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An invention called 'the Jewish people'

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    An invention called the Jewish people By Tom Segev February 29, 2008 Haaretz, Israel Israel s Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people arose
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2008
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      An invention called 'the Jewish people'
      By Tom Segev
      February 29, 2008
      Haaretz, Israel

      Israel's Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people
      arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland. Every
      Israeli schoolchild is taught that this happened during the period of
      Roman rule, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which
      it began to return after two millennia of exile. Wrong, says the
      historian Shlomo Zand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging
      books published here in a long time. There never was a Jewish people,
      only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened - hence
      there was no return. Zand rejects most of the stories of
      national-identity formation in the Bible, including the exodus from
      Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest under
      Joshua. It's all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the
      establishment of the State of Israel, he asserts.

      According to Zand, the Romans did not generally exile whole nations,
      and most of the Jews were permitted to remain in the country. The
      number of those exiled was at most tens of thousands. When the country
      was conquered by the Arabs, many of the Jews converted to Islam and
      were assimilated among the conquerors. It follows that the progenitors
      of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews. Zand did not invent this thesis;
      30 years before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by
      David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others.

      If the majority of the Jews were not exiled, how is it that so many of
      them reached almost every country on earth? Zand says they emigrated
      of their own volition or, if they were among those exiled to Babylon,
      remained there because they chose to. Contrary to conventional belief,
      the Jewish religion tried to induce members of other faiths to become
      Jews, which explains how there came to be millions of Jews in the
      world. As the Book of Esther, for example, notes, "And many of the
      people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."

      Zand quotes from many existing studies, some of which were written in
      Israel but shunted out of the central discourse. He also describes at
      length the Jewish kingdom of Himyar in the southern Arabian Peninsula
      and the Jewish Berbers in North Africa. The community of Jews in Spain
      sprang from Arabs who became Jews and arrived with the forces that
      captured Spain from the Christians, and from European-born individuals
      who had also become Jews.

      The first Jews of Ashkenaz (Germany) did not come from the Land of
      Israel and did not reach Eastern Europe from Germany, but became Jews
      in the Khazar Kingdom in the Caucasus. Zand explains the origins of
      Yiddish culture: it was not a Jewish import from Germany, but the
      result of the connection between the offspring of the Kuzari and
      Germans who traveled to the East, some of them as merchants.

      We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples and races,
      blond and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers.
      According to Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared
      ethnicity and historical continuity produced a long series of
      inventions and fictions, along with an invocation of racist theses.
      Some were concocted in the minds of those who conceived the Zionist
      movement, while others were offered as the findings of genetic studies
      conducted in Israel.

      Prof. Zand teaches at Tel Aviv University. His book, "When and How Was
      the Jewish People Invented?" (published by Resling in Hebrew), is
      intended to promote the idea that Israel should be a "state of all its
      citizens" - Jews, Arabs and others - in contrast to its declared
      identity as a "Jewish and democratic" state. Personal stories, a
      prolonged theoretical discussion and abundant sarcastic quips do not
      help the book, but its historical chapters are well-written and cite
      numerous facts and insights that many Israelis will be astonished to
      read for the first time.


      Against the Rationalization of Zionist Crimes
      by Joachim Martillo (ThorsProvoni @ aol.com)

      Zionists and their white racist Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist
      supporters justify mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide against
      the native Palestinian population by asserting that ethnic Ashkenazim
      are descended from ancient Greco-Roman Palestinian Judeans or Galileans.

      This belief has no connection to the facts as many Jewish studies
      scholars will admit in private. At an MIT lecture I asked Harvard
      Professor Shaye Cohen about the ancestral connection of modern ethnic
      Ashkenazim to ancient Palestine, and he told me there has been a lot
      of conversion since Greco-Roman times (whatever conversion meant in
      Greco-Roman times). In 2002 Marc Ferro published Les Tabous de
      l'histoire, which discusses in detail the conversion to which
      Professor Cohen referred.

      Conversion is not the only process that deterritorialized Judaism
      because the Hasmoneans and Herodians seem to have pursued a policy of
      bringing as many worshippers of the high God El within the fold of the
      Jerusalem Temple in order to improve the Judean kingdom's finances. El
      was Kronos to the Greeks and Saturnus to the Romans. In Hellenistic
      Tyre El Kon-Artz (El Creator of the Earth) was worshipped as El Kronos.

      At the time of Jesus the vast majority of El-worshippers, who were
      adherents of 2nd Temple Judaism, probably had no ancestral connection
      whatsoever to Greco-Roman Judea, Persian Yehud or ancient Judah.

