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If you've ever been up nights agonizing about whether or not Jews are really Jews, this is your lucky day. Maybe.

Yesterday somebody brought up (and then redacted away mention of) Shlomo Sand's recent book, "The Invention of the Jewish People." Sand's version of history says that Ashkenazi Jews (but not Sephardic ones) are just foolin' themselves; they're not really descendants of the Israelites after all, but actually represent the single largest bait-and-switch in history.

Well, since this meme comes up every now and again, even here, I thought I'd give it a more extended look. Join me over the jump for a Jew gene jamboree!

Incidentally, this isn't intended as an I/P diary and I've intentionally left "Israel" and "Palestine" out of the tags. There are plenty of places for arguing I/P, but that's not what this diary is intended for.

The Nutbar Version

First, a quote from a deeeep thinker about Jewish history[emphases added].

HAHAHAHAHAA ………Remember now , these are GODS CHOSEN PEOPLE. what a joke. The hebrews at one point in biblical history were favored by god ON CONDITION OF KEEPING HIS COVENENT WITH THEM …….THEY DID NOT. So one must come to the obvious conclusion that even the true descendants of the hebrew nation can no longer be reffered to as GODS CHOSEN. Now lets look at the fact that the modern so called jews are actually khazars that adopted judaism somewhere around the sixth century a.d. because they saw a good angle, percentage and profit in it. And have no linage to the original hebrews. They are all frauds, claiming a false inheritance that really didnt exist to start with. I have been researching these obvious liars for some years now, to the point that i can pretty much guess what they will pull next. We (goyim) need to stop listening to khazar propaganda and take a good honest look at these liars and scoundrels.

That's a comment from earlier this year from an antisemitic (yet ostensibly pro-Palestinian) website webmastered, by coincidence, by someone who was banned from posting on DailyKos in the Great De-Shergaldification.

Who does that poster speak for? Obviously neither for the Palestinian people nor the supporters of Palestine. Racist nutbars of the world, perhaps. I don't need to point out the comment's antisemitism. I did however want to point out one of the ways that antisemitism expresses itself, something that may have left you scratching your head in the above quote if this was the first time you saw it. It's that stuff about "khazars."


Khazar Story One: The Wayback Machine

There are two different versions of the Khazar story. One is based in history, and the other - as described by the bozo above - is an antisemitic distortion of that history.

The real version is this: between, say, 600 and maybe 1000 AD, there was a tribe in the Caucuses named the Khazars. And at some point in that period, at least the nobility and possibly the bulk of the tribe converted to Judaism, in what might be the largest single case of mass conversion to Judaism in history.

That's in no way controversial or new, and is certainly not a buried fact only recently rediscovered by Shlomo Sand. In fact, the best-known Jewish literary work of the medieval period takes its title ("Ha-Kuzari" by Yehuda haLevi) and plot from the historical episode. It's a theological polemic in the form of a dialogue between the Khazar prince considering conversion and the rabbi he is discussing Judaism with.

So let's be clear on this - that there were Khazars who converted to Judaism a millenium ago: not controversial, not news. That they are part of the genetic mix of Ashkenazi Jews: not controversial, not news. Not suppressed, not secret, not "hidden history." Maybe it was just the nobles who converted; maybe the whole tribe; either way, not a deep family secret.

A very good web resource on the Khazars, incidentally, is Kevin Brook's Khazaria. We'll get back to Brook later.

Khazar Story Two: Hatin' on Hymie the Holy Way

A basic problem among Christian antisemites is this: how can they worship a Jew, and honor the Jews of the Old Testament, while still being able to hate on Hymie down the street without feeling any contradiction? For a large racist cult called Christian Identity, in the last half of the 20th century, it was simple: hearing the Khazar story, they decided that today's Jews aren't really Jews at all, but impostors, and the members of the Christian Identity movement are the true descendants of the Israelites. The Khazars didn't join the Ashkenazi Jews; they are the Ashkenazi Jews. (Look up "Christian Identity" in Wikipedia to learn more about these dingbats and their many ties to other hate groups.)

The key difference between version one and version two: version one acknowledges that there's likely some Khazar influence on the Ashkenazi genome; the other version says that the Ashkenazi genome itself is Khazar and has little to do with the Israelites. It's a replacement theology: it says the Jews are really only "so-called Jews" and therefore it's okay to hate them without dissing the Israelites. The "so-called Jews" are impostors, intentionally lying to the world and (by the way) very evil too.

That's what leads to things like the paragraph I quoted above, or this comment from Stormfront:

As I've stated before; if the Jews don't clean their own house (expose the khazar fraud) the rest of the civilized world will ban together and do it for them. It will be ugly.

In case you think I'm cherry-picking, incidentally, try this experiment yourself. If your browser has a Google field that does partial matching, type in "khazars" to see what suggested phrases come back. The first one you'll see is "khazars jews"; the second one you'll see is "khazars fake jews". I am so not making this up.

(In the interest of completeness, I'll note that there were some Jews who embraced the replacement theology; one of them was a guy named Arthur Koestler, who wrote a book about it in 1976, just in time for the science of molecular biology to come along and disprove him.)

Then Came Shlomo

And that's why you'll see Jews reacting very strongly when the same claim comes up in the guise of a scholastic book, even if that scholar is an Israeli professor like Shlomo Sand. (Granted, neither a professor of ethnology, nor history, nor genetics -- but, if I remember right, modern French literature, and he's an Israeli and that's enough.)

Which version does Sand support? Obviously, that's going to make a serious difference in judging the relative merit of the book.

Sand goes for Version Two.

The reviews of Sand's book tend to fall into two categories: those who address the book scientifically or historically, and those who address it politically. The ones who address it scientifically or historically come down very hard on it, because its central scientific claim -- the replacement theory -- is simply unsustainable in the light of genomic evidence. Yes, there is probably a Khazar contribution to the Ashkenazi genome, and that's not controversial. But to claim that it is the main component, as Sand does (and David Duke does as well), is whack and gets stomped down pretty damn hard by reviewers all around the world.

Some example stompage: The Financial Times | Haaretz | Journal of Israeli History

And the New York Times:

Mixing respected scholarship with dubious theories, the author, Shlomo Sand, a professor at Tel Aviv University, frames the narrative as a startling exposure of suppressed historical facts. The translated version of his polemic has sparked a new wave of coverage in Britain and has provoked spirited debates online and in seminar rooms. Professor Sand, a scholar of modern France, not Jewish history, candidly states his aim is to undercut the Jews’ claims to the land of Israel by demonstrating that they do not constitute “a people,” with a shared racial or biological past. ...

Since Professor Sand’s mission is to discredit Jews’ historical claims to the territory, he is keen to show that their ancestry lines do not lead back to ancient Palestine. He resurrects a theory first raised by 19th-century historians, that the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, to whom 90 percent of American Jews trace their roots, are descended from the Khazars, a Turkic people who apparently converted to Judaism and created an empire in the Caucasus in the eighth century. ...

By now, experts who specialize in the subject have repeatedly rejected the theory, concluding that the shards of evidence are inconclusive or misleading, said Michael Terry, the chief librarian of the Jewish division of the New York Public Library. Dr. Ostrer said the genetics also did not support the Khazar theory.

Kevin Brook, an expert in the historiography of the Khazars whom Sand sites as a source, is no less unequivocal:

The evidence I collected in my book disproves Sand's book's ideas about the origins of Ashkenazim and Sephardim, showing that the real story is that Ashkenazim and Sephardim have preserved a large amount of ancestry from ancient Israel to the present day.

