Steven Plaut: The Khazar Myth and the New Anti-Semitism

Roundup: Talking About History

[Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press and the new Jewish Press Blog (www.thejewishpress.blogspot.com), is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book "The Scout" is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.]

Israelis have no history in the Land because they are Khazars, who are not connected to the land… – Al Hayat Al Jadida, June 16, 2003

... Oddly, the Zionists were mostly non-Jews whose ancestors had themselves converted to Judaism around 800 AD in a place called Khazaria, in the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and Black Seas. They were quite literally Caucasians. – Judicial-inc. website

In 1917 the Khazar Jews passed a major milestone towards the creation of their own state in Palestine. The same year they also created the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. There followed a Christian holocaust, the likes of which the world has never seen. The Khazar Jews were once again in control of Russia after more than 900 years, and they set about the task of destroying the Russian Christians – over 100-million of them, at the same time over 20-million religious Jews also died at the hands of the Khazar Jews. – Aljazeerah.info website

It is one of the great ironies of the 21st century that anti-Zionists and anti-Semites on both the Left and the Right, have returned to racialist arguments against Jews that most of us thought had died out after World War II.

One of the most bizarre aspects of this"re-racializing" of anti-Semitism is the role played by the Khazar myth.

The newly fashionable Khazar mythology holds that modern day Ashkenazim, and especially the European leadership of the Zionist movement, are not Jews at all in the racial sense, but rather descendents from non-Jewish Khazars; therefore, the Khazar"theorists" claim, Zionists and Israelis have no legitimate claims to the Land of Israel.

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.

Some two hundred websites claim to describe a cabal known as the Khazarian Zionist Bolsheviks (KZV). Neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial organizations and websites are particularly fond of the Khazar myth. It is also growing in popularity among left-wing anti-Zionists.

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.

Groups promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion often cite the nefarious role of Khazars as"proof" of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy (I counted 700 such websites). And even Jewish anti-Zionist cranks like Alfred M. Lilienthal and the Swedish"Israel Shamir" have used the Khazar myth to attack Zionism.

Why are these various groups suddenly interested in a rather esoteric and archaic group of people in Central Asia that disappeared nearly a millennium ago?

The answer is very simple.

According to the Khazar theory of the new anti-Semites, most Jews today, particularly Ashkenazi Jews, are not racially Jews at all but descendents from the Turkic tribe of Khazars, whose ruling class and parts of its rank and file population converted to Judaism in the 8th or early 9th century CE. Hence, argue the racialists, Ashkenazi Jews have no rights to live in the racially Semitic Middle East and especially not in the Land of Israel.

Fact and Legend

For Jews, the history of the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism is best known from essays in The Kuzari: In Defense of the Despised Faith, a medieval book composed by the great Spanish poet and philosopher Judah Ha-Levi.

Only part of the book actually deals with the Khazar kingdom, about which little was known, and the historic claims about them in the book are not considered fully reliable.

In any case, The Kuzari purports to report the debates at the Khazar royal court that supposedly led to the Khazar elite’s conversion to Judaism. Other senior Jewish officials in the Spanish Muslim regimes actually corresponded with the Khazar kingdom – most notably Cordova Rabbi Hasdai ibn Shaprut (whose letters have survived). And the great Iraqi sage Saadia Gaon is believed to have maintained correspondence with Jews in the Khazar kingdom.

It is commonly thought that part of the motivation for the Khazars’ conversion was to establish political neutrality for the Khazar kingdom, which faced potential threats from the powers of both Christendom and Islam.

The Khazars themselves left no documentary records. The Arab historian ibn Fadlan wrote about them, but he did so two centuries after the conversions to Judaism had occurred. Some Jews, having sought refuge from Byzantine persecutions, probably lived in the Khazar kingdom long before the conversion of the royalty there.

One ironic historical twist is that the Khazars contributed to the Cyrillic alphabet, in which Russian and some other Slavic languages are written. Saint Cyril came to Khazaria in 860 in an attempt to convert the Khazars to Christianity. Since the Hebrew of the Khazars and Greek were the main alphabets known to St. Cyril and the early Slavs, they borrowed from both.

Western interest in the Khazars was stimulated largely by the 1976 book The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler, a writer better known for his lifelong battles against totalitarianism in all its forms. Koestler’s book was largely based on the earlier book The History of the Jewish Khazars, by the historian D.M. Dunlop.

Dunlop rejected the idea that large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews could trace their origins to the Khazars, but not so Koestler. By grossly and sensationally exaggerating the role and numbers of Khazar descendents among European Jewry, Koestler – who was a strong Zionist – inadvertently provided today’s racialist anti-Semites with all the ammunition they could want, and many of them frequently cite his book as the basis for their racialist denunciations of Israel.

A number of more serious books about Khazars are now on the market, including The Jews of Khazaria by Kevin Alan Brook. Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig was one of the leading figures in debunking the Khazar theory of Ashkenazi Jewish origins. Writing in Tradition (16:5, Fall 1977, pages 139-162), he dismissed it as"wobbly scholarly foundations without historical support."

Likewise, the Swedish archaeologist Bozena Werbart, an expert on the Khazars, wrote:"In the Khazar kingdom, Koestler wanted to see the origin of the eastern European Jewry. Nevertheless, all the historical and linguistic facts contradicted his theories."

As The Encyclopedia of Judaism (1989) emphatically states,"The notion that Ashkenazi Jewry is descended from the Khazars has absolutely no basis in fact."

What Became of the Khazars

The actual Khazar kingdom was partly subjugated by the early Russians in the 10th century, and whatever was left was annihilated as a result of the Mongol invasions of Central Asia.

What exactly became of the Khazar Jews is simply not known. Those who retained their Judaism probably integrated themselves into other Jewish communities around the world. Some groups of Khazars joined the Magyar invasion into what became Hungary and may have merged with local Jews already living in those lands; indeed, archeologists have found Jewish stars in the remains of Hungarian Khazar villages.

Small groups of Khazar mercenaries probably found refuge in other places. Most likely the largest integration of Khazar Jews among other Jews took place in Iran and Iraq, the large communities closest to the Khazar kingdom and with whom close ties had been maintained.

(An urban legend holds that red-haired Jews are descended from Khazars, though that could hardly explain King David, not to mention Esau. Arthur Koestler claimed many were blond with blue eyes.)

In any case, Khazar political existence ended a thousand years ago.

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.

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.)

Pseudo-History and Poppycock

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.

I discovered scores of neo-Nazi websites claiming that"Khazar Zionists" were really behind the 9/11 attacks. I found thousands of websites claiming that"Khazar Jew-pretenders" are in a conspiratorial league with Freemasons, the Vatican, the Illuminati and others to control the world.

Khazar conspiracists get nuttier by the day; a widely cited Ku Klux Klan website claims that the pro-Israel evangelist Pat Robertson is really a Khazar Jew. The neo-Nazi American Patriots Friends Network claims Khazars are themselves descended from the Magog race and secretly control America.

If we take the racialist argument to its logical conclusion, Palestinian Arabs have the right to exercise all claims to sovereignty in Israel due to their being true racial Jews, while Zionists are non-Jewish Khazars – racial imposters and usurpers.

To make things even sillier, Arabs themselves are, of course, a mix of racial strains, with a particularly large Caucasian component thanks to Arab intermixing with Spanish and Italian Europeans, Caucasian Berbers, Vandals, Goths, and even some Vikings.

The racialist delegitimizing of Zionism as"Khazar imperialism" is smack inside the same insane asylum with the"Jesus was a Palestinian" theory and the claim that all real Jews (from a racial point of view) converted to Islam after the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century and so became Palestinian Arabs.

One can also find countless websites claiming those things.

Read entire article at Jewish Press

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Mikhael Meir Benyossef - 8/8/2008

Crocker has stated several times that he acknowledges that the vast majority of the world Jewish population, including Ashkenazim (which the Khazar origin proponents deny is the case) have ancient ancestral connections to Eretz Yisrael. I take it you are both Zionist (as I am)--why are you attacking him?

Mikhael Meir Benyossef - 8/8/2008

Tahir said " Other nations are also of mixed ethnicity, so it seems also the Jews. I do not see why this should be a problem for anybody."

Exactly, and that was the point of Plaut's article! Plaut's point was that although most of the world Jewish population does indeed descend from ancient Israel (including Ashkenazim) racialists who insist that Ashkenazic Jews are *exclusively* descended from the long-gone Khazars are using a racial litmus test to discredit the notion that Jews have any historical and ancestral claim to the Land of Israel.

Mikhael Meir Benyossef - 8/8/2008

Another common trope I've noticed among the conspiracy theorists promoting the "Israelis/Zionists are Khazars" theory re: Koestler
is that the Zionist conspiracy murdered him and his wife for revealing the "truth" about the Khazars! The man was suffering from Parkinsons and leukemia and he deliberately overdosed. His distraught wife, whio was healthy, killed herself. Naturally the nutbag conspiracy mongers think the Khazar- controlled Mossad did a job on the Koestlers for revealing "secrets".

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

The Thirteenth Tribe

arthur koestler

Rise and Fall of the Khazars

"In Khazaria, sheep, honey, and Jews exist in large quantities." Muqaddasi, Descriptio Imperii Moslemici (tenth century).


ABOUT the time when Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the West, the eastern confines of Europe between the Caucasus and the Volga were ruled by a Jewish state, known as the Khazar Empire. At the peak of its power, from the seventh to the tenth centuries AD, it played a significant part in shaping the destinies of mediaeval, and consequently of modern, Europe. The Byzantine Emperor and historian, Constantine Porphyrogenitus (913-959), must have been well aware of this when he recorded in his treatise on court protocol .1 that letters addressed to the Pope in Rome, and similarly those to the Emperor of the West, had a gold seal worth two solidi attached to them, whereas messages to the King of the Khazars displayed a seal worth three solidi. This was not flattery, but Realpolitik. "In the period with which we are concerned," wrote Bury, "it is probable that the Khan of the Khazars was of little less importance in view of the imperial foreign policy than Charles the Great and his successors." .2 The country of the Khazars, a people of Turkish stock, occupied a strategic key position at the vital gateway between the Black Sea and the Caspian, where the great eastern powers of the period confronted each other. It acted as a buffer protecting Byzantium against invasions by the lusty barbarian tribesmen of the northern steppes - Bulgars, Magyars, Pechenegs, etc. - and, later, the Vikings and the Russians. But equally, or even more important both from the point of view of Byzantine diplomacy and of European history, is the fact that the Khazar armies effectively blocked the Arab avalanche in its most devastating early stages, and thus prevented the Muslim conquest of Eastern Europe. Professor Dunlop of Columbia University, a leading authority on the history of the Khazars, has given a concise summary of this decisive yet virtually unknown episode:

