>When Shlomo Zand, a professor at Tel Aviv University, wrote his book, When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, he probably knew that his book would generate intensive discussion about the origins of Israel as a people and as a nation.
According to Zand, a group of Jewish intellectuals who lived in Germany in the 19th century, influenced by German nationalism, invented a narrative about Jewish origins in order to create a modern Jewish nation.
In a post published in his blog, Haitham Sabbah, a Palestinian activist, carries out this idea further by saying that the modern state of Israel has stolen Palestinian heritage and history by claiming that the Palestinians are the true descendants of the original inhabitants of Judea. He wrote:
Even though asserting ownership to a country after absence of 2000 years is preposterous, Israel’s theft of Palestine from the native population is popularly legitimised through the claim that today’s Jews descend from inhabitants of Greco-Roman Judea.
Sabbah also claims that DNA tests prove Israeli Jews were Europeans. He wrote:
Current genetic anthropological findings based on DNA analysis indicate that the male ancestors of Yiddish Jewry were of Eastern European and non-Levantine Southwest Asian origin while the female ancestors were Eastern Europeans.
The Palestinians’ ancestors created the Hasmonean Kingdom, composed the Hebrew Bible, followed Jesus, wrote the New Testament, compiled the Mishnah, and redacted the Jerusalem Talmud. The Palestinian people constitute the living link to the earliest beginnings of the heritage from the Torah and Gospel.
Zionists are almost pitiable, for they are so ashamed of their own history that they have usurped one belonging to another people.
Zand’s and Sabbah’s argument is similar to the the argument of minimalists who say that the history of Israel as found in the Bible is an invention of a group of returnees who desired to create a home for themselves by dispossessing those who were living in the land at the time of their return.
In spite of all the rhetoric about the Palestinian people being the writers of the Hebrew Bible and the compilers of the Mishnah and the Jerusalem Talmud, I doubt the Palestinians themselves believe this fantasy.
The God of the Hebrew Bible said to his people: “If you obey me and do everything I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 11:4). The people who obey the teachings of God as found in the Hebrew Bible are the true people of God.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary