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The origin of modern-day Jews


Shqiptar

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A recent letter writer to the Irish Independent - whilst dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue - commented that "Arabs and some Israelis are Semites - blue-eyed blonds with New York or Russian accents are not". (1)

For those who might have been puzzled by the aside, the online response to the letter made the implication clear. Some Jews don't look like what a lot of people think a Jew should look like. Therefore, the theory goes, they can't be "real Jews" who can trace their origins back to the biblical Land of Israel. This theory is regularly used in this forum and others by those who oppose the existence of the modern state of Israel. If many or most modern day Jews aren't descended from the Jews who inhabited that country two thousand or so years ago, then they have no right to live in Israel today.

Such arguments tend to focus on the alleged conversion of an ethnic Turkic race called the Khazars to Judaism towards the end of the first millenium CE - reportedly in the ninth century. The Khazar Kingdom was in the general region of modern day southern Russia and the Ukraine - between and north of the land between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The idea is that these Khazars are the ancestors of the Ashkenazim - the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe, as opposed to, for example, the Sephardim who are descended from Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century or the Mizrachim whose historic links are to Babylon and the wider Middle East.

For starters, if a nation needs to prove its historical connection to a piece of land in order to inhabit it, then the citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America, Mexico - indeed all the countries in North and South America are in difficulty. Leaving that aside, from a purely factual point of view, the "Khazar" theory is problematic for a few extremely basic reasons.

1. The historical evidence based on accounts by travellers in the Khazar kingdom is that the conversion to Judaism was restricted to the king and a small portion of the aristocracy. There was no mass conversion of anything approaching the entire population.

2. There isn't a shred of any evidence in terms of linguistics or names or surnames to suggest the remotest link between the Khazars and the Ashkenazim.

3. The lack of any significant evidence of Judaic possessions or practices at excavated Khazar sites would back this up.

4. The genetic evidence strongly indicates that there are elements of ethnic commonality between all the various strands of Judaism regardless of their origins. Were the Ashkenazim to have Khazarian ancestors, they'd be quite distinctive.

In 922 CE, the Arabic writer Ahmed ibn-Fadlan was travelling in the Khazarian kingdom and writes of his impressions and experiences (2). He does indeed confirm that the king is Jewish but Jews represent a minority in the kingdom. Most Khazarians are Muslims or Christians. There is also evidence of very un-Jewish practices such as the ritual murder of the king if he is deemed to have "decayed" mental powers and impaired wisdom. This is backed up by other Arabic writers and travellers such as Al-Masudi and Istakhri (ibid).

Some evidence from burial customs has been put forward by one archaeologist in favour of widespread conversion to Judaism. There was a noted switch from pagan-style burials with the grave packed with the goods and effects of the deceased to the far simpler shrouding of the body (3). But this reveals precisely nothing other than a switch from pagan burial customs. It is widely known that the Islamic community also covers its deceased in shrouds (4). Given the reports mentioned above, surely it's a sign of a conversion to Islam.

Some readers here might be familiar with the writings of the Israeli academic, Shlomo Sand, writer of the book "The Invention of the Jewish People". The Khazar thesis is crucial to his view that modern day Jews are not descended from ancient Israelites. He tries to get around the difficulties posed by the descriptions of the above Arabic travel writers by proposing that Judaism gradually "trickled down" over a period of 200 to 400 years from the aristoctacy (5). Correctly, he points out how in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, many parts of the European peasantry had yet to embrace Christianity. However, over the period of many generations, under the impetus of a ruling hierarchy (or a series of changing rulers) that was/were all Christian, Christianity did finally become embedded in all parts of European society. Hence, it would be reasonable to propose a similar process occurring with Judaism in the Khazarian kingdom if time allowed.

Unfortunately for those adhering to the Khazar theory, a few decades after those Arabic travel writers referred to the vast majority of the population being Christian or Muslim, the Khazarian kingdom was effectively wiped off the map in the year 965 by Sviatoslav of Kiev (6) and the entire kingdom subsequently collapsed. So the period of time required for Shlomo Sand's proposed conversion of all Khazarians to Judaism simply does not exist. Not. Even. Close.