Ashkenazim do have potential Khazar genetics, though. And many West Bank Palestinians do have Israelite genetics. But Sand exaggerates these two facts. My book "The Jews of Khazaria" presents the middle ground between the extreme views of this debate.

Well, if the book is getting beaten to death on the science front and the historiography front, who actually likes it? The book's supporters fall into two groups: those looking for a stick to hit Israel with, and those looking for a stick to hit Jews with. It's no surprise that anti-Zionists find the book to be catnip: "why, if the 'Jewish people' were really an invention, then, why, Israel must be based on lies! Look, even Israelis like that there Israeli professor say so!" It's also no surprise that antisemites find the book to be catnip: "why, if the 'Jewish people' really were an invention, why, then the Jews must all be liars! Look, even Jews like that there Jew professor say so!"


Just to make sure you catch the point, let me repeat it. Khazar impact on Ashkenazi genome: proven, documented, known, not controversial, not new. Khazar replacement of Ashkenazi genome: whack, David Duke, Christian Identity, Jon the Antizionist Rocket Scientist. History and molecular biology is on one side, polemic on the other. (Kinda like the intelligent design "debate.")

I should also mention the last little irony. I've been referring to the "Ashkenazi = Khazar" bit as "replacement theology." In the case of Christian Identity, that's directly true: they not only think Jews are Khazars, but that the real descendants of the Israelites is -- no surprise -- the Christian Identity movement. That argument is echoed surprisingly frequently by those anti-Zionists who took the "Khazar" bait; but take a look at what Google pulls up when you search the phrase "the true descendants of the Jews." It's just another replacement theology.

And, ya know, the Israel/Palestine thing is complicated enough already without people like Sand coming in and spewing that kind of easily disproven crap, in an act of unintentional but undeniable synergy with white-powerniks, in hopes of exploiting the ignorance of his readers.

Originally posted to zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 01:57 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Thank you. (7+ / 0-)

      It's a shame that crap like Sand's book gets taken seriously in the first place.

      It's time to turn, "Yes, we can" into "Yes, we will".

      by ubertar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:07:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Trying to understand the logic (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zemblan, crose

        What difference does it make?  The Jewish hold on Israel certainly is not based on genetics, is it?  

        The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

        by MadScientist on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:20:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that's a discussion for another thread (9+ / 0-)

          I've got opinions on this, but there are plenty of I/P threads and not many Jewish genetics threads, so I'm kinda hoping this thread doesn't become just another I/P free-for-all.

          harps and angels! harps and angels!

          by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:26:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Have you read the book? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            deepeco, crose

            Because it seems that from this diary you haven't. Neither have I. But I've read some reviews that characterize its claims quite differently than you do. My understanding, and again I haven't read the book yet, is that Sand's argument is NOT a rehashing of the Khazar argument, but rather a combination of a claim that Ashkenazic Jews are descended from a variety of largely convert Jewish communities AND a critique of nationalist mythmaking. The description on Amazon reads:

            Shlomo Sand argues that most Jews actually descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered far across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The formation of a Jewish people and then a Jewish nation out of these disparate groups could only take place under the sway of a new historiography, developing in response to the rise of nationalism throughout Europe. Beneath the biblical back fill of the nineteenth-century historians, and the twentieth-century intellectuals who replaced rabbis as the architects of Jewish identity, The Invention of the Jewish People uncovers a new narrative of Israel’s formation, and proposes a bold analysis of nationalism that accounts for the old myths.

            Of course that doesn't make it quite as easy to beat with the old Stormfront stick. But it would make it less difficult to understand how it became a best-seller in Israel.

            My understanding of the genomic evidence is that as a group Ashkenazic Jews have more in common with Levantine Arabs (Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians) than with any other population. This is not neccesarily at odds with an account in which they are descendants of diverse convert communities that included some direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews, but only if one acknowledges that the Levantine Arab population is of equally motley origins - including ancient Philistines, Canaanites, Hebrews as well as invading Greeks, Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks.

            (As an aside a very good and accessible book on the use of genetics as a tool of historical study is Mapping Human History, Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins by Steve Olson)

            The notion that any population on earth has maintained any significant degree of in-group  purity for 2000 years, much less a widely dispersed  one, strains credulity and pretty much everything the genetic record has to tell us. (The math is pretty simple. Even if a population group maintains 95% ingroup reproductive pairing, after 80 generations of 25 years each it would be only 1.6% descended from the original population.)

            While I find this stuff fascinating I actually think its quite irrelevant to whether Jews have a right to live in Israel/Palestine.

            My view is that Jews should have the right to live anywhere they please but that they don't have the right to forcibly displace or subjugate other people. I also believe that history doesn't go backwards, which is to say that even if the original Zionist conquest and colonization of Palestine was a crime that does not mean that Jews living there have no legitimate claim and should just skedaddle like the Pied Noirs of Algeria.

            While I don't think this question is relevant to the respective rights of modern-day Israeli Jews and Palestinians I do think the debunking of mythologies that seek to root modern nationalisms (whether Vietnamese, Serbian or Mexican) in ancient history is generally a positive thing since such mythologies are pretty universally deployed to justify kicking the shit out some other group, as is quite evident in the Israeli case.

            •  People seriously interested in what Sand (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              actually says (and not what Zemblan who hasn't read him THINKS he says) might want to check out the thread on this Amazon review. There are some bombastic pronouncements by other non-readers but they get a thoughtful response from somebody who has actually read the book.

              By the way, it isn't mention in the diary, but Sand's title is apparently a riff on Ted Allen's The Invention of the White Race which is a very interesting book also published by Verso.

            •  As I've said elsewhere (5+ / 0-)

              Point me to any review saying that Sand doesn't say the Ashkenazi Jews are a Khazar production rather than an Israelite production and your caterwauling might have a point.

              harps and angels! harps and angels!

              by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 06:48:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'll try to find a link. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                crose, Fire bad tree pretty

                I read a bunch of reviews a few days ago. My understanding is that he uses the case of the Khazars, but also of mass conversions in Yemen and among North African Berbers to argue that proselytism and conversion were more widespread than is generally acknowledged.

                But I haven't read the book. And neither have you. And that inevitably makes this a pretty stupid discussion.

                I did go and look at the reviews on Amazon and the pattern there was pretty clear. The people who wrote favorable reviews had actually read the book, while those writing negative reviews had quite clearly not. That doesn't mean there aren't peopel with legitimate criticisms, but I really find it odd for someone to be so aggressively promoting negative reviews of a book they have not themselves even read.

                •  now finish the sentence... (5+ / 0-)

                  but I really find it odd for someone to be so aggressively promoting negative reviews of a book they have not themselves even read

                  ... promoting a white-power myth about the non-Jewishness of the Jews.

                  Gosh, why on earth would that be in any way problematic?

                  harps and angels! harps and angels!

                  by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 07:05:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

                    IF that is what Sand is promoting. But that is a question that can only be settled by ACTUALLY READING THE BOOK.

                    Is Sand arguing that Ashkenazi Jews are really Khazars and therefore not "really Jews"? Or is he arguing something else about the very nature of national identities and myths. The reviews I've read suggest strongly that your characterization is incorrect.

                    I don't know if you really care. Maybe you figure that the political conclusions that Sand draws are bad enough and that the actual questions of scholarship aren't really the issue and that what is important is to trash the book. That certainly seems to be the MO of the folks posting negative reviews on Amazon.

                    •  give it a rest (6+ / 0-)

                      IF that is what Sand is promoting. But that is a question that can only be settled by ACTUALLY READING THE BOOK.

