Why do Palestinians burn Jewish holy sites?: The fraught history of Joseph’s Tomb

Israel/Palestine
on 101 Comments

On October 16th, a large crowd of Palestinians near the northern West Bank city of Nablus surrounded the religious site of Joseph’s Tomb and forced their way past Palestinian security guards at the main gate. Once inside, they proceeded to light the shrine on fire. Although the building was somewhat damaged, for the most part the shrine — a simple white structure furnished with only a small tomb — escaped unscathed.

The attack on the shrine elicited widespread outrage in the Israeli press, who condemned the attack on what many Israelis consider a Jewish shrine. Some pointed to the fact that the shrine was also targeted in the same way by Palestinian protesters in 2000, when the Israeli military first pulled out of the site and turned it over to Palestinian authorities. For Israelis, the attack seemed to indicate yet again that Palestinian violence is motivated by anti-Jewish hatred. Why would Palestinians attack a Jewish religious shrine if not because they hate Jews?

Joseph's Tomb (Photo: Alex Shams)

Joseph’s Tomb (Photo: Alex Shams)

The reality, however, is far different than the Israeli narrative would seem to suggest. Built by Palestinians and located at the heart of a densely-populated Palestinian neighborhood, the history of Joseph’s Tomb belies Israeli claims about its identity as a “Jewish holy site.” The identity of Joseph’s Tomb — and the claim that it is a “Jewish” shrine — is instead caught up in the wider history of the appropriation of Palestinian religious sites in the Zionist narrative.

It is one of many shrines across historic Palestine — now split into Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza — that has been re-invented as exclusively Jewish, despite a long history of shared worship among Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Samaritans that goes back centuries. And the reason it has attacked has almost nothing to do with religion, and a whole lot to do with how the Israeli military and settlement movements have used religion as a way to expand their control over Palestinian land and holy places.

Sheikh Yusuf

According to local Palestinian belief, the tomb belongs to Sheikh Yusuf (“Joseph” in Arabic) Dweikat, a Sufi holy man who died in the 18th century. Until 1967, it was commonly visited by local Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans, as well as Jews who lived elsewhere, and it is one of a host of minor spiritual sites (called maqam in Arabic) scattered around Nablus and its environs. Some say the site hosted a Samaritan (a tiny Palestinian religious community based on a nearby hill) shrine before the spread of Islam and Christianity in the area. This is a likely guess given that religious sites are often built atop other religious sites. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Church of the Nativity, and many other major Christian holy sites are thought to have been built atop former Roman temples, for example, in keeping with common practices in many parts of the world that involve creation of religious sites to one’s own god atop the sites of the gods of vanquished religions.

One of the few things that almost everyone agrees on (even the Jewish Virtual Library) is that Joseph’s Tomb probably has nothing to do with the biblical Joseph. The site of the current tomb is mentioned nowhere in the Bible (which mentions only “Nablus” and nothing more) and the existence of a tomb in the area is not even accounted for until centuries after Christ. Throughout the centuries some visitors have suggested the biblical Joseph’s grave is in the area based on pure speculation, but no fixed claim regarding the area has ever existed. The modern claim that Joseph’s Tomb is somehow related to the Biblical Joseph appears to have emerged as a result of claims by William Cooke Taylor in the 1830s. Cooke was an Irish journalist who happened to be traveling in the area motivated by interest in Biblical history but with no expertise in the field. Although in his writings he claims the site was believed be the tomb of the patriarch and that all the religions agreed as much, no other geographers who ventured into the area in the decades that followed reported anything of the sort. And Palestinians, the people who were actually living in and around the shrine and worshipping there, generally argued that the shrine had no relation. British geographers subsequently took up Taylor’s claim, however, and over the years it was forgotten that it had been more or less made up based on conjecture.

When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, religious Zionists began flocking to the grave. In 1975, the Israeli military banned Palestinians — i.e. the people living around the site — from visiting, a ban that has remained in place until this day. When I visited over summer, the tomb was shut closed, but a sympathetic guard allowed a friend and I to look around, under his close watch.

