Archive for the ‘ISRAEL AND PALESTINE’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ACCEPTING MYTH AS FACT – EVEN IN OUR SCIENTIFIC AGE IT IS DONE OFTEN AND WITHOUT BEING QUESTIONED DESPITE ITS DANGER – PERHAPS THE MOST PUBLICIZED EXAMPLE IS THE NOTION OF MODERN JEWISH PEOPLE HAVING RETURNED TO AN ANCESTRAL HOME IN ISRAEL   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY AS’AD ABUKHALIL IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

 

“Israel’s Overlooked Strategic Losses in Wars Against Arabs

“After conventional Arab armies failed to deter Israeli invasions, Lebanese and Palestinian volunteers have changed the strategic balance in the Middle East

___________________

Response to a comment saying, “The barrage of anti-Israel rhetoric lost all credibility some time ago. While it remains fashionable among our bourgeoisie, it has defied all logic. Bottom line: Jews are indigenous to that bit of land, restored as the Jewish nation in 1948. Israel is roughly 1% of the Mideast, with the remaining 99% owned by the Arab states, all of which are armed to the teeth by China, Russia, and the US. Although portrayed as a military behemoth trampling over the impoverished oil states, it takes everything Israel has got, just to survive”:

Sorry, but you just repeat lines from pamphlets.

The Ashkenazi – the people running Israel and the main early Zionist writers – are indeed Jews, but that ignores the fact that they are not Hebrews. There is a huge difference.

The Ashkenazi are Europeans. The word, Ashkenazi, means “German.”

Deli food is not Middle Eastern – it reflects German and central European food.

The Yiddish language is not Middle Eastern – it is derived from German.

The dress of the ultra-Orthodox is not Middle Eastern – it is from 18th or 19th century Eastern Europe.

Yes, most Jews learn some Hebrew in their temples’ Hebrew Schools, but that is no different than the practice of millions of devout Muslims learning Arabic in madrassa schools so that they can read the Koran in the original. It provides no basis for Indonesia laying claim to Saudi Arabia.

Sharing religious beliefs with someone who ages ago owned some real estate buys you nothing in the real world.

All the best evidence we have suggests the Palestinians are the actual remaining descendants of the Hebrews.

The Romans never tossed out whole peoples from conquered lands. There is no record of their ever doing so.

The notion of wandering Jews looking for a home again for two thousand years appears to be just a sentimental myth used by people like the Ashkenazi to feel more connected to the ancient Hebrews whose religion they share.

There are many examples of such myths and beliefs – e.g., a number of American Blacks regard themselves as descendants of the ancient Egyptians – but myths provide no foundation for building new arrangements in the real world.

Besides, time and again, DNA tests of Ashkenazi people tell us plainly they go back about one thousand years or less. Two origins are suggested, and both of them are located in Europe.

Citing ancient texts, and especially religious or superstitious ones, as any kind of basis for the geo-politics of the modern world makes little sense and is actually quite dangerous.

Otherwise, Greece, who won the Trojan War three thousand years ago, would have a claim on Turkey, the site of ancient Troy.

And many other groups besides the ancient Hebrews possessed what we call Israel before the Hebrews, including the Egyptians. By what logic do you stop at just a certain era in any territory’s long history to call it the definitive origin? There’s no such thing.

And there are scores of such examples as the Greeks and Trojans which prove nothing and would only generate confusion and war if taken seriously.

And that is pretty much the case for re-created Israel. Confusion and war.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A WRITER SAYS WE CAN BE HOPEFUL ABOUT PALESTINE – I WISH IT WERE SO – BUT I SEE NO REASON FOR OPTIMISM – QUITE THE OPPOSITE WHEN YOU APPRECIATE THE ACTUAL BEHAVIOR OF ISRAEL AND AREN’T BLINDED BY IDEOLOGY AND FANCIFUL MYTHS   1 comment

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PETER F COHEN IN MONDOWEISS

 

“Why we can be hopeful on Palestine”

 

I very much wish the title represented something more than a new version of Candide’s optimism.