                      Or seeing the reviews unanimously agree that this is what he's doing.

                      Really. Time to stop hyperventilating. You made your point - again and again - and it's really not much of a point. I can go to and find people going on in great detail about how wonderful David Irving is.

                      And your attitude of "so zemblan's pointed to several different review articles all showing how Sand is repeating a white power meme against the Jews - and this matters exactly why?" is doing you no credit.

                      harps and angels! harps and angels!

                      by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 07:48:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I read the reviews (0+ / 0-)

                        that you  linked to. They are all to one degree or another tendentious and ultimately non-serious. They are ideologically motivated. Which is not to say they may not make some legitimate points. But it really is impossible to know without reading the book.

                        You don't like being asked if you've read a book that you are blowing hot air about more than once? Too fricking bad. When you slander people by comparing what they've written to the work of Nazis and you haven't actually read it, you should expect to be taken to task until you stop.

                        What you are doing here is deeply intellectually dishonest. It is really outrageous and you have no right to expect to get a pass on it.

                        •  ideologically motivated? (5+ / 0-)

                          i see - the yahoo's on amazon now have more weigh as book critics than the new york times and/or a bioligist cited in the book in question?!?!

                          i'll make a deal with you christopher. if you go out and purchase a copy of mein kampf, i will go out and but sand's book. then we each can write a diary whereby we discuss the merits of the author's theories. deal?

                          "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                          by canadian gal on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 10:20:54 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I was referring (0+ / 0-)

                            to the reviews that Zemblan linked to. I'm sorry if that was unclear (but it shouldn't have been).

                            RE: your deal. No thank you. You deserve a donut for that, but my money says none of your pals here will give it to you.

                          •  ? (5+ / 0-)

                            i understand what reviews you were referring to. but you also claimed defense of this book by citing the reviewers on amazon. so if one is to understand your line of reasoning, then you are lending more credence to a random (or perhaps not) individual who rated it on amazon positively rather than the published links zemblan cited in the NYT and other publications. in fact, if you read brook's (a source used by sand's in his book) comment in one of the reviews - he pwned sand so hard that he must still be smarting from it.

                            and why should i be HR'ed for my comment?  it is an extremely appropriate offer.

                            "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                            by canadian gal on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 10:46:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Suggesting that I (0+ / 0-)

                            believe that Hitler's theories have merit would get you a well-earned knuuckle sandwich anywhere but cyberspace. But hey, whats a little Godwin when you are among friends.

                            I referred to the review on Amazon only because it actually reviewed Sands overall argument, something that the reviews in more prestigious fora largely failed to do.

                          •  frankly... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            this is not about you or what you believe. so perhaps, you can take the knuckle sandwich elsewhere. this is about discussing the merits of a book that pretty much is in the same category.

                            "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                            by canadian gal on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 11:32:26 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How long (0+ / 0-)

                            have Mein Kampf and the Protocols been on the Israeli bestseller list?

                            You actually have no basis for making this judgement. You haven't read the book and its only been in print a short time.

                          •  i see. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            zemblan, hikerbiker

                            so the argument that because it sold well in israel makes debunked and offensive theories valid. perhaps ms. palin's book sales indicate that she credibility then?

                            "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                            by canadian gal on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 02:24:02 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How long has Glenn Beck been (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            hikerbiker, canadian gal

                            on the US bestseller list?

                            harps and angels! harps and angels!

                            by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 02:52:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I didn't argue that it was valid. (0+ / 0-)

                            You see I don't make such arguments about books I haven't read.

                            Rather, and you should be able to see this without having it explained, I suggested that the fact that book had been on Israel's bestseller list for 19  weeks might indicate that it doesn't really fall into the category of Mein Kampf and the Protocols. Which is quite a different thing arguing that its claims are valid. A minimum condition in my view for determining the validity of an argument is first determining what the argument is. I am not at all confident that any of you here actually know what Stone's real argument is, let alone where specific claims fit in to it.

                            In any event your willingness to compare it to mein Kampf indicates that you aren't really interested in finding out.

                          •  you have made.... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            zemblan, hikerbiker

                            at least 25 comments in this thread by my count all repeating the same claim over and over. i think you have made your opinion abundantly clear - its just that there doesn't seem to be much agreement for it.

                            i am also not understanding why you think that there is somehow a difference in reading, or not-reading in this case, this book but not others like mein kampf. so again - if will extend the offer that i made before to you, which is that if you would like for us both to read the books i suggested and write on them respectively, i am game.

                            oh and i think you meant sand's, not stone's argument.

                            "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                            by canadian gal on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:39:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Tedium tedium tedium tedium (0+ / 0-)

                            You've made your point over and over and over and over.

                            harps and angels! harps and angels!

                            by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 02:53:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And you have graciously (0+ / 0-)

                            illustrated it over and over again.

                          •  Want the last word? (0+ / 0-)

                            It seems very, very important to you to have the last word, so why don't you go ahead and take it.

                            harps and angels! harps and angels!

                            by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:36:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  212 comments (0+ / 0-)

                            in a diary about a book that NOBODY here has actually read. A book that has only been out in English for a month. And 99% of them are agreed that the book -- that they haven't read -- is absolutely terrible and not to be read.

                            Anybody care to offer a psychological analysis of what that is all about?

                            Okay, I will. You know that this book is being taken seriously and that it is being discussed. Indeed it was a bestseller for 19 weeks in Israel. So you need to collectively reassure yourselves of your verdict in advance, so that you can happily go around comparing it to Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and laughing at the suggestion that you should actually read the thing before forming an opinion.

                            This is basically an online talking points training/pep rally so that you can all now confidently do what Zemblan has done and hold forth on a book you haven't read. Its intellectually dishonest in the extreme, but since most people you'll be talking with aren't going to read the book most of them won't need to know that you haven't either and that you are basically talking out of your asses.

                            Carry on.

                          •  okie dokie. (4+ / 0-)

                            perhaps of the several dozen (or more?) commenters here, you should one by one ask each person individually if they have read the book rather than continuing to beat this particular drum.

                            better yet, perhaps take a step back and think of poor karmafish, who got suspended this week, for amongst other things, spamming a diary that he took issue with. sound familiar?

                            "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

                            by canadian gal on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 11:27:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Poor CD. n/t (3+ / 0-)

                            harps and angels! harps and angels!

                            by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 06:29:23 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  and with a wave of the hand (3+ / 0-)

                          They are all to one degree or another tendentious and ultimately non-serious.

                          Translation: they attack a book I defend, so they're "non-serious."

                          What crap, CD. You've really outdone yourself on this thread, whipping yourself into a trolling frenzy and then letting loose with things like the above.

                          harps and angels! harps and angels!

                          by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 06:39:59 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Ideologically motivated? (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Bouwerie Boy, canadian gal

                          Isn't Sands' book ideologically motivated? If ideological motivation undercuts a review, surely it also undercuts the piece being reviewed.

                          In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

                          by Paul in Berkeley on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 12:19:56 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  You're trolling. Please stop. (5+ / 0-)

                      You've made your point countless times throughout the comments.

                      •  I'm sure there is no (0+ / 0-)

                        repetition of themes in other peoples posts.

                        Asking people whether they have read the book they are pontificating on isn't "trolling."

                        •  to quote CD (3+ / 0-)

                          Anybody care to offer a psychological analysis of what that is all about?

                          Sure. People like CD want to embrace a pseudoscience, pseudohistory book for purely political reasons, and when it turns out not to be a big stick after all, and its central argument turns out to be not only crap but the exact same crap you get out of the white power folks, then he went into a spamarama hoping to just shout everybody down.

