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Khazars, The Far Right And Dubious History.

with 42 comments

I didn’t want to post for a while, but after reading a truly appalling post at Socialist Unity blog by Ger Francis, I felt I had to comment.

The body of the Francis’ article is about a meeting held by George Galloway in Birmingham, but as I am not terribly interested in him or his views I wasn’t too concerned with that. Rather I was interested in the references within the post and in the comments box to the new book by Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People.

Part of Sand’s work retreads a well-trodden path from Arthur Koestler, to any number of dubious Far Right web sites, that push the notion that “Jews aren’t really Jews, they are Khazars”.

Why Sand, as a historian of French history, decided to venture into the complex and contested area of Jewish history I can’t say, perhaps it was for the fame? The money or even notoriety? Whatever reason, it is unimportant and I shall leave it to academics in that field to critique his work.

Anita Shapira has reviewed his book [PDF download] for the Journal of Israeli History and Israel Bartal is highly critical. Simon Schama reviewed it in the FT.

I am more concerned with this very nasty line of reasoning, from an antifascist point of view and where it leads, to the delegitimization of Jews.

I think anyone remotely familiar with the limited range of thoughts and debates found on neo-Nazi and Far Right web sites will recognise that particular “Khazar” argument and understand why it is pushed. I won’t provide any links to those neo-fascist web sites, but readers can find them on Google by using the keywords: Khazars Jews white power or David Duke khazers.

The Far Right is populated by Jew haters and such like, they need, for the sake of their own beliefs, to delegitimize Jews, to denigrate them, to eradicate their very existence, politically, historically, socially, and physically. That is why Holocaust denial is so important to them, it is a form of racial incitement against Jews, and in their on-line web activities that means the Far Right manufacture, use fake quotations and dubious historical sources, and above all push the myth of the Khazars.

All of this is not coincidental, the Far Right view Jews as the ultimate enemy and any opportunity to disparage them is used, so conscious anti-racists and antifascists should be aware of the Far Right’s tactics, and certainly avoid emulating them.

However, as the post at Socialist Unity blog showed a wider problem is evident, which is that many modern political activists in the West seem to erroneously assume that they have to be anti-Israeli or anti-Jew to be pro-Palestinian.

Nothing could be further from the truth, saddling the cause of the Palestinians with the Far Right’s argumentation and method is the quickest way to discredit it.

Moreover, feeble attempts to try and delegitimize Jews, as a people, as a group with a deep sense of history, a bitter history, does not achieve anything. Quite the contrary and it is rather insulting and degrading.

Not only that, but it shows an almost complete ignorance of the Far Right’s methodology and activities, combined with a monumental lack of sensitivity which in the end only fosters anti-Jewish racism.

Copying the Far Right’s arguments is not something that socialists or antiracists should do, or seek to imitate.

I would hope that authors on Socialist Unity blog would take the time to read, and reread, Andy Newman’s guide to David Duke’s racism, and hopefully they would see their own mistakes in this area and avoid them.

Update 1: The CST blog covers many issues on Sand’s work.

Update 2: Thanks to a pointer at Engage I’ve noticed a good comment at the bottom of that thread. I’ll reproduce it here, just in case it gets deleted as Dave Rich’s comment was:

“47. For those involved in Palestinian solidarity in Birmingham, its university has long felt like some weird Zionist outpost”

I did my MPhil at Birmingham University two years ago and have to disagree with this comment. The UoB has a huge Muslim presence and most activism you see on campus is usually anti-Zionist. There’s a Jewish Society and Jewish students, most of whom (not all) are all very supportive of Israel, but that’s democracy for you. The idea that there’s a sort of Jewish conspiracy stifling debate on Israel is too widespread among many on the left, but it doesn’t stand scrutiny. Most progressive media is vocally anti-Israel, and the I/P conflict receives far more attention than any other in the world. If there’s one debate that hasn’t been stifled is precisely this one.

“the feebleness of the Zionist opposition to [the meeting], is further evidence of the growing hegemony of Palestinian solidarity in all corners of the city”

You’ve just shown me that I’m not that wrong, but then, it’s Birmingham, the British city with one of the largest Muslim communities. If the Palestinian cause didn’t gather support there, where else? The problem the Palestinians face is not their lack of support in the west, but among their Arab brethren. They can’t become citizens of most Arab countries, where they live as third class non-citizens, mostly in refugee camps. Black September Massacre perpetrated by the Jordan Army makes the Operation Cast Lead pale in comparison. So does the constant raids Palestinians suffer under in the refugee camps of Lebanon. The list is huge. Until the Arab leaders stop using the Palestinian people as a pawns in their power games, the Palestinians have a serious problem.

“To those who believed that the Israeli state was the natural and just creation for a Jewish people exiled from their homeland”

Personally, I think that’s irrelevant. I see Israel as the result of a nationalist struggle for self-determination of a people who, tired of being persecuted in Europe, decided that they’d be safer somewhere else. European Jews first started buying land in Palestine and establishing the kibbutzim as socialist experiences. But they were not the only Jews living there. Jerusalem or Hebron have a long history of Jewish population. The territory was under the jurisdiction of the Sultan of Turkey and later Britain. When decolonization took place you already had an important Jewish population in Palestine. Could things have been solved otherwise? Yes they could, but all the parties involved refused to do so: all, Jews, British AND Arabs.

“He reminded the audience that instead of the Zionists following some historic mission to Palestine, they considered Uganda, Scheyelles, and Patagonia as possible locations for a Jewish state”

Yes, that was Theodor Herzl looking for alternatives to emigrate. But people who point this out do it as if sending all the Jews to Uganda would have not created any injustice. Those places were populated too. The problem is that Jews were tired of being pogromed in Europe, and as the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, they decided it was better to try to go somewhere else. The Sultan of Turkey had welcomed them in 1492 after they were expelled from Spain. It’s normal that they thought about a territory that was then under Turkish jurisdiction and which has strong connections to Jewish history (yes, I think that the Bible is all bollocks, but so is Al-Quran, so if you’re going to deny the Jews their claims to Palestine, you should do so with Muslims. There’s no trace of Muhammad ever being outside the Arabian Peninsula, unless you believed that horses fly).

