Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cutting The Khazar Crap

Cutting The Khazar Crap

On their website Australians For Palestine make a laughing stock of themselves by putting up that map I blogged about yesterday, describing it (with an accompanying story from Facebook about some pesky "Zionists" who took offence at it) as a map of 1700, but that's not the only lie that Australians For Palestine have swallowed and perpetuated.

Elsewhere on the website the organisation (which incidentally does not baulk at linking to articles from the antisemitic Redress site) quotes extracts from Encyclopaedia of the Palestine Problem by the late Issa Nakhleh, one of which states:
"The Khazars are a people of Turkish origin who lived in the kingdom of Khazaristan in the south of Russia. They were converted to Judaism in the 9th century A.D. Approximately 90% of the Jews of today are of Khazar origin and have no ethnic or historical relationship with Palestine."
It''s the final sentence in that passage that's the mendacious one (though the impression that Nakhleh gives, that the Khazars in their entirety embraced Judaism, is misleading nonsense too).

That complex intellectual Arthur Koestler sure left a poisoned legacy with his The Thirteenth Tribe (1976), for, as was obvious the moment it appeared, it was manna to Israel's enemies everywhere.

Reportedly, Koestler believed that if it could be shown that European Jewry descends not from Biblical Semites but from the Khazars, antisemitism would disappear.  I wondered at the time, and I still wonder, whether the thesis that he pursued so avidly was rooted in some psychological anxiety regarding his own identity.  Might the man with the magyarised Jewish background be satisfying a personal quest born of some anxiety in boyhood to assure himself that, like the Magyars themselves, he too was of Turkic stock?

More importantly, it was immediately obvious (though of course not to antisemites and anti-Zionists who received it with joy) that there were and are flaws in the thesis, with more recent investigations into the genetics of Jewish populations undermining the thesis still further.

A most impressive succinct rebuttal of the canard of the Khazar origins of Ashkenazi Jewry is this, posted pseudonymously online  by an evidently erudite person with a deceptively girlish avatar in response to a mischievous questioner:
'One of the most bizarre aspects of this "re-racializing" of anti-Semitism is the role played by the Khazar myth.
It would be hard to exaggerate how widespread the misuse of the Khazar myth is among those seeking to delegitimize Israel and Jews today. A recent investigation showed nearly 30,000 websites using the Khazar "theory" as a bludgeon against Israel and Zionism. 
Arab and Islamofascist propagandists have long bandied about the Ashkenazim as Khazars theory and Iran's genocidal leaders adore it. Al-Jazeera has been using the Khazar story to urge a worldwide Christian religious war against the Khazar pseudo-Jewish imperialists. 
As The Encyclopedia of Judaism (1989) emphatically states,
 "The notion that Ashkenazi Jewry is descended from the Khazars has absolutely no basis in fact."
So what are we to make of the Khazar myth concerning Ashkenazi Jews and their supposed lack of legitimate claims to Israel due to their Khazar origins? The greatest irony is that even if the entire Khazar theory of Ashkenazi Jews were correct –  and virtually none of it is correct –  it would be entirely irrelevant. Judaism has never defined Jews on racial grounds. Anyone from any race is welcome as a convert to Judaism as long as he or she is sincere.  [My emphasis here and below]
The biblical Israelites themselves were already a racial hodgepodge. They absorbed the "mixed multitude" that left Egypt together with them at the time of the Exodus. There are biblical references to Jews of different racial features, including the black-skinned Shulamit mentioned in the Song of Songs.
Jews always defined themselves in religious, ethnic-national and at times linguistic terms, but never along racial lines. If all Ashkenazi Jews were indeed converted Khazars, as the racial anti-Zionists claim, they would be no less legitimately Jews –  and, as such, would have the same legitimate claims to the Jewish homeland as any other group of Jews. (Given the traditional Jewish deference to righteous converts, maybe more so.)
The actual details of the Khazar theory concerning European Jewry are simply pseudo-history and crackpot poppycock.
Jews already lived in Europe a thousand years before the Khazar kingdom was formed. There are no genetic markers or indicators at all showing that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Turkic tribes. In fact, there exists considerable genetic evidence showing that European Jews are closer to Levantine and Syrian Arabs than to Central Asians.
After the Mongol invasion most Khazars probably assimilated into the Jewish communities of Iran and Iraq, which of course eventually emerged as important Sephardic centers, formed mainly of Jews with Semitic racial characteristics, descended from migrants and exiled Jews from the Land of Israel. In any case, there are more "Semitic" Sephardic Jews in Israel today than there are European Ashkenazi Jews. And if the Khazars looked Turkic, how on earth could they give Ashkenazi Jews a European complexion?
There are other problems. If all Ashkenazi Jews are descended from converted Khazars, why are there Cohens and Levis among them? One inherits the status of a Cohen (priest) or Levite from one's father. Descendants of converts through the male line can never be a Cohen or a Levite.
And why are there no Khazar surnames among Ashkenazim, or Khazar names for towns in Europe where Jews lived? And why did most Ashkenazi communities speak variations of Yiddish rather than Turkic?
As mentioned, the popularity of the Khazar myth among anti-Semites represents a return of modern anti-Jewish bigotry to the racialism of the 1930's and earlier.
Nearly every anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi website denounces Zionists and Israelis as "Khazars." Web chat lists in which Jews defending Israel are dismissed as "Khazar usurpers" are too numerous to count.
The racialism once again in vogue holds that Jews would only have legitimate claims to the right of self-determination in their homeland if they were appropriately Semitic from a racial point of view. Palestine is part of the Semitic racial lebensraum and those who do not possess the correct pure racial markings have no business being there. Racial purity is suddenly the new basis for national rights.'