The Forgotten Diaspora (1)

February 3, 2023 Category: Uncategorized


The following analysis is more re-assessment than revelation.  When it comes to the present topic, it’s not as if a plethora of new evidence has suddenly emerged that challenges the conventional wisdom.*  For the most part, all I’m doing here is evaluating the evidence that has always been there; and pointing out where it leads.  Those of us who are not concerned with upholding a ramshackle dogmatic edifice are fine with this.

Meanwhile, those who stake their claim on such an edifice tend not to welcome interlopers.  I am such an interloper.  As an outsider looking in, I come to the topic with fresh eyes; and—so far as I can ascertain—the benefit of impartiality.  What follows might be described in the way that James C. Scott referred to his book, Against The Grain: “A trespasser’s reconnaissance report”.

As I show in my essay, “Genesis Of A People”, the etiology of Beth Israel turns out to be a consecrated house of cards.  “House of cards” is apropos, as—like most national origin stories—it is unable to withstand dialectic perturbations.  Remove a single base card, and the entire dogmatic edifice collapses.

Iconoclasts who have noble motives don’t set out to be contrarians; and certainly aren’t looking to be pariahs.  They are simply trying to set the record straight, even if it means going against the grain.  Pandering has no place in scholarship; so “The Forgotten Diaspora” caters to no particular ideological camp.  After all, the world does not furnish facts to suit the sensibilities of any given partisan.

When considering a distant past that happens to be shrouded in mists of uncertainty, it is tempting to engage in gratifying conjecture—especially when that conjecture flatters one or another target audience.  Here, though, I attempt to provide elucidation rather than speculation; and I imagine that nobody will find it tremendously ingratiating.

Whenever one engages in an inquiry into an ideologically-charged topic, it is important to ensure that one does not simply replace one bit of dogmatism with another.  To be anti-dogmatic is to reject ALL dogmas, not just unpalatable ones.  With this in mind, I am careful to not transplant an old set of spurious suppositions with a new (more appealing) set of spurious suppositions, and glibly call that progress.

One cannot help but speculate a bit when putting forth a (counter-)hypothesis regarding a sparsely-documented period of history.  Be that as it may, I resist the temptation to proffer an assortment of mere hunches.  The available evidence is what it is; and deduction leads where it leads.

Given the paucity of relevant documentation on the matter under consideration, the verdict is not conclusive; and—alas—may never be.  It would be disingenuous to not concede this.  That being the case, I end up taking a somewhat Bayesian approach to the matter.  I effectively ask: If the counter-thesis had been the case, then what sorts of things would we most likely find in the historical record?  That we don’t find ANY of those things indicates that the probability the counter-thesis holds water is quite low.  As it happens, the clues we have all end up pointing to (roughly) the same conclusion:

Ashkenazim began as the [k]Hazarian diaspora just over a thousand years ago.  Is this the final word on the matter?  No.  Is it currently the most likely hypothesis?  Yes.

Of course, this might change should new information present itself.  Inquiries are, by their nature, open-ended.  In keeping with the spirit of FREE inquiry, this monograph should be seen as a point of departure rather than as the final word on the matter.  This is simply to say that it is a step (hopefully, an important step) within an on-going process; not a destination. If this monograph does nothing else, it should urge others to look into the matter further; and hopefully learn some interesting things about world history along the way.

Those of us who value Truth await further insight from those who—going forward—contribute to the discussion in good faith.  (After all, what gets the serious inquirer up in the morning isn’t what he already knows, but what he still hasn’t yet figured out.)  There is surely still plenty out there waiting to be uncovered.  It is in this spirit that this ensuing monograph was done.

This point is especially salient considering (what is currently) an inadequate archeological investigation.  Much work remains to be done.  So I hope this monograph will instigate further research.  As it turns out, this inquiry is about far more than just Ashkenazi provenance; it ends up leading us down heretofore unexplored paths regarding the ancient Steppe Peoples.

I assure the reader that there is no dastardly agenda here to promote Turkic ancestry amongst an un-related ethnic group; or to elide Semitic ancestry wherever it actually exists.  Is it a bad thing that Ashkenazi Jews might have Turkic ancestry?  Of course not.  Are they every bit as Jewish as Sephardim and Mizra[c]him (that is: Jews who can trace their bloodlines back to, say, the Maccabean revolution and the Hasmonean Kingdom) of Classical Antiquity?  Of course.  Why?  Because bloodlines don’t matter.  (Consider Sammy David Jr.: After he converted, being black didn’t make him any less Jewish.)

