culture.
He is not the only one. There are many remarks such as this which can be found on Palestinian television and in Palestinian newspapers. Among the speakers from Palestinian academia, it is possible to find leaders of the Palestinian Authority such as Mahmoud al-Habash, the Agricultural Minister of the Palestinian Authority; religious leaders such as Tayseer Rajab al-Tamimi, the first Kadi of Palestine and the Chairman of the High Council of the Sharia Court. What all of these people are saying is the same. The kingdom of a unified Israel during the period of David and Solomon is a nice legend. It belongs to the Israeli national "mythistory" and is derived precisely from the same reasons that Zand analyzes in his book.
From where do Frangi, other Palestinian researchers and also Zand derive their arguments in which they reason that the Jews of today who live all around the world are not the descendents of the ancient Jewish nation but rather a mixture of different races? From where does the "amazing" conclusion come from that the Jews of the world are not the descendents of the ancient Jews as presented in Frangi's book, discussed earlier, which was published in 1983 and which also appear in Sand's work from 2008 which we are currently discussing?
It appears that the seed of this special theory is hidden in the special political tie that existed between the Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseyni and other diaspora Arabs with Hitler. Hajj Amin did not like, to say the least, the use by the Nazis of the term anti-Semitism in relation to the Jewish Question. This is of course because Arabs are Semites as well. Therefore, the Nazi "Race Experts" from the Frankfurt School of Social Research on the Jewish Question developed the theory according to which they have nothing against the noble Semite races, only against the Jews who are described as:
The mixture of inharmonic races, from a racial biological point of view and also from the point of view of character, are an unnatural historical phenomenon…This movement (anti-Semitism) is aimed only against the Jews who are spread out among the nations…German Nazi scientists recognize the Arabs as belonging to a most important race that can look with pride on a history full of fame and bravery."
Professor Walter Gross, the director of National Socialist Office for Enlightenment on Population Policy and Racial Welfare Question, expressed himself on Radio Berlin remarking that the term anti-Semitism is misleading and distorted, as the Jews are an "inferior racial mixture," "riffraff and also separated from the pure Semitic race." The Mufti accepted this approach which was later also expressed in the advertisements of the Islamic Institute of Berlin which celebrated its opening ceremony on December 18, 1942. Zand laments in his book that anti-Semitism is what now defines who is a Jew, especially after the Holocaust.
A revolutionary Palestinian study from the 1960s opened the door to the new Jewish race theories. This time derived from pure Palestinian motives. In 1967, Muhmmad Musbah Hamdan's book, Colonialism and World Zionism, was published in Lebanon. The book is dedicated to "The souls of the Shahidim (martyrs) who fulfilled their duty in the ongoing struggle and who protected their honor and their homeland." Needless to say that the book stars on the list of "bestsellers" that vie for a place on the Arab bookshelf.
Already on the back of the book, alongside the picture of the author, a native of Hebron, appears the purpose of the book which is to prove, among other things, "That the Jews today do not have any roots in Palestine and do not have any ties to the ancient Jewish race." This the author accomplishes through a comprehensive historical review of the problems of Palestine from the beginning until the partition decision in 1947. The author has earned an introduction to his book by the well-known Muhmmad Ali al-Zuabi:
The author wishes to promote his country, Palestine, and add his spirit to it. Therefore, he wrote this book in a fascinating scientific manner and with clear arguments. And after they were finished, this is now a book that is required reading for the Arab book case.
The first part of the book deals with the analysis of the history of the ancient Hebrews which goes on for 112 pages as the author unrolls the story of the Judean and Israeli nation as described above by Frangi. The author arrives at amazingly similar conclusions as to those of Sand. The title of Hamdan's 8th chapter summarizes what the chapter is about: "The Jews today have no national roots in Palestine and are in no way the descendants of the ancient nation of Israel." The author continues the argument that the Zionistic claims today, in the 20th century, that the Jews belong to one race is incorrect and is not based on scientific evidence. The author even argues that the differences of color among the Jews; that some of them are tall while others are short; while some have blue eyes and some have black eyes, etc.; indicates a mixture of races that makes up the Jewish communities around the world.