“Israel ‘is just another European settle state, similar to apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia’”

This is dishonest. Israel has 20% of non-Jewish citizens and their rights are in general respected. There’s discrimination, but there’re also Arabs in the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Army, the diplomatic service, etc. Within the borders of Israel, you can’t define it as an apartheid state. The WB is something different, but I don’t regard the WB as Israel. Officially, Israel doesn’t either, and they apply Jordanian law over there. The example George was looking for is Texas, which got its independence 100 years before Israel. A lot of US citizens migrated to Texas, then under Mexican jurisdiction, and then decided to split from Mexico. They were independent for a year and after a war, they decided to join the US. A bloody episode, but all Texans are US citizens, even those of Mexican descent who are born there or naturalise themselves as US citizens.

Besides, what’s wrong with settlers states? My country of birth (Argentina) is a settler state. The US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, are settler states. Algeria is an Arab settler state in most of its territory (and the Ber Ber are not very happy about it). Morocco is a similar case to the south of Marrakesh. Settlers are the Arabs and Turks who live in Kurdistan and the Chinese Han who live beyond the two rivers. The problem is whether those settler states grant equal rights to their citizens (none of the examples I gave do). In my view Israel does within their borders, but not in the occupied territories, which is the reason why I think they should abandon them or declare the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“Is it any wonder, George asked the audience, that more suicide bombers come from the living hell that is Jenin refugee camp”

No, it’s no wonder, but it’s sickening that anyone would rationalize suicide bombing. As I wrote somewhere else, suicide bombing is not the natural result of oppression, but a tactic chosen by psychopaths who have nothing by contempt for their ranks and files and who wouldn’t do it themselves. The Kurds are much more oppressed than the Palestinians. So are the Sharawis. Repression in El Salvador would make the Gaza look like a picnic (OK, OK, I’m trying to make a point here, not to denigrate Palestinian suffering, but rationalizing suicide bombing is a step too far) … None of those people ever did suicide bombing. Their leaders are socialists and secular, and unlike other men in robes, they care for their people.

http://juampylewis.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/suicide-bombing/

“Oslo had been a disaster for the Palestinians”

Really? Before Oslo the Palestinians didn’t have any representation or authorities of their own. The IDF occupied the whole of the territory and the Likud party believed strongly in Greater Israel. Things are more nuanced today, and the IDF has abandoned most of Palestinian cities and great parts of B areas (not all unfortunately). There’s a lot of work to be done and I wish they retreated to the Green Line, but to say that after Oslo the Palestinians have not achieved anything can only be justified from a maximalist point of view. Fair enough, and I’ve no problems with people who define themselves as maximalists, but they should say so. Because most of the times, maximalism is lethal… and people know it.

“The only solution was now a single state”

A pity most Israelis and most Palestinians don’t agree with George.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/22/most-israelis-palestinian_n_189596.html

“George Galloway is simply the most eloquent advocate of the Palestinian cause in the English speaking world”

If that’s the best the English speaking left can do… I’m disappointed.

Sorry for the long post. I hope it stirs some debate at least. For the record. I’m Argentinean. I’m a socialist and I’ve been a member of the Left since I’m 14 (more than twenty years now). I’m not a Zionist troll and post this with respect and critical spirit, in the belief that you can only strengthen your position if you allow opposite views to be discussed. My experience since I moved to Europe six years ago is that discussing the I/P conflict in the left is very difficult without people resorting to name calling. I find that self-defeating, and that’s not what I want for the left.

Comment by Juan — 15 November, 2009 @ 12:08 am”

Written by modernityblog

15/11/2009 at 02:19

42 Responses

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  1. Mod – I’m not really sure what your beef with the Khazar hypothesis is or why the idea of an ethnically homogeneous Jewry is so important to you but why do you suppose the World Zionist Organisation supports the Khazar hypothesis?

    levi9099

    15/11/2009 at 07:53

  2. I am sure you wouldn’t understand the arguments, I only wrote them several times, the thesis as advanced by the far right is a method to delegitimise Jews very existence.

    Now Elf, I could quite understand why you would have no difficulty with such a proposition, but that is part of your problem.

    If you look at it from an antifascist point of view, then you would see that it is co-opting the arguments of the Far Right.

    modernityblog

    15/11/2009 at 14:50

  3. Mod – you haven’t said anything for anyone to understand or not. you have simply asserted that the Khazar hypothesis is somehow grist to the mill of the far right and that you reject the hypothesis but there were far rightists opposing the existence of Jews before the idea of Jewish ethnic diversity and the Khazar hypothesis were believed/known.

    You see, I think that exterminationist antisemites will find any beef with Jews whether we’re descended from biblical Israelites, Berbers or Khazars or all sorts of ethnicities. I certainly don’t see why an assertion of Jewish ethnic purity is an argument against fascism or anything else though I gather that there are zionists who like to argue for Jewish ethnic purity. Most zionists these days like to argue for Jewish ethnic diversity – all the better to pose Israel as a western type democracy.

    Anyway, you also haven’t explained what your beef with the Khazar hypothesis is (not here and now anyway) nor why the World Zionist Organisation supports the hypothesis and in considerable detail as well.

    So go on fella, have another go.