The single state solution is an idea that has been around a long time.

If I’m not mistaken, the late Edward Said embraced it many years ago.

It’s perfectly rational, but that is part of the reason that the bitter, brutal men running Israel will never accept it.

They are harsh ideologues, embracing a dark fantasy, the re-creation of an ancient land based on doubtful religious texts of 2,500 years, or more, ago. Texts in which people are stoned for doing things we do every day. Texts in which certain kinds of cloth and certain kinds of food, things we all use, are forbidden. Texts in which a great many events are either fantasies – Jonah and the whale or Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt or the Tower of Babel or Noah’s Ark – or things which never occurred – Israel’s captivity in Egypt and the reign of King David.

Those are hardly a sound basis for modern political affairs and the founding of a state which is heavily armed. But the truth is they provide only the start of a grim list of problems associated with today’s Israel.

Jews in fact flourish in a number of places in far better situations than they do in Israel. It seems to me that there is something in the Israeli temperament resembling the reclusive religious institutions of the Middle Ages, the ones where self-flagellation and other extremes were the norm – not the kind of people ready to embrace large numbers of outsiders with different ways. We find the same qualities in cults sometimes, the desire for separateness and unwillingness to mingle with others.

If Zionists had taken Albert Einstein’s advice, embracing the native people and living among them without iron walls, there could have been something harmonious and peaceful and constructive for everyone over the last 70 years.

But they did not embrace that vision. They embraced instead a bitter and hostile vision of iron walls and racial segregation. And militarism and police and security forces everywhere.

Moreover, Israel is the most heavily subsidized entity on earth, counting both government and private subsidies, and we all know the highly debilitating effects of subsidy over time. And subsidies cannot continue indefinitely. People do not endlessly give away money and resources, particularly when they see the recipient makes absolutely no progress at creating an improved situation.

It would be wise to seriously start making peace with the neighbors and cooperating because what we see today in Israel simply is not a situation which can be sustained long term, that is, without the kind of endless harshness we see, much the same kind of harshness we saw in the old Soviet Union, a state whose circumstances also were not sustainable. But fanatics, like the men who run Israel, do not look at hard realities.

Israel deliberately maintains an embattled situation, making life far more difficult for most there than in, say, Canada or the US or France or many other places.

Israel’s open abuse of millions causes its citizens to be greatly disliked in the world, too, and I don’t really think most people enjoy being disliked.

The place is an armed camp, a crusader fortress. The level of military and security services make it in many ways resemble the old USSR. A state top-heavy with military and police and spies is not a healthy one for the long term. A recent book revealed that Israel’s security services have conducted 2,700 assassinations. Serial murder, then, is a founding value of the nation.

The cost of living in Israel is very high, houses are hard to buy, and career opportunities are quite limited. It is a small place, with about half the population of Ecuador. It can never enjoy great economies of scale, and its international trade literally is force-fed by American subsidies and pressures on others.

People only voluntarily live that way – having actually gone out of their way to create the circumstances – when a fantasy or a fanatical belief dominates rational thinking. Fanatical beliefs provide no sound foundation for anything.

I wouldn’t care if Israelis wanted to indulge their fantasies, providing they could do so without hurting and abusing millions of others.

But they are hurting and abusing millions of others. That fact is at the heart of the matter.

It is not a matter of a war or conflict, as it is so often inaccurately and lopsidedly presented in our press and by our politicians, when you have a situation where other people’s farms and houses are regularly stolen. It represents a state where the rule of law does not apply, a kind of ongoing criminal enterprise with no justice for its victims.

The rule of law simply is not to be found in Israel and the territories it occupies. Something called the law exists, but it is the same kind of law we saw in places like the American Confederacy and in Nationalist South Africa. It is law to protect only a specific group of residents, and it is law which oppresses all others.

You simply cannot have a viable country in the long term without the stability of the rule of law, yet the people running Israel appear to believe that you can.

