Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

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 reproducing 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.'


  1. The origins of today's Jews have been less clear, especially those of the Ashkenazis, who make up 90% of American Jews and nearly 50% of Israeli Jews. Ashkenazi Jews settled in Germany in the 9th century C.E. and developed their own language, Yiddish. Some writers, notably Arthur Koestler in his 1976 book The Thirteenth Tribe, have argued that the Ashkenazis stem from a Turkic tribe in Central Asia called the Khazars, who converted to Judaism in the 8th century. And historian Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University in Israel argues in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, translated into English last year, that most modern Jews do not descend from the ancient Land of Israel but from groups that took on Jewish identities long afterward.

    Such notions, however, clash with several recent studies suggesting that Jewishness, including the Ashkenazi version, has deep genetic roots. In what its authors claim is the most comprehensive study thus far, a team led by geneticist Harry Ostrer of the New York University School of Medicine concludes today that all three Jewish groups—Middle Eastern, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi—share genomewide genetic markers that distinguish them from other worldwide populations.

    Ostrer and his colleagues analyzed nuclear DNA from blood samples taken from a total of 237 Ashkenazi and Middle Eastern Jews in New York City and Sephardic Jews in Seattle, Washington; Greece; Italy; and Israel. They compared these with DNA from about 2800 presumably non-Jewish individuals from around the world. The team used several analytical approaches to calculate how genetically similar the Jewish groups were to each other and to the non-Jewish groups, including a method called identity by descent (IBD), which is often used to determine how closely two individuals are related.

    Individuals within each Jewish group had high levels of IBD, roughly equivalent to that of fourth or fifth cousins. Although each of the three Jewish groups showed genetic admixture (interbreeding) with nearby non-Jews, they shared many genetic features, suggesting common roots that the team estimated went back more than 2000 years. Ashkenazi Jews, whose genetic profiles indicated between 30% to 60% admixture with Europeans, nevertheless clustered more closely with Middle Eastern and Sephardic Jews, a finding the researchers say is inconsistent with the Khazar hypothesis. "I would hope that these observations would put the idea that Jewishness is just a cultural construct to rest," Ostrer says.

    1. A more recent study

      "In a previous genetic analysis, the researchers showed that modern-day Sephardi (Greek and Turkish), Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and Mizrahi (Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian) Jews originating in Europe and the Middle East are more related to each other than to their contemporary non-Jewish neighbors, with each group forming its own cluster within the larger Jewish population."
      Study completes genetic map of N. African Jews

    2. wow, Ian, you're a one-man resource! Thanks as always.

  2. The Khazar Crap is another myth that makes the palestinians jubilate

    The effort to deligitimize Modern Jews from Israel was bolstered by a book from leftist Israeli prof.

  3. There are so many myths against Israel. Vist free weekly news of Israel's achievements at and be inspired with positive news of Israel today.