    Exterminationist antisemites wanted to annihilate the Jews before any notion of Jewish ethnic diversity was believed/known. One element of the belief in Jewish ethnic diversity is the Khazar hypothesis which you seem to be saying is now central to exterminationist antisemitism (assuming that’s what you mean by “delegitimising Jews”). I’m asking you to explain why it’s important to the far right now when it wasn’t important before. I’m also asking you to explain why, if the Khazar hypothesis is somehow anti-Jewish, the World Zionist Organisation supports it.

    Maybe you’ve explained all this before but could you explain it now please, in particular the bit about the WZO?

    Thanks.

    levi9099

    15/11/2009 at 16:49

  4. I have explained as best I can, I am afraid that the problem here is not my arguments (which I deliberately kept short), but your inability to understand others.

    “Anyway, you also haven’t explained what your beef with the Khazar hypothesis is (not here and now anyway)”

    I did, but you didn’t take the trouble to understand it.

    I will repeat:

    ” I am more concerned with this very nasty line of reasoning, from an antifascist point of view and where it leads, to the delegitimization of Jews.”

    I am not concerned with the WZO, I am looking at it from an antifascist point of view, that’s it.

    I don’t care what the WZO argues, says or does.

    I am looking at it from an antifascist point of view.

    If you are having problems understanding my argument, might I humbly, politely, suggest that you read it from:

    “The Far Right is populated by Jew haters and such like, they need, for the sake of their own beliefs, to delegitimize Jews, to denigrate them, to eradicate their very existence, politically, historically, socially, and physically. That is why Holocaust denial is so important to them, it is a form of racial incitement against Jews, and in their on-line web activities that means the Far Right manufacture, use fake quotations and dubious historical sources, and above all push the myth of the Khazars.

    All of this is not coincidental, the Far Right view Jews as the ultimate enemy and any opportunity to disparage them is used, so conscious anti-racists and antifascists should be aware of the Far Right’s tactics, and certainly avoid emulating them.”,

    modernityblog

    15/11/2009 at 17:01

  5. The WZO (actually one author in Hagshama’s site) does not “support the Khazar hypothesis”. That is to be an ignorant and a bad reader.
    The neonazi Khazar hypothesis, supported apparently by Mark Elf, is that Azkenazi Jews are actually Khazars. However, no serious person supports that.
    Some Azkenazi Jews may be descendants of Khazars, but to say that all of them are Khazars and have no ethnic and blood relation with Jews from Judea is ridiculous and was even shown cientifically as false very recently (where a study proves that 40% of Azkenazi Jews are descendants of four matriarchs who came from the Middle East).
    Now, explaining history and science to Mark Elf will be held as proof of my supposedly racial supremacy views or something.
    You are a lunatic, Elf.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 00:03

  6. Actually, so little is known about Khazars that Historians of the Jewish people have tended to say that Azkenazy Jews might have some Khazar ascendants, simply because it is POSSIBLE. Nobody really knows and there is no way of knowing since there aren’t any living groups identifying as Khazars today with which you could do a comparative blood test.
    Moreover, so little is known about Khazar culture than it is also impossible to identify specifically Khazar customs or products and say “aha, this custom comes from the Khazars! Or this type of pottery that Jews use today is Khazarian in origin.”
    It is simply impossible.
    It is a good tale, and it is probably true that there was a Jewish Khazar kingdom some centuries ago, and we have a nice exchange of letters between Khazaria and Spain, but that is that. No Zionist is “supporting the Khazar hypothesis”, because that is for crazy people like Mark Elf the worm to do.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 00:10

  7. Fabian,

    You put it so, well🙂

    The problem is that Elf, and his acolytes, almost automatically take the opposite political position to those that they perceive as their enemies (Me, you, etc).

    So even on *this* topic, which is fairly simple Elf and others feel almost compelled to argue the contrary.

    For example, If a “zionist” said ‘water was wet’ or ‘sand is often found in the desert’ then Elf would instinctively want to disagree.

    No matter how uncontentious the issue, Elf and Co. often just want to argue the point, for pointless reasons.

    modernityblog

    16/11/2009 at 01:47

  8. I didn’t read anything incorrectly and I don’t have any view one way or the other on the Khazar hypothesis. I just don’t think it helps or hinders fascists or zionists if it’s fully correct, partially correct or totally incorrect.

    The idea that Jews are the descendants of people other than biblical Israelites does not delegitimise Jews even if it attempts to, though I don’t think that was Koestler’s intention. I know some neo-nazis make an issue out of the Khazar hypothesis and still others make an issue out of the idea of Jews being descended from biblical Israelites. I just wanted to know what Modernity Blog’s specific beef with the hypothesis was and I still don’t know though he has yielded other insights.

    Something I find curious about MB’s position is that clearly many nazis, including Hitler, made no issue out of the Khazar hypothesis, and still tried to exterminate the Jews. Also fascists are present in almost every European parliament (the UK’s system precludes it for now) and they are all denouncing Arabs, Muslims and Africans and yet Modernity Blog wants to rubbish a hypothesis that really makes no difference to the resurgence of fascism in our time. No fascist party is in parliament or government because of the Khazar hypothesis.

    I think the Khazar hypothesis is completely neutral as to whether the Jewish identity is legitimate or not. But I do find the idea that Jews would somehow lack legitimacy if this or that ethnic descent is proven or disproven to be profoundly disturbing and I think Modernity Blog needs to rethink his obsession a little. I think he is mistaking the nature of fascism and, by way of his own (and Fabian’s) obsession with Jewish provenance and ethnicity, failing to see just how close some manifestations of zionism are to fascism.

    There have been various Jewish kingdoms, principalities, etc, in history. Apparently Yemen was Jewish twice in the 5th and 6th centuries. There have been Jewish Berber tribes and the area now known as Ethiopia, Eritrea and Tigré has been under Jewish rule in various parts and times. These Jewish kingdoms were a prelude to Christian or Islamic rule but it is inconceivable that no ordinary people became Jewish when the rulers of a large territory were Jewish. When the territories yielded to Christianity or Islam it is not out of the question that some ordinary people would remain Jewish.

