You must have heard the claim that modern-day Israel is a country with another people’s language and religion?
If you haven’t, antisemitism has become so common these days (I’m speaking of hatred against Jews, and not criticism against Israel), that you’ve probably come across multiple versions of the claim without even realising it. The idea is a simple one; our contemporaries – Jewish Israelis from Eastern and Central Europe – are squatting on another people’s land, the Palestinians, who’ve been living in Palestine for centuries. Worse, the biblical heritage the intruders (in quotes) claim, thousands of years in the past, is not even theirs!
Imagine a people with no actual ancestral ties to the original progenitors of the Jewish identity, the 12 Tribes of Israel, claiming the territory of modern-day Israel as divine birthright!
Can anything be more perverse?
Like I said, I’m not speaking of the rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to apportion blame. Whatever your take, and it seems most of us have picked our sides because of the tribal identities we espouse, I’m speaking about something else – the fictitious nature of group identity claims (origin myths), and the attempts of some people to erase others from documented history. Within the context of Occupier Politics this would equate to the False Narrative. Isreal constitutes a paradox, and a very insightful one to appreciate what I’m actually saying.
In this respect, Israeli Jews, howsoever powerful in Israel, are being subjected to ahistorical claims to counteract their military and political power. The votaries opposed to them are prepared to accept any number of ahistorical insights, howsoever outlandish, to challenge their legitimacy to own the “biblical lands”. Because they’ve picked their sides, they’re fully invested in the supposed truth claims they parrot when airing political grievances, never once probing the actual propositions – political propaganda being the goal, and not historical or biblical truths.
So, let’s look at the actual claim within the context of conflict, identity politics and what recorded history tells us about Jewish dispersals from, what is today, Israel.
“Israeli Jews are not real Jews!”
Very crudely, the False Narrative runs on these lines…
In the not so distant past outside the lands of present-day Israel, pagan tribes of diverse ethnic origins, probably Turkic, converted en mass to Judaism around the middle of the 8th century CE. As time progressed they wandered off from a location somewhere in the Caucasus into Central Asia and further afield into Eastern and Central Europe. There, they became a persecuted minority because of their foreign origin and religion. Had it not been for their professed faith in Judaism, they would have been absorbed into the indigenous populations, forgetting about the earlier migrations. But that’s not what happened. Europe had successfully and almost entirely converted to Christianity. The converted Christians, when not fighting each other (the Eastern and Western wings), had serious beaf with the Jews. Priests and rabble rousers blamed the Jews for the death of the Messiah, who was oddly destined to die for the salvation of humanity per Church dogma.
But, this did not matter.
Christians blamed the foreign Jews for every transgression in Europe, which had the hallmarks of the typical persecution powerless minorities experience when they are actively demonised. The Jews were gradually forced onto the fringes of their societies, expelled from ghettos they were forced into and subjected to the pogroms. The actual word ‘ghetto’ is intimately tied with the Jewish experience to understand its negative connotations in cross-cultural references.
Being a Jew in Europe had serious implications for the quality of your life. Inane slurs that you had a big nose (a race myth), or you were a stingy miser (note, Jews were permitted to trade in usury as middle-men), were the least of your worries. Affirming your Jewishness wasn’t something you would want to do publicly, but the Christians around you, with equally large noses and the same propensity for frugalness, didn’t want you to forget who you were and where you came from.
You were quite literally screwed!
I want my readers to hear me when I say this given how fastidious members of my own community have become to the Muslim Ummah Syndrom; (click for Article here), and their collective victimhood on the strength of an imaginary group identity pitied against Jews and their international cohorts. When Jews speak of their forbears’ suffering, they are not imagining the crimes that were committed against Jewish communities. The claim is borne out by the historical record, and the timeline in question is sadly a long one. We are talking about 2000 years of persecution, prejudice and scapegoating. In the overwhelming majority of instances, Jews were not aggressors but victims lest we distort our moral compass for contemporary causes.
This may not be a popular thing to say when you see the IDF bulldozing Palestinian homes, shooting live ammunition into crowds of stone pelters, some young as ten, but tribal loyalties do not automatically give birth to alternative facts. Neither do they give succour to the utterly callous claim that 6 million innocent Jews did not die in Nazi Concentration Camps because “there weren’t even that many Jews in Europe!” The detractors that have a penchant for this particular remark like to cite population statistics unaware of the triggers behind the false controversy.