The Khazar country ... lay across the natural line of advance of the Arabs. Within a few years of the death of Muhammad (AD 632) the armies of the Caliphate, sweeping northward through the wreckage of two empires and carrying all before them, reached the great mountain barrier of the Caucasus. This barrier once passed, the road lay open to the lands of eastern Europe. As it was, on the line of the Caucasus the Arabs met the forces of an organized military power which effectively prevented them from extending their conquests in this direction. The wars of the Arabs and the Khazars, which lasted more than a hundred years, though little known, have thus considerable historical importance. The Franks of Charles Martel on the field of Tours turned the tide of Arab invasion. At about the same time the threat to Europe in the east was hardly less acute. ... The victorious Muslims were met and held by the forces of the Khazar kingdom. ... It can ... scarcely be doubted that but for the existence of the Khazars in the region north of the Caucasus, Byzantium, the bulwark of European civilization in the east, would have found itself outflanked by the Arabs, and the history of Christendom and Islam might well have been very different from what we know.3

It is perhaps not surprising, given these circumstances, that in 732 - after a resounding Khazar victory over the Arabs - the future Emperor Constantine V married a Khazar princess. In due time their son became the Emperor Leo IV, known as Leo the Khazar. .Ironically, the last battle in the war, AD 737, ended in a Khazar defeat. But by that time the impetus of the Muslim Holy War was spent, the Caliphate was rocked by internal dissensions, and the Arab invaders retraced their steps across the Caucasus without having gained a permanent foothold in the north, whereas the Khazars became more powerful than they had previously been. .A few years later, probably AD 740, the King, his court and the military ruling class embraced the Jewish faith, and Judaism became the state religion of the Khazars. No doubt their contemporaries were as astonished by this decision as modern scholars were when they came across the evidence in the Arab, Byzantine, Russian and Hebrew sources. One of the most recent comments is to be found in a work by the Hungarian Marxist historian, Dr Antal Bartha. His book on The Magyar Society in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries4 has several chapters on the Khazars, as during most of that period the Hungarians were ruled by them. Yet their conversion to Judaism is discussed in a single paragraph, with obvious embarrassment. It reads:

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

The rest of this extremely interesting book is at:
Arthur Koestler Book: http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/13trindx.htm#The%20Thirteenth

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Crocker
THEY, the herd, will try to make Arthur Koestler a Moslem!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
1-Are we to understand that , according to you, the majority of Jews are mostly,predominantly ?, genetically related ( bound) to each other or NOT?
2-Are we to understand that Koestler's proposition was "undermined" by genetic/ethnic/racial analysis of Jews?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Well Mr Green I see you are back to your mythical hypothesis that there was, ergo there is, NO Palestine since it was often referred to as PART of Bilad Al Sham!
I guess that you know that Texas, Virginia and New York are often , and mostly outside the USA, referred to as part of the USA !
Would that imply that there is no Texas, no Virginia and no New York?
If I refer to you as Mr Green, as I do, does that mean that there is NO Mr Elliott Aron?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Crocker
It seems you are a new comer to this podium, and a most welcome newcomer as far as I am concerned!
AS such I, a relative old-timer here, would like to draw your attention, if you do not mind, to the presence here of a cabal , a herd, that can only tolerate and consider total agreement to each and every single thing any one of them posts.

Their act goes beyond mutual, often unwarranted, reciprocated
felicitations and congratulations to total silence in the rare event that any of them happens to disagree with what another member had to say.

Another common factor, despite their relative weights, is their bizarre readiness to cry wolf.
"Anti Semitism", that old bankrupt and milked to dryness accusation and "racist" are hurled at the slightest suspicion of a lack, the absence, of total support.

Any inquiry, questioning, no matter how well meant that, to them, smacks of non acceptance re whatever happens to have been posted by any one of them in the very general domain of Zionism, Judaism or Israel is similarly dealt with.

Should you stick around you will see what I mean.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"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."

Thus spake Professor Plaut!

Well, apparently to each Jew his own Judaism; this is perfectly all right with the goyim.

However some points do intrude in a manner that puzzles non Jews .

A-In the case /premise of the absence of a shared (blood) lineage i.e. ethnic-less continuity. :

The common Jewish pretension that the land of Palestine was divinely bequeathed to ALL Jews as a legitimate inheritance clearly establishes a queer definition of "inheritance" in that it bequeaths a physical inheritance in return of a spiritual bond.

However this ethnic less contention seems to be contradicted and belied by the historically "standard" Jewish tradition and practice of the transfer of the Jewish faith through the mother, whose motherhood is indisputable, and NOT the father whose fatherhood could conceivably be an arguable affair.

B-In the case/premise of a common shared (blood) lineage i.e. ethnic continuity:
The soundness of the ethnic (blood/racial) bond would accrue an overriding importance in determining the "legitimate” inheritors of the physical heritage (estate).
Such a contention should necessarily entail the deligematizing , the disinheriting, of all non blood "relations", the ethnic less, and the withholding from them any of the privileges of the physical heritage ( estate).
Conceivably it would NOT disinherit any Jew should the overriding concern of All Jews be the acquisition of the estate irrespective od everything as Professor Plaut’s all encompassing definition implies and seems to foster.

Patently it is aggressive , retrogressive and blood/racist, in case A, and is aggressive , retrogressive and confessional/racist, in case B, to establish a nation/state through the forced acquisition, the colonization, of a land by aliens ( ethnically or non ethnically bonded to each other) through the dislocation, dispossession, disfranchisement and subjugation ( disinheriting?) of its indigenous population and supplanting them with aliens congregated according to premise A or B; as is the case of present day Israel
To accuse all those that oppose aggression, usurpation and colonization of “racism” would diminish the depravity of the term; which is a pity.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Mutik
I welcome your frank and honest admission that:

"The main reason for the formation of the state of Israel is the fact that the Europeans threw out the European Jews and because the only alternative places available between 1945 and 1948 (USA and UK) were closed for the Jews during this time. The only realistic alternative for the time was Israel. "

as proof positive that Israel has neither a legitimate nor an ethical BASIS.

This is what I have been saying all along; Israel is an illegitimate and amoral creation born out of a colonialist act of aggression against the indigenous Palestinian Arab people; irrespective of the reasons and conditions.
I commend your honesty and regret the fact that by creating Israel the Jews have bitten more than they can chew.
Ultimately I believe YOU will regret it and will curse those that have embroiled you in this futureless, hopeless adventure for you have bitten much more than you can , historically, chew!

The mettle of the IDF was tested and revealed last July in Lebanon, a precursor of things to come !
I neither gloat nor threaten .

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

No body, who is serious, contemplates, advocates or seriously considers "pushing the Jews into the sea"!
The realistic, political and moral objective now, which happens to be the only way out for all of us, is the deZionization of Palestine/Israel ie putting an end to the impossible Zionist dream of an exclusively or predominantly Jewish Palestine.

A bombs will never integrate Zionist Israel into the region and make it acceptable to its indigenous population ergo it will never be the "safe haven" sought after by Jews.
That objective could only be attained by integration into the region and the subsequent dealienation of the Jews therein.
(Israel's legitimacy is its IDF (the Israeli army) =Al Capone's legitimacy is his mob!!).

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Q-"Baker, Mutik said the IDF is learning its lessons. What lessons is your side learning?"
A-Inter alia:
1-That the western oriented consumerist Israeli society is a fragile structure
2-That its one and only backbone the IDF, despite its huge destructive abilities and capabilities, is NOT invincible
3-That our ability to absorb the miseries of war is NOT diminishing; if anything it has increased.
4-That determination, single mindedness and preparedness, all lacking in past and present Arab regimes, can achieve substantial results.
5-That regional, Arab and non Arab, rejection of a Zionist Israel is spreading and deepening not diminishing
After Iran Turkey?

Q1-Do you think that Israel is , or is NOT, facing a deepening historical impasse?
Q2-what is your perception of an attainable and durable way out, for Israel and the region, of this, Phase Two?, confrontation, Mr Simon and Mr Mutik?
(Attainable and durable being the key words.)

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Here we seem to have another example of the theory that the only way to fight ignorant anti-Semitism is with confusion and hyperbole.

References to "Khazar usurpers," the author claims, are "too numerous to count."

A Google search for "Khazar usurpers" yields 67 references, of which only the first 14 are non-duplicates.

Evidently, the real reason why this particular and rather obscure brand of anti-Semitic nonsense has provoked such a hyped response, is that it is used to question the basis for the existence of Israel as a Jewish homeland. But, the claim to a Jewish homeland in Palestine was never based solely on genetics anyway. One can be Jewish by ancestry, but one can also be Jewish by conversion (or non-Jewish by conversion, for that matter). Even if the Khazar Jews were sizable in historical numbers or influence, and thus, somehow an important antecedent of modern Zionism (and the article, despite its rhetorical overkill, makes it apparent that key facts are lost in the mists of time, probably forever, so it MIGHT be true, despite its improbability), this would not make claims by adherents of Islam -which is no more than about 5-10% older in vintage- stronger than Jewish ones. So why the hue and cry about yet another weird crack-pot anti-Semitic conspiracy theory? Unless there is some kind of compulsion to make the already actually strong claim for the existence of Israel much stronger than it is, or needs to be?

Three major religions have some kind of claim to roots in the Mideast. The major leaders of those religions acknowledge these multiple claim. Biased partisans for particular sub-groupings reject this to go on rampages and counter-rampages.

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/26/2007

Does anybody really believe that the Israel - Palestine conflict is about some ancient or medieval theological text, and will end if this instead of that is recognised by imams rabbis or whatever?

N. Friedman - 5/24/2007


Two points. Marx's assertions stand on assertions by a third person, Cesar Famin. The third person's writings, according to you, exist. Cesar Famin, not what Marx states, help your argument, assuming that Famin's assertions are correct. So again, why quote Marx when he is a secondary source to information you have from the primary source? Marx's ability to repeat Famin's points does not lend any support to the truth of what Famin states. It merely shows what Marx believed, about which who could care less, unless the topic is an analysis of Marxism or Marx.

I think that you are correct to note what appears in the Quran. But, you should make your point directly, namely, you should ask Muslims to state why a passage in the Quran should be ignored.

Such, I would think, would begin the process in the West of actually realizing that Islam has doctrines that can be studied and is not whatever some apologists reinvents Islam to be.

And, second, it might raise issues for quite a number of Muslims who may be inclined to find a solution to the dispute.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/24/2007

N, Marx's 1854 artice in question is almost wholly based on Cesar Famin's book L'Histoire de la rivalite' et du protectorat des Eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris 1853). Marx's article is made up of direct quotes and paraphrases from the book. Famin was a French diplomat and in a good position to obtain information from French diplomats and churchmen in Jerusalem. The book has a political tendency which was 1) to defend the claimed rights of the Roman Catholic church to Christian holy places in Israel, particularly Jerusalem, against rights claimed by the Greek Orthodox church; and 2) to assert the right and duty of France to defend the Roman Catholic rights. So I don't see any political motive for him to have falsified anything on behalf of the Jews. BTW, I have held Famin's book in my hairy paws and have read it. It is very well written. All that Marx says about the status and numbers of Jews in Jerusalem is taken from Famin's book.

As for the Qur'an, I am well aware that one verse contradicts another, and that sometimes the Hadith contradict a Quranic verse. I agree that orthodox Islan to this day holds that any land that was once under Muslim rule, once part of Dar ul-Islam [such as Spain & Portugal], must return to that status, and that ultimately the Muslims must conquer the whole world. I suggest however that peacemakers ask Muslims/Arabs to explain why they don't agree to Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel [Holy Land, Jews' land, safe abode, etc., in different places in the Quran], given the Quranic statements. This could certainly simplify peacemaking.