One formidable didactic obstacle that seems to remain in our path is the persistence of the (spurious) Occident-Orient dichotomy.  This fundamentally-flawed paradigm constrains our thinking—causing us to lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, we are all human.  The history of mankind is not so much a story of ethnically-pure tribes interacting with one another, but of constant miscegenation and segregation.  Genotypes and cultures are constantly merging and bifurcating; and rarely along discrete lines.  Once we let go of coveted reveries about unsullied bloodlines, we can begin to look at world history with clearer eyes.

Another matter worth briefly addressing:

There have existed–from time to time–some anti-Semitic parties who espouse the “Khazar theory” for their own (deranged) reasons; resulting in a negative stigmatization of said theory.  Most recently, we’ve heard about the nutty conspiracy-theory peddled by Black Hebrew Israelites, as propounded in “Hebrews To Negroes: Wake Up Black America” (an outlandish screed that mixes references to said theory with Holocaust denialism and the claim that non-African Jews are not authentically Jewish).  To associate the thesis-in-question with such baleful parties and their daffy beliefs is a grave mis-step. **

It’s worth noting that the present thesis was openly embraced by preeminent Jewish scholars until the advent of Revisionist Zionism, whereupon it was aggressively eschewed.  To the present day, such right-wing ideologues resent those who have the gall to challenge their preconceived notions of racial identity; as it subverts the Biblical narrative on which their political agenda depends.

During the course of my investigation, might I have missed something?  It is, of course, entirely possible that there is some earth-shattering bit of evidence, or a key line of reasoning, that escaped my attention.  In arriving at what seem to be decisive conclusions, we must always be cognizant of our own fallibility.  The difference between someone like me and a hidebound ideologue is that I wholeheartedly welcome the occasion should such oversights to be brought to my attention.  I come away from this project with the attitude: “By all means, poke holes in my theory.  I’m all ears.”  Indeed, if even a single factual error—or a flaw in my deductive reasoning at some point—were brought to my attention, I would be grateful.

In sum: Having Turkic ancestry does not make Ashkenazim less authentically Jewish.  Would Spinoza have cared whether his Jewish ancestry was more Semitic or more Turkic?  Almost certainly not.  (It was the former.)  Would Michel de Montaigne have cared?  Almost certainly not.  (It was the former.)  Would Karl Marx have cared?  Almost certainly not.  (It was the latter.)  Would Albert Einstein have cared?  Almost certainly not.  (It was the latter.)  Do *I* care?  No.  And neither should anyone else.  Why not?  Ethno-centric thinking played no role in a humanist worldview.  God willing, such a worldview will eventually prevail.

{*  Consider the overthrowing of the “Clovis First” theory of homo sapiens in the Americas—a development that occurred in light of relatively recent archeological discoveries.  A more analogous case to the matter at hand: In 1912, the German scholar, Alfred Lothar Wegener proposed the phenomenon known as “continental drift”: the precursor to plate tectonics.  He was initially a pariah in the geological community.  When he died in 1930, there was still inconclusive evidence for his theory.  Alas, it was not until the late 1950’s (with the advent of gravimetry, the bathymetry of deep ocean floors, and the development of seismic imaging technology) that the theory was—finally—fully embraced by the world.  Prior to the discovery of the magnetic properties of the oceanic crust, there was insufficient reason to take such an outlandish-seeming hypothesis seriously.  Imagine if continental drift—like, say, biological evolution—had significant RELIGIOUS implications.  Surely, there would have been far more push-back had plate tectonics threatened to upend a sacred applecart…rather than merely disrupting conventional knowledge in academia.}

{**  The fact that Nazis believed that circles were round should not move us to question the definition of circles.  The notion, “If a fascist believes it, it must be wrong” is specious.  When Guglielmo Marconi pioneered wireless communication in the 1890’s based on a revolutionary understanding of radio-waves, nobody dismissed the idea because he was a fascist.  And so it goes: Black Hebrew Israelites invoke the [k]Hazarian diaspora not because they care about actual history, but because ideologues are eager to seize on whatever facts happen to be convenient for their absurd theories (in this case: that the African population accounts for the lost tribes of Israel).  Theirs is an ethno-centric worldview—ironically: the very thing that accounts for those who obstinately DENY the present thesis.}

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