I find it strange how so many of us become human geographers, or in this case population statisticians! Sadly, that’s just the nature of apocryphal facts. In the age of the internet, anyone can make up ‘facts’, and they’ll find a willing constituency of followers ready to spread the lies – Social Media is a powerful platform. The lies then become convenient grenades of war for people, who prefer playing video games than probing the pages of books written by scholars, or visitors sickened by the eerie and sombre environ of Auschwitz.
The modern State of Israel is thus an anomaly to how Jews were treated in Europe historically. But, you can’t understand what’s happening in contemporary Israel without resorting back to the older timeline. Present day events are connected with their historical antecedents. A lot of the anxieties that emerge from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have roots in past events.
In medieval Europe, life was hard for Jews. There was little hope for change. The pitiable status accorded to Jewish minorities didn’t change for hundreds of years until some enlightened rulers took pity on them. They lifted social and economic restrictions that prohibited Jews from participating in their societies, and they prospered. Out of huge dispossession arose a people justly proud of their contributions to science, art and literature. They were a hardworking bunch of go-getters, and they excelled in every academic discipline, trade and professional vocation.
They were also loyal to their adopted homelands anxious that their new prosperity could be jeopardised by asserting too loudly their Jewish roots – giving birth to the assimilated Jew. Others got involved in their political struggles and sought to challenge their group’s perceived meekness whilst antisemitism continued to linger in Europe. The ideologues of Zionism, an ideological movement that sought to protect the Jewish Diaspora from persecution, advocated for a Jewish Homeland somewhere in Africa where Jews could be safe. This was around the time when attitudes against Jews were hardening in Europe from which pool we had the emergence of Hitler and his henchmen. Eventually, the Nazis succeeded in murdering 6 million stateless Jews in their Concentration Camps.
The writing had been on the wall. Lots of people looked the other way.
The Nazis were not selective in their equality of outcome policies for ‘lessor humans’ though. The “Nordic” champions of the perfect human race (“the Aryans”) murdered non-Jews. They had a race hierarchy, plonking themselves at the top of it barring kith and kin with physical and mental disabilities. They located the Slavs, Gypsies, Jews and Communists right at the bottom. But, even these horrible facts of history become contested, victimhood being ascribed or denied for political reasons. Once you’ve joined a tribe, you become blind, so desensitised to the truth-claims of the other side, you become utterly cynical. This is exactly what is happening to naive people with no grounding in history, picking fights with Jews, probably never having met a Jew once in their lifetimes. The unlikeliest of bedfellows team up to hate Jews, adding their own anxieties to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, rendering a fight over land between Israelis and Palestinians a global conflict between Jews, Christians, Arabs and Muslims.
As the Allied Powers failed to intervene to stop the genocide of European Jews, (they were fully aware of the Concentration Camps; note, the Nazis had made European Jews stateless – the first precursors to any documented genocide), Zionist organisations rallied and managed to relocate tens of thousands of Jews to British controlled Palestine with the duplicitous support of Britain that had promised Palestine to the Palestinians.
The Arab Palestinians, for their part, had only just been “liberated” from the yoke of Muslim Turkish Ottoman Rule, thanks to colonial intervention and instigation. Arab Nationalists, a new breed of activists viewed the Ottoman Turks as foreign invaders, and not co-religionists. They sided with the British Imperialists to create their Arabic speaking homelands. Religion quickly lost its appeal to bind diverse ethnic peoples together.
The new intellectuals of the age excitedly welcomed a new dawn free of superstition and atavistic anxieties. Nationalism seemed the way forward, it gave each nation its own state on the basis of shared language, culture and identity. But, the newly constituted citizens of the fabricated nation-states didn’t feel that they belonged within the artificially designated borders courtesy of older identities (which were never ethnic identities).
In the meantime, the Brits were parading themselves as the Saviour of Arabic speaking peoples – (note, the romantic idea of Lawrence of Arabia), striking deals with autocratic Bedouin Elders creating Kingdoms on the back of the new ‘Arab’ myths. They promised the Arab Palestinians a homeland of their own, free of Turkish Masters. They also promised the Jews a homeland of their own in the same place as the Palestinians – their Semitic cousins.