N. Friedman - 5/24/2007


You indicate that the Koran assigns Israel to Jews. There is certainly language to that effect and, in fact, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a Sufi who is Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community so argues.

His, however, is not the dominant theological view and never has been. The dominant theological view is and has been for more than a millennium that any land conquered by Muslims must remain in Muslim hands and be governed in accordance with Shari'a.

So far as the treatment of Jews under Islam, it is certainly true that Jews were never treated as equals and, depending on time and place, were treated better or worse, with eras of comparative tolerance (not, albeit by any standard we would understand today) and comparative oppression, with bouts of persecution and bouts of generosity.

I might also add, I would not rely on Karl Marx as an expert on the demography of Europe, much less Jerusalem. I would, by contrast, rely on him to provide details about his interpretation of history or economics but, frankly, he is no expert on Jerusalem.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Jews were a major presence in Jerusalem over the ages. So, the information read by Marx is accurate but his citation to it, while interesting, is of no consequence, unless you are arguing Marx's actual views about Jews in general or in Jerusalem.

Now, you are correct about what Muslim Arabs appear to believe, namely, that they have a God given right to Israel. My suggestion is that moral rights and land claims do not mix. Anyone can create a narrative and such is hardly unique to Muslim Arabs.

Historically, however, I think it is a better argument that the right to land comes from control of the land. The rest is merely rhetoric used in support of that claim.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/23/2007

Grif & N, the Quran itself has its Zionist verses. Such as: Sura 5:20-22 which relates that Allah assigned the Holy Land to the Jews; Sura 5:12 which asserts a divine covenant with the Sons of Israel; and several verses about the Jews returning to their Land, etc.
So on Islamic grounds, the Arabs should welcome Israel as the fulfillment of Quranic prophecy. On the other hand, the Quran commonly abrogates or qualifies its assertions in some verses through other verses and that applies to some of these verses too.

As to the Arab argument about 1500 years. Those were years of oppression, pecuniary exploitation and humiliation of Jews by Arab-Muslims. Except for the Crusaders years. At the beginning of their rule [1099-ca. 1115], the Crusaders were even worse than the Muslims, massacring most of the Jews in the country who still made up a sizable portion of the population [see Moshe Gil].

The Arab-Muslims make a claim to Jerusalem now. In fact, Muslims have been a minority in Jerusalem for more than 200 years, at least. Estimates of Jerusalem population at the start of the 19th century show that Christians and Jews together outnumbered Muslims in the City, although the Muslims were "the masters in every respect," according to an 4-15-1854 article by Karl Marx in the NY Daily Tribune.
Marx's info came from a book by the French diplomat and historian Cesar Famin [Paris 1853]. This book states that Jews were an absolute majority of the Jerusalem population as of 1853. Marx repeated his figures in his 1854 article. Now, 154 years have passed since Famin asserted an absolute Jewish majority in the city, which was still under Muslim control [until 1917]. Is that enough time, according to Grif's Arab/Muslim friends, to establish a Jewish right to have political control over the city? These Arabs seem to think that Arab/Muslim control of the country since 640 CE, 1257 years before the First Zionist Congress in 1897 [and interrupted by the Crusades], entitles them to permanent control of the country. Just when did their permanent right kick in, after how many years? How about their oppression, etc., of the Jews in the country while they controlled it, inducing many Jews to emigrate? Does that give them rights? How about the collaboration of the Palestinian Arab leadership in the Holocaust, particularly in the person of Haj Amin el-Husseini?

N. Friedman - 5/23/2007


Well, we have found different things. However, if we go by Google, you can discover what I have, namely, that, in fact, the view that Jews are not from historic Palestine is as common as can be. In fact, such view was the view expressed by the leader, now deceased, of Palestinian Arabs.

So far as the notion that rather than being from historic Palestine, Ashkenazi Jews are from Khazaria, I have googled the matter. There are tens of thousands of documents on the issue.

As for the Muslim view that Jews have no place in historic Palestine, try reading the polling. It supports what I say. The same of polling of Palestinian Arabs.

Grif Fariello - 5/23/2007

Contrary to Friedman, I have not found the notion that Jews are not from historic Palestine to be all that common. In fact, his post is the first I've heard of it. Nor is it clear that the some Jews as Khazars claim is all that prevalent either (although "not unusual" is a fairly wide door). Neither argument (and certainly not the first) play any role I've ever encountered in mainstream critiques of Zionism and Israel.

Nor have I found that "Muslims tend" (all 1 billion of them?)"to deny the legitimacy of any Jewish claim relating to historic Palestine." The same goes for Friedman's overreach on what "Palestinian Arabs" may or may not believe. I have found plenty of Muslims and Palestinians who admit freely to a continued Jewish presence in Palestine (that is the Jewish claim is it not?). What sticks in their craw is the Zionist presumption that the whole shebang must then be a Jewish state, as if the Arabs/Palestinians have only been there to keep the windows clean for the last 1500 years.

N. Friedman - 5/22/2007


One may study Islam before becoming a Muslim. It is, however, not a necessity.

As I recall, one become a Muslim by reciting the Shahada, "Ash HaduAllaa Ilaaha Il-lallaah Wa Ash Hadu Anna Muhammadar Rasullulah" - I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad if His Messenger -. I believe that such is supposed to be done in front of Muslim witnesses.

I think that Judaism, by contrast, requires study and is rather more difficult to convert to than Islam.

John Charles Crocker - 5/22/2007

First you do owe any Anglicans here an apology for your characterization of their church. Or is anti-Semitism the only type of religious intolerance that you object to?

Second, where in the article does is speak of anyone questioning the legitimacy of conversion to Judaism? What was/is questioned by people who hold to this discredited hypothesis is the tribal origin of Ashkenazi Jews in the land that is now Israel.

The legitimacy of any conversion process is entirely a side issue here.

You label anti-Semitism racism. Do you view the Jewish people as a race?

Elliott Aron Green - 5/22/2007

John, I too have read about that mitochondrial DNA evidence which came out rather recently. As you write, this mitochondrial DNA goes through the mother. Smith was referring to a genetic marker among Jewish men believed to be descended from the ancient priestly caste [from Aaron]. I don't know who Smith's "Most researchers..." are.

John Charles Crocker - 5/22/2007

Thanks for the thoughtful response.
I don't have easy access to the primary source material (or much time to look) as to who owned what when or the demographics in 1948, so I don't have much to add here.

John Charles Crocker - 5/22/2007

The genetic evidence I was refering to was mitochondrial DNA tests as I believe I made clear in my post titled "Try again, read slowly and carefully." Mitochondrial DNA is matrilineal and not subject to much controversy at this point.

As for who owned what at what time, I leave that argument to people more knowledgeable on the particulars than myself.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/22/2007

Smith, it sounds to me like you have an axe to grind.

On genetics, there are quite a few studies confirming the general argument about Jews [including Ashkenazim] being related to Lebanese, Arabs and some other peoples to a lesser extent, like Armenians, Greeks, Italians [especially in the South]. Some of these studies were reviewed in an article in Commentary a few years ago.

Jews came to Europe as migrants, sometimes brought as slaves, as to ancient Rome, sometimes fleeing oppression, as by Romans, Byzantines and BY ARABS. At the time of the Arab conquest, Jews were about half the population of the Land of Israel, according to Moshe Gil and other scholars. The Arabs set up an oppressive, exploitative regime for non-Muslims throughout their vast domains [including Israel]. This regime is called the dhimma. Hence, many Jews emigrated during the early Arab/Muslim period, before the Crusades. Jews were still a sizable part of the population in Israel in 1099 when the Crusaders came. The Crusaders massacred most of the Jewish native population in the country, according to Moshe Gil.

Meanwhile, in Christian Europe, Jews were not allowed to proselytize anybody, not even slaves. So how did non-Jewish blood mix with the Jews? Likewise, in the Muslim domain, Muslims were not allowed to apostatize to any other religion, under penalty of death, although Christians and Jews could convert each other, which seldom occurred. Therefore, Islamic and Christian laws [in Europe] tended to preserve the Jews as a distinct racial-genetic group, although in some places, conversions of Jews to other religions could produce a mixture among the dominant religious group [i.e., the forced conversions in Italy in the early Christian period].

Now, Jews were traditionally considered outsiders, aliens, in Europe, and in specific European countries like Germany. Jews were explicitly defined as Orientals [see Kant and Hegel, for example]. So it is especially outrageous for European non-Jews or Americans of non-Jewish European descent to now claim that the Jews in Europe were "europeans" just like everybody else. It's a little late for that now. What you and others have done and are doing is to transfer the Jews' alien nature from Europe to the Middle East, whence the Jews originated. It is the same hatred, just transposing the location where the Jews are to be considered alien. How convenient that you do this after the Holocaust!!

Regarding land, the 1939 British "White Paper on Palestine" contained the principle of forbidding Jews to purchase land. The ensuing Land Purchase Regulations of 1940 divided the Land of Israel west of the Jordan into three zones, A,B, C, as I recall. In most of the country Jews were forbidden to buy land, period. In the area around Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to buy land from Arabs but were allowed to buy land from non-Arabs, such as churches, which were and are major landowners around the Holy City. In a small zone along the coast Jews were allowed to buy real estate from Arabs. These rules were in violation of the Jewish National Home provisions of the League of Nations mandate, and were declared in violation by the League's Permanent Mandates Commission. Addressing your claim about "most of the land that is now Israel," most of the land was state land under the Ottoman Empire. Further, most of the country was barren, uncultivated, unused in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Much still is that way. Now, in the late Ottoman period when it became possible for Jews to buy land, Jews bought much empty real estate. However, much of this land was taken over ["occupied"] by Jordan after 1948 and Jews did not have access to it. The Judeophobic Western govts. and "non-governmental orgs" [more or less an arm of the former] complained that Jews were building in East Jerusalem on "Arab land" when in fact much of the land was owned by Jews since the late 19th century, although Arabs had squatted on some of this land under Jordanian rule, even falsifying land ownership documents [which you accuse Jews of doing]. Your claim about "seized from Arabs by force and coercion" is false, since this was state land. Moreover, the L of N mandate stipulated that such land was to be given over to Jewish settlement which was to be fostered by the mandatory power. The UK violated this provision of the Mandate, since its policy was pro-Arab [or rather more anti-Jewish than pro-Arab, but helping Arabs and inciting them against Jews was a necessity for the anti-Jewish policy] starting in 1918 when Allenby governed the country as "Occupied Enemy Territory Administration-South."

I suggest that you improve and enhance your sources of information on the history of the Jews and the Land of Israel, since you believe many falsehoods.

Robert Smith - 5/21/2007

"Why do you want to argue against genetic evidence that points to the Jewish peoples ancestors being from the land that is now Israel?"

Because it's wrong? I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. You're not very clear in expressing yourself to responding to Cohen's comments.

What you're referring to as "genetic evidence" is the Cohen Modal Haplotype discussed in detail here:

Most researchers now regard the CMH as a red herring. The original studies were done by a group of Israelis with a political axe to grind. Subsequent researchers have found that the CMH is widely distributed in populations originating from the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe. In other words, the CMH simply does not prove Cohanim or Jewish history and ancestry.