You know, it is impossible to look at images of Gaza and not immediately think of a giant concentration camp. And what we see there is Israel’s doing completely. Penning people in with fences and guard towers, including towers with automated, radar-activated machine guns. Bombing them frequently, invading them periodically, blockading their imports, even the materials required for repairs and rebuilding. Curtailing all their natural rights such as how far fishermen can go out in their boats and whether people can travel anywhere, even for medical care or education.

Just imagine how Israel would thrive treated the same way. Of course, it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. It would stagnate and begin to rot. In a way, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians provides a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. Many Israelis really do believe it is only themselves capable of making a thriving place. You can very much see that notion on display in propaganda films and lobbying efforts. It surely represents a form of racism which just jumps out at us periodically.

And when peaceful, desperate people protest for rights to which they are entitled by all the reckonings of Western tradition, Israel can only think of lining up firing squads of soldiers to shoot into the crowds from behind fences. Where in God’s name does such behavior take you? It is a one-way trip to nowhere.

The idea of a mixed state is abhorrent to a great many Israelis because it violates the confused dream that dominated the founders’ thinking.

It would only be possible if the United States used its inordinate power and authority to push for justice. Indeed, that is the reality for any settlement, whether two states or one. But how likely is that? It is not only unlikely, it is impossible given the political realities of America with its money-driven elections and its tolerance for powerful lobbies to supply money along with other assistance such as favorable press treatment.

The lobby for Israel in the United States is one of the most powerful and well-run in the country. It is for many a political death sentence to oppose it. It will maintain the status quo so long as the leaders in Israel want it to be so. There is a kind of vicious circle involved in all discussions of Israel-Palestinian peace.

Only in the remote case of American Jews becoming convinced that Israel should no longer be supported so vigorously, or in the equally remote case of America changing its terrible laws around money in politics and the governance of political lobbies, would there be a possibility for America to use its strength and influence for justice. Well, it’s gone on the way it is for seventy years, and there seems little reason to expect change in either of those American circumstances which support Israel.

Further contributing to Israel’s distaste for a single-state solution is the fact that, in general, Arab birth rates are higher, considerably, than Israeli ones. Of course, keeping Palestinians in relative poverty only helps to extend that reality since we know birth rates invariably drop with prosperity. So, how long would it be before Jews became a minority? I know Israel’s leadership is keenly aware of this reality and greatly fears it.

Israel plays an intellectual game around the concept of democracy, always trying to gain plaudits as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” But what kind of democracy is it where only certain people can immigrate, become full citizens, and vote? Yes, there is a minority population of Palestinians who are citizens (now about 20% of total population), but their status was an accident of history, of events around 1948.

It was never intended to be so, and many Israelis would like to change their status. Prominent people have addressed that very subject. Netanyahu once described them as a “demographic bomb,” such are his fair-minded views.

And this minority is treated unfairly with specialized laws against their interests. It is even spoken out against and threatened by some Israeli politicians, men of the caliber of Avigdor Lieberman, of which Israel has considerable numbers, their presence being consistently required in the formation of governments under Israel’s political system.

In effect, some of the darkest voices in Israel always have a seat at the table of government. They provide the required margin to form a government, and they employ that margin to maintain disproportionate influence.

As well, whenever Israel meets democracy in the Arab world around it, it treats it with open hostility. It loved the long-term dictator of Egypt, Mubarak, hated and worked against Egypt’s one brief democratic government, and now embraces the new Egyptian dictator, el-Sisi. It embraces the bloody tyrant in Saudi Arabia. It embraces the King of Jordan.

It tried to totally destroy democratically-elected Hamas in Gaza, whose original non-corrupt and democratic ways only got it labelled as “terrorist.” It somewhat supports the so-called President of Palestine, Abbas, a man whose legitimate mandate ended many years ago and who has not faced an election since. Its tepid tolerance for Abbas is based only on his relative ineffectiveness and his opposition to Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has little prospect for healthy future in-migration of Jews. Indeed, it experiences some years with net out-migration. Jews are a relatively small group in the world, and not many would trade their prosperity and opportunity and freedom for the intense stress and unpleasant realities of Israel.