    I think both of you are reading far too much into the whole question of ethnic descent. It is for fascists to obsess about these things. If someone suggests that an identity or community is not legitimate because of their origins, the anti-fascist position is to say that this or that origin is not the determinant of whether someone qualifies for human rights or not. It is basic humanity that qualifies people for human rights.

    But I gather in answer to my question, you (Modernity Blog) do not accept that the Khazar hypothesis explains the origins of Ashkenazi Jews. You believe that if the Khazar hypothesis was correct then the Jews would be delegitimised. Hmm, I’m not sure what that means but I think it’s dangerous thinking on your part. And regarding the WZO’s hosting (and, it appears to me, promoting) of the Khazar hypothesis, you don’t have a position on that.

    Fine. Thank you Modernity Blog.

    levi9099

    16/11/2009 at 01:54

  9. See Fabian,

    Elf’s last reply proves the point, originally he asked very specific questions, clarification on my post.

    Which is fair enough, I appreciate that sometimes I might not make the points terribly clear and the meanings can often be opaque to others.

    But despite my replies he still doesn’t get it.

    In the main body of the post I wrote one thing:

    “I think anyone remotely familiar with the limited range of thoughts and debates found on neo-Nazi and Far Right web sites will recognise that particular “Khazar” argument and understand why it is pushed. “

    Key argument:

    “…anyone remotely familiar…will recognise that particular “Khazar” argument and understand why it is pushed.”

    Of course, as demonstrated by Elf’s bluster, he’s actually not familiar with the Far Right or neo-Nazis and THAT particular “Khazar” argument, this is evidenced because he can’t work out why they use it.

    Duh, let’s think why neo-nazis might use certain types of arguments…..oh yeah cos they use them ***against*** Jews**. That was hard?

    It didn’t even occurred to him, thus his confusion is somewhat understandable, as he doesn’t want to make an effort to read my post, see where I am going, or ponder the motives of neo-Nazis.

    Hmm.

    —-
    ** that’s sarcasm.

    modernityblog

    16/11/2009 at 02:13

  10. Modernity Blog – I think we must have crossed because you don’t seem to have addressed my last comment with your last one. Just in case we didn’t cross and you did read what I wrote before posting your comment at 2:13 am, what particular Khazar argument have I missed bearing in mind that many Jews have been killed by fascists who haven’t advanced any Khazar argument?

    I thought you were saying that simply asserting that Jews were descendants of Khazars is a fascist argument to delegitimise the Jews. I said I don’t think ethnicity has anything to do with our legitimacy. You cannot possibly have explained yourself clearly because now you are referencing a “particular “Khazar” hypothesis”. Which one exactly?

    Regarding the “far Right” that I am not supposed to be familiar with, which is it? Can you name it? Can you point to “THAT particular “Khazar” hypothesis” that you claim would actually delegitimise the Jews if it was believed? I know you don’t like to link to these groups but you could give some reference to enable me to see what your research has turned up.

    You’re saying that Jews are in danger from a hypothesis about my own ethnicity and yet you’re happy simply to sneer at my getting the wrong end of the stick as to what and whose hypothesis you’re talking about here.

    I think you need to be much more specific and explicit than you have been so far. Forget the WZO thing, just explain what you mean by “THAT particular Khazar hypothesis” and who it is that promotes it and how it would delegitimise Jews if it was believed. My own view is that no community could be delegitimised by reference to their origins so I am curious and anxious to know what it is you mean.

    I’m not sure how my questions are coming across as “bluster” but if your perception of the tone is off-putting for you, please put that to one side and address the content of what I am asking.

    Many thanks again.

    levi9099

    16/11/2009 at 03:11

  11. Elf,

    Let us do this as simply as we can.

    I haven’t got much patience at the moment and even less for those unwilling to take the time and trouble read my post with due care, but let’s forget that for the moment and I’ll concentrate on one of your points:

    You wrote: “what particular Khazar argument have I missed bearing in mind that many Jews have been killed by fascists who haven’t advanced any Khazar argument?”

    1. I am not talking about Fascists in the past, not in the past. My point has been related to contemporary far right and neofascist arguments. Got that? NOT the past, contemporary stuff.

    2. I am suggesting that there are particular arguments put forward by the Far Right relating to “khazars”.

    3. I am not interested in pointing out the Far Right’s arguments, you even know them or you don’t.

    4. And if you don’t, then I provided two links to google keywords which would elicit those web pages, see above.

    5. Might I suggest that you put in those links, read what they neo-Nazis are getting at, digest it, reread it and then see if you can see what they are saying?

    6. I already tried to help you when I wrote

    “that push the notion that “Jews aren’t really Jews, they are Khazars”.” above, now it is for you to draw those conclusions as to what they’re getting at and why.

    I hope that helps.

    modernityblog

    16/11/2009 at 03:39

  12. As I said, my explanation was construed by the lunatic as proving I have an “obsession” with ethnicity and blood links. By the same token, Historians have an obsession with history, geographers with geography, etc.

    I happen to think that whether actual Jews can trace their descent to King David or not, that doesn’t impinge in the least in their right to their own country, Israel, in the present. However, the neonazi idea, adopted by Palestinians and Shlomo Sand too, is that Jews had no right to come to live in Palestine before the founding of the State of Israel because they were never related to it by any means, and makes Jews total strangers, i.e. colonists, of Jews in Palestine, while absurdly making Arabs, of all people, the natives of the region. Of course, that is nonsense too, but I think that Elf very much agrees with that thesis.
    Neonazis and Elf also talk about a Zionist conspiracy to disposses the natives and maybe, rule the world: neonazis trace it to the Khazars, and Elf to more recently in time, but the similarities are enourmous.