"As far as the right of Jews to establish their nation in what is now Israel in 1948 goes, I think that becoming a majority on lands that they purchased is morally preferable to how many others declared statehood on lands that they happened to inhabit for quite some time following long periods of combined warfare, expulsion, etc."

This is not accurate. The majority of the land that is now Israel was seized from Arabs by force and coercion. Only a small percentage was actually purchased from landholders. Many claims of sales were made after the 1948 invasion but they are mostly false.

N. Friedman - 5/20/2007


With due respect, the allegation that Jews are not from historic Palestine is common. The claim that such people are Khazarians is not unusual either. I suggest you google a bit more thoroughly.

As for the claims of the religions, Muslims tend to deny the legitimacy of any Jewish claim relating to historic Palestine. In fact, Palestinian Arabs, including Arafat, denied any connection between Jews and even Jerusalem. Such occurred in a meeting with, among others, President Clinton.

I think you need to do your homework.

Joseph Mutik - 5/20/2007

One of the parallels, I mentioned in my previous message, is the fighting between different groups of Arabs. Internal fighting was/is taking place In the Balkans. The empires in Europe (Russian, Austria-Hungarian, Turkish) were facilitated by the internal fighting inside European nations.
Jesus, if he existed, was trying some kind of reformist movement, which is always dividing. The real division took place after the disappearance of Jesus. Saul of Tars (Paul) probably frustrated by the fact that his sect wasn't easily accepted by the main stream Judaism had his "road to Damascus" dream which was the real beginning of the invention of Christianity who's main attraction was the easy way of conversion (compared with the long process of the orthodox Jewish conversion). Also Christianity has the very attractive (and immoral) conversion principle of forgiveness of one's prior sins if he accepts Jesus. As I said in my other messages, I am an atheist and I mentioned conversion only because the article is about the racist views about one instance of conversion to Judaism.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/20/2007

Daniel, for a Jewish historian's view on Jesus, I suggest Joel Carmichael's The Crucifixion of Jesus [or similar title].
Carmichael was a pen name for Joel Lipsky. He was the editor of the Zionist magazine, Midstream.
Solomon Zeitlin also wrote on that period in Jewish history, including a book on Jesus. The Britisher SR Driver has a tome called Jesus and the Zealots.
Then there is Hyam Maccoby with Revolution in Judea [or some such title].

Daniel Buck - 5/19/2007

Mr. Mutik-

My apologies. I assumed that you were being sarcastic, and about thirty seconds after posting, had roughly the same thoughts about thin skin. Then my computer crashed.

Google is a useful tool, I agree. I am, however, limited in terms of its use, because I happen to live behind the Great Firewall of China. Although I could look up a full report on the Tiananmen Square massacre from any number of sources that make it through the censorship, wikipedia is mysteriously denied to me completely, as are other popular sources. This (HNN) is one of the sites that has serious political content that never gets messed with.

Re: the myth of Jesus

You said some very interesting things about that. Particularly, 'the fights between Jews were one of the main causes for the destruction of the Jewish state in antiquity.' Makes a lot of sense, and is well-documented. What I wonder is whether or not you think there are parallels with other peoples subjugated by empires who, seemingly illogically, fight amongst themselves, and if you think that Jesus was part of intra-Jewish conflict or was attempting to unite all Jews. Thanks for your polite response to my impolite stupidity, and keep on rockin' in the free world.


Joseph Mutik - 5/18/2007

The process of conversion to Christianity is a simple one and involves baptism and some water. It doesn't matter if one converts to join the church of the whore monger English king , the Catholics or other Christian group, the converted becomes a full Christian and no one, unless he is a racist or can prove that it was done in bad faith, contests it
The conversion to Islam, as far as I know, doesn't follow a formal process but always implies some process of learning the fundamentals of Islam. At the end of this process could be some kind of statement made in front of a representative of the religion. After the conversion to Islam, no one, unless he is a racist or can prove that it was done in bad faith, contests it
The article written by Steven Plaut: clearly states that:

"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.)"
So the bottom line is: anyone contesting conversion to Judaism does it out of racism and hatred of Jews. The only amendment to my last sentence is for people who contest any kind of religious conversions to any religion but that's not the case of the anti-Jewish racists described in the article.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/17/2007

Fahrettin, you ask why the British should have been for Arab unity, when, you believe, a series of small statelets would have been more useful. Before I try to read the Brits' minds, my study of the subject, including MacDonald's book on the Arab League makes that clear. MacDonald writes that Anthony Eden actually initiated formation of the Arab League through two speeches that he delivered during WW 2. Now, I have read Eden's speeches in long excerpts, or perhaps in whole, I don't recall. They appear in whole or in part in MacDonald's book and in a book edited by Philip Ireland, an early American specialist in Arab affairs. Majid Khadduri, an Arab nationalist historian & political scientist, discusses some of the British connection to the Arab League in his book, Independent Iraq [try the first edition first, since the 2nd ed. is somewhat different].

Now, why did the British do it? Maybe they thought that they could control all of the Arabs better and more effectively if they were united in an Arab League. Anyhow, in Eden's day, Eden was more interested in forming an Arab League than the Arab rulers themselves were. On the other hand, maybe the British hoped that the Arabs would do certain things if they were united more effectively than if apart, and that these were things or actions that the British themselves could not openly espouse or endorse at that time. Maybe the British were hoping that an Arab League would fight the Jews more effectively than separate Arab states. But the British could not at that time openly espouse a policy of encouraging the Arabs to make war on the Jews, whom the British Establishment hated most of all. Actually, in the late 1940s, the British did come very close to openly encouraging Arab war on Israel. Indeed, the British-supplied and British-officered and subsidized Arab Legion of Transjordan openly made war on the Jews, driving the Jews out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, etc. Furthermore, British troops made war on the Jewish forces in several places throughout the country. British tanks and planes tried to save the Arabs from losing the city of Jaffa to the Jews. British forces fought and killed Jewish troops in Jerusalem. The Royal Air Force fought the newborn Israeli air force over Sinai. This may have happened in early 1949. In any event, Israel's air force shot down five [5] British planes.
Maybe the British encouraged the Arab League in order to have a more effective Arab force to oppose Israel.

On the other hand, maybe the UK encouraged formation of the League thinking that if they could control only the leading Arab states of the time, Iraq and Egypt, then they could through them control the rest of the Arabs. In short, I don't know the British purpose for sure, but I can make some reasonable speculations, as above.

Joseph Mutik - 5/17/2007

I actually directed you to the wikipedia articles on the subject which, I believe, are very good.
Pan-Arabism doesn't work because they hate each other. I agree it's a simplistic view but describes the essence of the problem. It was during the 1960s and 70s a United Arab Republic including Egypt and Syria which failed in the end. Could be a semitic characteristic causing fraternal wars. The Jews suffer of it too. The fights between Jews were one of the main causes for the destruction of the Jewish state in antiquity. One of the worst results of the Jewish wars, 2000 years ago, was the myth of Jesus which hunted and hunts the Jews and also killed a lot of them.
About the backhanded "insult", you allege, it's BS, I did with the best intentions. Google is the best tool in the world, if used properly. If you prefer to go to the pub for learning things, It's OK with me, but studying
it's a better choice.
All the best.

Daniel Buck - 5/17/2007

On the other hand there is no reason why mankind should organize in ethnic-lingual entities, Islam defines the Moslems as a nation and the Arabs might prefer this.

by Fahrettin Tahir on May 17, 2007 at 10:08 AM

Wow. That's a hell of a sentence. Maybe I'm totally ignorant or something, but I thought that a 'nation' was an ethnic-linguistic entity. Maybe I've imbibed too much Marxism.

Also, my general understanding of Islam is that it places some priority on a person's ethnicity; while perhaps not quite as much as some religions, it emphasizes Arabic and Arabs as being, well, gifted in terms of the idea that the Koran is in God's own language i.e. Arabic. Your posts have been interesting, thank you for writing.


Daniel Buck - 5/17/2007

Thank you all for the informative comments that you have made on my brief, and ignorant, questions.

Thank you not at all, Mr. Mutik, for your backhanded insults. I did not turn to Google because it, in my experience, turns up crap more often than not. I preferred to ask on this page because people here, while not necessarily experts, routinely put out better info than I can just pull out of Google. I am now more knowledgeable about the Middle East. Do you object to that?

Anyway, my questions about Pan-Arabism, rooted in an American perspective, remain unanswered. I say 'rooted in an American perspective' because I look at the Arab states, and in my ignorant opinion, I see the opportunity for a wide federation involving peoples from a basically similar linguistic-cultural background uniting to form a superpower, and I wonder more and more about the SPECIFIC causes of how and why they haven't done so.

I don't know much about this topic. However, I am willing to learn, and it seems that there are many on this site who are willing to opine. So if you feel like helping out a newbie, keep on talking. Thanks everyone,


Fahrettin Tahir - 5/17/2007

Elliott, and why should the British have been for Arab unity instead of the little statelets which they invented and which serve them so well?

Elliott Aron Green - 5/17/2007

Dan, Ashkenaz is found in the Hebrew Bible as a real place actually in Armenia. In the Middle Ages, the name Skandza used for northern Europe [as in Scandinavia] sounded to Jewish immigrants there like the Biblical name of a place in Armenia. Hence, Ashkenaz came to mean northern Europe, particularly Germany and Germanic-speaking lands [i.e., Holland, Denmark, etc.].
Sefarad is a also a Biblical place name, for a place called in Greek Aspamia, somewhere in Syria or Anatolia, I believe. Note the resemblance of Aspamia to Hispania [= Spain + Portugal]. So some Jews made the connection between Sefarad and Spain through Aspamia.

As to the failure of Arab nationalism, many Arab rulers were Not keen or eager to have one state. Guess why. Anyhow, MacDonald, an expert on the Arab League wrote that the Arab rulers were not eager to join in such a league but that they were prodded by the British into setting up the Arab League, particularly through two speeches by UK foreign minister Anthony Eden encouraging them to form the League. So if anybody says that the imperialists --especially the British-- were against Arab unity, then that's just a big lie, the opposite of the truth.

Mordecai Nisan, an expert on Arab nationalism, says that one reason that pan-Arabism failed is because 1) it failed in its wars with Israel; 2) Islam was more authentic for most Arabs than was Arab nationalism.

On Sefarad & Ashkenaz, try looking up those words in the Encyclopedia Judaica.

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/17/2007

I don't know about the Arabs, but the European problem is that the people do not accept and understand that their politicians are lying. That reminds me : Hitler said the Germans were the only people in Europe stupid enough to believe their own propaganda. I am sure he knew what he was talking about.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/17/2007

Without necessarily agreeing with all of your historical arguments, I would say that the hypocrisy of the Europeans in general and the EU in particular has no bounds. Like the EU's policy in Turkey that you describe, Condi Rice, US foreign minister [not as attractive as Silvana Mangano in Bitter Rice], helped the Hamas take over the palestinian authority zones by insisting that Hamas be allowed to run in the PA elections a year and 1/2 ago. Thus, Rice overlooked the Oslo Accords which forbid Hamas participation in elections, since they openly refused to make peace with Israel in principle, and still do.

Whereas the Arabs are notorious for lying [in my opinion], the Europeans should be equally notorious for hypocrisy.

