Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Chosen… by belief, not descent

Posted by Charles II on April 11, 2009

Bob Parry’s Consortium has a fascinating bit of alternative history by Morgan Strong:

But a new book by Israeli scholar Shlomo Sand challenges this narrative [that the Jews of Europe got there as the result of Roman ethnic cleansing following the Rebellions of the first and second centuries], claiming that – beyond the religious question of whether God really spoke to Moses – the Roman-era Diaspora did not happen at all or at least not as commonly understood.

In When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, Dr. Sand, an expert on European history at the University of Tel Aviv, says the Diaspora was largely a myth – that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later.

Thus, Sand argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the land. According to Sand’s historical analysis, they are descendents of European converts, principally from the Kingdom of the Khazars in eastern Russia, who embraced Judaism in the Eighth Century, A.D.

The descendants of the Khazars then were driven from their native lands by invasion and conquest and – through migration – created the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe, Sands writes. Similarly, he argues that the Jews of Spain came from the conversion of Berber tribes from northern Africa that later migrated into Europe….

Another cruel aspect of this irony is that the descendants of the ancient Israelites may include many Palestinians, who are genetically indistinct from the Sephardic Jews who were, like the Palestinians, original and indigenous inhabitants of this ancient land.

Haaretz has a piece here.

4 Responses to “Chosen… by belief, not descent”

  1. Stormcrow said

    I’m going to have to take Shlomo Sand’s main thesis (the “Diaspora” did not happen) with a very generous grain of salt until and unless some very strong proofs are presented. A narrative just isn’t going to get the job done.

    The Bar Kokhba revolt made Flavius Josehpus’ Jewish War look like a pillow fight. Dio Cassius put the Jewish KIA at more than half a million, and that was just during the war itself. He also wrote that “nearly the whole of Judea was made desolate, a result of which the people had forewarning before the war”.

    And the Roman reaction to this sort of explosion was one of [i]long established policy[/i]. From the beginning of expansion during the Republic right through to the end of the empire in the west.

    The only reason the Gothic revolt that lead directly to Adrianople did not earn them a prompt, gaudy, and very through massacre is that Valens didn’t have enough troops to spare to keep the lid on. Christianity didn’t make these people a bit more merciful or kindly; Gibbon was flat-out wrong about that.

  2. Charles II said

    Well, it’s a controversial thesis, Stormcrow, so you may well get to see it debated. There is some genetic evidence that supports this thesis vs. the idea that the Jews as an integral group wandered through Europe and then returned. But I find it plausible that even if the nation was desolated, the farmers would stay attached to their land. Farmers are very, very stubborn.

  3. What’s interesting is that the author says that Rome didn’t have the ability to disperse populations in that way (forgetting the example of Carthage among others) and then talks about how a thousand Jews were brought as slaves to Rome by the Empire, slaves who were then bought and freed by the Jewish families already living in the capital city.

    I do think he has a point in that the Jewish populations throughout the world could not have kept themselves as pure as advertised; if they had, the inbreeding would, within a few hundred years, have made them look like the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs circa 1675.

  4. Stormcrow said

    Oh, I agree about the genetic purity. (laughs)

    NOBODY knows how “pure” their family tree is past one generation or so, and even that is a lot vaguer than most people would like to believe.

    But saying that Rome didn’t have the ability to disperse the population of a region with the limited geographic extent of Judea is just plain silly on the face of it.

    This was SOP for the Assyrians, nobody questions that, and the Assyrian Empire was administered with considerably less painstaking detail than the Romans were used to.

    If you park a couple of legions plus whatever auxiliaries you deem fit in an area of that size for half a dozen years, with orders to kill every Jew they come across and burn out those not at home to be slaughtered, just about everybody targeted is going to bug out and they’re going to stay gone. Unless they’re too dead to run.

    This is good old fashioned ethnic cleansing, and you really don’t need your A-team (i.e. professional legionarys) in order to get the job done. Armed thugs like the Janjaweed militia or gangs of Rwandan Hutus will do just fine, since all you really want to achieve is to make a specific area uninhabitable by a given group.

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