They were in a real pickle with their double-dealing, whilst an intractable conflict ensued between the new identities – Arab Muslims and Israeli Jews. They arrested both Arab and Jewish agitators, tried to placate the Palestinians by reducing the numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing to Israel, (Jews were being openly butchered in Europe).
Ultimately, they laid down unintentionally the foundations of our present day conflict in the Middle East. The architects of this mess were not evil, and neither did they deliberately seek to create chaos. These were the end days of European colonialism, and its twilight years were messy. Those at the helm of the sinking ship were way over their heads. Eventually, they picked up their bags and left. British Imperialism was too costly now and a huge liability, minus its very favourable legacy. The Brits convinced themselves that they would continue wielding influence in the decolonised colonies (through Soft and Hard Power), despite having been dislodged by the more powerful Americans. There was also immense resentment brewing from within the Black (and oddly White) Commonwealth.
Palestine was partitioned and the State of Israel came into existence. Internationally, most countries recognised its existence. Muslim countries refused, and even to this day, they prohibit their less than equal citizens from visiting Israel even for a holiday.
At first, the Israelis were overjoyed, hoping to come to some sort of settlement with the newly constituted “Palestinian Arabs” now that both parties had their Nation States. The Palestinians felt bitterly betrayed, having lost so much of their homeland to the foreigners from Europe. Colonial promises had been a lie, and they felt duped to have fought the Ottomans with the help of the British. Worse, their supporters from the Arab Monarchies had their own vested interests whatever the official pronouncements of Arab Unity.
All out war broke out between the Arabs and the Israelis. Against all odds, outnumbered, outgunned, the Israelis emerged more powerful. They succeeded in taking more Palestinian land than had originally been allocated to them. This was a fight for their lives, and they convinced themselves that they would never fall prey to the butchery their ancestors had grown accustomed to for centuries.
Gradually, they managed to squeeze the Palestinians into an even smaller part of Palestine where millions of dispossessed people have been imprisoned in what only can be described as an Open Jail. Life for ordinary Palestinians stinks to High Heaven and back. In response, Palestinians demand an independent country through loudspeakers and impressive protests, amidst the most egregious of anti-Semitic rhetoric one could imagine, reciprocal violence, and the not so infrequent turf war (between themselves). The month of Ramadan has been an important date in the Israeli-Palestinian calendar, it is the month that resistance Palestinians begin the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel anticipating a disproportionate response from the IDF – this is cold, callous and calculated stuff. They then beam the ensuing footage across the Muslim World courtesy of Islamist Media Networks, and government interests pandering to populist (Muslim) narratives. Ironically, the resistance efforts push Palestine, months and years back.
Children, women, babies die, whilst visceral hate is directed at World Jewry. A perverse global ritual is created out of a suffering people’s insufferable plight; entire YouTube and Facebook careers are now being forged out of expressing love for Palestine.
Wherever the Palestinians turn, they see a mangled future State with Jewish settlements dotted everywhere. They see prosperity in Israel, whilst they live as refugees in their own homeland. Their leaders offer them nothing by way of normality and prosperity, but the constant rhetoric of resistance and suicide bombings. The death count for Palestinians grows exponentially higher every year they actively resist the Israeli Occupation, ever the more distant to the dream of a Palestinian State. For the fortunate few, they get asylum in Western Countries where they proudly fly their Palestinian flags. Others find work in the Gulf Arab Monarchies where they have lessor rights and are treated suspiciously. Bastions of the International Muslim Fraternity (Ummah Syndrome) seem aggrieved at this state of affairs, consistently making their upset known in provocative language, flag burning and the odd clash with law enforcement agencies in despotic Muslim countries that are no less fair or equal for poor Muslims.
