The Invention of the Jewish People

Bestselling new analysis of Jewish history by a leading Israeli historian.

A historical tour de force, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a groundbreaking account of Jewish and Israeli history. Exploding the myth that there was a forced Jewish exile in the first century at the hands of the Romans, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues that most modern Jews descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered across the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In this iconoclastic work, which spent nineteen weeks on the Israeli bestseller list and won the coveted Aujourd'hui Award in France, Sand provides the intellectual foundations for a new vision of Israel’s future.


  • “Sand's questions about how Israel's democracy can be liberalized and stabilized are thought-provoking and deserve serious discussion.”
  • “Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don't change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.”
  • “[Sand's] quiet earthquake of a book is shaking historical faith in the link between Judaism and Israel.”
  • “Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read this book.”
  • “Extravagantly denounced and praised.”
  • “No discussion of the region any longer seems complete without acknowledgement of this book.”
  • “A radical dismantling of a national myth.”
  • “Almost too baseless to debunk.”


  • Shlomo Sand: "I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew"

    Shlomo Sand's new book, How I Stopped Being a Jew, charts the author's journey as a secular Israeli to his break with what he calls "tribal Judeocentrism." From the historical tragedies of the twentieth century to the current state of Israel, Sand's book offers a personal reflection on the changing meaning and status of Jewish identity.

    In an exclusive extract in the Guardian, Sand writes that, although he cannot officially his change nationality from "Jew" to "Israeli," he wishes to renounce the legal privileges that come with his status as a Jew in Israel.

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  • 'Israel does not understand anything but force' - an interview with Shlomo Sand

    The renowned historian Shlomo Sand - author of The Invention of the Jewish People and The Invention of the Land of Israelwas interviewed by the French magazine Télérama in 2009. The recent re-publication of this French interview still contains powerful responses to the violence that we see in Gaza today. How can we still be asking the same questions 5 years on? Both then and now, Sand continues to be one of the few Israeli intellectuals – even on the Left – who has continued to condemn the bombardment of Gaza. 

    Israeli public opinion supports the (2008-2009) Gaza War. You are a dissonant voice...

    I have reached the peak of my academic career, I have nothing to lose and I am not afraid. Of course, yes, I do feel very alone. But do not forget that almost ten thousand young people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on 3 January. Even in 2006, at the beginning of the war against Hezbollah, there was no mobilisation of such an extent. It was a very politicised demonstration, with the far Left as well as the Israeli Arabs who live in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

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  • 'Israel prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy': Ilan Pappé on Democracy Now

    As the Palestinian death toll topped 1,000 this week, Israeli historian - and author of The Idea of Israel - Ilan Pappé talked with Democracy Now! about the current attacks in Gaza.

    "I think Israel in 2014 made a decision that it prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy," Pappé says. "It still hopes that the United States will license this decision and provide it with the immunity to continue, with the necessary implication of such a policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians wherever they are." 

    See below for a full transcription of the interview.

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Other books by Shlomo Sand Translated by Yael Lotan