There are very few written remains of the language spoken by the Khazars. However, from the few fragments that have survived, it seems beyond reasonable doubt to deduce that the language was Turkic in origin. References to the language from that time by non-Khazars would back that up (14).

Of course, the language spoken by the Ashkenazim was and in some cases still is Yiddish. This language which originated sometime around the 10th century CE in Central Europe has been highly absorptive in keeping with the traditions of a migratory people who would have come in contact with societies speaking a wide range of dialects. Hence, it contains Hebraic, Germanic, Slavic and Romance elements (15).

For the purposes of this Ashkenazim-as-Khazars thesis, there is one glaringly obvious omission from the above list of language groups: Turkic. We are supposed to believe that a Turkic speaking people moved west into Europe and created this language from various other language groups with which they'd hitherto had little or no contact while simultaneously abandoning all traces of their own Khazar language. Indeed, not only did they abandon their language: they also, it seems, abandoned their Khazar names since there is no tradition of Turkic names amongst the Ashkenazim and there never has been.

It's not my intention to use a sledge hammer to crack this particularly brittle nut but in the last year, extensive archaeological evidence has emerged to sound yet another death knell for this theory - if one can speak of multiple death knells. A Russian archaeologist, Dmitry Vasilyev, has recently - near the Caspian Sea - uncovered what appears to be traces of the capital city of the Khazars (7). The evidence that it is a Khazar city is extensive - from its location, ceramic artifacts and the architecture (8). Crucially, no Jewish artifacts have been found at this site and indeed very few (such as mezuzas or Stars of David) have been found at other Khazar sites proving, says Vasilyev that ordinary Khazars preferred traditional beliefs such as shamanism, or Islam.

Unsurprisingly, the genetic evidence provides yet further confirmation that the Khazars have few if any links with the modern day Ashkenazim. Indeed, what stands out from the research is the degree to which, genetically speaking, the various strands of Jewishness are more closely related to each other than to nearby non-Jewish groups (9 & 10). There was evidence of extensive mixing of Jewish and non-Jewish populations in ancient times (over 2000 years ago) when Jewish communities migrated around the Mediterranean (11). Indeed, at all times, there would have been low levels of intermarriage of Jew and Gentile. However, there is nothing to suggest that anything like appreciable numbers of modern day Jews have their origins in past conversions.

So whence these Jews with their supposedly atypically coloured hair? Well, for starters, no-one is claiming that every single Jew alive today has a family tree free of non-Jews. There has been inter-marriage - enough to explain the existence of a few blonde Jews. However, no-one should be under any illusions that black hair was universal amongst the ancient Israelites. By all accounts, King David had red hair as did Judas Iscariot (12)

In any case, even in countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia where black hair would be almost universal amongst the non-Jewish population, researchers reported finding members of the Jewish community with blonde hair (13).

The Khazar theory brings together some strange bedfellows. You find the left-wing types who in all other circumstances would eschew with distaste all discussion of race. However, for the purposes of delegitimising the State of Israel, this and so much more is permissible. Under the same ideological duvet, you also have the far right. They....well, let's not over-analyze. They just don't like De Jooz. They never have and they never will. Stormfront.org is in quite a lather of excitement over the Khazars and Shlomo Sand is definitely their favouritest Jew ever.

In the ongoing campaign to deny Israel's right to exist, it suits the far right and elements of the left to insist that European Jews are too blonde and blue-eyed - too "Aryan", if you will. Funny that - a mere 65-70 years ago, 6 million European Jews were murdered for precisely the opposite reason.