Unsurprisingly, the ban has ignited intense anger over the years, particularly given that frequent visits by Jewish settlers to the shrine are accompanied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, who enter the area and run atop the rooftops of local Palestinians to “secure” the tomb. As a result, Joseph’s Tomb has increasingly become associated with the Israeli military and settlement movement in the eyes of Palestinians. Its presence has become an excuse for frequent military incursions that provoke clashes and lead to arrests and many injuries in the neighborhood.

A photo of Joseph's Tomb taken from Mitzpe Yosef, an Israeli settlement located on Mount Gerizim near Nablus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A photo of Joseph’s Tomb taken from Mitzpe Yosef, an Israeli settlement located on Mount Gerizim near Nablus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Some fear that Israelis will attempt to take over the shrine to build an Israeli settlement around it. This fear is not unfounded, given the fact that Israeli settlers have done exactly that all across the West Bank in places they believe are connected in some way to Jewish Biblical history. The nearby Israeli settlements of Bracha and Itamar — visible from the tomb — were built in this way on land appropriated by the state from local Palestinian farmers. They are two of the most violent Israeli settlements, with nearby Palestinian communities facing frequent and recurring attacks, including the destruction of olive groves. Until 2000, a Jewish yeshiva even existed at Joseph’s Tomb, a fact remembered well by Palestinian locals who once had to contend with constant Israeli military presence around their homes.

The Israeli military only relinquished control over the site to the Palestinian Authority in 2000, after years of resistance by local Palestinians. As soon as the soldiers left, locals overran the tomb and set it ablaze. After decades of being used as a base for Israeli settlers and the military, it is no wonder that Palestinians saw the Joseph’s Tomb as a symbol of Israeli control and not merely as a religious shrine. The history of the Israeli military’s use of Joseph’s Tomb to base itself in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in an area ostensibly under Palestinian Authority has inextricably tied the site to the Israeli occupation as a whole.

As a result of the appropriation of the tomb by the Zionist right and its conversion into an exclusive Jewish holy site, the long history of religious coexistence and the multiple histories that once flourished at the tomb have been erased from the public imagination. After decades of having buildings identified as Jewish religious sites used as inroads to create permanent Israeli military bases, it is no wonder that some Palestinians have attacked some of these sites. Israel’s occupation has indelibly tied places like Joseph’s Tomb to their rule over Palestinians, in the process helping fuel a shift in the conflict from a political struggle for Palestinian self-determination in the face of a settler-colonial state to an all-out religious war. In the wake of the deaths of dozens of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces over the course of October and the shooting injuries of thousands more, it is not surprising the tomb became a target of Palestinian anger. Israeli authorities have no one but themselves to blame for the destruction in Nablus last month.

The History of Shrines in Palestine

A Sufi shrine in Idhna, north of Hebron. (Photo: Alex Shams)

A Sufi shrine in Idhna, north of Hebron. (Photo: Alex Shams)

For Palestinians, the story of Joseph’s Tomb is only one chapter in the longer tale of the destruction of Palestine and the mapping of Israel atop it. Prior to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, shrines across Palestine were open to all, and it wasn’t uncommon to find more than one of the five main religious groups of the land — Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, and Samaritans — venerating the same site. In some cases, particularly around the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount, this shared veneration had to do with the fact that religious traditions overlapped geographically.

But the vast majority of the hundreds of shrines across Palestine are small domed buildings dedicated to local saints and figures, especially Sufi holy men and ascetics, and for the most part were not connected to events that occurred in holy texts. In a phenomenon common around the world, Palestinians built large tombs for prominent spiritual figures and over time these became favorite sites of worship for all who lived in the nearby areas, of whatever religion.

Some of the most prominent of these shrines are located in the mountains of the central West Bank near Deir Ghassaneh — home to the so-called Sufi Trail — but in almost every village in Palestine such shrines can be found. In addition to local worship, these shrines attracted pilgrims from far and wide, and many had festival days associated with them (and some still do). One of the largest of these festivals was Nabi Reuben, located just over a dozen kilometers south of Jaffa, which attracted thousands from across the region every year until 1948.