Joseph Mutik - 5/17/2007

A Google on "ashkenazi" gives you about 1.5 million answers beginning witha good wikipedia article.
A Google on "sephardi" gives you about 336000 answers beginning with a good wikipedia article.
Good luck studying!

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/17/2007

The Arabic speaking peoples are not a nation in the sense the Europeans invented in the 18th century. They might evetually become one, but this is not yet the case. On the other hand there is no reason why mankind should organize in ethnic-lingual entities, Islam defines the Moslems as a nation and the Arabs might prefer this. The theory that there are no Palestinians is Israelis fooling themselves. The Palestinians were born when England invaded Palestine and the common experience since 1947 has made them to Palestinians, as such they see themselves today.

Joseph Mutik - 5/17/2007

First of all the last Lebanon war wasn't really a "victory" for hizballah. They are not in southern Lebanon anymore, the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL force replaced them. Hizaballah tries now to rebuild north of Litani river. If it goes this way with every new war they'll get closer to Beirut and Lebanon will get back to the "normal for Arabs" state of civil war. The main point is that Israel made very clear to Lebanon that if attacked from Lebanon it's a Lebanese responsibility, as a country, and not business as usual. The previous arrangement was: if hizballah attacks Israel and the rest of Lebanon can live well and do business the situation is OK for the Lebanese yellow "government". There is no such arrangement anymore and that's a victory for Israel. For the long range the question is: who's better for Lebanon, Israel or Syria? I'll leave it rhetoric.
Next about your so called "resilience to misery" myth about Arabs. The Arab society in addition to being backward is a very divided society. As I pointed in my above message, you refused to answer, in the Arab world in every place where there is a multi ethnic, multi religious or a multi sect society there is a great deal of violence between the local components, violence with results in regular daily killings or savage killings of tenths of thousands (e.g. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq before and after Saddam). The repeated stampedes of Gaza inhabitants to the Egyptian side don't prove "resilience to misery" but a true willing to get out of there. There is a constant emigration process out of Gaza (and west bank).
About "attainable" peace in the region, I don't believe it can be done in the short term (20 to 50 years). Lets hope for a better future. When I lived in Israel I used to sympathize with "peace now" and vote for Shulamit Aloni (the retired head of what is now Meretz) but the unraveling of the "Oslo process" made me change my mind. First was the trials of Shimon Peres to build a Palestinian economy which were miserably rejected by the Palestinians. Shimon Peres is a renaissance man, he is a very skilled diplomat and a master economic strategist and builder in the same time. Peres is the guy who schmoozed the French government (with his perfect French) in selling to Israel the Dimona reactor and afterwards supervised, as a defense ministry director, the building of the facility. He tried during 1990s to begin the building of a Palestinian economy but they rejected his efforts. Does anyone remember the Jericho casino? A very successful Palestinian-Israeli-International joint venture who brought a lot of jobs to the area and would have created thousands of other jobs through the tourism industry but the Palestinians preferred destruction. This was, for me the first wake up call. The second was the total rejection by Arafat, at Camp David, of the Barak-Clinton proposals. I don't say that the Palestinians had to totally accept the proposal but that they should have had a counter proposal. A counter proposal would have proved Palestinian good faith and willingness to live in peace with Israel. It is clear to me now that the only Palestinian agenda is to terminate Israel and kill all the Jews there. There is no short term solution! Every day I pay more for gas at the pump I am happier because it's the beginning of solving Israel's problems. Arabs without the oil will get back to a backward and impotent state. $4/gallon is close and when we get to $5/gallon I'll give a big party. Of course my old liberal heart bleeds for the people with less money than me but I'll balance somehow?!
The present Israel has a lot of political and social problems and a quite incompetent leadership. My guess is that the problems of today will bring Netanyahu as the next Israeli PM. Will see then?!

Daniel Buck - 5/17/2007

Can anyone with a good working knowledge of the language please explain to me the origins of the terms Ashkenazi (sp?) and Sephardi? I understand what these terms refer to, but I wonder if anyone could explain where they come from.

Re: Israel/Palestine

Much has been written on these comment boards regarding this subject (I have been reading for several years, rarely posting). What usually comes up eventually is that some who back the Israeli side of the debate bring up the idea that Palestinians are not a nation; they are part of the greater Arab nation. I would like to hear some of you (and you know who you are) discuss the reasons for the failure of Pan-Arabism. If we follow the preposition that Arabs are indeed a single nation and people, then what happened? Why is there not a single Arab country in the world today? Details, if you please. Not just poorly worded 'because of Western/European/American imperialism' rants. Thanks,


Fahrettin Tahir - 5/17/2007

The European Union today is demonstrating in Turkey how to destroy a political culture in order to turn a country into a colony. They support the Islamists, who the EU says are moderates, and openly talk about replacing the existing elite with a new islamist one which will do what the Europeans will order them to do. Among other things accepting what the government of germany calls privilidged partnership, an euphemism for colonial status. For this they mobilise the lower classes of Turkey against the middle class, as they once mobilised the lower classes of the Arab world against the Caliphate, which was also the Turkish middle class. Omar for one seems to be waiting for the day of European victory.

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/17/2007

As an agnostic, I have problems accepting religion as a solution of problems, and as the reason for problems. Let us subtract religion and look at the middle east.

You should remember, that the mongols not only conquered Iraq, then the center of islamic civilisation, bur decapitated this civilisation by slaughtering the entire upper class. The peasants who remained could not rebuild civilisation, islamic under development was born. By no coincidence Andalusia in Spain where the mongols could not reach remained civilised. The backwardness of modern Arabia is at least in part a consequence of English colonial policies. In order to be able to steal the oil they threw out the Turks, who had been running the middle east for 1000 years and would not have let them steal the oil and replaced them with sheikhs & Co. who being idiots would let the english steal the oil, who being idiots could also not adress any of the problems of the middle east, using their adherence to a medieval Islam as a legitimation for their rule. While it is true that the Arab politicies are very much a part of their problem, the reason for these policies is the fact that these are countries who at independence were intentionally robbed of the political culture which had grown over the previous 1000 years. Turkey herself suffered unter the Tsarist Empire, which beginning 1774 made war against Turkey every 20 years, devastating the central european provinces and killing millions to exterminate the Turkish nation. Only after the Russian revolution did she get a chance to recover, becomin even without oil the most developed moslem country. As a part of the Ottoman Empire, with all that oil, the Arab lands today would have been at the zenith of civilisation.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/17/2007

E, I'm aware that there was continuity with ancient culture. Further, the first sixty years or so of Muslim rule were relatively benign [after the violent, bloody and disruptive period of the conquest itself]. Indeed, the conquerors at first did NOT allow conversion, living off tribute, sometimes in camps that later became cities. However, towards the end of Umayyad rule and more so under the Abbasids, the situation of the dhimmis worsened. Now, dhimmis were the majority of the population of those lands in the early centuries. As their proportion in the population declined, their situation worsened [Roberta Aluffi Beck-Peccoz, Dizionario dell'Islam, p 85], and the tax collections seem to have become harsher. That seems to have led over time to the decline of the agricultural economy, since dhimmi peasants, oppressed by both the jizya and kharaj, abandoned farm lands and moved to cities or converted or left the Islamic domain altogether, which it seems that both Jews and Christians did. At the same time, slavery seems to have grown as a labor source. I known that this does not refer to high culture [see below] but to the status of the working population and the economy. Yet, these aspects too are part of civilization. Also, bear in mind that the Conquest entailed major population transfers. The Arab conquerors were concerned that Byzantine forces not return by sea to the Levant. So they uprooted Christian majority populations in coastal towns and cities. In one case, Christians were expelled or evacuated by agreement, and the Arab conquerors brought in Jews to settle in their place [source: a recent article by Milkha Levy-Rubin in Cathedra in Hebrew; a work partly based on al-Baladhuri]. These population transfers obviously caused great disruption and a breach in communications with the Byzantine empire, which was still civilization.

Now to high culture. One of the last Sassanid Persian emperors had invited Greek philosophers, possibly persecuted in the Christian sphere, to come to Gundeshapur [I believe that is the name of the place] where they set up a school of philosophy. This school came under Arab-Muslim rule during the Conquest. Greek works were transmitted through them. And as the Syriac-speaking Christians learned Arabic, they translated Greek works into Arabic, sometimes through Syriac versions. But this flourishing of high culture did not last. And it was Muslim regimes that squelched it. Emile Dermenghem points out that, although an Almohad caliph had encouraged Averroes [ibn Rushd; lived 12th century], a later Almohad caliph had his books burned. The last great mind in Arab-Muslim culture was --in my view-- Ibn Khaldun who died in 1406. Since his death, there has been nobody in that culture who made an important contribution to world culture. Even in his lifetime, Ibn Khaldun was rather alone, since the phenomena that you mentioned had already set in. I don't think that Spain was an exception to the rule, except that there local variations in the process of decline, according local rulers at various times, etc.

In material culture, let's look at Iraq, a fertile productive agricultural area since high antiquity, mainly due to the irrigation works. The Arabs did not destroy these irrigation works, but after the Mongols had destroyed them in the 13th-14th century, the Arab or later Muslim rulers did not rebuild them. So when the British came to Iraq the population was probably much smaller than in ancient times. Ditto for the Land of Israel in 1917. There too, in the Jewish Second Temple period, the land was prosperous with considerable olive oil exports based on terrace agriculture, a form of agriculture developed by the Jews, according to Prof Menashe Harel. However, by the mid-19th century the population had declined to an estimated 250,000-300,000, much less than the Second Temple period. Literacy was low too among the Muslims. This cannot be blamed on Western colonization, whereas the Western powers, for all of their destructive scheming, did much to spread literacy and raise health standards.

As to cultural pluralism, a pluralism of languages continued into the 20th century, but the dominant Arab/Muslim culture despised the cultural works of kufar, so the cultural pluralism factor did not/could not/ have much constructive effect.

E. Simon - 5/16/2007


What can you say about your claim to a decline in civilization following the Arab conquest versus other, contrary evidence of intellectual growth? Clearly some intellectual continuity from the sciences and philosophy of the ancient Greeks was maintained, even though I understand that philosophy was eventually abandoned along with individual Muslim theological inquiry when the "gates of ijtihad" were closed. Was pre-inquisition Spain an exception to your perspective of the Levant, as you see it? Was the cultural-ethnic, linguistic homogenization in the Levant an eventual obstacle to a cultural pluralism which might have had a more civilizing effect, were we to separate such a thing from the initial preservation of works of knowledge from antiquity that occured before the decline of Islamic civilization? I'm wondering if there wasn't a more complicated picture we can learn from than what you're stating in that second paragraph.

Joseph Mutik - 5/16/2007

Mr. Baker give me one example of multiracial, multi religious, multi sect etc. Arab society where the components don't try (or kill or killed) to kill each other (e.g. Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan etc). If you can give this kind of example I may begin to discuss your bi national idea.
How long will take from the time the Arabs would have the majority in a bi national Jewish-Arab state till they begin to kill the Jews, in the old Arab tradition which is if your group has the power kill the group with less power.
The Jewish majority in Israel is a must, any Arab majority over the Jews is NO-NO!