The Russians were the world’s last remaining large source for serious immigration, and now that’s used up.

It is important for understanding Israel’s political psychology to realize that many of its leaders and leading economic citizens have dual citizenships, as American or British, and they are secure in the backs of their minds that they can always pack-up and leave should the situation become too nasty. That is not the case for many ordinary citizens now born there. They are stuck.

Israel’s prospects, with relatively low birth rates and limited in-migration are for population decline and a whole lot more of the same grief and violence, given the extreme ideologue beliefs of its leaders and the inherent instability of its situation.

It’s a bleak long-term outlook.

But accept Palestinians? Whew, that’s like telling devout, old-fashioned Catholics they should accept abortion and married priests and stop reciting the Rosary.

Modern Israel, by all objective evidence, is, in fact, a pretty racist society, too. We’ve seen ugly controversy and manipulation at every turn involving race. Black refugees were treated terribly. Black Jews from Africa, too, were not even allowed to live in some neighborhoods. Of course, the same is true for Arabs who cannot rent or buy in many places and face open hostility. Some national laws, too, are different for Jews versus non-Jews.

I just do not see how a hopeful future can come from that.

It really was a hopeless enterprise from the beginning, creating a nation based on ancient myths and mumbo-jumbo texts, an enterprise based on anger and desperation with no larger guiding vision. But, again, if it could have been done without hurting millions of others, that would be only Israel’s’ business. But it cannot be done without hurting millions of others, and things continues along that path without any signs of let-up.

There can be no repeat of the Holocaust. It was a unique event under unique circumstances, not to be repeated, which is indeed the case with all truly terrible events. New horrors will happen somewhere to someone, but they won’t be a repeat of the Holocaust. A brilliant ancient Greek compared history to a flowing river into which you could never step into the same place twice.

Yet the Holocaust is used almost as raison d’etre for Israel. It truly is not since most of the world’s Jews do not live there. Of course, this also ignores the fact that the Holocaust was an event in another continent, involving one group of Germans against another. The Ashkenazim who created Zionism and who dominate Israel are a Germanic, Eastern European people. The word Ashkenazi means German.

So, what are they doing in the Middle East generating misery for still another people, people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust? Well, again, who would care about them being in the Middle East so long as they respected their neighbors and lived in peace. But they do not.

It’s nonsense to believe that the Holocaust could be repeated, but holding it over people’s heads serves much like the threat of hell does in American Christian fundamentalism or did in the Catholic Church for centuries of the Dark Ages.

The phrase “never again” contains no hint of reality, both because history never repeats itself and because the very people uttering it have demonstrated insincerity and hypocrisy in their efforts. Again, just look at images of Gaza and see what Israel has consciously created while uttering the words. It’s beyond shameful.

I regret to say that I see virtually nothing in the entire situation about which to be optimistic.

 

 

 

 

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ISRAEL’S DIRECT INTERFERENCE IN THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF BRITAIN – THE TWO REASONS JEREMY CORBYN IS SO HATED BY ISRAEL’S LEADERS TELLS US A LOT, AND NOT VERY PLEASANT, ABOUT THEM   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Labour antisemitism row was created by Israel trade union boss suggests”

 

He’s absolutely right. Please recall that Netanyahu himself stuck his nose into the affair, even getting what he was charging quite wrong.

The head of Israel’s Labour Party also butted in with a letter that was published.

And there have been other voices from Israel.

It truly has been the most blatant interference in the internal political affairs of another state, making anything Putin has been accused of look silly.

The “anti-Semitism” line does not give people a free pass to do things that are recognized everywhere as completely unacceptable.Israel hates Corbyn for two facts.

One, he is a “Leftie” and Israel’s government hates “Lefties” in general because they invariably speak to concerns over human and democratic rights in the world.

