By Tawfiq Abdul-Fattah, in Free Arab Voice
16 December 1997
Once upon a time in ancient Khazaria the entire kingdom converted to Judaism by decree from the king.
Arthur Koestler, a Jew born in 1905 in Budapest, writes that the Khazars who flourished from the 7th to the 11th century were in those bygone days a major political power. Their empire extended from the Black Sea to the Caspian and from the Caucasus to the Volga.
They were located “between two major world powers: the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium and the triumphant followers of Muhammad”. Since the world was then polarized between these two superpowers, representing Christianity (western style) and Islam, the Khazar empire representing a third force could only maintain its political and ideological independence by accepting neither Christianity nor Islam “for either choice would have automatically subordinated it to the authority of the Roman Emperor or the Caliph of Baghdad.”
Not wishing to be dominated by either of the two, the Khazar king “embraced the Jewish faith” in AD 740 and ordered his subjects to do the same. Judaism thus became the official state religion of the Khazars.
Obviously the king’s motives in adopting Judaism were purely political. “The bulk of modern Jewry is not of Palestinian, but of Caucasian origin”, Koestler writes. “Their ancestors came not from the Jordan but from the Volga, not from Canaan but from the Caucasus.” And he stresses: “The mainstream of Jewish migrations did not flow from the Mediterranean across France and Germany to the east and then back again. The stream moved in a consistently western direction, from the Caucasus, from the Ukraine into Poland and thence into Central Europe”.
While Jews of different origin also contributed to the existing Jewish world community, “the main bulk originated from the Khazar country” in the Ex-Soviet Union. Based on his research which was summed in his book “The Thirteenth Tribe”, Koestler refutes the notion of a Jewish “race” stating that most Jews of the contemporary world did not come from Palestine and are not even of Semitic origin. In fact, his research shows that most Jews originated in what today is the Ex-USSR. And that a group of people there became Jews through conversion, on the orders of their king.
People under Khazar dominion included the Bulgars, Burtas, Ghuzz, Magyars (Hungarians), the Gothic and Greek colonies of the Crimea, and the Slavonic tribes in the northwestern woodland. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, in the 16th century Jews numbered about one million. Koestler quotes scholars documenting that at the time “the majority of those who professed the Judaic faith were Khazars.”
As Koestler points out, Jews of our times fall into two main divisions: Sephardim and Ashkena-zim.
The Sephardim, the descendants of the Jews who had lived in Spain until their expulsion, with the Muslims, at the end of the 15th century, and who later settled in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, spoke a Spanish-Hebrew dialect, Ladino. In the 1960s, the Sephardim numbered about 500,000.
The Ashkenazim at the same period were about 11 million. Thus, “in common parlance, Jew is practically synonymous with Ashkenazi Jew”. However, Koestler adds, the term Ashkenazim is misleading because it is generally applied to Germany, thus contributing to the legend that modern Jewry originated on the Rhine. There is, however, no other term to refer to the non-Sephardic majority of contemporary Jewry, which came after conversion to Judaism from the Khazar country.
After the destruction of their empire (in the 12th or 13th century), the Jewish Khazars migrated into those regions of Eastern Europe, mainly Russia and Poland, where at the dawn of the modern age the greatest concentrations of Jews were found. It is “well documented”, Koestler writes, that the numerically and socially dominant element in the Jewish population of Hungary during the Middle Ages was of Khazar origin.
An Israeli scholar, A. N. Poliak, a Tel Aviv University professor of medieval Jewish history quoted by Koestler, states that the descendants of Khazar Jews, “those who stayed where they were (in Khazaria), those who emigrated to the United States and to other countries, and those who went to Israel–constitute now the large majority of world Jewry.”
Since Israel’s support among millions of American Christians is founded on a concept that God had bequeathed territory to a biblical “tribe” of Oriental Middle Eastern Jews, it becomes ironic to learn from Koestler’s research, that most Jews today are neither hereditary natives from the “holy land” nor any other eastern tribe.
Koestler, who originally published the Thirteenth Tribe in 1976, noted that the story of the Khazar empire “begins to look like the most cruel hoax history has ever perpetrated.” The Palestinians, imprisoned and brutalized by this Zionist “hoax” and showered by ink based resolutions, the likes of UN 194, would be the first to agree.
In sight of these findings, one might naively infer that the only thing standing between the Palestinians and their rightful land is nothing but a Rabbi waiting to bless them with his faith, hence making them worthy of their homes.
Shall we then say, Mazeltov, or shall we concur that the Palestinian, under the eyes of his father, is being once more. . . . Crucified !
P.S. The book “The Thirteenth Tribe” has been difficult to find. It disappeared from many library shelves. A check at the Library of Congress reveals that the most prestigious library in the U.S had one reading copy. That one copy, however, is “missing from the shelf” 🙂
[Arthur Koestler (1905-83)is Hungarian-born British author].