Keith – There is no such thing as an “objective interpretation” of historical facts. Everyone has an ax to grind, and Prof Sand is no exception. Actually, if you have read his book, you might have noticed that he openly admits what exactly is his ideological ax. However, this isn’t the issue that I raised. I really don’t care if he is anti-Zionist or whatever. I know that he does not have the background in medieval history to be able to evaluate the roots of the Jewish communities. He can’t read a document in Greek or Arabic or in any of the relevant languages of the era. He’s an expert in the history of cinema.
I see that it’s very important for you and for many other commentators to state that the founding narrative of Israel is a myth. I suppose that is the reason that Prof Sand’s book is so “important”. But I have to admit that it’s quite baffling. If I were to take seriously the point of view of Prof Sand’s book (that the Jews of today are the descendants of converts, therefore they are not the children of the exiled Israelites – and hence they had no right to found a Jewish state), then I would have to assume that if it could be proved that the Jews are the descendants of ancient Israel, then Prof Sand would have to accept Israel’s legitimacy.
But we all know that it really doesn’t make any difference. Prof Sand rejects Israel’s legitimacy, no matter what (and you, too). So, why would you care if the European Jews are converts or Israelites? (By the way, the Arabs “know” that the Jews of today are the children of the Jews of antiquity. It’s everywhere in their literature, so they have no difficulty in rejecting Zionism while at the same time admitting that the Jews are indeed that cursed people of the Quran).
Anyway, take note of the fact that the real issue at hand is political science. The State of Israel has been established, and there is Israeli citizenship. In political science, it doesn’t make any difference who your ancestors were. Let’s do things your way and determine that the citizens of Israel are not the Biblical children of Israel. So what? Is the state going to be disestablished? No. The state is a fact of life, and it has the right to determine who will be a citizen, and it has the right to protect its citizens. It also has the right to present its founding narrative, to take pride in its identity – and there is no need for the approval of outsiders.