      In very careful analysis of the sources, Seth Schwartz argues in
      Imperialism and Jewish Society: 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. (Jews,
      Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World) that by
      the end of the 2nd century 2nd Temple Judaism was completely
      shattered. He argues that the Constantinian Church reconstructed late
      Roman Judaism. In a way Shaye Cohen agrees because in The Beginnings
      of Jewishness he dates the origin of Jewishness as we understand it
      today to the 4th century.

      In Schwartz's analysis Cohen's dating is probably too early because
      Talmudic/Geonic Judaism is not clearly the dominant current in late
      Roman Judaism, and Judean Christianity, which treats Jesus as messiah
      but not as God or son of God, still has many adherents throughout
      Palestine, Mesopotamia and Arabia Felix (Hijaz). Such Judean
      Christians view themselves as practicing some form of Judaism, and no
      Jewish group has a well-defined position on matrilineality or on
      conversion practices within the Judaism of this time period.

      As the Christian late Roman Empire gradually retrenches or breaks
      down, the Khazar Kingdom rises in Southern Russia and flourishes from
      the seventh through tenth centuries. The wealth of the Khazar kingdom
      seems to have been based in trading Slavs and members of other
      Southern Russian ethnic groups as slaves first with the Byzantine
      Empire and then with the early Islamic Empires as well.

      Trading in slaves in that time period cannot be equated with human
      trafficking today. Ancient servitude like later Islamic or Ottoman
      slavery could provide social mobility, confer political authority and
      confer social status to members of an alien immigrant population. Ehud
      Toledano discusses such aspects of Ottoman Slavery in Slavery and
      Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East. Khazar, Byzantine and early
      Islamic slavery was probably closer to the later Ottoman system.

      Dealing with the Christian and Islamic Empires put pagan Khazars in a
      tricky position. Some seem to have converted to Christianity and
      Islam, but such conversion may have created problems for the slave
      trade because as Christians or Muslims, the Khazars would have had an
      obligation to convert Slav subjects to either Christianity or Islam
      and incorporate them into the community. Slaving in such a situation
      is quite problematic. That time period's Judaisms, which were far less
      committed to proselytization than Christianity or Judaism, for the
      most part made strong distinctions between members of the community
      and gentiles as well as between Hebrew slaves and Canaanite (gentile)
      slaves. Starting in the 8th century (or maybe earlier) the Khazars
      began to convert to Judaism, and by the 10th century the Khazar
      Kingdom officially practiced Judaism. For the entire Middle Ages,
      Rabbinic Jewish literature consistently refers to Eastern Europe as
      Kanaan -- I presume -- because Eastern Europe was a source of Slavs
      who were treated legally as `avadim kanaanim (Canaanite slaves).

      In contrast with Ibero-Berber Jewish naming practices, which often
      include Talmudic Aramaic names consistent with the occasional
      immigration of Jews from Babylonia to Spain, Khazar Jewish names show
      the typical convert pattern of choosing names out of scripture as
      described in the work of Columbia Professor William Bulliet.
      Archeological investigation finds mixed Turkic pagan and Judaic
      graveyards with the earliest such mixed graveyards in Southern Russia
      and the later such graveyards in the Balkans and Hungary.
      Archeologists have also found coins with Turkic and Hebrew
      inscriptions in Hebrew-Aramaic letters. There is no textual or
      epigraphical evidence of knowledge of Arabic or of Aramaic among
      Southern Russian and Eastern European Jews of the 10th century or
      earlier as one would expect if they or near ancestors were immigrants
      from Palestine or Mesopotamia.

      The Khazars corresponded with the Geonim, who seem to have been
      willing to adjust the sacred law to fit the slave trade in exchange
      for economic support. Such accommodation is probably the origin of
      Medieval Rabbinic Judaism as Khazar slavers needed a codified legal
      system, and Khazar contributions made it possible for Geonic Judaism
      to dominate and finally absorb other forms of Judaism at the same time
      that many members of non-Khazar Jewish communities throughout the
      Mediterranean region, Germany and France became agents of the slave
      trade either directly or through finance, tax farming, medicine or
      estate management, which were professions supported almost entirely by
      the slave trade in the early Medieval Period. The Jewish slavers that
      accompanied William the Conqueror to England seem to have been of
      Ibero-Berber origin and not of Khazar background.

      Matrilineal non-proselytizing Medieval Rabbinic Judaism proved
      exceptionally friendly to the Slavic slave trade. Medieval centers of
      Rabbinic Jewish learning thrived along with the Slavic slave trade
      while Medieval Karaites were probably the last holdouts against the
      Geonic accommodation. Karaite centers declined and tended to be in
      rather isolated parts of the world.