    Now, all that lunacy shared by the Neonazis, Sand and Elf does not have to concern an historian of the Jewish people or someone who likes to read about the history of the Jewish people. I happen to be an historian by profession, and I like to read about the History of the Jewish people. I am also a Zionist. Somehow Elf thinks that makes me someone obsessed. Well, he is evidently crazy.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 07:18

  13. Modernity, you have argued against the Khazar hypothesis as if it would have some significance as to the legitimacy of the Jewish identity if it was believed or if it was true. I have been trying to establish why you believe that to be the case. You haven’t really explained that, you have simply repeated that far-rightists like the hypothesis. Frankly I think they have wrong footed you into following and simply inverting their obsession.

    Fabian

    I happen to think that whether actual Jews can trace their descent to King David or not, that doesn’t impinge in the least in their right to their own country, Israel, in the present.

    I happen to think that too, Fabian. Wherever or whoever Jews of today are descended from has no bearing on the Jews’ legitimacy as a community or whether or not Jews are entitled to specifically Jewish statehood in any place. Though frankly, I’m not that clear on what “delegitimising Jews” actually means, but Modernity is very tetchy about being asked to explain things that he claims are obvious.

    And I have seen neo-nazis saying that “Jews are not really Jews, they are Khazars”. What I find ludicrous is that you and Mod appear to agree that Jews are defined by ethnicity and not by a whole host of other markers (cultures, languages, beliefs, subjectivities) that 19th racists and fascists claim only transmit by ethnicity.

    The correct anti-fascist and anti-racist position when confronted with the Khazar hypothesis is to say, as Fabian eventually did, “so what? it has no bearing on a Jewish right to statehood, to a community life, to an institutional life or to life itself”. But Modernity Blog seems to think it is indeed very important. And for a while back there, Fabian thought the same thing. And Fabian predicting that I would some time cotton on to someone being obsessed with ethnic purity being, er, obsessed with ethnic purity, wasn’t really that spookily predictive. He clearly is obsessed with the ethnic purity of Jews. He just doesn’t think it has any relevance to our rights and nor do I.

    Nope guys, if you want to be genuine anti-fascists and anti-racists you need to stop obsessing about the ethnic purity of peoples and consider the subjectivities that make us all human.

    You might also focus on the fascism in town halls and on the streets of the UK. They are not saying “Down with the Khazars!” They are railing against Africans, Asians and Muslims.

    levi9099

    16/11/2009 at 08:52

  14. “What I find ludicrous is that you and Mod appear to agree that Jews are defined by ethnicity and not by a whole host of other markers (cultures, languages, beliefs, subjectivities) that 19th racists and fascists claim only transmit by ethnicity.”

    What you call “ethnicity” is actually blood ties. Ethnicity may include blood ties, but it also includes all or some of those markers you mention later. You need to be more precise in your use of words.

    “But Modernity Blog seems to think it is indeed very important. And for a while back there, Fabian thought the same thing”

    I think that the fact that it is used by neonazis as an attack on Jews is very relevant. And if you stopped to think you would see why: because it makes Jews a group of liars who are consciously deceiving other people, pretending they have something to do with the Jews of Judea of the I century. You are used to call 90% of the Jews of this world liars and worse things for being in some sense Zionists, so you certainly have experience on the accusing side of this argument.

    Now, during times in which the right of the Jews to their own state is being still questioned by most Arabs and their friends, I think it is still important to show both how unsustantial is the argument and how lacking in historical basis it is. People are swayed by logic and by irrationality. And the fact that Jews were not conspiring to bring down Germany didn’t stop the Nazis in considering the Jews their enemies. Analogously, if most of the Arab world believes in the lie of the Khazars, it will make war more likely and peace more distant, since it fortifies the belief that Jews have no emotional ties with Eretz Israel, and therefore, they will be ultimately convinced of leaving it to the “natives”. False beliefs may have very real consequences, and that is why it is important to set the record straight, and show the “Khazar hypotesis” for what it is: bollocks.

    And again it would be nice if you dared to recognize that what you said about the WZO accepting the “Khazar hypothesis” was said in bad faith and is a lie.

    “He clearly is obsessed with the ethnic purity of Jews.”
    How can someone who says that 60% of Azkenazi Jews DO NOT trace their genes to one of four Middle East Matriarchs be obsessed about ethnic purity, numbskull?

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 09:05

  15. Elf,

    you wrote:

    “Modernity, you have argued against the Khazar hypothesis as if it would have some significance as to the legitimacy of the Jewish identity if it was believed or if it was true. I have been trying to establish why you believe that to be the case.”

    I have explained what to do, if you wish to answer your own questions, either educate yourself on the Far Right usage of the “Khazar” argument or don’t.

    In the time you’ve spent arguing the contrary you could have click on the links I provided and informed yourself.

    Again, educate yourself on the Far Right usage of the “Khazar” arguments or don’t.

    It is your choice.

    Once more, refer to my post of November 16, 2009 3:39 am, if you need a hand working out what to do.

    modernityblog

    16/11/2009 at 10:11

  16. “Again, educate yourself on the Far Right usage of the “Khazar” arguments or don’t”

    Mod, he won’t do that because if he does, he will realize up to what point the far-right antisemitic arguments are similar to his own “anti-Zionist” arguments.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 10:26

  17. Gert confuses history and abuse of history.

    To explain that Jews ARE natives to Eretz Israel is to explain history.

    To deny this and instead proclaim that the only natives to Eretz Israel are Arabs, and Jews are absolute foreigners is to abuse history.

    And more than this, Gert does not deserve.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 18:32

  18. Sorry Fabian,

    I have my own level of tolerance and Gert is not welcome here.