Elliott Aron Green - 5/16/2007

Omar again claims that the Arabs in Israel are "indigenous." All the historical documentation argues against that tendentious claim. Now, I do accept a racial-biological kinship or affinity of the Jews with the Arabs. But why were Arab/Muslim-ruled societies so backward compared to Western society and why were Jews [and Christian dhimmis] in Arab/Muslim lands on a higher cultural level than their Arab/Muslim neighbors???

First of all, before the Arab conquest, the Fertile Crescent, also called Levant or Orient [Oriens in Latin], was a great center of civilization. The Arab conquest began a deteriortion of culture and civilization in the Orient from which the region has never recovered. From a region which led civilization before the Arab Conquest, the region is now, on the whole, backward. Some Middle Eastern peoples don't even want to be considered Eastern, like Cypriot Greeks, Armenians, Georgians, and some Jews. Cyprus has joined the EU, and Georgia & Armenia want to do the same. Why is that? Maybe it's because the Arab world is so ugly today [consider Iraq, Gaza, Egypt, etc.]. So maybe, Omar, you might consider the problems that your religion imposes on you. Just what explains the mass murder bombings in Iraq --of fellow Muslims!!!-- as well as of the Assyrians, the indigenous people there?? What explains the Hamas-Fatah killings in Gaza?? The mass slaughter in Algeria over the last 17 years??

AS to John C's dispute with Sagi and Joe M. I do see John's point about ethnic ancestry as a justification for a state. And many states make it. On the other hand, John, there is an argument that the USA, Canada, Argentina, Uruguary, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, etc., claim to be legitimate states without most of their people having an ancient ethnic tie to those countries.

Now, I should add why the Jews who migrated to Europe in Antiquity and the Middle Ages retain a relative [not absolute] purity of descent, as did Jews in North Africa and the Middle East. This was because 1) in Christian lands, conversion to Judaism was forbidden [see Amnon Linder's book on laws regarding Jews in the Middle Ages]; 2) in Muslim lands, Muslims were forbidden, under penalty of death, to apostasize, that is, to convert to any other religion. Theoretically, a Christian might convert to Judaism in a Muslim land, but a Muslim could not do so. Such conversions of Christians seldom occurred but some are documented. For instance, there were certain individuals who came from Europe to Muslim lands in order to convert to Judaism [i.e., Ovadiah the Norman Proselyte, etc.]. They became part of the Oriental Jewish communities. In short, Jewish proselytism was forbidden in both Muslim and Christian lands. This obviously tended to preserve the purity of Jewish descent. However, Christian and Muslim populations became more mixed, especially in the Mediterranean region, because they took in converts --forced or willing-- from many and sundry origins.

One last point. I believe that it is right to keep in mind the historical Arab oppression and persecution of Jews as dhimmis, as well as Arab [in particular, Palestinian Arab] collaboration with the Nazis and in the Holocaust. This brings me to the Nazi-like aspects of the Hamas charter. For instance, one article [Art. 7 ?] includes an old hadith, to wit: At the end of days [yom al-din] the Muslims will fight the Jews. Some Jews will hide behind rocks and tress. The rocks and tress will say: O Muslim, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him.
This aspect of the Hamas charter, a medieval expression of Judeophobia, should be remembered.

E. Simon - 5/16/2007

Baker, Mutik said the IDF is learning its lessons. What lessons is your side learning? Also, you don't seem to dispute Mutik's claim to a certain someone being a "product of a failed political, economic and social system." Why is that? Do you not take exception to that statement?

Perhaps it wasn't the "mettle" of the IDF that was tested, as you claim it was. If Mutik is right and it is able to learn from prior engagements, then it seems that would say something more flattering about them than it would about you, given the patterns you stick to day in, day out in your diatribes on HNN.

E. Simon - 5/16/2007

John, I am reluctant to enter this discussion because it seems the two of you are talking way past each other, and I have difficutly even understanding what Cohen is trying to say, let alone what points he is trying to make. So if you want to consider this a side-note between you and me, that's ok. Anyway, as regards the genetic history of Palestinians, one possibility is that they descend - at least in part - from former Jews who were converted to Islam following Islamic conquest. I'm not sure how likely this is, but it is a possibility at least in the case of some who can actually trace their history to the area in question back before the 19th century.

As far as the right of Jews to establish their nation in what is now Israel in 1948 goes, I think that becoming a majority on lands that they purchased is morally preferable to how many others declared statehood on lands that they happened to inhabit for quite some time following long periods of combined warfare, expulsion, etc., etc., but that is just me. Also, we should be careful to not mix our applications of ethical standards from different eras, but still - as far as a modern moral right to establishing statehood and its prerequisites go, I do not see why others don't give adequete recognition to the ethically preferable method of purchasing land as opposed to engaging coercive methods at achieving habitation that were previously the norm.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

"That means that about 2/3 of the nation states on earth have to be dismantled, including all Arab countries other than Saudi Arabia, because the people migrated into their homeland from elsewhere."
Where did I say or even imply that Israel or any other state should be dismantled.

"Of course, if the Jews actually come from Israel, then they would meet even Crocker's arbitrary test for legitimacy of self-determination!"
Apparently they did and so they do. You have not read at all carefully anything I have written have you?

"And just how does Crocker know how different DNA strands originated?"
If you are actually curious about this Wikipedia offers a relatively easy and accurate explanation for the layperson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogical_DNA_test
Why do you want to argue against genetic evidence that points to the Jewish peoples ancestors being from the land that is now Israel? Is it because that same genetic evidence points to the close relationship with the Palestinians and their ancestry in that same location?

You still have not offered any argument as to why the Jewish people of 1948 would have had the right to establish their nation in what is now Israel if it was not the land of their ancestors. Instead you make entirely irelevent arguments. I this because you have no answer?

Joseph Mutik - 5/16/2007

Israel's legitimacy is its IDF (the Israeli army).
I have no direct connections to the Mossad or Israeli government secrets but a many sources say that Israel has a pretty powerful nuclear capability (from land and submarines). If that's true your wet dreams are not very realistic, the Israeli Jews can't be pushed into the sea (as they were pushed into the ovens by the Germans with the cooperation of other Europeans). My guess is that USA helped Israel after 1967 first to counterbalance the Soviet influence and second (but not least) because USA knew that Israel has the bomb (of course I have no real information about the Israeli nukes)

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

So, I take it that in your opinion believing that your god gave you a piece of land should give you the exclusive right to self determination on said peice of land. Is this your position?

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

Only Baker and his ilk

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

Nice to see HNN is so hospitable in welcoming Islamofascist goons and racists onto the web site. Mutik and Baker - you guys finding a nice explosives belt in the right size? Don't want to keep those 72 virgins waiting...

Joseph Mutik - 5/16/2007

I am a former IDF soldier and an atheist. The only god I believe in is the automatic rifle I had in the Israeli Defense Forces. Religion is important to the Jews (I believe more that it was) because kept the Jews together as a nation for about 2000 years. The main reason for the formation of the state of Israel is the fact that the Europeans threw out the European Jews and because the only alternative places available between 1945 and 1948 (USA and UK) were closed for the Jews during this time. The only realistic alternative for the time was Israel. USA begun to help Israel only after 1967 to counterbalance the Soviets help for Egypt. Too bad the Palestinians suffered as a result of the quite complicated international political situation but the Europeans, the Americans and the Brits gave the Jews no choice so complain to them and also you can complain to the Arab brothers who keep you without any rights for almost 60 years. There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation only a bunch of cowards who kill women and children and each other as we have seen in the past and this week.
As I see it time works on behalf of the Israelis. In about 20-30 years oil will be less important and in about a year or two when the Israeli security fence will be finished the inhabitants of West Bank and Gaza will have to find work in the "friendly" Arab neighborhood (unless they'll have a friendlier stance toward Israel, which I believe is less than likely)
Mr. Baker you can, in your hate and ignorance, quote from "the protocols of the elders of Zion" from "mein kampf" or any other racist place or book, it doesn't change one iota from the simple fact that you are a racist product of a failed political, economic and social system. The Arab society of our times is very backward even compared to the 19th century European society which gave birth to the modern hatred of Jews you happily embrace.
By the way there is a genetic relation between Jews and Arabs. Maybe with time you'll get smarter?!
If you want Shalom, it's OK with me, if you and your ilk prefer war you'll get it and lose. If you have wet dreams and illusion after the last Lebanon war, you are wrong IDF is learning its lessons!

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

Crocker writes: "The political right of the Jewish people to establish the nation of Israel in 1948 was predicated on this being their ancestral homeland." That means that about 2/3 of the nation states on earth have to be dismantled, including all Arab countries other than Saudi Arabia, because the people migrated into their homeland from elsewhere. Of course, if the Jews actually come from Israel, then they would meet even Crocker's arbitrary test for legitimacy of self-determination!
And just how does Crocker know how different DNA strands originated? If a group has a particular strand, how does that establish their geographic origins, when almost all peoples migrated about? Maybe the Turkic peoples migrated at one point far back from teh Levant and not the other way around?

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

to decide which criteria are valid ones for self-determination?

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

The political right of the Jewish people to establish the nation of Israel in 1948 was predicated on this being their ancestral homeland. Mitochondrial DNA provided evidence in support of the claim that the Jewish (and Palestinian) people descended from people in the region of present day Israel. What part of this are you failing to understand?

Now, rather than resorting to name calling, perhaps you can explain what would have given the Jewish people the right to claim the land of Israel if they had not descended from tribes in that region.
Absent a clear explanation I will have to assume that you do not have one and concede this point to me.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

My humblest apologies for the missed comma.

Religion is not a valid benchmark for the right to self determination. The tribal history of the Jewish people is where their credible claim to Israel lay, not in their claim that God gave it to them.

I said that I do not live in America, not that I am not American. I am American but I now live in Western Europe. As shocking as this may be there is more than one John Charles Crocker and the bio you found, though quite flattering, is not mine.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

claiming not to be an American, his bio here (http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~jcrocker/JCCshort.pdf) says otherwise. He has no credentials in history nor political science.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

the last refuge of a bigot?

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

aside from your problems with grammar, you know nothing about religion and nationality in the Middle East.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

The DNA evidence shows that both the ancestors of the Jews and the Palestinians were from this region.

Once again the question of the original post was a hypothetical in response to the authors claim that the Jewish people would have had an equally valid claim to Israel even if they could not trace their ancestry to this region.

Perhaps you would now care to answer the question originally posed.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

Phrenology might have been fun for the 19th century scientist, but we prefer genetic testing today.

As for the right to self determination phrenology is about as valid a benchmark as religion.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

So a "Palestinian" whose ancestors migrated into "Palestine" from Syria or Lebanon in the late 19th century or early 20th century has rights to be there and exercise self-determination there, but a Jews whose ancestors migrated into the land during the same period has no such right? No, you are not biased.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

The sentence that begins with your title is basically the same as the final paragraph of my original post in this thread.

"Just what gives the Palestinians THEIR right to be there?"
At that time, as now, what gave/gives the Palestinians the right to be there was that they were already there as their ancestors before them.

The question posed was in regard to a hypothetical situation in the period before Israel became an independent nation. The author of this essay contends that the Jewish people had an equally legitimate claim to Israel regardless of where their ancestors came from. I find this claim unconvincing. IF the Jewish people could not trace their ancestry to the land that is now Israel what legitimate claim WOULD they have had to that land in 1947-48?