                          harps and angels! harps and angels!

                          by zemblan on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 06:42:51 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                •  My Suspicion (0+ / 0-)

                  is that a lot of the negative reviews are jumping over what sounds like a difficult going first chapter on the formation of national identities in general and then as a result misreading what Sand is actually saying about the Khazars, which as I understand it is NOT that they replaced the descendants of ancient Hebrews, but rather that they are one of several known convert populations that probably had a significant impact on the Ashkenazi population.

        •  It is a form (0+ / 0-)

          of genetic determinism, rather unattractive and pseudoscientific means to weave race, land and destiny in a really scary construct.  Where have we heard that narrative?

          Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

          by Eiron on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:35:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sands book was a meditation on his (0+ / 0-)

        exploration of his own sense of his own faith, not history, he is a scholar of French history, though, so he brings a historian's methodology and technique.

        He essentially concludes that his faith is not centered or derivative of  by  genetics or some form of modern zionism or ties to a physical piece of land , but of his relations to his god and his fellow man.

        To some, this might be crap.  I thought it was a personal memoir, and well worth a read.  

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:25:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Have you read it? (0+ / 0-)

        Or are you one of those people who lets other people form their strongly held opinions for them?

    •  Fucking superb (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bouwerie Boy, MBNYC, zemblan, volleyboy1

      Ya know, the whole Shlomo Sand thing is just a perfect example of a strawman.  He sets up a false premise (that Zionism is based on a genetic connection between modern Jews and ancient Jews), for the purpose of striking it down with his "scholarship."  Only problem is, Zionism really doesn't revolve around a genetic connection between modern and ancient Jews.   I'm pretty sure that if Theodore Herzl was into the biological sciences, he was probably more focused on phrenology than on genetics.  And even with the false starting point, the self-hating useful idiot does a piss-poor job of knocking it down.  Probably should have written it en francais, n'est-ce pas?

      But he's Israeli, and he's Jewish, so that's incredibly useful to the folks who hate Israel and hate Jews...and some of those people are Jews themselves.  I guarandamntee you, if the guy's name was Francis Llewellen Whipple, or Mahmoud al-Jazeera, nobody would give a shit what he says.

      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

      by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 09:13:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oy! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, zemblan, Jane Lew, canadian gal

    Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

    by JeffSCinNY on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:06:31 PM PST

  •  Tipped and rec'd, as a cultural philosemite, (8+ / 0-)

    and possible decendant of teh Jewish community if Kai-Feng (China),

    All evil needs to succeed is for good people to say "the votes aren't there in the Senate."

    by Jacques on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:11:41 PM PST

  •  And this diary is about (0+ / 0-)

    electing more and better democrats in just what way?

    Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

    by Eiron on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:12:42 PM PST

  •  Don't forget Mizrahi Jews (15+ / 0-)

    I am partially Mizrahi, Middle-Eastern. My great-grandmother and great-great-grandfather were from either Iran or Iraq (all I have to work with is "near Baghdad," and that is vague). We exist! And not only in Israel, although mainly diaspora since the turn of the Century, I think. They moved first into Georgia, I think.

    "Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court." - Alice in Wonderland

    by mahakali overdrive on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:20:59 PM PST

  •  Snort. (9+ / 0-)

    Well done, Sir. But please add some stupid videos and hyperventilate about them as exuberantly as you can. I believe that's part and parcel of the genre.

    And yes, I'm still somewhat shocked that that book was presented here as something worthy of anything but sustained derision.

    Leftwing extremist.

    by MBNYC on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:52:21 PM PST

  •  It is pretty obvious that Ashkenazi Jews are Jews (6+ / 0-)

    There's the Brooklyn accent, the Yiddish phrases, the preference for lox, bar mitzvahs etc. Does that sound Khazar? Duh.

  •  Nice try (9+ / 0-)

    Jew-haters aren't going to pay attention to this presentation of reality anymore than they've paid attention to reality in the past. (I guess maybe I've got to admire their consistency, if nothing else.)

    Still, I love population genetics and DNA testing. Thanks for your very interesting diary.

  •  The history of the Ashkenazim (18+ / 0-)

    Is well documented: they were Jews from Palestine who migrated in Roman times into Italy, then in the medieval period spread northward into western Germany (particularly the Rhine valley), and then throughout Germany, and in the later Middle Ages spread into Poland (at that time a very large country covering Lithuania, Belarus, and parts of Russia and Ukraine) and Hungary.

    During this period the Ashkenazim produced countless documents and artifacts.  Their history is supported by internal and external sources; it is embedded in their Yiddish language.  

    At no point until the very latest stage of their history did they happen to enter the territory formerly inhabited by the Khazars.  By that time Khazar Judaism was long since dead and the Khazars themselves had ceased to exist as a distinct group for over 400 years.  There is more likelihood that the average Russian or Ossetian has Khazar genes than that the average Ashkenazi Jew does.

    We didn't need genetic science to document the descent of the Ashkenazim; it's amply documented in the historical record.

    The real "Khazar fraud" is the attempt to make a fake historical link that anybody who looks at a map could tell was immensely implausible.

    •  Yiddish (9+ / 0-)

      is a dialect of Middle High German. I speak German and can read (some) Yiddish in consequence.

      Leftwing extremist.

      by MBNYC on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 02:57:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The article from the Jrnl of Israeli History (12+ / 0-)

        makes a particular point of that one, the hoops you've got to jump through to explain how Ashkenazi Jews ended up with a Germanic language written with the Hebrew alphabet, and Sand's version is that Yiddish is Slavic at root -- which just don't fly, despite the appearance of some Slavic loan words.

        More pseudoscience.

        harps and angels! harps and angels!

        by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:04:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was just thinking. (7+ / 0-)

          There have been huge migrations in Europe over the last 2,000 years. There was the movement of Germanic tribes to the West that led to the overthrow of Rome, the Slavs moving into the areas where the Germans had been, then spreading out to the East, the Germans again going east in the Middle Ages, the Scandinavians spreading along the coasts and to Britain, the Russians into Siberia, whatnot.

          The Jews moved into the East roughly around the time of the crusades, because these were accompanied by pogroms. I don't know exactly, but I'd guess that this emigration followed the trade routes of the time.

          I can't recall that there was any movement from the Caucasus into Central or Western Europe.

          So yeah, another Jon the Antizionist rocket scientist fail, would be my initial guess :-)

          Leftwing extremist.

          by MBNYC on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:17:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, the heady world (9+ / 0-)

          of linguistic pseudoscience. Yiddish is Slavic, the Celtic languages are Semitic... I even saw one website which claimed that Basque was a direct descendant of Neanderthalish!

          "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

          by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:20:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And what have the Slavs got to do with Khazars? (9+ / 0-)

          The Khazars were a Turkic people, speaking a language distantly related to Chuvash.

          If the Khazars had been the ancestors of the Ashkenazim -- no, if the Ashkenazim had even come into casual contact with the Khazars for fifty years at any time in their history -- there would be at least a few Khazar words in Yiddish.

          What have we got instead?


          •  Exactly. (7+ / 0-)

            As well as being Jewish on my father's side, I've also managed (quite amazingly) to be Welsh Gypsy on my mother's side, and the Romani language provides another excellent example of how we can use vocabulary to trace the movements and interactions of a population, with successive layers of Persian, Kurdish, Armenian and Greek words being borrowed as the Roma migrated west.

            "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

            by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:53:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Welsh Gypsy... (3+ / 0-)

              I thought Gypsies stopped at Romania?  How do you trace Welsh Gypsies? Are they still a distinct minority?