For Palestinian villagers, these shrines were a focal point of communal life, a fact Salim Tamari describes richly in his book Between the Mountain and the Sea. In general, these shrines provided a pleasant space to relax for villagers in an era before the concept of leisure was widespread, and the festivals associated with them allowed members of a largely agrarian society accustomed to strenuous farm work an extended chance to let loose. Nabi Reuben’s festival, which attracted 30,000 people in 1929, was famous for its pleasure tents by the sea, where hashish, drinks, and dancing were on offer in addition to fortune-telling, swimming, and Sufi meditation. Women in particular were attracted to the shrines, and many of them — including Nabi Reuben, Rachel’s Tomb, or the Milk Grotto — were visited for their legendary power to increase fertility.

After 1948, when Zionist militias forcibly expelled 750,000 Palestinians from what became Israel, most of these shrines were destroyed and the festivals came to an end. Given the fact that the vast majority of Palestinians were displaced from their native land, spiritual practices rooted in specific sites and places could not continue post-Nakba, except in memory. Over time, even the majority of those sites where Palestinians still did live, especially in the West Bank, fell out of use. In line with global trends toward the literalization of religious scripture, many Palestinians stopped frequenting shrines devoted to specific local individuals that were not mentioned in religious texts. Some shrines — like al-Khader near Bethlehem or Nabi Musa in Jericho remained sites of pilgrimage — but the vast majority fell into under-use overtime.

The Politicization of Palestinian Religious Sites

The Palestinian neighborhood immediately beside the Joseph's Tomb compound. This street leads away from Joseph's Tomb toward Mount Gerizim, the most sacred site for the Samaritan community of Palestine. (Photo: Alex Shams)

The Palestinian neighborhood immediately beside the Joseph’s Tomb compound. This street leads away from Joseph’s Tomb toward Mount Gerizim, the most sacred site for the Samaritan community of Palestine. (Photo: Alex Shams)

As the shrines fell out of use by Palestinians, however, religious Zionists in Israel began taking a renewed interest in them. For them, the goal of Israel was to redeem the land for the Jewish people, and a major part of the Zionist project necessarily involved finding the exact places where the Hebrews of the Bible lived. The problem was, however, that the Bible is not a map nor a history textbook, and as a result it was quite difficult to pinpoint the exact locations of much of what was mentioned therein.

As Nadia Abu al-Haj and Basem Ra’ad have highlighted, Religious Zionists often relied upon texts drawn up under the British in the 19th century, when geographers carried out cartographic expeditions to “map” the Bible atop modern Palestine. These maps were less than precise, however, and involved a lot of guessing using the names of Palestinian villages and attempts to figure out if the Arabic words might be derived from Aramaic or Hebrew. The result was a hodgepodge of falsehoods that was overtime accepted as truth.

Particularly after 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and large areas mentioned in the Old Testament fell under Israeli occupation (the coast has comparatively little Hebrew history), Religious Zionists recuperated the British “Holy Land” maps to go on their own treasure hunts for Jewish remains. In many places, tombs that were historically shared by locals of different faiths were appropriated by the religious Zionist movement, which stressed their Jewish character for political purposes in order to convince the government to assert control. Today, this amalgam of guesses made by British travelers is repeated as truth in the Israeli media as well as the international media, which generally takes the Israeli narrative as fact. Even something as basic and essential as Wikipedia pages for these sites are based on the random guesses of British travelers in the 19th century.

Palestinian narratives, meanwhile, are added as footnotes, if they are even presented at all. Joseph’s Tomb, which should be an everlasting reminder of the richly-varied history of Palestinian and human religious, social, and cultural practice and the diversity of beliefs that can coexist in one humble little building, is today instead a flashpoint in a conflict that Israeli authorities are increasingly trying to frame as a religious struggle. This blatant distortion of history and manipulation of facts in order to justify colonialism will have dangerous implications for the future, as the present situation at Joseph’s Tomb clearly shows.

Sources:

Benvenisti, Meron. City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem. Berkeley: U of California, 1996.

El-Haj, Nadia Abu. Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-fashioning in Israeli Society. University of Chicago Press, 2001.

El-Haj, Nadia Abu. The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology. University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Klein, Menachem. Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Raʻad, Basem L. Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean. London: Pluto Press, 2010.

Rotbard, Sharon. White City Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Land of Israel. London: Verso Press, 2012.