"What gives Aussies the right to Australia?"
I believe that this is covered in the final paragraph of my original post.

John Charles Crocker - 5/16/2007

1) That does not answer the question posed in my post.

2) When did I say that the Jewish people should leave Israel?

3) I'm not living in America and my possessions are rather modest.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

Maybe he should measure skulls and noses with measuring tapes to see which Jews have the right to self-determination and which Arabs do not?

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

Your ancestors are not from there. How dare you stay there. Turn your possessions over to the Indians and get out at once. Back to where you came from. Just like Jews should go back to whee they came from - except they came from Israel.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

How dare anyone call you an Anti-Semite simply because you hate Jews!

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. Palestinians are not even a tribe. They are a "nation entitled to self-determination" in the same sense that the Sudeten Germans were, and their claim to be is for the same reason the Sudetens made such a claim.
Palestinians are Arabs. Arabs already own 22 states.

sagi cohen - 5/16/2007

because they are there, recognized as being there, and legitimately there.

Just what gives the "Palestinians" THEIR right to be there? Didn't Arabs conquer Palestine from those before them? If it is legit for Arabs, why not for Jews? What gives Aussies the right to Australia?

N. Friedman - 5/15/2007

Mr. Duss,

Well, the better scholarship on the issue - e.g. Zeine N. Zeine - sees nationalism in the Arab regions as related to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and as an Islamic movement. You, however, are free to believe what you will. I would, however, recommend that you read Zeine N. Zeine's The Emergence of Arab Nationalism.

I do recognize that Arab nationalism in its Palestinian variety responds to Jewish nationalism. I said that. You overlooked it. I do not, on the other hand, accept your statement that Jewish nationalism aimed to take chunks of land. I think that the decision for independence was taken with reference to the British and, further, to the needs of Jews at the time, including the fact that Arabs were attacking them. Attacks by Arabs, as Benny Morris notes, caused a substantial change in Jewish nationalist thinking regarding the dispute. So, I think you are seeing things that are not there.

As for your second point, the Muslim Brotherhood would win pretty much any free election in the Arab regions. So, frankly, your point is not well taken. You have no imaginable explanation why the emergence of the Brotherhood in the captured territories is significantly different than anywhere else in the Arab regions.

My suggestion to you is this: the rise of Islamic politics is not a reaction to Israel. It is connected instead to the Islamic revival movement that is affecting Muslims all over world including pretty much all of the Arab regions. Had Israel taken a different approach with Palestinian Arabs, it is still likely that the Brotherhood would be a force today, just as it is in Egypt, etc., etc.

John Charles Crocker - 5/15/2007

You have quite the diagnostic toolkit. Perhaps you can turn that keen insight inward and see what syndrome it is that prevents you from addressing the points put to you and causes you to label disagreement racism or hatred.

The legitimacy of the conversion is largely irrelevent to the legitimacy of Israel. If the Jewish people could not trace their lineage back to the land that is now Israel (which mitochondrial DNA has conclusively done) their initial claim to that land would not have been valid. If the founders of Israel had their genetic roots somewhere else, then that somewhere else would be the land they had some claim to regardless of what they or anyone else believed/s God said.

This dispute is largely a side issue as the genetic evidence is in and the great majority of Jews can trace their lineage to the general area of Israel and having established a nation can decide what their criteria for citizenship are.

What I don't see and have not seen from you or anyone else here is why the Jewish people would have had a valid claim to Israel if their ancestors were not from that land.
What reason can you give to support the author of this article's contention that the Jews would have had as legitimate a claim to Israel even if that is not were their ancestors were from?
Keep in mind that "God said so" is not sufficient.

E. Simon - 5/15/2007

John's been around for quite some time, but what is new is your fresh demonstration of - yet again - an unwillingness to look at what people actually say in order to focus instead on whether or not they can be a tool to your retarded cyber-cause. John clearly has no problem with Israel's right of return laws - a right you have never missed an opportunity to foam at the mouth over in order to denounce it as "racist" - yet here you ignore basically every aspect of his larger point in order to "welcome" him to partake of your ludicrous shenanigans in declaiming supporters of Israel as intellectual clones. When have you EVER addressed a statement by any Arab that does not agree with your claims? When have you ever done such a thing? You know, at some point, one should acknowledge that the tribe and the brain are different things and the latter doesn't need the permission of the former in order to cogitate. But as ever, you go on projecting on others to denounce them for things that you are pretty much the epitome of, Omar al-Majnoun.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/15/2007

Matt, if eddie said & norman finkelstein are taken seriously in Academia, unlike my documented views, then Academia is a cesspool of maniacs. By the way, I reviewed the Kimmerling & Migdal book on "palestinian nationalism" which is on the web. Here is the link:


Be careful if you read it. It might disturb your sleep to encounter a different view. Anyhow, are scholars supposed to follow academic fashions?
Are scholars allowed to debunk eddie said? I understand that many have, even some Arabs? Am I unkind or reactionary to do so? Do facts become unfacts if they fall out of favor?

Joseph Mutik - 5/15/2007

You also have a "lack of understanding" syndrome. Nothing to do with Israel, I am talking about the conversion of Khazars. As far as I see from the historic record it was a conversion under the supervision of a Rabbi so the converted were Jews, period. Anyone who contests this does it out of hatred and racism.

Matt Duss - 5/15/2007

I suggest that Matt do more studying of real Middle Eastern history, not just those books currently fashionable among the "Left."

That's extremely humorous coming from someone peddling hasbarist myths that ceased being taken seriously in academia over a decade ago.

Matt Duss - 5/15/2007

By contrast, what we today would call Palestinian nationalism was almost certainly a reaction to Jewish nationalism and, moreover, did not become a dominant view among Palestinian Arabs until the time of Israel's founding and thereafter.

This is simply false. Palestinian nationalism, like nationalisms throughout the Arab world, developed in reaction to various economic and social factors, many of them consequences of engagement with and opposition to European colonial powers. It's true that Zionism played a part in the growth of Palestinian nationalism, just as it would have in the growth of Egyptian or Iraqi nationalism had the Zionists shown an intent to take over big chunks of Egypt or Iraq. Recognizing this is much different, however, from the nonsense claim that Palestinian identity is simply a reaction to Israel.

In this regard, note that the HAMAS movement is expressly non-nationalist, representing Muslims in their "struggle" to "liberate" historic Palestine and make it an Islamic waqf within a greater Islamic empire.

Right, which is why Sheik Yassin was allowed to organize in the occupied territories while more moderate, democratic Palestinian nationalist leaders were harassed, detained, murdered, and deported. The Israeli gov't wanted (and succeeded) to cultivate an Islamist alternative to draw support away from the secular nationalist PLO. The blowback from that policy has been rather unpleasant, wouldn't you say?

On the other hand, the growth and electoral success of HAMAS, which could not have occurred without Israel's support for the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, had provided precisely the pretext Israel has needed to continue taking Palestinian land and water, and continually destroying Palestinian government infrastructure in the name of "security.".

John Charles Crocker - 5/15/2007

I don't really have any hate to follow. I will assume that the ad hominem vitriol was originally aimed at Omar.

"Conversion to Judaism means that one becomes a Jew which includes one of the basic Judaic principles: "Next year in Jerusalem'."
Be that as it may, it has absolutely nothing to do with the original or continuing legitimacy of Israel.
The genetic evidence for the origin of the Jewish people (at least the overwhelming majority of them) in what is now Israel is undeniable. Without tribal origins in this area the original claim of the Jewish people to Israel would have been tenuous at best. My holy book says or my god gave it to me are not valid claims to territory or nationhood. At this point it doesn't much matter whether the original claim was valid as Israel has existed as an independent nation for 60 years and is legally recognized as such by all international bodies that count in such matters. Now that Israel is an independent nation if it chooses to allow conversion to Judaism as granting citizenship it has that right.

Joseph Mutik - 5/15/2007

I'll give you a hint "follow your hate" (not the money, unless your are a Jewish conspiracy proponent) and you'll find who's our ignoramus.
Conversion to Judaism means that one becomes a Jew which includes one of the basic Judaic principles: "Next year in Jerusalem". Anyone who can't see this simple thing about conversion to Judaism and tries to contest the right of the Jews to be in Israel using it does it out of racism and hate. I brought in may message the genetic argument refuting the Khazar origin of the Ashkenazi Jews but I also believe that conversion should be enough when talking about who's a Jew and the use of the Khazar Jews story in the context of Israel is blatant racism ans hate.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/15/2007

Matt, before dating "palestinian nationalism" back to 1920 or earlier, you should read the authority on that subject, Prof Yehoshu`a Porat. He, and others, point out that in 1920 the leading Arabs in the country [the "notables"], led by Musa Kazim al-Husayni [Husseini], wanted the country to be part of the Syrian kingdom of Faisal the Hashemite. When that kingdom was overthrown by France, they held a meeting at which Husayni admitted that the Greater Syria project was not tenable and that they would have to focus on the newly created "palestine" [created at San Remo, since no Ottoman or Mamluk administrative division had been named palestine or Filastin or had anything like the borders set up by the international community starting at San Remo].

Thanks to NF for reminding me of Zeine N Zeine's research. Zeine points out that the Arabs, as Muslims, were loyal to the Ottoman Empire and Arab nationalism was very weak before the fall of the Empire. This is true even more so regarding "palestinian nationalism." Indeed, palestinian Arab leaders did not speak of a "palestinian people" before the early 1960s. They were very much pan-Arabists. Indeed, a reading of the PLO charter will show that the PLO is a pan-Arabist body, despite the "palestinian" aura that it has in the West. Matt, read Article One of the PLO charter.

As to Rashid Khalidi, he too admits in one of his writings that most Arabs were loyal to the Ottoman empire since it was a Muslim empire. He also wrote in an article in that journal [Int'l Review of Middle Eastern Studies or some such title] that there was no palestine under the Ottoman empire. It was just an indistinct part of bilad ash-Sham.

I suggest that Matt do more studying of real Middle Eastern history, not just those books currently fashionable among the "Left."

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/15/2007

Elliott, quite right. The Turks of Turkey are those subjects of the Ottoman Empire who were loyal to the very end and proceeded to form the republic. We are a political and not an ethnic nation. Other nations are also of mixed ethnicity, so it seems also the Jews. I do not see why this should be a problem for anybody.

John Charles Crocker - 5/15/2007

1) What are you talking about?

2) Who is obfuscate ignoramus boy?

3) To which failed social, economic and political system do you refer?

4) Who anywhere on this board implied that one type of conversion is superior to another?

5) What does conversion have to do with Israel's legitimacy?

6) What have I said that you find racist or hateful?

7) What are you talking about?

PS: The link was good.

N. Friedman - 5/15/2007

Mr. Duss,

I would not question the notion that, by 1920, there were Arabs in historic Palestine who had nationalist agendas. However, I do not think that the scholarship shows Palestinian nationalism to have been, in or around 1920, more than a minority view.