The Islamic Republic of Iran positively bathes in anti-Isreal hate-speech, whilst Iranians grow tired of the Ayatollahs’ incessant rhetoric of pushing Israel into the Sea. Iran for the ordinary Iranian feels like a prison, a Security State that does not tolerate any form of dissent. It is tyranny orchestrated by the Mullahs, the West tells us, but ordinary Muslims seem oblivious to this particular form of suffering, sitting in Britain and sipping tea from an ever increasing number of Arab-styled Coffee Shops. The patrons are overwhelmingly of non-Arab descent, usually conservative-type Pakistanis with limited human capital (I state this analytically, not pejoratively), unaware of the anti-Turkish racism that gave life to the birth pangs of the Palestinian nation in the first place. Pakistani emigrants in the Arab World are treated deplorably on account of their “maskeen” (pauper) backgrounds, but there is no whiff of this grievance anywhere in the musty air of Sheesha Lounges across the UK.
Atrocities and inequalities are raging in the Muslim World. Numerous Muslim peoples are being victimised, exploited and oppressed by Muslim constituted States, but not even a peep of disquiet. Think of the Muslim Kurds, the Muslim Baluch, the Muslim Kashmiris in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, Muslim Shias in Saudi Arabia, Muslim Sunnis in Iran, “Muslim” Ahmedis in Pakistan, and countless others.
There are of course others like the Burmese Rohingya in Bangladesh, whose plight only seems to register with non-Muslims, despite their persecution being decades-old. Muslim Bangladesh, for its part, closed the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, impeding fleeing Rohinga from reaching safety. Only 50 years ago, Bengalis were fleeing into India.
Very rarely will you hear Muslims speak out against the plight of the Kurds whose lands have been parcelled out between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, all the while they complain about non-Muslim violence against Muslims. Pakistani Muslims in the UK are completely silent about Uighur persecution in Eastern Turkistan – the historical name of the ‘Province’ China calls Xinjiang Province, “the westernmost” Province. The BBC, the Guardian, al-Jazeera, CNN, numerous Indian News Stations, Turkish Media outlets, Jewish Israeli publications, Human Rights Organisations, have all reported on the ongoing genocide of Turkic speaking Uighur Muslims, but there are no Uighur flags draped from the convoys of cars, hurtling up and down Birmingham and London streets.
In preceding decades, Islamic fanatics went about their business slitting the throats of Muslim Algerians; West-Pakistani soldiers fought to keep Muslim East Pakistan within its exploitative fold by raping 200 to 400 thousand Bengali women – Hindus and Muslims – but none of this mattered. The death count for Independence Bengalis, was some 3 million fatalities, making the Bangladesh Genocide one of the worst in living memory, we are told by specialists of Genocide Studies. Muslim-on-Muslim violence is a non-consideration for young Muslims in the West, draped in Arab attire (symptomatic of identity politics, and not devotion to God), who have no appreciation of how they are being manipulated by ideologues who wouldn’t even spit on them if they were on fire. The causes of their own people are less fashionable because they have no sense of their own group histories; Pakistan, for instance, is in a terrible place, but there is no concern for Pakistan’s millions of dispossessed and broken souls. I am particularly aggrieved for impoverished Pakistanis, because they have been failed miserably by their richer Diaspora.
It is an inconvenient irony for the ideological polemicists who want to bind all Muslims together in a perennial war against Non-Muslims that their own group members get nothing of material substance from the Internationalist Islamist Order. Britain, for instance, has redeemed Muslim minorities (ethnic groups) than any Muslim country on earth, but this is lost on young Muslims who think they are part of a global struggle to redeem the Muslim Ummah from non-Muslim thugs. The illiberal thugs from the Ummah, (the Enslavers of the Yazidis, the Saddams and Qaddafis, the Pakistan Army, Boko Haram, ISIS), seem to have a free pass, and it is they who are now lecturing Western Muslims from online podiums about Muslim Victimhood.
And so, the Internationalist Muslim Vanguard has its favourite villains, the Israeli ‘reprobate’ sits at the top of the list, Free Masons, the Illuminati and the Rothschilds are not too far behind – figments of an imagination that has no experience of redeeming itself, intellectually. Thus unfolds the confirmation bias behind the anti-Semitic rhetoric that denies Isreal (a modern-day fiction) its biblical Jewish claims to the lands of Judea. The Muslims discussing the finer points of this imagined history convince themselves that the “converted” European Jews resurrected Hebrew that had gone extinct with the Biblical Jews! If the logic is to be believed, modern-day Jews have no corresponding ancestral claims to Israel, thus the popular charge “Israel is a country with an extinct people’s language and religious traditions”.