Tamari, Salim. Mountain against the Sea: Essays on Palestinian Society and Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009.

About Alex Shams

Alex Shams is an Iranian-American journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine and a PhD student of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Follow him on twitter @SeyyedReza.

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101 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    November 12, 2015, 11:05 am

    Thanks for this. I knew as soon as I heard about the arson that there was more to the story, because there always is.

  2. amigo
    November 12, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Thanks from me also.I now know how to respond to those making false accusations against the Palestinian People.

  3. YoniFalic
    November 12, 2015, 2:21 pm

    Here is an interesting article on the fabrication of national or ethnic “Jewish” heritage sites by the racist genocidal invaders from E. Europe.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1PzrttiPfjMa1NBYzNhdVB3bWM/view?usp=sharing

    One should keep in mind that “Jewish” like “Christian” should never be used in any non-religious sense.

    There is no such thing as an ethnic Christian, and likewise there is no such thing as an ethnic Jew.

    When the Eastern European racist genocidal invaders refer to Jewish national or heritage sites in the country they stole, they are using “Jewish” as a German Nazi might have referred to Aryan national or heritage sites.

    (I checked. The German Nazis did talk about such sites in the Crimea — usually in the case of Gothic archaeological sites that could not legitimately called German. It was part of the logic by which German Nazi leaders argued that the Crimea rightfully belonged to Germany.)

    It is interesting that German Nazis had problems with how Aryan was used just as E. European Zionist racists have problems when people try to apply the term antisemitism to hatred of Arabs even though Moritz Steinschneider did use the word with such sense.

    German Nazis often objected to using Aryan for Poles or for Russians.

    For the record, it is ignorant, stupid, or dishonest to claim that members of historic Eastern European religious Jewish communities were in any way Semitic and descended from ancient Greco-Roman Judeans.

    That is a moronic German Nazi idea that Zionists share with German Nazis.

    I like other E. European invaders in stolen Palestine descend from Slavic, Germanic, Turkic, and probably Byzantine populations that converted to Judaism.

    • Mikhael
      November 13, 2015, 6:29 am

      YoniFalic
      November 12, 2015, 2:21 pm
      There is no such thing as an ethnic Christian, and likewise there is no such thing as an ethnic Jew.

      “Christian” refers to someone who believes in a particular religion or accepts the divinity of a certain (probably mythical) Jew. A “Jew” is someone who is of Jewish heritage, nationality and descent, whether or not such a person follows what has come to be called “Judaism” in any of its varieties. A non-believing, agnostic, atheistic or secular Jew is a Jew if he/she is of Jewish heritage and identifies as such. Of course, anyone can exclude him/herself if he/she chooses. The door is wide open to leave.

      I like other E. European invaders in stolen Palestine Ashkenazim in Eres Yisra’el descend from Slavic, Germanic, Turkic, and probably Byzantine populations that converted to Judaism

      And if you are really of Ashkenazi-Jewish descent, you may have some ancestry from some of those ethnic groups (Ashkenazim have more Southern European ancestry than Slavic or Germanic descent), but you would also have substantial ancestry in common with your close ethnic kin and co-nationals, Sefaradm and Mizrahim, all of whom can legitimately claim descent from indigenous inhabitants of Eres Yisra’el.

      E. European Zionist racists have problems when people try to apply the termE. European Zionist racists have problems when people try to apply the term antisemitism to hatred of Arabs even

      The term was coined and popularized by a German, non-Jewish hater of Jews (i.e., an “antisemite”); not by Jews. When Wilhelm Marr inveighed against the pernicious Semitic influence in Europe , he was not referring to the then-nearly nonexistent Arab community in Germany; he was not spooked by the Semitic language-speaking Maltese. Regardless of the fact that Arabs share a Semitic language and roots with Jews, the term was not used to refer to them.

      • Mooser
        November 13, 2015, 1:03 pm

        “Regardless of the fact that Arabs share a Semitic language and roots with Jews, the term was not used to refer to them.”

        That’s my man “Shem”! The ground was barely dry under his feet, before he started getting busy, begettin’, not just settin’! Languages, peoples, he did it all. And so quickly!

