So you mean my mother’s not a Khazar?

The genetic evidence is in and we Jews are basically what we’ve been saying we are all along – a people. No, not a “race.” But a people with a long history which goes back to, you guessed it, the Middle East. So say the results of two recent genome studies as reported a few weeks ago in the NY Post.

This already raises spectres. Who wants to have their identity confirmed by genetics? Suppose the results were negative. Then would Jews not be a people? Jewish history is absorbing and complex, brimming with migrations and intermarriage (shhhh!), conversions and just about anything else that can happen to people over a period of thousands of years, and then some. Somehow, we are still here, which is the really interesting part. How did we get to where we are?

The Khazar theory has apparently bitten the dust, and with it will go The Invention of the Jewish People, last year’s shock-schlock bestseller (well, if you count France and Britain). Shlomo Sand’s thesis was essentially that what we call “Jewish history” is little more than a Zionist construct. Cui bono, you ask? Clearly to appropriate Palestine from its rightful occupiers, then swindle the world with tall tales of expulsion and diaspora.

Martin Goodman reviewed it for the TLS, concluding that:

In a self-glorifying preface to this book, Sand describes his role as that of a revealer of inconvenient facts suppressed by a malicious political and academic establishment. Some of those who have expressed approval of his book may believe that, like the Israeli New Historians whose discovery of genuinely new data on the events of 1948 has indeed caused much discomfort to that establishment, Shlomo Sand, too, has faced opposition because he has unearthed something new. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Shall Shlomo Sand now eat humble pie?

* If any of you are seriously interested in critiques of Sand’s book, Anita Shapira reviewed it here; Hillel Halkin’s review is here.

Michael Oren On Why Israel Matters

A great historian, Michael Oren is also Israel’s ambassador to the US. In this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, he discusses why Israel matters and the meaning of Jewish history. As articulate as he is in his writing, he can’t seem to quite find the words to express his sense of wonder at the longevity of the Jewish people and the existence of the State of Israel. But he wrote the book on the Six Day War.