    Gert’s comments will be spammed along with any other Far Right nonsense.

    Anyone bothered can read my comments policy here, https://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/spittoon-on-bnp-leaflets/

    modernityblog

    16/11/2009 at 18:43

  19. I agree with you, Mod.

    Fabian from Israel

    16/11/2009 at 20:51

  20. […] the whole article here. Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment […]

  21. Fabian – before you posted what you did about antisemitic supporters of the Khazar hypothesis making Jews out to be liars, I had already said just that same thing on Bob from Brockley’s blog. I was just seeing if Modernity Blog knew what he was talking about and he clearly didn’t which is why he provided the key words for googling.

    Here’s what I wrote at Bob’s blog:

    Regarding the Khazar hypothesis, of course I know it is bandied about by antisemites but it is still irrelevant as to what the rights of Jews are. I wanted to know why Modernity Blog thought that it was intrinsically antisemitic and he eventually admitted that he couldn’t explain it. Remember Modernity Blog posted about it to besmirch the Socialist Unity blog as being at one with the likes of Stormfront and Jewwatch.

    The nazi position on the Khazar hypothesis is not a bona fide anti-zionist argument, it is that Jews have been lying to the whole world for 1,000 years.

    Regarding 90% of Jews being zionists, I don’t know where you get this idea from. But if I take the view that people that choose to support an ideology of ethno-religious supremacy tend to lie to people with western democratic values as to the nature of the project that they support, this is not the same, nor is it nearly the same as those who support the idea that those who are born Jewish are all liars about their origins. In fact Modernity Blog’s ludicrously essentialist notion of “Jews, as a people, as a group with a deep sense of history” is far closer to nazi type thinking than anything I have said or would say. People are not born to have a sense of anything historical unless they are educated or indoctrinated to do so. Nor are people born to have “emotional ties”. That too is racist claptrap.

    I’ve actually got better things to do than chew the fat with a couple of racist idiots.

    Modernity Blog – thanks for letting on as to why you always find an excuse not to argue with principled anti-racists.

    Fabian – you are a historian by profession ie for a living? Sheesh. No wonder you have to live under racist rule. You’d starve anywhere else.

    levi9099

    17/11/2009 at 05:52

  22. Sorry Fabian, this is too good to miss. Here’s you: How can someone who says that 60% of Azkenazi Jews DO NOT trace their genes to one of four Middle East Matriarchs be obsessed about ethnic purity, numbskull

    Er, the fact that you took the trouble to establish the percentages in the first place. You fucking idiot!

    levi9099

    17/11/2009 at 06:08

  23. Mod –

    [Editor’s: The blog owner decides who, or what is posted on their own blog, truculent posters that fail to remember that may risk losing their posting privileges here, remembering that they are guests here, and not gatecrashers.

    If you wish to expound your own ideas and those of the Far Right, or wilfully misrepresent the view of blog owner, please do it elsewhere]

    levi9099

    17/11/2009 at 06:44

  24. Likewise, Mod, there’s nothing wrong with this:

    “To explain that Jews ARE natives to Eretz Israel is to explain history.

    To deny this and instead proclaim that the only natives to Eretz Israel are Arabs, and Jews are absolute foreigners is to abuse history.”

    Modern day Jews are as native to Israel as am I: not at all. To claim otherwise is to abuse your religion. Territory doesn’t come with a birthright. G-d is not a real estate agent.

    Modern Israel exists because Zionism poofed it into existence by means of force. Some would argue ‘Might makes Right’ but I don’t.

    The Jewish connection to Palestine, real or perceived, doesn’t justify the creation of the State of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

    You are thoroughly confused, Sir, as are most of your confreres (Jewish or not) at Harry’s Place…

    levi9099

    17/11/2009 at 06:48

  25. Short Mark Elf: (an analogy)

    Elf -Jews have a propensity for greediness.
    A Jew – We do not more than other people. See for example this research that proves it.
    Elf – See how you are obsessed about greediness!!

    You are pathetic, little man.

    Fabian from Israel

    17/11/2009 at 09:10

  26. btw.: the Handbuch der europäischen Geschichte, Band 1. Europa im Wandel von der Antike zum Mittelalter (Handbook of European history. Europa in change from Classical Antiquity to Middle age, 1992 3rd edition), an in my opinion trustworthy book notes, that larger parts of the Khazars stayed shamanistic or became muslims than converting to judaism or christianity

    entdinglichung

    17/11/2009 at 10:40

  27. The exile is assumed in rabbinic and Talmudic literature, as it is in Christian and Islamic. The Talmud is an expression of the rabbis’ resolve that every scrap of Jewish law, lore, custom and memory be retained in the face of the catastrophic loss of temple, Jerusalem, Judea and state.

    The Mishna and Talmuds are “the book” which Shlomo Sands says is missing (perhaps if he had bothered to consult them?).

    And there is another book: Bellum Judaeorum. Josephus is too early to realise the loss of temple and Jerusalem is permanent, and he likely hoped for their return to the Jews. But there is no question that he perceives the loss of a Jewish state, of which Jerusalem is the capital.

    Soon after Jews fall from favour. We hear no more of Hellenistic Jewish intellectuals, like Philo, whether Roman citizens or no. The destruction of the Alexandrian Jewish communities signals a decline in Hellenistic Jewish civilisation, a decline completed by the Christians. Jews no longer write Greco-Roman historiography. Hellenistic and Roman Jewish works, the provenance, in any case, of an elite, are lost. All Jews, empirewide, are punished for the rebels of Judea by collection of the temple tax. Indeed this likely plays a part in triggering the revolts in Alexandria and Cyrenaica. All Jews are thus identified as “Judeans”, and the Christians continue the policy. But now Jews are not only treated as de facto rebels, or potential rebels, against the Roman state and its gods, they are rebels against their own God, who know favours Greco-Roman gentile Christians, who inherit Jerusalem and Judea, now renamed “Palestine”, from their pagan predecessors, who acted as agents of divine wrath against Israel for rejecting or slaying Christ.