        Ham, didn’t do so well, sandwiched as he was between Shem and the old man, Noah. Later got indicted, or so I heard, with a guy from Switzerland.

      • zaid
        November 13, 2015, 1:43 pm

        ” but you would also have substantial ancestry in common with your close ethnic kin and co-nationals, Sefaradm and Mizrahim, all of whom can legitimately claim descent from indigenous inhabitants of Eres Yisra’el.”

        Sephardims, Ashkenazis, and Mizrahim dont have any common ancestry among themselves or with the Indigenous inhabitants of Palestine except in the minds of the ideologically driven myth believers.

        Ashkenazis have execlusive Anatolian (Khazar) and South Europeans ancestry.
        Mizrahim have Iberian and Berber DNA.
        Mizrahim are authentic Yemenites,Persians …etc
        All are distinct groups and none have have Palestinian/Judean roots.

        Zionist Geneticist tried to prove that but in the end they were exposed as fraud or ideologues.

        “Regardless of the fact that Arabs share a Semitic language and roots with Jews, the term was not used to refer to them”

        Arabs and modern Jews (except Mizrahim) shares no ancestry, furthermore, Arabs themselves dont have shared ancestry (Egyptians, Morocans,Palestinins,Yemenites…etc are different groups).

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 13, 2015, 2:16 pm

        If Jews are a ‘nationality’, how come European Jews looks like Europeans, Iranian Jews look like Iranians, and Ethiopian Jews look like Ethiopians?

        And I’ve asked this question before, but never received an answer: Can you tell me one thing – not involving religion – that a Jew in New York has in common with a Jew in Isfahan?

      • pjdude
        November 13, 2015, 5:30 pm

        there is no such thing as a jewish nationality. it was a fraudlent creation in the late 1800’s as a means to aquire land. to be jewish is to be a part of the religion. even israel which pushes the lie of a jewish nation relies on religion to determine who is a jew.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 13, 2015, 5:37 pm

        I think the fact that converts to Judaism are considered Jews – and therefore eligible to live in Israel – is a dead giveaway. You can’t ‘convert’ to an ethnic group – if you’re black, you can’t convert to whiteness, or vice versa. Similarly, a Jew who converts to another religion is no longer considered Jewish for the purposes of immigration to Israel – even though they share the same ”Jewish heritage” (whatever that is) as religious Jews.

      • MHughes976
        November 13, 2015, 5:51 pm

        What definition of nationality are we using?

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 13, 2015, 5:57 pm

        I’m guessing Mikhael means ‘nationality’ in the sense of ‘ethnicity’. Hard to see how an Ethiopian Jew is of the same ‘nationality’ as a Polish Jew, and it’s fairly obvious – given that there is considerable racism among different groups of Jews in Israel – that not even Israelis believe it themselves.

      • Mikhael
        November 16, 2015, 12:32 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius November 13, 2015, 2:16 pm

        If Jews are a ‘nationality’, how come European Jews looks like Europeans, Iranian Jews look like Iranians, and Ethiopian Jews look like Ethiopians?

        If Palestinian Arabs are a “nationality” than how come some Palestinian Arabs look like sub-Saharan blacks (http://souciant.com/2011/10/black-and-palestinian/) and some have fair, white skin and are blonde-haired or blue-eyed? https://jdenari.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/img_2418.jpg

        Since when does “nationality” mean that everyone in a national group shares similar physical features?

        And I’ve asked this question before, but never received an answer: Can you tell me one thing – not involving religion – that a Jew in New York has in common with a Jew in Isfahan?