But, in his words, what is the reason for the Jews inventing the biggest lie of the 20th century? The answer to this is clear. The Zionistic argument on one Jewish "race" is aimed at justifying the argument of Jewish rights to the land at the expense of others. The Palestinians. They use the lie of a connection between themselves and the land as proof of right to the land and they base their arguments on it. But Hamdan's book is academically lacking a base and it is not edited in an academic manner as is customary today in historiographical research. The assignment to complete Hamdan's research was taken up by Shlomo Sand who, like an artist, has redrafted the new Palestinian narrative which Hamdan proved by verifying the changes as they apply to the period of David and Solomon.
The extent of the influence of the Palestinian narrative as developed by Hamdan and other Palestinian researchers can be proven by the words of Dr. Azmi Bishara from 1998. Dr. Azmi Bishara, an MK and founder of the Balad party, was forced to escape to Lebanon due to the suspicion that he had aided the Hezbollah during the Second Lebanese War. In this interview, after he was asked if he recognized the existence of a Jewish nation which would be eligible for its own country, he answered:
If you are asking me about the Jewish nation in the world. The answer is, "No. I do not recognize the existence of one Jewish nation in the world." I think that Judaism is a religion and not a nationality and that the world Jewish community has no national status at all. I do not think that this community has the right to self-determination. I also do not think that there was Jewish nationalism in Europe before the appearance of Zionism. Judaism in those days wasn't even a single religious community. It was a line of religious communities that Zionism tried to turn into a nation through the establishment of this state. But, what I do recognize in it, in this same Jewish nation—the Israeli that the Zionism has created here. What can one do? Generations were born here and a language, literature and a culture were created here despite the fact that the Israeli child was born outside of marriage in an illegitimate manner. I cannot say that it doesn't exist and that it doesn't have any rights.
Bishara continues with the argument that there is no symmetry between the Jewish claim and the Palestinian claim as the Israeli side speaks about the rights of an imaginary collective that was exiled from the land two thousand years ago. Therefore, there is no symmetry between equal rights. Bishara argues that, "The right of self-determination is not an absolute right." That is why he was willing to waive this right in Bosnia and in Yugoslavia due to his understanding that the realization of this right would cause many injustices. In his opinion, the Jews in the land in 1948 had no rights of self-determination and if they had this, "They truly caused so many injustices that I am not willing to accept them." He recognizes that now that there is an existing State. Therefore, it is necessary to correct the existing situation by the creation of a bi-national state where there will exist the right of self-determination which will be expressed in a different manner. What is the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and how can Israel be integrated at the end in the region?
Bishara answers this in the following clear way which is also expressed in Sand's book:
The overall Jewish identity has to go through a basic transformation and make itself fit the cultural reality filled with vitality and effervescence upon which she rules. This identity must undergo open Israeliazation which designates itself for all of the citizens of the country."
That is how a Palestinian-Israeli culture will be created which will be able to be integrated into the Arab region. This bi-national country, based on multi-cultural democracy, including the Jewish-Israeli nationality on one side and the Palestinian nationality on the other side, is the key to the solution of the conflict. Israel could perhaps in this instance to be a part of some kind of Arab union and fit into the region. This is actually Bishara's call from 1998 to the secularists to free themselves from the burden of Zionism and to establish a common cultural identity.
The professor who is known for philosophy, Sari Nusseibeh, the president of al-Quds University, came out against this approach to the history which is expressed in the writings of many Palestinians such as Hamdan, al-Jamia al-Islamiya, Tayseer al-Tamimi, Shlomo Zand, etc. According to his method, Solomon's Temple did exist as did, of course, the Kingdom of Solomon. The Jews have an historical tie of 3,000 years in the land of their forefathers and there is no need to hide this or to distort history . But, every nation has to also recognize the historical rights of the other nation that is living in Palestine and this is without minimizing his own rights but also in order to reach a peaceful solution in Palestine. This is the reason which explains why he was willing to join Ami Ayalon's peace initiative in a call to the Jewish and Palestinian nations, together with the former head of the Israeli secret service, Ami Ayalon. Due to his stand against the distortion of history and his words and his approach to peace through a mutual respect of rights, Nusseibeh needs bodyguards who closely guard him. We can only wish that his Tel Aviv counterpart would become as educated and learn from his ways.

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