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A historical tour de force that demolishes the myths and taboos that have surrounded Jewish and Israeli history, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a new account of both that demands to be read and reckoned with. Was there really a forced exile in the first century, at the hands of the Romans? Should we regard the Jewish people, throughout two millennia, as both a distinct ethnic group and a putative nation—returned at last to its Biblical homeland?
Shlomo Sand argues that most Jews actually descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered far across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The formation of a Jewish people and then a Jewish nation out of these disparate groups could only take place under the sway of a new historiography, developing in response to the rise of nationalism throughout Europe. Beneath the biblical back fill of the nineteenth-century historians, and the twentieth-century intellectuals who replaced rabbis as the architects of Jewish identity,The Invention of the Jewish People uncovers a new narrative of Israel’s formation, and proposes a bold analysis of nationalism that accounts for the old myths.
After a long stay on Israel’s bestseller list, and winning the coveted Aujourd’hui Award in France, The Invention of the Jewish People is finally available in English. The central importance of the conflict in the Middle East ensures that Sand’s arguments will reverberate well beyond the historians and politicians that he takes to task. Without an adequate understanding of Israel’s past, capable of superseding today’s opposing views, diplomatic solutions are likely to remain elusive. In this iconoclastic work of history, Shlomo Sand provides the intellectual foundations for a new vision of Israel’s future.
Looks like an interesting read; although, all populations that are self-designated ethnic groupings, religions, and nationalities are constructs, and I don’t mean this in some pretentiously abstract postmodernist sense. I mean this in a hard, fundamental sense of the amount of population intermixing that has happens anywhere at any point in human history — rape by invaders, mixing of concubines and slaves with slavemasters, the imitation of conquered peoples by invading elites, war-brides and slavery of women and children from populations whose adult male population were massacred after a war, even the historical assimilation of fringe peoples (voluntarily or non-).
Who are the Arabs, and what happened to the pre-Arab Mesopotamian Semites, the Carthaginians, Phoenicians? What about the plentiful Arab tribes that converted to Judaism (and were several generations after their conversions), whom Muhammad tried initially to appeal to? Who were the Romans initially, given the fragmented linguistic and ethnic nature of the Italian peninsula? What’s the difference between a Greek, a Macedonian Greek, and a Hellenized Barbarian Descendant, several generations after their total Hellenization? Who are the Germans, who had no unified nation-state until the 19th century, or the British with invading Norsemen, Anglosaxons, Jutes, and earlier Celtic populations? Who or what are the Han Chinese? — 1.3 billion+ humans have this ethnic designation.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Interview with Clarin (Argentina) - English subtitles
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks to Argentinian newspaper Clarin about the ongoing war in Syria. The president says the country’s crisis has become so deadly because of international interference.
Fascinating interview, in which Bashar al-Assad points out the United States’ logistical and financial support for terrorism in Syria (also euphemistically called by Western meidia “rebels”). Over 27 non-Syrian nationalities have since intervened on the side of the “rebels”, many from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, armed with purely Wahabist intentions, not political reform.
Bashar also points out the changing strategy of US imperialism, from direct invasion (eg., Afghanistan, Iraq, and cooperative presence in Pakistan), to directly supporting terrorism and false-flag operations, in order to achieve geopolitical advantage. (But does it even do that? Didn’t the US already do this in the Soviet-Afghan war?”
In Defense of Jason Richwine
His resignation is emblematic of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse.
On Monday, May 6, Robert Rector and Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation published a studyof the fiscal effects of immigration amnesty, arguing that the costs would amount to $6.3 trillion. Controversy greeted the report, but of the normal kind, with critics making specific allegations that the costs were calculated using unrealistic assumptions.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed that Richwine’s 2009 Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard’s Kennedy School had said that, on average, Latinos have lower IQs than do non-Latino white Americans and the nation should consider incorporating IQ into immigration decisions. The blogosphere and some elements of the mainstream media erupted in denunciations.
On Friday, the Heritage Foundation announced that Richwine had resigned.
I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.
In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.
In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort. To borrow George Orwell’s word, they will have proved themselves to be guilty of crimethink.
Everybody who does research in the social sciences or biology is aware how treacherous the environment has become, and so scholars take defensive measures. They bury important findings in obscurely worded technical articles lest they be discovered by reporters and lead to disastrous publicity. A few years ago, a brilliant young evolutionary geneticist publicly announced he would not pursue his work on the evolution of brain size after his preliminary results were attacked as crimethink. Others have deliberately refrained from discussing race or gender differences in works that ordinarily would have called for treating those topics. When I chided the author of a successful book for avoiding some obvious issues involving race, he quite rightly replied that if he had included anything about race, everything else in the book would have been ignored.
These examples are only the visible tip of a much broader problem of self-censorship in the questions that scholars are willing to ask. I am not referring just to scholars who might otherwise engage the taboo topics directly. We can have no idea of the full extent to which important avenues of inquiry in economics, sociology, genetics, and neuroscience that indirectly touch on the taboo topics are also self-censored by scholars who fear becoming pariahs.
But let’s not pretend that the problem is confined to academia or intellectuals. It infects the culture more broadly.
Why do books have to be so expensive (actual physical books) when the electronic versions are so much cheaper? I don’t have the budget to afford a kindle etc, but I want to keep reading and learning. $16 for the book I want to read next is a bit too much.
$16 actually isn’t too bad.
Reason for the price is the paper and shipping, primarily. My own novel costs a modest amount to actually print, but most of the input cost goes to shipping (about 60-80% of its input cost, actually).
It might be worth buying an ebook reader; one which is easy on the eyes (digital ink) — or there’s always borrowing books from the library (anyone still do that? I do!)
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Given the amount of media attention (mis-)directed to professional political attention-whoring like FEMEN, and not, you know, the actual struggles of poverty, Wall Street / Banking / Military-Industrial plutocracy, or to the real socio-bio-political issues surrounding the female political subject, what if, just like Modern Art, FEMEN is actually a political sabotage movement designed by the CIA?
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