    The “myth” of exile arises precisely because it is no longer possible to retain or research information about the past in detail. Except, for Jews, in the Talmud. It is a shorthand that most neatly encapsulates the Jewish experience of dispossession, disfavour, subjugation and displacement. Jews intermingle and intermarry, and the rabbis forge a pan-Jewish identity precisely because they fear Israel will be lost among the nations. Thereafter the tendency is less to convert new as to retain old Jews.

    The assumption, indeed the necessity, that Jews are a people dispossessed of temple, city and land for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets only bolsters Jewish self-definition.

    And the Christians continue the process of Jewish dispossession of the land of Israel by laws seeking to alienate or marginalise them. Yes, a sizable Jewish community remains in the land, largely in the Galil, whether many Judean refugees likely went.

    Shlomo’s assertion that Romans did not exile peoples is idiotic: they certainly carried out tranfer or genocide against Dacia, the only other province, other than Judaea, to be renamed as a consequence.

    Cassius Dio says 500 000 Judeans were killed during the suppression of the second Jewish revolt. Exaggeration? Possibly. But ethnic cleansing even by modern standards (and the Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian experience springs to mind).

    Judaea is changed to Syria Palaestina both to likely reflect that “demographic” change and to alienate Jews from the land for ever. It was never complete, sure. But I can tell you that every ancient Christian author, even those living in Palestine, speaks as though Israel has been completely dispossessed from the land, not because it necessarily reflects reality, but because it reflects things as they think they should be.

    Which is why Jews have been regarded as a people dispossessed of temple, city and land, in Christendom and Islam, for most of Christian and Islamic history.

    Especially Palestinian Christian and Islamic history.

    In any case, one consequence of this is that, even in the 19th and 20th centuries, Jews in Europe, North Africa and Asia are regarded as more nationally Judean than, say, European or Arab, and are either killed, or effectively driven out: before 1914, mostly to America, after 1914, mostly to Palestine, or what became Israel.

    Which is why the Jewish state of Israel is the second or largest Jewish community today, and certainly the one most identifiably Jewish (hence, unsurprisingly, the especial focus of hatred of antisemites today).

    Sand’s holding a post-Revolutionary French notion of nationality as the touch stone of its definition is absurd: the Greeks and the Romans regarded Jews as a distinct ethno-national group, along with Syrians and Egyptians.

    But, more to the point, Sand’s criterion proves the very opposite of his thesis: the granting to Jews of French citizenship was significant precisely because it was the first time since antiquity that Jews could transcend their (anciently regarded) Jewish ethno-nationality without having first to convert from Judaism to Christianity.

    The intellectuals of the French Republic all assumed the Jews were an ethno-national group historically dispossessed because this was not merely how Jews saw themselves, it had been a datum of European culture for nearly 2000 years.

    It was precisely this identity Jews were supposed to surrender in order to become French citizens. That was why orthodox rabbis viewed emancipation with such ambivalence, and why Liberal Judaism evolved as a response.

    Conte de Clermont-Tonnerre to the General Assembly of the Republic ‘To the Jews as individuals everything, to the Jews as a nation nothing.’

    It goes without saying that this presupposes Jews to have been a national group of some kind, although this was what Jews needed to abandon to become French citizens.

    zkharya

    17/11/2009 at 12:06

  28. Fabian – Your analogy is ludicrous. I can’t believe you’re a professional anything, you’ere so childish. Here is a far better analogy.

    Someone claims that you Fabian (not Jews, not me, just you) are obsessed with money and you say, “no I am not, I can’t be, I just counted all my money and it only came to £998,994.94 in £50s, £20s, £10s, £5s, , £2s, £1s, £)0.50s, £0.20s, £0.10s, £0.05s, £0.02s and £0.01s therefore I can’t be obsessed with money though no doubt, you Elf, will say that I am.”

    See how that compares to your saying that you cannot be obsessed with the genetic background of Ashkenazi Jews because you know that 60% are descended from here and 40% from there. A better argument by you would have been to say that actually you have no idea of the origins genetic or otherwise of the Jewish people and anyway you don’t care. But whilst you probably do have no idea of the origins of today’s Jews you clearly do care.

    Not only that, you claim that genetics negates the idea that Arabs, who you appear to define genetically rather than linguistically or culturally, can return there or live there as equals. You also seem to think that if Arabs believe that Jews aren’t somehow connected through blood and other ethnic ties (which you now say include emotional ties) to the soil of Palestine (which sounds scarily fascistic to me but not to Mod apparently and he claims to know about these things) they are more likely to attack Israel than if they became convinced of some other theory of the origins of today’s Jews. That was having said that the origins of the Jews has no bearing on whether there should be a state specifically for Jews or not. I think actually you drift so deeply into self-contradiction and incoherence, further analysis of what you have written is impossible.

    Anyway, to conclude, Modernity Blog believes that there is a particular Khazar hypothesis that is part and parcel of fascist antisemitic thought today. He couldn’t say what it was though it would have been quick and easy enough to do so. His linking the whole issue to Socialist Unity, Shlomo Sand and Palestine Solidarity together with holocaust denial made it look like he was saying that simply expounding any version of the Khazar hypothesis was antisemitic and I am still not convinced that that is not what he was saying particularly as the explicitly antisemitic version of the theory has now been set out by Fabian here and by me both here and at Bob from Brockley’s blog.

