Monday, April 22, 2013

the invention of the jewish people


counterpunch | Perhaps the most persuasive source cited by Sand on the proselyte origins of Ashkenazi Jewry is Tel Aviv University linguist Paul Wexler, author of The Ashkenazic Jews: A Slavo-Turkic People in Search of a Jewish Identity  (and of The Non-Jewish Origins of the Sephardic Jews). Wexler argues that “the language known as Yiddish…developed in the bilingual Germano-Slavic lands in the 9th century as a Judaized form of Sorbian.” Sorbian is a Slavic language spoken today by about 50,000 people in southeast Brandenburg. “Yiddish is not a ‘form of German.’” The “tiny Jewish communities in the monolingual western German lands” cannot have been the basis of the millions of east European Jews. “Judeo-Sorbian underwent ‘re-lexification’…beginning with the 9th-10th centuries, but at the latest by the early 13th century.” “The result was…the grafting of [eastern] High German vocabulary…onto a Judeo-Sorbian syntax, phonology, phonotactics, and to some extent, morphotactics. Thus, despite its ‘German look,’ Yiddish remains a west Slavic language.” Modern Hebrew is also a Slavic language, not a “rebirth” of Old Semitic Hebrew, which is “impossible…because there are no native speakers to provide a native norm.” “Modern Hebrew simply embodies the syntax and sound system of the Eastern Yiddish language spoken by the first Modern Hebrew language planners in Ottoman Palestine, while its lexicon…was systematically replaced by Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew vocabulary.”

Wexler argues from linguistic and other evidence “that the Ashkenazic Jews must have consisted of a mix of Greek, Balkan Romance and Balkan Slavic, Germano-Slavic and Turkic (Khazar, Avar) converts to Judaism and their descendants and only a minority of ethnic Jews—many of whom in all probability came from other parts of Europe rather than Palestine itself.” Wexler rejects the Khazar mass migration hypothesis on linguistic grounds, arguing that there was more conversion in place than migration. “Hence, contemporary Judaism is best defined not as the continuation of the Judaism which served as an antecedent of Christianity and Islam, but as a newly Judaized variant of European (mainly Slavic) paganism and Christianity…most of the features of Old Palestinian Judaism and Semitic Hebrew to be found in Ashkenazic ‘Judaism’ and Medieval Ashkenazic/Modern Israeli ‘Hebrew’ were latter borrowings rather than original inheritance [original emphasis].” This thesis has been obscured by philo-German and anti-Slavic chauvinism among scholars, Jewish and non-, of Ashkenazi Jewry, by disciplinary blinders, and by inertia.

Sand also considers Zionist racialism, from proto-Zionist Moses Hess, who “needed a good deal of racial theory to dream up the Jewish people,” to kibbutz godfather Arthur Ruppin’s “ideas about the Darwinist struggle of the ‘Jewish race’,” including consultations with “experts” in Nazi Germany, to the discreet attempt of Israeli genetics after 1948 “to discover a biological homogeneity among the Jews in the world” while investigating Jewish diseases, which revealed east European carriers of Tay-Sachs, but also Yemeni and Iraqi carriers of favism.  “Israel’s rule since 1967 over a growing non-Jewish population,” and concomitant need to “find an enclosing ethnobiological boundary” which highlights “the basic genetic similarities…and the small proportion of ‘alien’ genes in the genetic stock characteristic of Jews” led to “new findings” which “corroborated the literature about the dispersal and wanderings of the Jews from ancient times to the present. At last, biology confirmed history,” in the current pseudo-science of “Jewish genetics.”

Israel “became a world leader in the ‘investigation of the origins of populations’” even as “Israeli researchers…regularly blended historical mythologies and sociological assumptions with dubious and scanty genetic findings.” These included mitochondrial DNA purportedly showing that “40 per cent of all Ashkenazis in the world descend from four matriarchs (as in the Bible),” and a haplotype carried by 50 per cent of men named Cohen, which “proved” that “the Jewish priesthood was was indeed founded by a common ancestor thirty-three centuries ago.” This dreck appeared in publications such as Nature and the American Journal of Human Genetics, and was respectfully reported in Haaretz and elsewhere, but rarely skepticism or contrary findings. “Yet so far, no research had found unique and unifying characteristics of Jewish heredity based on a random sampling of genetic material whose ethnic origin is not known in advance…after all the costly ‘scientific’ endeavors, a Jewish individual cannot be defined by any biological criteria whatsoever.”

Sand’s account of Judaism, from exclusive Israelite genealogy, to Hellenic proselytizing, to proselytizing and conversion on the margins of Christianity, in Arabia, North Africa, Spain, and among the Khazars and the Slavs, to defensive introversion amidst the final triumph of Christianity, is the interesting and compelling story of a religious minority subject to normal historical forces.

The contrary view of the unitary Jewish people expelled from its homeland, and wandering aloof in exile for two thousand years, until beginning its return in the late 19th c., is a reactionary myth which Zionism has deployed to conquer Palestine and compel support for it. The myth prevails unchecked today not only in Israel but worldwide. Nothing “has challenged the fundamental concepts that were formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Advances in the study of nations and nationalism have not “affected the departments of the ‘History of the People of Israel’ (aka Jewish history) in Israeli universities.

2 comments:

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Did You Humans Crack This Isht And Then Hide It From Yourselves 70 Years Ago?

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