              Intelligence is the new black.

              by chillindame on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 04:58:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, they didn't stop at Romania! (7+ / 0-)

                Romania is where they're most numerous, but they spread all over Europe. In particular, many of them moved to Spain, where they contributed greatly to the foundation of flamenco music; they were expelled from Spain along with the Jews and Muslims in 1492, and a subset of these expellees moved into Wales and formed a sizeable community. Nowadays the Welsh Gypsies have largely assimilated into the general population and abandoned the Romani language. For example, by the 1940s (when my grandmother came here), the family lived a settled life while maintaining various Gypsy traditions within the family. In fact the family didn't even self-identify as Gypsy anymore, and my grandmother was unaware of that identity until it was corroborated by genetic and genealogical evidence.

                "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

                by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 05:57:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Gypsies (7+ / 0-)

                Are found throughout Europe and, indeed, throughout the world; there are many in North America.  

                Gypsy, though sometimes used as a generic name for any group of itinerant travelers doing odd jobs, actually refers specifically to the descendants of a group of wanderers who left India c. 1000 and passed through Persia into the Near East, Turkey, and passed from there  (c. 1400) to the Balkans and then into Western Europe.  They speak a group of related (but not always mutually intelligible) dialects which are clearly descended, in both vocabulary and structure, from the Middle Indic languages of medieval India; but in the course of their wandering, they picked up a great many words from other languages, including Persian, Greek, Serbian, and Romanian.

                It's been a long time since I studied the subject, but I recall that a fairly large part of the basic vocabulary was clearly Indic (e.g. the numbers from two to six, words for relationships and basic foodstuffs) but the bulk of the vocabulary was from other sources.  Sound-changes were fairly straightforward from their Prakrit sources; voiced murmured stops had become voiceless aspirates (a fairly important datum for comparative Indo-European studies, btw) and most aspiration was moved forward to the first available stop; there was a good deal of medial voicing and other kinds of stop lenition.  The verbal system is IIRC no longer split ergative, like Hindi, but more resembles Persian, though its morphological elements are certainly of Indian origin.  However, other dialects may differ from the one I studied.

                The question of "who is a Gypsy" is somewhat complicated by several factors, one social, others linguistic.  The social factor is that a lot of people who are not Gypsies by ancestry may take up an itinerant "gypsy" life for various reasons, and sometimes form large, mostly endogamous groups which are erroneously described as "gypsies" by various sources.  The Travellers of Ireland are one such group.  Among the linguistic factors are that (a) non-Gypsy groups may at various times have picked up a good deal of Gypsy vocabulary which has been incorporated in "cant" and similar argots in which a conglomerate vocabulary is used to baffle outsiders (some of this has even entered ordinary slang, like the word "pal" from Gypsy ph(r)al, from Indic bhrâtâ "brother"); (b) quasi-pidgins have arisen from contact between local languages and Gypsy, which are largely Gypsy in vocabulary, but match the local language in structure.  So groups using these languages straddle the boundary between non-Gypsy and Gypsy; and (c) there may be groups which are mostly or wholly Gypsy in ancestry, and in mode of life, but have totally or mostly lost their original language.

        •  I had thought...... (4+ / 0-)

          ....that Yiddish was basically a creole language of (mostly) German, several Slavic languages, and Hebrew with a little Russian thrown in for good measure.

      •  Likewise, (7+ / 0-)

        as a half-Jew with a general interest in foreign languages, I've been learning German and Yiddish in tandem. It was nice to (partly) be able to understand the Yiddish dialog in the opening scene of the Coen Brothers' new movie A Serious Man.

        "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

        by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:16:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure (10+ / 0-)

        But it's more than just German.  Yiddish sums up the history of the Jews of Eastern Europe: It contains a large amount of Hebrew -- and we should note that the Ashkenazic pronunciation is in certain respects more archaic and conservative than the Sephardic; if that conservative tradition hadn't existed through the Middle Ages, where would they have learned the pronunciation?  Then there are bits of Aramaic from the Roman period, and words from Romance languages picked up on the way through Italy and the French borderlands; there's the German substrate, followed by various Slavic borrowings (mostly Polish) from their sojourn in the east.  After Yiddish-speaking Jews moved to America, their language started to be spoken with English words embedded in it!

        Since the "Middle" in "Middle High German" is a temporal marker (most languages ceased to be "Middle" anything around 1500) it's not quite accurate to say that Yiddish is a Middle High German dialect; rather, Yiddish, like modern standard German, is a descendant of Middle High German, and therefore a sister language to German -- both to its standard form and to other German dialects, like Bavarian.

        •  Correct. (6+ / 0-)

          Unsurprisingly, Yiddish - just like all modern languages - has many loanwords acquired from other languages known to the speakers of it.

          Bavarian, however, is not a variant of standard German, merely a regional affliction purposely created to confuse and infuriate outsiders :-)

          Leftwing extremist.

          by MBNYC on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:22:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No language that includes the word "mishmash" (5+ / 0-)

          is going to have a very clean historical provenance.

          harps and angels! harps and angels!

          by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:22:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bouwerie Boy, MBNYC, volleyboy1

          that it's best looked at as part of the (quite interesting) German dialect continuum. And you're right about the adoption of English words: within my own family, I've heard anecdotal evidence of borrowings such as "koyt" for "coat" and "shtoyv" for "stove".

          "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

          by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:24:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Do we know why Yiddish split off (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WIds, sofia, volleyboy1, canadian gal

          from Middle High German as opposed to splitting off from some other variant of the language? Was it the result of a physical split of the populations?

          Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

          by unspeakable on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:25:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well (9+ / 0-)

            Obviously the Jews were in Germany (the Holy Roman Empire of the time) in the Middle Ages long enough to adopt the predominant local language as their native tongue.  It was probably always spoken in a distinctive way, with a mixture of Hebrew and other loanwords picked up during the Jews' wanderings, and of course written with Hebrew letters rather than the Roman alphabet; but it's not until this Judeo-German moves east into areas where German was not the primary language of the surrounding community that it began to flourish on its own as a separate language, independent of German influence (though it should be noted that German influence never disappeared entirely, just weakened; and indeed grew stronger in the 19th century, as attempts were made to improve the status of Yiddish and make it better suited to discuss technical and scientific topics).

            So yes, I'd say it's the large-scale immigration of the Ashkenazim into Poland (from the west) that marks the major break between Yiddish and German.

            •  Thanks. (6+ / 0-)

              I also have a question about the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew. You say that it's more conservative than Sephardic Hebrew (I assume you're including various Mizrahi and Teimani pronunciations in that latter group).

              Could you explain how tzadik affricated? Because in the closest surviving Semitic languages (Arabic and Neo-Aramaic), this sound hasn't affricated. I'm guessing something about the pharyngealization is involved, so that affrication occurred before de-pharyngealization. Is that right? Is there more to it? Or do we just not know why?

              Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

              by unspeakable on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:42:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wow! What a boom! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                canadian gal

                That passed directly overhead at about mach 3!

                "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

                by Inventor on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 05:08:07 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I understood the question (3+ / 0-)

                  because I'm a linguistics nerd in my spare time. But I still don't have an answer to the question.

                  "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

                  by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 05:48:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Basically, (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sofia, zemblan, Lazar, volleyboy1, canadian gal

                  there's a letter in the Hebrew alphabet called tzadi. It represents a [ts] sound, like in "cats." In linguistics, a sound like is called an affricate, and the process by which it becomes an affricate is called affrication.