    Meanwhile fascists are present in nearly all the parliaments of Europe and are reckoned to be within striking distance of a seat in the UK parliament. I’m not sure if any of them have a position on the Khazar hypothesis but most of them, including in the UK, support the State of Israel, presumably for their own fascistic reasons.

    levi9099

    17/11/2009 at 12:39

  29. “A better argument by you would have been to say that actually you have no idea of the origins”

    I leave argumentation through ignorance to you. As I said, I know what I am talking about (I also know the limits of what I know).
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060117083446.htm

    For example, I don’t know how to replicate that study. But it seems pretty serious to me. Anybody who cares about the Jewish people might have read this article. It appeared in several newspapers, and it is from 2006.

    Fabian from Israel

    17/11/2009 at 13:46

  30. zkharya,

    Thanks for your informative contribution.

    modernityblog

    17/11/2009 at 15:05

  31. Fabian,

    You’ll have to forgive me, but I am no longer willing to indulge Elf’s nonsense.

    I don’t mind if people disagree me, but wilfully misrepresenting *my* own view on *my own* blog is a bit annoying.

    http://tinyurl.com/yfubgpa

    So if people wish to continue, please do so on Elf’s blog, he’s not welcome here, as a guest.

    Even I have my limits.

    modernityblog

    17/11/2009 at 15:10

  32. This Sand may not be who he says he is. His argument is viciously anti-Semitic, whether Sand is actually a Jew or an imposter. In any case, the genealogical line of descent is irrelevant either to legitimate or deligitimate Zionism. There are both secular as well as religious and racialist arguments to define who is a Jew, independently of any spurious “right of return”. I consider both religious and racialist criteria bogus. Nor do I consider an absolutely strict delimitation possible. However, there are both ethnic and religious criteria of affiliation. However, in this anti-Semitic climate it becomes impossible to discuss the nature of Jewish identity without immediately becoming embroiled in the Zionist issue. But they are not one and the same thing.

    Ralph Dumain

    17/11/2009 at 17:39

  33. Ralph wrote:

    “His argument is viciously anti-Semitic,”

    I’m not sure that’s how I would characterise it, as I haven’t read Sand’s work.

    An equally plausible explanation is that Sand is a poor historian, or is exploiting the situation for personal gain or glory.

    Who knows?

    What is plain is that specialist historians have slated his book, that should be a warning to the rest of us.

    modernityblog

    17/11/2009 at 18:36

  34. Excellent summary of the question, Zkharya.

    Where Jews a people exiled from their land for almost 2000 years? Well, that was how they saw themselves and that is how the rest of the world saw them. Case closed, Sand loses.

    Fabian from Israel

    17/11/2009 at 19:31

  35. zkharya,

    If you ever want to do a guest post, please let me know, my email is on the front of the blog.

    modernityblog

    18/11/2009 at 02:49

  36. Very well put Zkharya.

    Ralph, I think you overstate your case. There is no reason to suppose Sand is an impostor. His work may have antisemitic implications in the wrong hands, and may be motivated by unpleasant pathologies, but it is not itself antisemitic, and certainly not viciously so.

    Mod, I am keeping my patience with Mark open a little longer, and he seems to have handed the baton at my place to Gert anyway, who is if anything worse.

    Fabian, you may or may not want to follow the tinyurl link Mod provides above to come to a comment thread where Mark’s pal Gert has accused you of racism, and where the Contentious Centrist has refuted the allegation. It won’t be fun though.

    Bob

    18/11/2009 at 14:22

  37. Bob,

    I can appreciate why you might want to be polite to Elf and gang, on your own blog, I was politer than I might have been elsewhere, but in the end it doesn’t matter, they are abusive, slow witted, argumentative and can’t bring themselves to *ever* agree with you, because they are bound up in petty hatreds. That’s what seems to drive them, it is sad, but not worth dwelling on.

    As for Gert, he has too much the whiff of the Far Right about him for my taste, I am sure he’ll show his truer character shortly.

    modernityblog

    18/11/2009 at 15:05

  38. PS:

    I just saw his comment:

    “Being a serial smear merchant for racist war criminals might seem intrinsically Jewish to you but it is not.”

    I think that’s a bit stronger than “Bob – you’re full of fucking shit”.

    Elf’s certainly on a charm offensive, or just plain offensive.

    modernityblog

    18/11/2009 at 15:12

  39. […] emotions, material, information. I have read and/or been exposed to since my last post. Yes, there has been lots of great things to check out at my regular reads, but I want to do things a bit […]

  40. Sand is a a postmodernist, not a historian. He utterly ignores all historical evidence not meeting his goal. Look at the Khazar myth he pushes. He provides no actual evidence, just regurgitated old tropes. But he cites books like the Jews of Khazaria that refute his claims.
    And Sand utterly ignores the genetics, which disprove him.
    Jon Entine’s “Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People” is ignored. And a simple look at the recent data makes a mockery of Sand’s assertions.

    http://www.khazaria.com/genetics/abstracts.html
    http://www.khazaria.com/sand-jewish.html

    It is all well and good to be a post nationalist or anti-Zionist. It is the stupid lies that should insult those ideologically allied to this fraud.

    Finally, I would note that it is the left that is now picking up antisemitic tropes.

    RonL

    25/11/2009 at 11:39

  41. Levi999/Mark Elf:

    “You also seem to think that if Arabs believe that Jews aren’t somehow connected through blood and other ethnic ties (which you now say include emotional ties) to the soil of Palestine (which sounds scarily fascistic to me but not to Mod apparently and he claims to know about these things) they are more likely to attack Israel than if they became convinced of some other theory of the origins of today’s Jews.”

    But they did: that is why they kicked them out.

    zachary esterson, PhD student, Cardiff

    06/12/2009 at 17:37

  42. […] On Sand. Jonathan Wittenberg has reviewed Shlomo Sand’s recent book and in a very polite way found it wanting: “The flaws in Sand’s argument are both […]


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