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John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RINF

 

You simply cannot say that Jews are not Jews as some do here in comments – that is rather ridiculous.

What you can say is that most of today’s Jews are not the descendants of the Hebrew people – and that is a very different thing.

The origin of the Ashkenazi has not been definitively shown.

DNA tests suggest a people who arose near Italy about a thousand years ago and later moved north to Germany.

Other DNA tests do suggest the Khazaria (an empire above the modern Black and Caspian Seas) hypothesis, again going back roughly a thousand years.

Quite likely, owing to reasons cited below, today’s main Jewish population contains bits of both.

There is in fact some Semitic DNA in some Ashkenazi people, but that is only natural as intermarriage among various early Jewish groups likely took place.

It is important to remember that the Ashkenazi – the dominant group of Jews today and the people who rule re-created Israel – speak as their native tongue a language which is a mix of German and other elements – Yiddish – and the word Ashkenazi means German.

Hebrew is a technically dead language artificially revived in re-created Israel, much as Welsh has had some revival in the UK. Hebrew knowledge was preserved over many centuries mainly by two activities: the work of Biblical scholars, including many non-Jews, and the practice of teaching young Jews some Hebrew in Hebrew schools. Hebrew is an almost intrinsic part of the religion of Judaism in much the same fashion that Arabic is for Islam.

Indeed, Judaism has many of the aspects of an Asian religion in which ancestor worship is important, the Old Testament being mainly a collection of historical fragments and myths about Hebrew ancestors. That shouldn’t surprise because Judaism is thought to have first arisen in the region around Mesopotamia or Persia, key parts of Western Asia.

Today’s Jews – again, overwhelmingly the Ashkenazi – have little to no relationship with that ancient people other than sharing some of their beliefs and using bits of the preserved language as part of religious celebrations.

Parts of the Old Testament such as Leviticus suggest a harsh original people with extreme fundamentalist views, perhaps the very nature of their beliefs being why they left their region of origin, much as a small cult like the Mormons trekked out to Utah. The most typical Jews of today – even most of the Orthodox – have very little to do with those ancient views, and the Jewish people we think of typically are quite worldly in outlook. The population of Israel is extremely so, except for small minority sects, Judaism much as other religions over time having become less an intense faith than a cultural affiliation. We see the same thing with Christians who go to church only on Easter or Christmas.

What happened to the ancient people called Hebrews, the ones discussed in the Old Testament? Their main descendants are certainly the Palestinians. There is no record of Imperial Rome’s having expelled the Hebrews upon conquest of their territories. Indeed, we know that it was not Rome’s practice to expel people almost ever from conquered territories. It wanted them to go on working and even practicing their religion, Rome being extremely tolerant of non-Roman beliefs so long as the people accepted Rome’s authority and paid their taxes (recall Jesus’s admonition about rendering unto Rome).

But two millennia of history in a region of the Mediterranean which has long been very active in trade and migrations and cultural changes has produced a largely non-Jewish people called the Palestinians, people who are Christian as well as Muslim.

Of course the great and bitter irony of re-created Israel is that a largely European people, the Ashkenazi, have driven out the descendants of the Hebrews whose original religion they claim as their own.

What is almost certain is that, following the great evangelical success of Christianity – after all, Christianity even eventually took over the Roman Empire – which originated as a Jewish (Hebrew) sect other Jews (Hebrews) became evangelical, a quality we do not associate with Jews today.

That period of evangelicalism resulted in groupings of Jews arising in a number of places including Khazaria (a region above today’s Black and Caspian Seas), bits of Europe, and pockets of Africa. It is interesting that in re-created Israel, the descendants of Jewish converts from Africa are not generally welcome by the descendants of other Jewish converts, the Ashkenazi.

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