                  In similar languages such as Arabic and Neo-Aramaic, tzadi is not only not an affricate, it is also de-pharyngealized. Pharyngealization is a common feature of many Semitic languages, and it involves the constriction of the pharynx, which is behind the uvula (the hangy thing in the back of the throat) and above the vocal cords. The sound comes out deeper and tenser. So you can have a normal [s] sound and a pharyngealized [sˤ] sound. This webpage shows the difference between pharyngealized and non-pharyngealized sounds in Arabic.

                  My question to WIds was about the origins of this sound change in the language. In other words, do we know anything about what precipitated this change?

                  Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

                  by unspeakable on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 06:09:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I'm afraid I don't have the background (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mickT, Bouwerie Boy, Lazar, volleyboy1

                to answer that question. Or rather the time machine. All I can say for sure is that it didn't happen after my bar mitzvah.

                harps and angels! harps and angels!

                by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 05:23:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Actually (6+ / 0-)

                I know virtually nothing about Yemeni Hebrew pronunciation and I would guess that it is even more conservative than Ashkenazic.  I was referring to the Mediterranean Sephardic pronunciation which was used as the basis of Modern Hebrew pronunciation.  Ashkenazic pronunciation is more archaic in, for instance, distinguishing fricative thaw (pronounced [s]) from stop taw, instead of merging them together as [t]; also in making the crucial distinction between pathah and qamets in pronunciation.

                I do not know the details of the transformation of tsadhe into an affricate.  Obviously, it was retained in Central and Eastern Europe because in most of the countries the Ashkenazim moved through (Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia) [ts] was phonemic.  Exactly how it was pronounced before the Jews reached Italy I don't know, not being familiar with the technical work on the subject.  But it doesn't have to be pronounced as an emphatic, ejective, or glottalized "s", as its counterpart sad is in Arabic.  There's some epigraphic evidence that the ''Phœnician'' tsadhe was in fact [ts] during part of its evolution (it seems to have ended up as [s], at least in Carthaginian Punic).  Phœnician is more closely related to Hebrew than either Arabic or Aramaic.  But that may also be parallel evolution.  Based on a casual auditory impression, it seems to me that the Arabic sad may be sometimes pronounced with so much closure at the onset that it very nearly becomes an affricate (but obviously has not done so in most or all Arabic dialects).  I don't know anything about the pronunciation of tsadhe in modern Aramaic, though.

      •  The word "khazari" has a very negative meaning (4+ / 0-)

        in Yiddish.  It means junk or garbage.

    •  In fact I've read (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bouwerie Boy, volleyboy1

      that the Judaization of the Khazars was quite shallow, and that it was really just the nobility that converted.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

      by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:14:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The conversion of the Turkic Khazars (13+ / 0-)

      to Judaism began around 730-740 and probably involved only the kagans, certain tribal begs, and the merchants involved in international trade; the military apparatus remained largely Muslim (the kagans imported Muslim mercenaries), while the bulk of the population remained shamanist or embraced Islam. There appears to have been a revolt expelling the kagan around 840, probably led by Muslim military elements. Arab writers writing about 900 record there were still Jews among the Khazars, but they do not clearly indicate the majority were Jews.
      The Khazar state was by then already disintegrating. Its population would be absorbed into the Polovtsy, and later into the Golden Horde. But there is no evidence of any mass migration of Khazars westward into Central Europe.

      There is no evidence Judaism spread widely in Khazaria, nor evidence of any Khazar migration into Europe.

      Nazi "race science" popularized the notion of the Khazar Origin of Europe's Jews; John Birch Society propaganda revived the notion in the late 50s/60s (I remember my parents getting anonymous hate screeds about the Khazars from a neighborhood Bircher when i was in grade school); more recently, Russian nationalist antisemites have picked up the idea, citing Lev Gumilev to give it respectability; and now some knee-jerk antiZionists posing as progressives have borrowed it.  

  •  I have a copy of Koestler's book. (7+ / 0-)

    The first part is history, the second part speculation. I find laughable his assertions about what the actual Jewish populations of cities in France and Germany were in early medieval times, trying to show that there were not enough Jews there to have made up the large Ashkenazi population in Poland and Lithuania in the 15th-19th centuries. No doubt there are Khazars among modern Jews, but physically red-headed Jews have existed since King David (a red-head by folklore) and many Sephardim are red-headed. My family has Slavic features(including concave temples) and I also know other Ashkenazim who physically resemble Germans.

    Someone wrote a SF story about whether a group of purportedly Jewish aliens who physically resembled brown throw pillows and had kept a careful record of family descents for many centuries were indeed Jews; the conclusion was that if there are aliens who are Goyim, there can be aliens who are Jewish as well.

    The GOP: A wholly owned subsidary of Corporate America.

    by ceratotherium on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:16:08 PM PST

  •  Arthur Koestler was a more formidable writer (6+ / 0-)

    than you seem to realize.  He also was definitely not an anti-zionist.

    His Darkness At Noon is an all-time classic.  Back in the 1970s, I read most of his books. That's where I first heard of the Khazars, in Koestler's book The Thirteenth Tribe (1976).

    You may be right, that he thought there was what you call "replacement," but I don't remember him being that definite about it.  I mainly just remember the story of the mass conversion and the idea that many Ashkenazim had some Khazar blood.  But I haven't read the book in more than 20 years, so maybe I'm wrong. In any event, Koestler was telling an interesting story.  He was definitely not grinding an anti-Semitic ax.

    I appreciate this diary for setting forth the parts of this story that are founded in fact--even if the genetic evidence is possibly less definitive than you believe (I'm not saying it's wrong at all, just that there are still many wholes in human knowledge in this area)--as well as the ways this story has been so terribly abused.

    Unfortunately, despite your balanced approach, in DKos I/P land it's very dangerous to type the term Khazar in any context.

    Sands' book, of course, is crap. It's bizarre the way he uses geneological arguments to advance current political disputes.

    If I had done this diary, I would have linked to the diary from yesterday that mentioned Sands' book so prominently. I read that one, but didn't comment, because I couldn't think of anything nice to say.

  •  I would like to thank you for this diary. (9+ / 0-)

    I'm a sucker for history, especially for history that's fairly obscure (at least to me). So thanks for the education.

    I do have a couple of questions, though.

    1. You've made some comments about what Sand says in his book, but it's unclear to me if you actually read the book or are pulling this information from your sources. Could you clarify?
    1. I remember there was one comment her, I believe by arielle, which stated that a genetic study found that Jews had more in common genetically with northern Middle Eastern populations (e.g. Turks, Kurds, Persians) than with the other Middle Eastern populations (e.g. Arabs, Assyrians). But then, I've read about genetic studies that say the opposite, and in fact say that Jews and Palestinians are the most similar genetically. I don't know if you're a geneticist or not, but if you can explain, how are these disparate and actually contradictory results possible?
    1. WIds, in this diary, says that the Khazar Jews had disappeared by the time the descendants of Israelite Jews had arrived to their areas. How is it possible then that they would have some "Khazar genes"?


    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

    by unspeakable on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:22:49 PM PST

    •  Sure thing (8+ / 0-)

      (1) No, I have not read Sand's book. I have read a number of in-depth reviews -- take a look especially at that paper from the Journal of Israeli History -- focusing on the science and historiography side rather than the political side. The general consensus is, as the old joke has it, the book is new and sound, but the parts that are new aren't sound, and the parts that are sound aren't new.

      (2) I don't claim to be an expert in genetics, but I've studied statistics and probabilities enough to have some sense of what the numbers I've seen mean. All this stuff is about degrees of correlation. If you want to check the entire genome, then I've got stuff genetically in common with the petunia, but the correlation is really low. So when you start talking about ethnicities and correlations, it's often about where you draw your dividing line. So the whole area, scientifically, is about fuzz management.