Sources:
1. The Muddle East - Letters, Opinion - Independent.ie

2. Eric Maroney, The Other Zions: The Lost Histories of Jewish Nations, Rowman and Littlefield, Publishers Inc, Maryland (2009) page 72

3. Kevin A. Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc (1999) Chapter 4.

4. http://www.iio.org/janazah/bur_1299.pdf

5. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Verso Books (2008) page 225

6. Janet L. B. Martin, Medieval Russia, 980-1584, Cambridge University Press (1995), page 16

7. Scholar Claims to Find 1,000-Year-Old Jewish Capital | Fox News

8. AFP: Russian archaeologists find long-lost Jewish capital

9. Tracing the Roots of Jewishness - ScienceNOW

10. The Roots of Jewishness - ScienceNOW

11. Genes tell intricate tale of Jewish diaspora - Technology & science - Science - LiveScience | NBC News

12. Maurice Fishberg and William B. Helmreich, Jews, Race, and Environment, Transaction Books (2006), page 68

13. Maurice Fishberg and William B. Helmreich, Jews, Race, and Environment, Transaction Books (2006), page 66

14. Peter B. Golden et al, The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives, Part 8, Volume 17, Koninklijke Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden (2007) pages 75-84,

15. Andre Vauchez, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 1, Routledge Limited, United Kingdom (2001), page 1565
 

controller

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A recent letter writer to the Irish Independent - whilst dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue - commented that "Arabs and some Israelis are Semites - blue-eyed blonds with New York or Russian accents are not". (1)

For those who might have been puzzled by the aside........
I'm not...........so please move on with your rubbish......
 

rll69

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good post, lots of facts and well presented. It will no doubt be ignored, rubished or disected to death by the majority of the posters here.
 

emulator

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good post, lots of facts and well presented. It will no doubt be ignored, rubished or disected to death by the majority of the posters here.
That's quite cynical for a new poster.... what makes you say that ?
 

controller

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Going on past performance anybody who dares to rubbish such

good post, lots of facts and well presented

will be labelled as anti semitic
 

parentheses

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A recent letter writer to the Irish Independent - whilst dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue - commented that "Arabs and some Israelis are Semites - blue-eyed blonds with New York or Russian accents are not". (1)
@Shqiptar, my knowledge on this subject is not great.

You are suggesting the khazars had very little to do with modern Ashkenazis. But I have seen it suggested that the modern Ashkenazi name Kagan or Kaganovich is derived from the Khazar name for King
 

rll69

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@ Emulator: This may be my first post, but I have been reading previous comments on various threads.

Just because I'm a cynic, doesn't negate the truth of my statement.
Just because I'm in the minority, doesn't make me wrong.
 

emulator

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The second post in the thread, possibly.
I'm pretty certain it's because they are just using a newly created account and already have another one or multiples of. It seems to be going on a lot around here and I don't think the Mods are too concerned about for some reason.....
 

rll69

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@ Emulator - and you suggest that I am a cynic. This is my first and only account and the fact that you think I am a "multiple" says more about you than my cynical first post.
 

emulator

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@ Emulator - and you suggest that I am a cynic. This is my first and only account and the fact that you think I am a "multiple" says more about you than my cynical first post.
Yeah :)

Sure work away there. If indeed you only have one account, you seem to have joined the forum with a specific goal (judging by your posts) so I won't keep you...... have fun.

@ Mods

Why are multiple accounts tolerated on P.ie ?
 

Destiny's Soldier

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rll69

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@ Emulator - so now you are calling me a liar based on nothing more than the fact that I am somewhat cynical and hold a different opinion to you.

Are all of your arguments so well reasoned?
 

emulator

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@ Emulator - so now you are calling me a liar based on nothing more than the fact that I am somewhat cynical and hold a different opinion to you.

Are all of your arguments so well reasoned?
Where did I call you a liar ?

It's not an argument it's my opinion.... as I said, away you go and have fun.
 

Shqiptar

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@Shqiptar, my knowledge on this subject is not great.

You are suggesting the khazars had very little to do with modern Ashkenazis. But I have seen it suggested that the modern Ashkenazi name Kagan or Kaganovich is derived from the Khazar name for King
It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that some members of the royalty survived the collapse of 965 and made their way west to hook up Jewish communities in modern day western Russia and Eastern Europe (although I'd be sceptical).

However, the evidence points to the Kagan and Kaganovich surnames originating from the Kohanim - the ancient Jewish priestly caste and the genetic evidence backs that up.