        Well, we’ll assume that you’re not talking about a Jew from Isfahan who has immigrated to NY (Jews born in Iran are quite an important segment of the greater New York Jewish community — needless to say they are nearly all to a man (and woman) pro-Zionist and pro-Israel, and are likely to have more close relatives that they are concerned about who are living in Israel than in Iran, because Iran’s resident Jewish community is ever-dwindling). But besides religion, a Jew in NY whose ancestors lived in Europe for the past millennium or so and a Jew in Isfahan whose ancestors are quite literally biologically descended from the same ancestral population that once lived in Eres Yisrael. This is actually a fact. They also share Hebrew as their historical national language; this is actually the national language of all Jews and the cultural patrimony of all Jews, even those who have become alienated from it. These are objective facts. Subjectively, of course, national identity can of course be fluid and a matter of preference and choice. Individuals and groups of people who have ancestry and heritage with one group can choose to identify with another nation — for example, the Kalmyks, an ethnic group related to the Mongols that live in Russia usually identify with the Russian people and not with their Mongolian ethnic kin, so that in and of itself is sufficient for them to be “Russian” — they identify as such as and are accepted as such. But the fact is that the majority of Jews of Iranian descent will instinctively say that they identify on a national level with Jews worldwide (excluding those unfortunate enough to still be in Iran, where such a statement would not be wise) . Increasingly, however, hyper-assimilated Ashkenazi Jews in places like NY may say otherwise, but they are a dying breed.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 16, 2015, 1:10 am

        just thought i’d mention that the idea a person who doesn’t speak the same language as an ancestor they had 3000 years ago has therefore been “alienated” from that language is not an “objective fact”. and the idea of people as a “nation” is only a few hundred years old, therefore the idea that opinion is also an “objective fact” sounds rather suspect too. plus, when describing hypothetical scenarios, the term “quite literally biologically descended” without the preface “could be” is a tad overdoing it. because the chances a Jew (or 2 or 3 or more!) in Isfahan exists who is not “quite literally biologically descended” from the ancient hebrews is rather high. on the other hand, i’m sure many of them are “quite literally biologically descended” from there. none of this would matter that much except when you use terms like “objective fact” you should try to be more concise.

      • Mikhael
        November 16, 2015, 12:53 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius November 13, 2015, 5:57 pm
        hard to see how an Ethiopian Jew is of the same ‘nationality’ as a Polish Jew

        I guess it’s hard to understand if you’re fundamentally bigoted and ignorant, as you seem to be.

        But what “Polish Jews” and “Ethiopian Jews” are you talking about? Both countries have extremely small Jewish communities.

        and it’s fairly obvious – given that there is considerable racism among different groups of Jews in Israel – that not even Israelis believe it themselves.

        It’s fairly obvious that Israelis marry across these communal lines (“ethnic” is the wrong term, because it would imply we’re not of the same nationality) at a rate of about 40% and climbing. In a generation or two, nearly every Jew in Israel will have partial Mizrahi, Ashkenazi and Sefaradi descent. Marriages between Israeli Jews whose families came from Ethiopia and other Jewish groups in Israel happen less frequently because the Ethiopian Jews arrived later and there are still unresolved halakhic issues regarding their Jewish status that some in the Orthodox sector have qualms about. Certainly some Israeli Jews exhibit racist attitudes towards Israeli Jews from Ethiopian Jewish families (just as racism exists towards black Arabs from white Arabs in Palestinian Arab society, and in Arab society in general) but aside from some publicized incidents, on the whole they’re accepted. Currently, marriages between Israeli Jews from the Ethiopian Jewish community and other Jewish communities are at about 12% — so while the majority of Ethiopian Jew in Israel still marry among themselves, there is nevertheless a higher rate of biracial black/white marriage than exists in the US, where the rate is 7.9%.

        https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%90%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%91%D7%99%D7%9F-%D7%A2%D7%93%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C

        https://www.google.com/search?q=interracial+marriage+statistics+usa&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=interracial+marriage+percentage+usa

      • Mikhael
        November 16, 2015, 1:21 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius November 13, 2015, 5:37 pm

        I think the fact that converts to Judaism are considered Jews – and therefore eligible to live in Israel – is a dead giveaway.

        It’s a dead giveaway that Israel, in this respect at least, honors the ancient injunction of “ve ahavta et ha ger” — “thou shalt love the stranger” (the word for “convert” in Hebrew literally means a “stranger”). Conversion to Judaism historically has been a process that is akin to a tribal initiation rite where someone is adopted into the group. A better analogy is that it’s more similar to naturalization. Historically, would-be converts were instructed to cast off their former identity and even cut ties with their birth families. In most cases, however, conversion happens within the context of marriage with someone born Jewish. Converting solely to gain Israeli citizenship is pretty rare, but it would be pretty harsh to deny it to someone who sincerely casts their lot with the Jewish people.