      My understanding is that the aggregate genome of the Jews is actually more similar to the aggregate genome of the Arabs than any other ethnic grouping. Unfortunately, history shows that fights between brothers are often the bitterest.

      (3) Genetic sequences are tenacious things, even when hidden; there are lots of cases of the redhead who shows up six generations after the last known redhead in the family tree, that sort of thing. Well, like waves on a still lake after you've thrown in a stone, genetic differences get harder to detect over time but they don't fade completely.

      There are, for example, Jewish traditions that have a special role for someone who is a Cohen or Levi -- in theory, it means you're descended from two specific tribes of the 12 tribes of Israel. Well, turns out that when you do genetic studies, there really are shared markers you see in Cohens, that were preserved through two thousand years of people knowing whether or not they were a Cohen or a Levi.

      harps and angels! harps and angels!

      by zemblan on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:41:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about the Ethiopians? (7+ / 0-)

    I had always thought that the conversion of Khazars to Judaism was just a historical fact.  Then I saw people referring to it as a smear.  Now I understand that there are two different versions of the story — I just knew the first one.  I wondered if anyone had done any genetic studies — so thanks for summarizing the info.

    I don't see why DNA even matters.  There was a conversion to Judaism in Ethiopia a long time ago and the Ethiopian Jews were so isolated that most other Jews didn't even know about them.  Still, whatever their genetics, they're Jews.  In fact, due to their isolation, they've preserved some things that have been lost to other parts of the diaspora.

    Anyway, you don't hear Christian Identity nutcases talking about Ethiopian Jews who are not only conversos, but black.

    And let's not forget that Mel Brooks said that when you're in love, the whole world is Jewish. So there's that.

    Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

    by The Red Pen on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 03:58:56 PM PST

  •  Biology is destiny (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bouwerie Boy, zemblan, volleyboy1

    DNA don't lie.

    Without putting too much of a fine point on it, I was raised to be, and trained to be a "hard" scientist.  I'm not too thrilled with many of the "soft" sciences, too much deconstruction and many sound just way too much like Arthur Dent's descriptions of Vogon poetry.

    ...Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor... Death's too good for them.

  •  Next, look into the Nestorians (5+ / 0-)

    In the 700s/800s there were probably more Christians in  Asia than in Europe: but they were Nestorian Christians anathematized by Rome and Constantinople and forced to find a new haven in Sasanid Persia.

    Nestorian Christianity became so successful in Central Asia it looked for a while like the Mongol ruling class would convert; Hulegu's wife was Nestorian, as was his general Kit-Buga. Nestorian Christian missionaries were even active in Japan centuries before the Portuguese arrived. The strength of Nestorian Christianity in Central Asia gave rise to the Prester John myth.

    Religion and race should not be conflated. Religion does not admit to confinement within racial barriers; and race, unlike culture, is meaningless as a way of describing and characterizing identity and difference.  

    •  I'm quite fascinated (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, chillindame, Bouwerie Boy

      by those old-timey extirpated religious communities - Nestorian Christians, Iranian Zoroastrians, Afghan Buddhists, Indian Buddhists, Khmer Hindus...

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

      by Lazar on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 04:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Afghan Buddhism (7+ / 0-)

        Was quite ancient -- one of the oldest written epigraphic evidences of Buddhism is an Ashokan inscription on a rock in Qandahar.  It's not iconic, so hopefully the Taliban never noticed it; if they had thought about it they would probably have blown it up.

        However, when Buddhism entered Afghanistan (with the expansion of the Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BCE) it found Zoroastrians already there.  Only thing is, they weren't like the Zoroastrians who exist today, who worship Ahura Mazda (Ormazd) as God; they were a group of heretical Zoroastrians, who regarded Zurvan, God of Infinite Time, as a deity superior to Ormazd.

        This sect predominated in the eastern Iranic-area ("orthodox" Zoroastrian was dominant in the West, where Buddhism had little or no presence), not just in Afghanistan but further north up into Tajikistan and points north -- then not yet Turkic in speech.  Consequently, the Buddhism of these regions -- the area from which the Buddhist missionary enterprise into China was staged -- borrowed heavily from Zurvanite Zoroastrian terminology to translate Indian terms in what was thought to be culture-appropriate terms.  E.g., the Buddhist version of Brahma was renamed Zurvan, and the god Shakra was renamed Ormazd.

        These names percolated from the Iranian Sogdians to the Turkic Uighurs (who later converted to Manichaeism -- no kidding -- and then to Islam) and from the Uighurs to the Mongols; so that the Mongol words for Brahma and Shakra are still Esrua and Qormusda!

  •  Finder comment. (5+ / 0-)

    I want to explore a link in your diary when I have more time. I'm half Hungarian, and the Magyars first pop up in historical records as allies of the Khazars. Finding sane info on the web in this area is tough.

    Veni, vidi, farinuxi.

    by Ahianne on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 05:59:42 PM PST

  •  thanks for this. (8+ / 0-)

    really interesting discussion as well! i read a comment yesterday that summed up, quite nicely, perhaps one of the largest problems with sand's book:

    ... but can anyone even pretend that every line of Sand's book wasn't guided by, and working backwards from the desire to "change the political situation"...

    in any case - in lieu of the great comments here, the ladino song.

    "I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

    by canadian gal on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 07:04:00 PM PST

  •  A return to sanity (5+ / 0-)

    I truly do hope it will be heard by the people who need to hear it the most.  In the future, it would be good if this kind of tripe is HR-ed by a majority of those who read it.   And I hope the admins take note that promoting such theories is not something they'd want this associated with this site.  Yesterday DKos was looking shameful, today, much better.

    The organization, context and pulling together of relevant information .  Thanks and well-done zemblan.  

    Here are three relevant genetic studies, ones that tie Jews to the Middle and Near East.  

    results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.

    Jews Are The Genetic Brothers Of Palestinians, Syrians, And Lebanese

    The researchers concluded that the four founding mtDNA – likely of Middle Eastern origin – underwent a major overall expansion in Europe during the last millennium.

  •  Who cares if they're descendants of the (3+ / 0-)

    Martians? I haven't read Sand's book so I can't really comment on it. But what difference does it make if you are a Jew by birth or conversion? Or if your ancestors came from Judea or Ethiopia or Poland or all three? It doesn't appear to me to make the least amount of difference. Each religion decides what its criteria for membership are. End of story.

    •  Really uncool of you to uprate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bouwerie Boy, volleyboy1

      Christopher's trolling.  He's asked the same question over and over again for the sole purpose of disrupting this diary.  The 'Jews are Khazars" theory is not only disproven, it is hateful.  Propagating it is hateful.   I suppose we all need to go out and read the books and sites and writings of every Jewish person who decided to write something stupid.  Dkos supporting this theory is hateful, you supporting Christopher's trolling is sad.

      I will remember this uprate.  Don't complain when the shoe is on the other foot.

      Trolling is a sad reality of internet life. Most trolls tend to be blatant, posting comments or diaries that are clearly intended to provoke an angry response. Other trollish messages are posted simply to disrupt the conversation in a diary.

      •  This is what Christopher wrote that I uprated: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But I haven't read the book. And neither have you. And that inevitably makes this a pretty stupid discussion.

        I was agreeing that it was a stupid discussion since neither had read the book. Such a right-wing thing to do, not read a book but know all about it.  I didn't uprate any other comment in the thread.