I would assume that the dominant position was more Syrian or general Arab nationalism, which was, for a long period, primarily an Arab Muslim reaction to events during the period of the demise of the Ottoman Empire but which was particularly attractive to Christians who, in such a nationalism, could assert greater equality than in a purely Islamic empire. Nonetheless, as Zeine N. Zeine shows, Arab nationalism was in origins an Islamic movement.

By contrast, what we today would call Palestinian nationalism was almost certainly a reaction to Jewish nationalism and, moreover, did not become a dominant view among Palestinian Arabs until the time of Israel's founding and thereafter.

That said, Palestinian nationalism is a reality, although, quite clearly, it is a movement with declining numbers of adherents among Palestinian Arabs. In this regard, note that the HAMAS movement is expressly non-nationalist, representing Muslims in their "struggle" to "liberate" historic Palestine and make it an Islamic waqf within a greater Islamic empire.

One point that follows is that while Palestinian nationalism is certainly a reality, it is a political, not necessarily a permanent, reality. Hence, there really is no long existing Palestinian people. There is no long existing Palestinian culture, people, language or history. It is, rather, a political movement/position adopted by many - at this point, maybe not most - Arabs from historic Palestine.

Matt Duss - 5/15/2007

Mr. Green, it's rather disingenuous of you to try to use Rashid Khalidi's work to argue against the existence of the Palestinians, as he, probably more than any other scholar, has amply demonstrated and documented the existence and development of the Palestinian national identity, which came into being around the same time, and as a response to many of the same factors, as national consciousness throughout the region. Whatever the regions' history, Palestinian identity was firmly established by 1920.

Arguments against Palestinian existence, (fallen, though they have, into scholarly disrepute, and these days repeated only by committed propagandists) are not, in any case, historical arguments; they are political arguments, intended to undermine Palestinian national rights, and justify the ongoing Israeli dismemberment of Palestine.

N. Friedman - 5/15/2007


Delete: "However, Muslim Arabs found the region insufficiently civilized to bother with and, as a result, with their armies."


However, Muslim Arabs found the region insufficiently civilized to bother with and, as a result, withdrew their armies.

N. Friedman - 5/15/2007


Answering your questions, Jews are, historically, mostly one people, if we go by genetic testing. That does not mean, as the article correctly asserts, that being Jewish is determined by genes, which is another point entirely - although Judaism does have rules related to being Jewish by birth (matrimonial lineage). What I am saying is that, most - as in the vast, vast majority - of Jews have certain genetic markers in common, markers that differ from those of Europeans.

At the same time, most Jews - as in the vast, vast majority - have genetic markers in common with Arabs, most particularly from those Arabs who claim to be indigenously to the Middle East.

If Koestler's theory were correct, the Ashkenazim would have genetic markers in common with Turkish peoples, since his view is that when Khazaria was destroyed, Khazarians formed a major part of the group that migrated to Hungary and, in time, formed the Ashkenazim. That part of his theory is almost certainly wrong. In fairness to Koestler who was a very fine scholar, genetic testing was not as sophisticated as when he wrote as it is today. His was a bit of informed speculation about the fate of the Khazarians.

One of the major problems about investigating the Khazarians is that there is very limited evidence about them. It is unknown, for example, if more than an elite group converted to Judaism and, if so, the nature of their Judaism.

It is known that the Khazarians had some communication with Muslims, having defeated them on the battlefield, prior to the time of the alleged conversion, and, later, losing to Muslim Arab armies. However, Muslim Arabs found the region insufficiently civilized to bother with and, as a result, with their armies.

Information that might have been helpful has also been destroyed by the former USSR, which flooded what had been the capitol city of Khazaria.

Joseph Mutik - 5/15/2007

If you don't understand you, probably, suffer of "delayed synapse" syndrome.
You are so racist and hateful that it looks normal to you that an eventual conversion to Judaism wouldn't be enough
in your racist book!

John Charles Crocker - 5/15/2007

Who and what are you talking about in your title?

"Why conversion to Christianity or Islam is a valid thing and conversion to Judaism is invalid, my dear racists?"
What does this have to do with whether or not Israel was or is legitimate?

Joseph Mutik - 5/15/2007

There is an interesting link about Jewish Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries
In general I don't like random internet links because they are, usually, irrelevant and unprovable, but this one has on the bottom a lot of links to serious genetics studies. Now genetics or no genetics, I have a question: Why conversion to Christianity or Islam is a valid thing and conversion to Judaism is invalid, my dear racists?

John Charles Crocker - 5/15/2007

So you are saying they have a right to it because they took it?

sagi cohen - 5/15/2007

For the same reason that Americans have the right to America, Anglo-Saxons to England, Danes to Denmark, Hungarians to Hungary, etc....

None of these tribes originated in their homelands.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/15/2007

Matt, one hundred years ago, no one spoke of a "palestinian people," least of all Arabs. Indeed, in 1900, the very geographic notion of "palestine" was not in use among Arabs. Nor was the name used. Of course, educated Arabs who had been to Europe [like Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi] did know these terms. Khalidi, who had been the Ottoman consul in Vienna, wrote a letter to Zadoc Kahn, the chief rabbi of France, in which he stated that the Land belonged to the Jews, although he warned of Muslim opposition to the Zionist program. It should be pointed out that the Qur'an mentions that Allah assigned the Holy Land to the Jews [Sura 5:20-22 in most editions].

Christian Arabs or Arabic-speaking Christians, who were in frequent contact with Western missionaries in that period, seem to have been much more likely to know and use the term "palestine." However, the traditional Arab and Muslim geographic notion was that the Land of Israel was simply an indistinct, undefined part of Bilad ash-Sham [Syria or Greater Syria]. Rashid Khalidi concurs on this point. He has admitted that there was no "palestine" before WW One, that is, under the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, the term "Filastin" was used by Arab-Muslim rulers before the Crusades for the southern part of the country, roughly speaking, what the Romans/Byzantines had called "Palaestina Prima" which bordered on Palaestina Secunda and Palaestina Tertia [most of Transjordan]. But the latter two names were completely discarded by the Arab conquerors. Palaestina Secunda was called "Jund Urdunn." For more info on this, search the web for my articles ["Elliott A Green" + "land of Israel"]

Matt Duss - 5/14/2007

The racialist delegitimizing of Zionism as "Khazar imperialism" is smack inside the same insane asylum with the "Jesus was a Palestinian" theory and the claim that all real Jews (from a racial point of view) converted to Islam after the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century and so became Palestinian Arabs.

Agreed, and I would suggest that the "No such thing as Palestinians" myth belongs in the same asylum, as that has been the favored method of Zionists to delegitimize Arab claims to Palestine.

This myth has, of course, been utterly discredited, though you can still find countless websites claiming it.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/14/2007

The story of Karaites in the Nazi domain is rather complicated. In fact, they were thinking of murdering them too, but they first asked a Jewish scholar [forget his name] to give them a learned treatise on the question of whether they were Jews racially. This scholar, knowing the fate of the Karaites if he answered the question positively, deliberately faked his treatise in order to save their lives.

Fahrettin, if it makes you feel better, I was once taken for a Turk --by an Arab. This is a true story. I was young and had a mustache at the time. Working as a merchant seafarer, an Arab fellow seaman on the ship asked me: "You a Turk?" I said, No, I'm a Jew. I never had any trouble with that fellow.

Now, we could also discuss the racial background of the modern Turks of Turkey. Whereas the Turkic peoples of central Asia tend to look Mongol, the Turks of Turkey are mainly descended from Middle Eastern and Balkan people who were converted to Islam during the Turkish invasions and Ottoman rule, one way or another. The Turks of Turkey are descended from Anatolian Greeks, Slavs, Jews, Arabs, Armenians, Albanians, etc.

Elliott Aron Green - 5/14/2007

Omar, as Koestler got older his mind and mental-psychological state deteriorated.

N. Friedman - 5/14/2007


It is, in fact, actually a very interesting book. But, since the time of the book, some of its main assertions have been undermined. In particular, genetic testing shows that Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews are genetically closely related. By contrast, Ashkenazi Jews and Turkish peoples are not.

I might also note that there are close genetic links between Jews and some Arabs groups. So, the neighborhood is not so great as you thought.

MARK Wall - 5/14/2007

I believe you are referring to the Karaites who in fact were once Jewish but differed in religius belief by not accepting the Talmud. While it is true the Nazis did not consider them Jewish, they do not themselves either despite similar origins to the rest of the jews originating in the Middle East.

Get your facts straight - just another example of spreading false rumors.

John Charles Crocker - 5/14/2007

"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."

I don't quite understand this.

If the Jews of 1947-48 were not descended from tribes from the region of Israel (the evidence says they were) why would they have had a right to a homeland in Israel?

The point is of course moot now. Israel has been an independent nation for 60 years and has been recognized as such by the UN and other international legal bodies. This if nothing else grants Israel as much legitimacy as most any other nation.

Fahrettin Tahir - 5/14/2007

Actually there are still -small- Turkish speaking Jewish groups in Europe, I believe in Caucasia and Lithuania, where their ancestors went as special mercenaries for the king in the middle ages. The Nazis left them in peace, as they were not semites. And I have often heard from my fellow Turks, that the Jews are not so different from the real Turks. But that is not what you people want to hear, is it? This is in fact a rassistic article, debating the purity of jewish blood , whatever that might be good for.

John Charles Crocker - 5/14/2007

The genetic evidence should be enough to dispell this for anyone with no further evidence needed.

That being said, this myth is not Islamic in origin unless Arthur Koestler was a Muslim.

Saiful Ullah - 5/14/2007


Most don't dispute that anti-semitism is abundant within the Islamic world and beyond, however to contend that Islamic history and scripture is full of anti-Jewish propaganda displays a complete lack of acumen on Islam and its history.

First and foremost you state pejoratively "Muhammad's slaughter of the Banu Qurayza" without even elaborating on the fact that the Jews within Madinah turned against Muhammad and his followers and along with the Quraish who were intent on destroying Muslims.

This is not anti-semitic propaganda, this is fact. If the anti-semitic card is used at every to whim to censor the criticism of Jews, then it hinders any valid criticism and gives unjust substance to the notion that Jews are always right.

I agree Islamic scripture especially regarding eschaetology may be perceived to be anti-semitic but it's not. The ahadith mentions Romans in the same bracket as Jews as having allied themselves with the dajjal. But this is with good reason, Jews haven't accepted their messiah yet and so Islamic reasoning fits that some Jews will accept the dajjal as their messiah. It may show Jews in a bad light but as do all Abrahamaic faiths with the attitude towards polytheistic adherents of certain religions.

Tim R. Furnish - 5/14/2007

Excellent piece on a source of Islamic anti-Semitism that I did not even know existed. When you couple this type of propaganda with the examples from Islamic history (Muhammad's slaughter of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe) and Islamic eschatology (the Dajjal, at the end of time, will lead an army of infidels--most Jews--against the Muslims), it's easy to see why there is such irrational hatred of the Jewish people in some segments of the Islamic world.

George E. Rennar - 5/13/2007

This Khazar nonsense has been around in the fever swamps for awhile. There used to be an anti-Semitic weekly, "Common Sense," out of Union, New Jersey, which was bankrolled by one of these loons. When they got analytical (yeah; right) they trotted out the Khazars. Ordinarily, they just yelled, "Jew!" or followed a name with a star of David. This lasted for maybe 20 years.