The real motive behind the claim is obvious.
Brute power has failed spectacularly to kick the Israelis out of the Promised Land, and so, the defenders of Palestinian victimhood resort to dehumanising propaganda. Conflicts are fought on different fronts, military battles aren’t necessarily decisive. Influencing how outsiders think about a particular conflict is an essential ingredient in the arsenal of war. But according to the False Narrative we are still only talking about one group of Jews known as the Ashkenazi, or European Jews from Eastern and Central Europe. We’re not talking about Sephardic Jews, evicted from the Iberian Peninsula after the Christian conquest of Spain.
The victorious Christians kicked out the Muslims and ‘recovered’ (old pagan) lands for Catholicism. The Jews became casualties and accompanied the vanquished Muslims to Muslim lands where they settled and co-existed peacefully. Things weren’t all that bad for Jews outside Europe. In fact, a number of historians tell us that in Muslim Spain, Jews enjoyed a golden age during the Middle Ages. Apparently, Iberian Muslims were tolerant of religious diversity, because they weren’t very devout themselves, which is an interesting point if you think about it.
Just ponder this thought for a brief moment.
Fundamentalist Muslims today blame the loss of Muslim Spain to the loss of divine favour. “If only the Muslims had been more religious, genuinely devout, adhered to the sharia (‘Islamic Law’), Allah would have saved the ‘Dynastic’ Kingdoms!”
On the other hand, moderate Muslims applaud this period of religious tolerance and scientific progress. It was during this epoch that Christian Europeans would travel to Muslim Spain to learn the sciences and academic disciplines of the time. Andalusian Muslims were fond of drinking wine, something that visiting Muslims would mention, disparagingly.
These good old days did not last. Muslims were booted out of Spain because of divine punishment, the fundamentalists tell us. Muslims sought exile in neighbouring North Africa. The fate of the Jews, the Sephardic ones including the Mizrahi (Eastern Jews) from areas around modern-day Iraq/Iran and afar had been intimately tied with that of the defeated Muslims. These are your ‘proper’ Jews and they shared the language and culture of the peoples they lived amongst. For all intents and purposes, they were undistinguishable from the populations that had absorbed them.
With the creation of Isreal, the Mizrahi packed up their bags and left for the new State. Arab Muslims had turned vindictive to their Jewish populations, who played no part in the creation of Israel, but it didn’t matter, Arab Jews were guilty by association. The Ashkenazi Jews threw the doors open to their non-Ashkenazi brethren, whilst the new settlers occupied more Palestinian land. Isreal’s fate now rested on Jewish numbers, a perennial problem for the defenders of the State; Israeli Jews are not having enough babies. In fact, Israeli Arabs seem to be outbreeding their Jewish counterparts, which might explain some of the anxieties.
But that’s the background to the basic gist of the False Narrative with all the background noises, sighs and ruffles. It’s an emotive claim, skewed with historical inaccuracies, contrived facts imbued with religious dogma. It doesn’t take into account that Israel is now home to a diverse nation of Israelis from all over the world that includes Arabs, Liberal Muslims, Christians, the Druze and others.
Group identities have never been fixed, they are fluid and people can be oppressed on account of imaginary identities. People have died at the hands of fictions. Also, not all Israeli Jews are Ashkenazis even those deploying the term for themselves because of how geographical ascriptions work. Prior to the hypothetical theory of Khazar pagans converting in large numbers to Judaism, there had always been small groups of Jews living in Europe, many of whom trickled into Europe when the Romans occupied Judea and surrounding areas. The Romans like any of the great Imperial Powers reconfigured and renamed their territories. The word ‘Palestine’ exists because of this legacy, it post-dates older words for the territory we now call Isreal.
The actual Province of Palaestina comes into existence during Roman Occupation whatever its earlier etymological roots in the Bible. There had always been small pockets of Jews outside Israel, in Europe, the Middle East, even in distant places like India. It has nothing to do with mass conversions of Jews conspiracy-style.
Let me be crystal clear, I’m not weighing in on the truth or falsehood of the claim though, although it would appear that Israelis themselves are on opposite sides of the argument. A lot of tribally-minded Muslims are unaware of how diverse Israeli popular opinion actually is. Ordinary Israelis, for their part, are not perturbed by claims of their non-Jewish origins, why should they care?