        Next time, why don't you try asking someone why they uprated something rather than get all adverserial? I rarely question anyone's uprate so don't hold your breath in anticipation of retaliating towards me. (My view is this in the internet and people are stupid. If I had to monitor all the stupidity on the internet I wouldn't have a life).  But if I do, I would give that person the benefit of the doubt enough to ask them why they did it first.

        As for the accusation of trollery, it's unfounded. CD merely had a different point of view and expressed it in a civil manner. You may differ on that but frankly I don't care.

        As for the book itself, I know nothing about it. All I know is that it spent 19 weeks on the best-seller list in Israel. So if it's okay for the Israelis to read it, why not anyone else?

        As for the accusation that he or I supported the Khazar crap, my reading of him is that he didn't. If you would also take the time to read the comment of mine you responded to, I think any reasonable person would think that I think it's complete crap. And your accusation that dKos supports this crap should be hr'd and you should be ashamed of making such a sweeping and unfounded accusation towards Dkos admins, front-pagers and the thousands of members who are not in any way racist or bigoted.

        As you can probably tell, you've pissed me off. But trust me, I will forget.

      •  Do you really want to go down that road? (0+ / 0-)

        Because, frankly, you have a couple of uprates of your own that are pretty disgusting.

        Including one where you support the denial of Palestinian identity. So get down from your high horse and look in the mirror.

        Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

        by unspeakable on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 10:28:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have learned since then Jan of 2009 (0+ / 0-)

          from the discussions here, but hey thanks for being nasty in response to me being upset that Daily Kos supports the notion that Jews are an invented identity.  

          •  You're welcome. (0+ / 0-)

            And quit with the martyr act. You were being nasty yourself.

            Fire bad never said she believes that Jews aren't a real people, nor did she deny Jewish identity as you have done with Palestinians in the past. Instead of asking her to clarify, you jumped on her and made nasty accusations about her. I did the same thing to you that you did to her. If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

            Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

            by unspeakable on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 11:20:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You know what? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I got angry.  And?  Nobody here has ever gotten angry and pointed out an uprate?  I don't think FBTP should've supported Christopher in this situation.  I still don't.  I caught up on some recent diaries, when you were angry, you told someone to shove it up their ass or something like that.  Nobody's immune from the intensity of these diaries.  Calling me out for acting like a martyr is just bull and really?  If it were you on the receiving end of being called a martyr for getting mad that people were promoting a book that said Palestinians weren't a people, you would know it was wrong.

              My anger was genuine in response to a number of diaries and comments about Sand's book, some comments of which you uprated.  And so you decided to punish me for being justifiably angry.  Can you say you wouldn't and haven't done the same or worse?  

              If you expect people not to dimish, demean or dismiss Palestinian people and then scold a Jewish person who gets angry when the majority of the I-P posters who aren't Jewish have shrugged off this book.  That a majority here have accepted this book and promotion of it as ok, a book which says that Jewish peoplehood was invented in the 19th century and that today's Jews aren't the real Jews...well, that's up to you.

              I don't know what's up with you lately but in the past we've been able to talk.  I can take it personally, I just don't want to read any more of the really shitty things people say about Jews or the Holocaust or Judaism here.  There are too many things that go over the line, way, way over.  This conversation should be about why this book has all the Jews here so angered, upset, etc., but instead it's about me pointing out an uprate.  Ok fine.   Nice talking with you in the past and good luck to you.  

              •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I caught up on some recent diaries, when you were angry, you told someone to shove it up their ass or something like that.

                Yeah, I was in an argument with that user. I didn't jump on someone and accuse them of things they didn't do.

                If it were you on the receiving end of being called a martyr for getting mad that people were promoting a book that said Palestinians weren't a people, you would know it was wrong.

                The martyr accusation is because of your melodramatic response to fire bad, who again had done nothing to you or anyone else. She uprated one comment by Christopher. Christopher, to my knowledge, did not at any point in this diary comment on the truthfulness of Sand's book one way or another.

                My anger was genuine in response to a number of diaries and comments about Sand's book, some comments of which you uprated.

                I want to see these objectionable uprates of mine. Links, please? This should be good.

                And so you decided to punish me for being justifiably angry.

                This is what I'm talking about when I say "melodramatic." How the hell did I punish you? All I did was call you out for attacking someone unfairly and pointed to one of your own uprates of a comment that directly and explicitly denied Palestinian peoplehood.

                If you expect people not to dimish, demean or dismiss Palestinian people and then scold a Jewish person who gets angry when the majority of the I-P posters who aren't Jewish have shrugged off this book.

                Prove that a majority of the P-I posters shrugged this book off. Prove it. And again I didn't scold you because you're angry at the book. Stop mischaracterizing my comment to you. I called you out for attacking someone who didn't deserve it. The fact that you think that you're ascribing to me positions that I never articulated as a way of trying to make yourself out as a victim is why I'm calling this a martyr act.

                That a majority here have accepted this book and promotion of it as ok

                A majority? Really? Prove that this is true. I'm willing to bet that you can't.

                This conversation should be about why this book has all the Jews here so angered, upset, etc., but instead it's about me pointing out an uprate.  Ok fine.

                Oh please, my first comment to you was #228 out of a total of 245 (soon to be 246) comments. This was well after most people had left the diary. I didn't distract from it in anyway.

                Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

                by unspeakable on Thu Dec 10, 2009 at 12:10:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Hey (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I am so glad I was asleep last night when you two had your little spat!  


                Just wanted to pipe in with words of encouragement for both of you, without getting involved in the substance:

                You are both fantastic people, and you're both right about a lot of stuff.  You'd better be friends by the end of this because we need to stick together, ok?

                Whew.  There.

                Back to my life now.

                Consider adopting a homeless pet at (Progressive Animal Welfare Society)

                by hikerbiker on Thu Dec 10, 2009 at 11:34:01 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Tony Judt gives Sand's book a highly favorable (0+ / 0-)

    review in the Financial Times of today, Dec. 8, Israel must unpick its ethnic myth:

    The question is, who are "we"? Certainly in the US, the overwhelming majority of Jews (and perhaps non-Jews) have absolutely no acquaintance with the story Prof Sand tells. They will never have heard of most of his protagonists, but they are all too approvingly familiar with the caricatured version of Jewish history that he is seeking to discredit. If Prof Sand's popularising work does nothing more than provoke reflection and further reading among such a constituency, it will have been worthwhile.

    But there is more to it than that. While there were other justifications for the state of Israel, and still are - it was not by chance that David Ben-Gurion sought, planned and choreographed the trial of Adolf Eichmann - it is clear that Prof Sand has undermined the conventional case for a Jewish state. Once we agree, in short, that Israel's uniquely "Jewish" quality is an imagined or elective affinity, how are we to proceed?

    Prof Sand is himself an Israeli and the idea that his country has no "raison d'etre" would be abhorrent to him. Rightly so. States exist or they do not. Egypt or Slovakia are not justified in international law by virtue of some theory of deep "Egyptianness" or "Slovakness". Such states are recognised as international actors, with rights and status, simply by virtue of their existence and their capacity to maintain and protect themselves.

    Thus, Judt joins Simon Schama, Max Hastings, and Tom Segev among the historians who have given Sand's book respectful reviews.  (Judt, Schama, and Segev, by the way, are Jews, and Segev an Israeli.)

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 11:20:22 AM PST

    •  You need to reread Simon Schama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canadian gal

      The review might have been "respectful" but it was quite definitely a demolition.

      And frankly I think you're in over your head.

      harps and angels! harps and angels!

      by zemblan on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:48:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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