And, two, he has a balanced view of the Mideast and treats Palestinians as though they were full human beings with fair claims to decent and equal treatment.

Now, those are truly terrible things Corbyn stands accused of, aren’t they? I am sure he would plead guilty.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE GO-NOWHERE ARGUMENT REPEATED ABOUT WHO WAS THERE FIRST IN THE HOLY LAND – AN IMPORTANT LIST OF FACTS FOR CLEAR THINKING ABOUT THE EXISTING MESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY FATHI NEMER IN MONDOWEISS

 

Pretty good piece.

But there is a major flaw in starting from the question, “So, in the end, who was there first?”

You are playing Israel’s own crooked game by even trying to answer.

The fact is that that is a totally irrelevant question for any territory or country you care to name.

Should Turkey be Greek owing to the Trojan War three thousand years ago?

Should Israel be Lebanese owing to the ancient Phoenicians who were there before Hebrews?

If you want to get ridiculous, you could say Europe belongs to descendants with Neanderthal genes (and there are such).

What possibly could be more ridiculous than basing anything in modern affairs on words from old manuscripts which speak of turning a woman into salt and a big fish swallowing a man?

It’s not only intellectually obtuse, it is guaranteed formula for conflict.

The fact is that the people running and populating most of today’s Israel are of European descent, the Ashkenazi.

Their native language, Yiddish, is related to German, and their food and physical culture point to central and eastern Europe – Latkes, schmaltz, bagels, etc. None of it is Middle Eastern.

DNA testing indicates two origins. One, a group arising near Italy about a thousand years ago which migrated north into Germany. Other tests support the old Khazars hypothesis, a people from around Ukraine about a thousand years ago.

At some point, it seems clear that the Hebrews became evangelical, seeing the immense success of Christianity which started as an obscure Hebrew cult. The two groups above both were converts.

Ashkenazi DNA shows some admixture of Semite people, but that is to be expected with movements in and out of various Jewish groups over the centuries.

The Hebrew language, except among some scholars and religious students, died. It was artificially revived by modern Israel.

The bottom line is that the Ashkenazi of Israel are not descendants of the Hebrews.

Indeed, the great irony is that the Palestinians have the best claim to that title. The Romans who were excellent record keepers recorded no expulsion of Jews in the conquest of the Holy Land. Indeed, it was not their habit to expel local populations in their various conquests.

The whole story of the wandering Jews of the last two thousand years is a myth, as complete a myth as Jonah being swallowed by a big fish or Noah and the Ark.

The Hebrews in Palestine themselves suffered conquests, conversions, and migrations, but that body of people is as close as we have to the ancient Hebrews.

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A VERY PROVOCATIVE IDEA: WAS MODERN ISRAEL’S FOUNDING A MISTAKE? – IT WAS NOT ANTI-SEMITIC FOR KEN LIVINGSTON TO SAY THIS IN AN INTERVIEW – JUST A REFLECTION OF ALL THE MISERY AND TURMOIL ISRAEL HAS GENERATED SINCE 1948   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

‘The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong’

 I know The Independent is trying to be quite provocative here, but the truth is, there is nothing wrong with Livingstone’s statement. It is not hateful, it is painfully accurate.

Many, many thoughtful people have said more or less the same thing.

It has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

It is simply a reflection of all the misery and turmoil Israel, as a state, has generated since 1948.

Albert Einstein himself – often called a Zionist – had a highly qualified view of Israel. He liked the idea of displaced Jews finding homes in the Holy Land, but wrote very forcefully against the kind of state we have seen emerge, one governed only for the benefit of Jews and with a powerful army. He was strongly against that happening.

One of the leading early Zionists, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, established a terrible principle called “the iron wall” which was completely adopted by re-created Israel. The principle is that Jews should show only an iron wall to their neighbors in the Middle East.

How can anything good come of that? Well, it cannot, and it hasn’t.

Had Israel been founded along lines Einstein advocated, the whole story might well have been different, but it did not. It adopted “the iron wall” and has treated its neighbors pretty much with contempt, and nearly endless aggression, since 1948.