They’re physically occupying the biblical lands. Muslim public opinion is of no consequence to them, it lacks any credible threat to their regime. The Muslim World is in decline, and has been in decline for centuries. This curious fact, known by every historian out there, seems to be lost on the bastions of a tribal Muslim identity taking great delight in their “large numbers” and the propensity to outbreed enemies.
The defenders of Israel have their laws upheld in their own legal system that protects their interests, further entrenched by the supposed ‘impartial’ constitutionality of the Jewish State – a homeland and refuge for Jews everywhere. As far as Israelis are concerned they are not breaking laws when Palestinians are forcibly cleared from their orchards, refused permits to build properties, and even denied building materials in the Occupied Territories. Israelis are not going to countenance moves that, in their mind at least, undermine their security considerations. They don’t care if the regulations behind Occupation seem ‘discriminatory’, ‘cruel’ and ‘vindictive’ to the outside World, which they obviously are.
Unfettered Human rights conterminous with the right to hate a dominant group peacefully is a luxury when someone is not pointing a gun at you, whilst wearing a suicide-belt, they would say. Every Jewish Israeli, able-bodied, is required by law to lay down his or her life for the Jewish State. Israelis that are now confident about their future, still perturbed by the conflict, have not forgotten how their forebears were treated historically by dominant groups relegating them to the fringe. Some Israelis do become a little ambivalent about the Palestinians when the world agrees that the Palestinian Occupation is an egregious one. In Israel, this means hating the Left, where the word has become a slur. Israelis convince themselves that there is an international leftist conspiracy against them. “Ordinary people just doesn’t quite understand how complex the Israeli-Palestinian conflict actually is”, they retort.
It really isn’t that complex.
The conflict is territorial, the victors want more land, the losers want to retain the lands they are losing. The conflict is also about resources; States need resources, the Israelis are encroaching upon the resources of the Palestinians.
They do this by building settlements in Palestinian designated lands, and then affirm their right to protect Israeli settlers from Palestinian violence. The end result is to clear the land of the Palestinians. Historical memories of persecution, and False Narratives of the Zionist cause are then deployed with fierce precision.
As the International Left watches this facade from the comfort of their armchairs, some leap into action to expose the apartheid Israeli State. They’ll jump on a plane and head for Tel Aviv with their cameras, travelling right into the Occupied Territories, waving their microphones in the faces of the settlers, who are more than happy to curse the “dirty filthy Arabs who need to go back to where they came from!”
Rightwing Parties in Israel then go on the attack, blaming treacherous Lefties in their midst, who seem to be colluding with the International Order in exposing Israel’s unjust treatment of the Palestinians. From this perspective, the only credible defence against such threats is the tribal march of rightwing parties in Israel to join hands with the unlikeliest of bedfellows in Europe condemning Muslim immigrants. Europe’s Far Right parties hate Jews, but now they’ve become champions of Jewish Human Rights, defending their own indigenous rights from the Muslim Invasion. European Jews have become indigenous by virtue of this False Narrative, the Muslims have become the new foreigners.
Whatever you make of Israeli politics, the expanding nature of the Israeli State, whether you think Israelis ‘are’ or ‘aren’t’ related to Jewish forbears, as rabbinical laws demand, Israelis will point out that none of this stops deranged people from trying to kill them. And they are not exactly wrong. If they weren’t proper Jews, why then were they being hounded to death in Europe because of a Jewish identity that wasn’t really theirs? Israel is their only option to remain safe.
It is a Homeland for Jews.
Howsoever you feel about the Jewish State and the pitiable statelessness of the Palestinians, you have to respect the Israelis for standing firm in their hotly contested piece of real estate, without ignoring the unjust treatment meted out to the Palestinians. And let’s be true to the Palestinians, the Occupation is outright unjust. To say otherwise is to be nuts.
I’m merely stating that if you were born into the Israeli side of this conflict, you wouldn’t necessarily see the World through Palestinian eyes. You would insist on the Israeli State being top-dog in a neighbourhood of crazed lunatics.