Y-chromosomal Aaron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(see the section on the "J2 Kohanim haplotype tree")
 

rll69

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@ Emulator: I could quote you (if I had enough posts) but I stated very clearly that I only have one account. You even quoted my post, but still saw fit to question my veracity. While you may not have used the word "liar" your implication was clear that you still believe that I have multiple accounts.

You are of course entitled to your opinion - however wrong it may be.
 

statsman

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@Shqiptar, my knowledge on this subject is not great.

You are suggesting the khazars had very little to do with modern Ashkenazis. But I have seen it suggested that the modern Ashkenazi name Kagan or Kaganovich is derived from the Khazar name for King
The term Tzar derives from Caesar; does this make the Russians Latins?
 

Little_Korean

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In the ongoing campaign to deny Israel's right to exist, it suits the far right and elements of the left to insist that European Jews are too blonde and blue-eyed - too "Aryan", if you will. Funny that - a mere 65-70 years ago, 6 million European Jews were murdered for precisely the opposite reason.
There is a peculiar and hopefully incidental change of trends regarding the Jewish people.

Before they were seen as outsiders to European society/history due to their supposed Middle Eastern roots, complete with stories of the 'Wandering Jew' and euphemism such as 'rootless cosmopolitans,' implying that wherever the Jewish homeland was, it wasn't here.

Now it turns out the Jews are European after all and they have no historical right to their designated homeland. Funny, that.

Also, a good deal of Israelis came to Israel via neighbouring Arab countries after being thrown out:

A renowned Canadian lawmaker has proposed a motion in the country's Parliament calling for formal government recognition of some 850,000 Jews forcibly displaced from Arab lands since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
 

chriskavo

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Read the Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler.

This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages became converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry. . .

The Khazars' sway extended from the Black Sea to the Caspian, from the Caucasus to the Volga, and they were instrumental in stopping the Muslim onslaught against Byzantium, the eastern jaw of the gigantic pincer movement that in the West swept across northern Africa and into Spain.

In the second part of this book, "The Heritage," Mr. Koestler speculates about the ultimate faith of the Khazars and their impact on the racial composition and social heritage of modern Jewry. He produces a large body of meticulously detailed research in support of a theory that sounds all the more convincing for the restraint with which it is advanced. Yet should this theory be confirmed, the term "anti-Semitism" would become void of meaning, since, as Mr. Koestler writes, it is based "on a misapprehension shared by both the killers and their victims. The story of the Khazar Empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most cruel hoax which history has ever perpetrated."
ARTHUR KOESTLER was born in 1905 in Budapest. Though he studied science and psychology in Vienna, at the age of twenty he became a foreign correspondent and worked for various European newspapers in the Middle East, Paris, Berlin, Russia and Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, which he covered from the Republican side, he was captured and imprisoned for several months by the Nationalists, but was exchanged after international protest. In 1939-40 he was interned in a French detention camp. After his release, due to British government intervention, he joined the French Foreign Legion, subsequently escaped to England, and joined the British Army.
Like many other intellectuals in the thirties, Koestler saw in the Soviet experiment the only hope and alternative to fascism. He became a member of the Communist Party in 1931, but left it in disillusionment during the Moscow purges in 1938. His earlier books were mainly concerned with these experiences, either in autobiographical form or in essays or political novels. Among the latter, Darkness At Noon has been translated into thirty-three languages.
After World War 11, Mr. Koestler became a British citizen, and all his books since 1940 have been written in English, He now lives in London. but he frequently lectures at American universities, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 1964-65,
In 1968 Mr. Koestler received the Sonning Prize at the University of Copenhagen for his contributions to European culture. He is also a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, as well as one of the ten Companions of Literature, elected by the Royal Society of Literature. His works are now being republished in a collected edition of twenty volumes.
He died in 1981.

Read the free PDF version here.
 

Levellers

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What you have to remember about the OP is that Zionists are congenital liars and the first big lie comes in the early definition of Semitic being a physical description. Semitic is a set of languages with attendant attributes of culture, history etcetera.
 
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