The Six Day War, we know from various historical sources including blunt observations from de Gaulle, was deliberately created by Israel. It had calculated and knew that it could win handily against divided and poorly-led Arab states enticed into war. There were a whole series of provocations laid out, and Israel got just what it wanted in terms of land, and the Arabs were left looking like failed aggressors against poor little David. It was a military and propaganda triumph.

The results are what we see today: millions living as prisoners with no rights or future, slow-motion depopulation of the captured territories in favor of new owners, the outright theft of people’s homes and farms week-in and week-out, the disruption of ancient life patterns through walls (built on other people’s land) and countless barriers, the theft of many other resources such as oil from Syria’s Golan Heights or gas from a seabed which should belong to Gaza, theft of precious water supplies through many diversions and projects, and a very great deal more.

How can that kind of state behavior ever produce peace or anything else good? Of course it cannot. It is not meant to do so.

The truth is Israel is not even a very good place for many Jews in which to live. It is an awfully inefficient economy, always heavily subsidized. Prices are terribly high. It is difficult to afford a home. Good jobs are not plentiful. You must see your children in the army, and enforcing the ugliness of the occupation. And you must accept all the noise and ugly violence that goes on. The wealthy class in Israel, many or most of whom are dual-citizens, do very well and are safe in the idea they can easily migrate if required or desired.

Israel has attacked every neighbor that it has, some numerous times. It is always making threats, as against Iran, and the threats are unwarranted because Iran has attacked no one in its modern history and does not threaten Israel. Various modern leaders have demanded American attack every place from Iraq to Iran, and they very much got their way in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Likely a million have died, and for what?

Well, in the end, re-created Israel is a fact, even if a mistake, and the world can accept it if only it can play by the rules, return to the Green Line, and live in peace with its neighbors. This is the view of people like Uri Avnery whom I support. But voices like his are extremely rare in Israel. So what hope is there ever to see peace and progress with dark figures like Netanyahu or Sharon? None.

Israel will only respond to pressure from Western states, and that is why it is completely right to criticize and try to alter the political environment which allows Israel’s bloody excesses to flourish. It is not anti-Semitism, it is human decency, and I am sure most Jewish people really understand that but feel fearful of saying so.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ISRAEL’S LABOUR PARTY LEADER JOINS THE WITCH HUNT IN BRITAIN – SIMPLY UNBELIEVABLE FROM SOMEONE LIVING IN A COUNTRY WHERE FIVE MILLION ARE HELD AGAINST THEIR WILL, DENIED ANY RIGHTS AND ABUSED WITH ENDLESS CHECK-POINTS, DEMOLITIONS, WALLS, LAND SEIZURES, BLOCKADE, IMPRISONMENT, ASSASSINATIONS, AND TORTURE   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Israeli Labor leader slams Livingstone’s ‘horrific, unthinkable’ views”

Well, here is an example of either ignorance or genuine hate, hate posing as the moral high-ground.

Livingston expressed nothing “unthinkable,” he expressed a historical fact, undoubtedly unpleasant for some.

Livingston would have better avoided mentioning it, but it remains a fact, not an expression of hate.

If you want a genuine example of “unthinkable” behavior, and on a massive scale, there is Israel’s holding about five million people completely against their will, giving them absolutely no rights or status, abusing them endlessly with walls, demolitions, imprisonment, checkpoints, limits on their fishing, blockading them, bombing them, seizing homes and farms, assassinating them, and,  yes, documented torture.

Good God, we are all expected to ignore these horrors just because a politician mentioned an inconvenient truth?

The letter by Isaac Herzog is utterly self-serving and represents the cheapest political opportunism.

Again:

http://northshorenumismaticsociety.org/little-known-medal-marks-nazi-zionist-co-operation-in-1933/

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MORE ON THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY JEWISH PEOPLE -THE GREAT IRONY OF RE-CREATED ISRAEL   Leave a comment

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.