Failing their own military superiority over Arab Nations (Muslim Countries are irrelevant with the exception of Iran and Turkey), the Israelis have the support of America, the world’s only existing Super Power, perhaps for a time. America has a colossal military budget, it also has a seat on the UN Security Council. America is committed to protecting Israel from any infractions courtesy of the international political order, even if some Israelis within Israel are perturbed by this prospect.
Israelis in Israel want the conflict to end. They want normality for their children and the children of the Palestinians. Many are vociferously opposed to settlements in Palestinian Territories because, in their minds, this undermines peace with Palestinians. They’re not calling the shots though.
So, you see conflicts are a lot more nuanced than just two sides fighting each other tribally, with people jumping up and down in the background, making the conflicts even more intractable. There are some in the midst completely opposed to the status quo of their own tribes demanding loyalty as the price of a shared belonging. These dissidents usually of the liberal bent are not cowed into accepting the populist position because it carries official weight. If the status quo doesn’t sit well with their conscience, they speak out. They are summarily dismissed as traitors, by those who control the Official Narratives. This might explain why “liberalism”, apparently, “…is a disease” all over Social Media.
For my own part as someone trying to make sense of identities wedded to fabricated territories within the context of conflict, I doubt that the Khazars converted en mass to Judaism. It is absolutely the case that the elite of the Khazars converted to Judaism around the middle of the 8th century following contact with the emerging Muslim Powers at the time.
But the claim that the Khazars are the distant ancestors of all Ashkenazi Jews is far fetched. It has the hallmarks of a False Narrative, a bit like mythic claims deployed by political nationalists justifying an ethnic group’s exclusive possession of contested territories. From my own reading, nations do not evolve like this. No people can claim conclusively ancestral belonging to tribal groups that have long perished howsoever we want to imagine their group identities thousands of years later.
If someone is really committed to the idea of race fictions, he should do some ‘skull and bone’ excavations of his own. He should first locate his ancient but decaying ancestors, if indeed the bodies are preserved, he should do some DNA tests. Extract the DNA from the bones and see if it matches with one’s own DNA to determine whether he descends from Alexander the Great or his Generals. It’s usually men who fall for such claims, very rarely do women posture through such identities. Women have always been victims of bloodline fictions – rape is a war crime, for a reason.
Everyone of us is related to everyone else, quite literally. Some of us will discover to their horror that they’re less-related to the celebrated ancestors of the dominant group they worship than some random dude in some foreign wilderness. It’s usually dimwits extolling exclusive identities unaware of how modern science has demolished the idea of pure bloodlines. Off the topic, I encourage my readers to visit Pakistani websites to appreciate what I am saying to confront anxieties and insecurities of people who have no sense of how ignorant they sound when they speak about Muslim ancestors through False Narratives being promoted by Pakistan’s Intelligence Services against Hindu India. A person may belong to a particular breeding population, physically look like his peers, but it doesn’t follow that he descends from the same linear ancestors. Even if he looks different physically, and he has a particular penchant of always pointing this out, he may be more closely related to his breeding population than someone without the distinct facial features (albeit imagined). The outlandish claims expose what is really exercising a person’s mind – in a lot of cases, it is about approximating to dominant groups; in the West we call this “approximating to whiteness.”
But, even when we’re not talking about the remote past, all of us are the probable descendants of ancient ‘Kings’, believe it or not. Pure bloodlines are dangerous fictions. The further back we go into time, the pool of ancestors becomes smaller and I mean a lot smaller. Human population numbers for the greater part of our shared history have been minuscule when compared to our current numbers. There was also a catastrophic natural event some 70 thousand years ago that reduced human numbers outside Africa drastically. Most of us descend from this tiny bottleneck population.
The idea of sovereign peoples did not exist in the way we imagine this past. It was Kings and Rulers that had claims to territories, and not subjects. Subaltern religious elites would validate the claims of Overlords creating the cynical interdependence we see between religious and political elites everywhere. The religious elite grew rich off the backs of the temporal elites, and not the other way round, which should give you an idea of where actual power resides. The vast majority of people were excluded from this network. The great majority of today’s humanity descended from this stock and it included Palestinians and Israelis.
It really isn’t rocket science.
So, what about the real biblical Jews?