      Amitav Gosh translated a lot of Geniza documents written by or about a
      Jewish slaver in India. The book is called In an Antique Land, and
      Gosh is somewhat diffident about describing his subject's source of

      This Khazar hypothesis complements the Pirenne Thesis (Mahomet et
      Charlegmagne) as well as some of the proposals of Crone, Cooke, and
      Nevo about the development of early Islam (Hagarism: The Making of the
      Islamic World by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Crossroads to Islam
      by Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren). The spread of various forms of
      Judaism to Southern Russia probably explains why St. Kliment of Ohrid
      gave many Cyrillic forms similar to those in the Hebrew Aramaic
      alphabet. Members of a non-Rabbinic Jewish group probably created the
      Slavonic book of Esther while Bogomili Christianity and Catharism were
      probably brought westward by Slavic slaves that practiced evolved
      forms of Judean Christianity, no longer recognized as Judaism by
      Rabbinic Jewish Khazars.

      As the Slavic slave trade expanded the Jewish traders probably needed
      to free semi-proselyte Slavic slaves to assist in the business. A
      similar process took place in West Africa as the Black African slave
      trade expanded. In Germano-Slavic territories where Sorbian and
      Polabian were spoken, the Slavo-Khazar traders, who initially probably
      used Sorbian and Polabian, had incentive to relexify their Slavic
      dialect to German in order to trade with dominant German-speaking
      populations and to separate themselves from pagan and Christian
      Sorbian and Polabian. During the 9th-13th centuries this process
      created an older form of Yiddish, which became the West Yiddish
      dialects of German territories. During this time period, as the
      Slavo-Khazar Jewish population becomes larger and more important
      within the Jewish community, Arabic dies out as a language of
      religious discourse among non-Khazar Rabbinical Jews.

      As the Khazar traders reconstructed trade routes or created entirely
      new trade routes, Khazar and non-Khazar Jews develop distribution
      networks for goods unrelated to Slavery. In Spain the Jewish
      non-Slavery-related trade does not seem to have been highly valued
      because Spain expelled its Jewish population within 50 years of the
      shutdown of Slavic slave trade in Mediterranean Christian countries as
      a consequence of the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople.

      The development of sophisticated heterogeneous distribution networks
      by Jews in Poland made Commonwealth Poland a wealthy world power while
      Jewish estate management, finance and tax farming remained important
      and often thrived in Poland even after the complete shutdown of the
      overland Slavic slave trade by the end of the Wars of the Reformation.

      As Jews from the German territories migrated Eastward because of the
      Crusades and the Wars of the Reformation, the Slavic Kiev-Polessian
      dialects of the Slavo-Turkic Eastern European and Southern Russian
      Jewish populations (with the exception of certain isolated communities
      in Slovakia and the Sub-Carpathian region) were relexified to West
      Yiddish to create East Yiddish dialects. Paul Wexler explains the
      vocabulary of Yiddish in Two-tiered Relexification in Yiddish without
      proposing any historical reasons for the process. The work of
      Alexander Beider and other specialists in onomastic studies also
      demonstrate a westward migration of Eastern Slavic-speaking Jews. Some
      of the linguistic development of East Yiddish may have taken place in
      German territories.

      By the 17th century practically all consciousness of the Khazar
      kingdom was lost among Jews, and Yiddish-speaking Eastern European
      Jews constitute a distinct Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnic group.
      During the German economic depression during the century after the
      signing of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), there was considerable
      mixing of impoverished German Christians and German Jews, and many
      Jews probably passed into the Christian community while some
      Christians were probably absorbed in the Jewish community. During the
      same time period, as Poland collapsed after the Chmielnicki Rebellion
      (1648), Polish Prussia came under German rule, and German Jews began
      to develop some familiarity with the Polish estate system. Thus even
      after the crystallization of Ashkenazi ethnicity, the boundary between
      German Jews and Eastern European ethnic Ashkenazim has never been
      particularly solid.

      This article seems to conflict with genetic anthropological studies of
      Hammer, Oppenheim and similar people but these studies are severely
      flawed as Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and I point out in
      http://tinyurl.com/3e4xby . A recent article by Talia Bloch in the
      Forward ("One Big, Happy Family," Aug. 22, 2007,
      http://www.forward.com/articles/11444/ ) indicates that even some of
      the most extreme Zionist genetics researchers are beginning to concede
      that ethnic Ashkenazim are a separate ethnic group distinct from other
      Jewish groups except insofar as members ethnic Ashkenazi communities
      or related Eastern European and Southern Russian populations have been
      exported to Ashkenazi or proto-Ashkenazi communities in the past.

      The rationalization of Zionist crimes against Palestinians on the
      basis of some sort of modern Jewish ancestral connection to ancient
      Palestinian populations has always been unethical, but even those that
      believe genes confer superior rights to one group over another must
      concede that ethnic Ashkenazi Zionists in Palestine are murderous
      genocidal thieves and interlopers.



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