There is no proof that they existed in the manner described by the Old Testament either. New archaeological finds in the places described by the biblical accounts call into question what we’ve taken for granted about the older biblical landscape. The older accounts were written centuries after the imagined events by different writers projecting backwards. This is a bit like me, someone who lives in the early part of the 21st century writing about events that supposedly took place in the 1600s CE. You come along, say 2000 years from the date of my recorded death, and take my historical account as ‘gospel truth,’ because it survived the ravages of time on account of power-dynamics you don’t understand.
Because God inspired me, I said as much 2000 years earlier or at least you think I did, you accept my English descriptions of Iceland, without ever knowing that in the 400 years prior to my mythic life, cars did not exist in the manner I described. Worse, no nation comprised of exactly 147 thousand Chinese-looking soldiers drove through my part of the world in armoured Range Rovers to steal petrol in lands that had no oil fields. There was also no bridge between Iceland and Britain either. The bridge I describe was built by the Martians 500 years after my death. In fact, no one, in my part of the world, 400 years before my death spoke English.
Even if my claims were true for entirely different reasons from the ones cited above, there’s no getting around the chief purpose of propaganda – the False Narrative. Opponents of Israel’s military might employ their nativist claims because they have lost the Conflict. From this perspective, it’s about either redressing a grievance built on the idea of physical ownership of land (benefiting Israelis), or its concrete denial (benefiting Palestinians). Historical accounts are thus deployed to bolster political claims.
The nature of the Palestinian Conflict is such that even Israelis have sought to erase Palestinians from history, which would constitute Occupier Politics. They argue that there are no Palestinians in the historical record, which is just nonsense. They argue that the Kingdom of Judah was home to Biblical Jews, no one else! The mass exodus of its inhabitants was because of Roman persecution. God had decreed all this. Palestinians weren’t even around during this period of history.
Now, how do you argue with God when that God has vouchsafed territory and a convenient Political Narrative to his Chosen Ones – the Jews? Israeli Jews can also rely on non-Jewish cohorts of the Biblical Promise of Armageddon, oddly from the Bible Belt of Southern America; evangelical Christians prepared to listen to the God of Israel through self-appointed Zionist spokespersons. This is what happens when conflicts are reduced to Identity Politics.
The circular logic becomes familiar to Evangelical Christians – “Palestinians are Arabs, they’re not really Palestinians even though they’ve claimed that word for their Leftwing “liberal” Movement. God damn these heathens!” The claim then simultaneously evokes the myth of an Arab primordiality.
Those who make such claims are essentially arguing that the Arabs of Palestine have no historical claims to Palestine unlike the Israelis who have an incontestable claim to Israel.
I’ve said all along, this is not a religious or an historical claim but a political one. Religious claims gives succour to the political claims – the political claims are thus more important than the religious claims; religious sentiments become important to manipulate religiously-minded people. It’s very difficult to argue with people who think the God of the Bible vouchsafed “Isreal” to Israelis – the reasoning becomes circular and the manipulation gets lost in the False Narrative.
This is exactly what Muslims do when they claim Palestine for Islam.
How do you separate religion from politics if you then go on to make the contradictory claim that the Israeli State belongs to the Jewish people because the God of Moses wanted it so? And yet Israelis tell us that Isreal is like any other Western, Liberal and Secular State, which it isn’t. Isreal is occupying Palestinian Lands, that’s just a fact. If you asked Ethiopian Jews, or African Refugees, perhaps Jews of Arab descent how the Israeli Ashkenazi mainstream treats them, the Narrative (of a safe space for Jews) changes to something else.
I mean who are we kidding?
But then again, if you’re an Israeli carrying the burden of historical memories, battling unrelenting enemies, what would you do? Some Israelis argue that the enmity between Israelis and Palestinians owes its origin to deep-seated bitterness between Israel’s Jewish Arabs and Arab Palestinians. It is as if the former are over-compensating to prove their loyalty to the Israeli State, not forgetting how their grandparents left all their worldly possessions and memories behind in the Arab World. They were basically kicked out by vindictive Muslims.
Resentment breeds contempt, and its outcomes are being relayed on our TV screens with BBC, CNN, Fox News and Al-Jazeera offering their own commentaries courtesy of the fictions we eagerly consume.