        You can’t ‘convert’ to an ethnic group – if you’re black, you can’t convert to whiteness, or vice versa.

        Well, “white” and “black” aren’t nationalities. You are confusing nationality with “race” (whatever the latter is). People should, however, in theory be able to adopt another national identity. So if someone wholeheartedly wants to adopt a new language, a new culture, a new national identity and can be successfully assimilated into it (for example, as some ethnic Koreans try to do in Japan, with varying degrees of success, as a prelude to naturalization), that is akin to converting, so yes, you can convert to an ethnic group. There are people from Korean families in Japan who become Japanese. They adopt Japanese names, they don’t teach the Korean language to their kids. (This is a controversial issue, due to the history of discrimination against Koreans in Japan.) But sure, it happens and does happen.

        Similarly, a Jew who converts to another religion is no longer considered Jewish for the purposes of immigration to Israel – even though they share the same ”Jewish heritage” (whatever that is) as religious Jews

        Actually, according to strict religious Jewish law, someone born to a Jewish mother who converts to another religion, willfully, is and (always will remain) a Jew. Israeli law, however, excludes such people from the right to gain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because the religious political parties (who still recognize such people as Jews) are afraid that they will missionize. Orthodox Jews naturally are averse to such tendencies (though they do plenty of their own brainwashing among secular youth) and will seek to avoid giving missionaries a foothold among the Jewish population at any cost due to painful historical memories.

      • RoHa
        November 16, 2015, 1:45 am

        ‘They also share Hebrew as their historical national language; this is actually the national language of all Jews and the cultural patrimony of all Jews, even those who have become alienated from it.’

        ‘just thought i’d mention that the idea a person who doesn’t speak the same language as an ancestor they had 3000 years ago has therefore been “alienated” from that language is not an “objective fact”’

        I’ll push Annie’s point a bit further. What sense does it make to say that Hebrew is “the national language of all Jews” if Jews don’t actually speak it?

        And how is one “alienated” from a language that one has never learned?

      • Annie Robbins
        November 16, 2015, 2:49 am

        maybe they’ve all been “alienated” from Aramaic too, since that was the language “dominant among Jews both in the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Middle East around 200 AD[3] and would remain so until the Islamic conquests in the seventh century.[4][5]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_Jesus

        and, if it was the dominant language among jews, i suppose one could consider it their “national” language back then — for only about 5 centuries tho.

      • yonah fredman
        November 16, 2015, 3:57 am

        On the topic of Hebrew: first the alphabet. Is there a more ancient alphabet in use today that is an ancestor of our Roman alphabet?

        Jews in Arab lands for many years were not allowed to write in Arabic and were forced to write their books in Arabic using the Hebrew alphabet. transliterated, because Arabic was the language of the Koran and that alphabet should not be defiled by nonbelievers.

        The languages of the Exile/Diaspora: Yiddish and Ladino were written with Hebrew lettering despite their nonHebrew roots.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 5:09 am

        @Mikhael

        “If Palestinian Arabs are a “nationality” than how come some Palestinian Arabs look like sub-Saharan blacks (link to souciant.com) and some have fair, white skin and are blonde-haired or blue-eyed?”

        Probably because people from many parts of the world have lived in Palestine over the millenia, adding their genes to the mix?

        In any case, Palestinians have history, culture, language and a common homeland in common. None of this can be said for the Jewish ‘nation’.

        “Since when does “nationality” mean that everyone in a national group shares similar physical features?”

        It doesn’t. But Palestinians, for the most part, do share fairly similar physical features. Jews, by contrast, tend to look like the people of the country they come from. Hence my point – Iranian Jews look like Iranians, Ethiopian Jews look like Ethiopians, European Jews look like Europeans. Not at all surprising of course, since most of them are indeed natives of these regions whose ancestors converted to Judaism at some point in the distant past.

        ” needless to say they are nearly all to a man (and woman) pro-Zionist and pro -Israel, and are likely to have more close relatives that they are concerned about who are living in Israel than in Iran”

        Being pro-Zionist is a choice, not something inherent in a ‘nationality’. Many non-Jews are Zionist, and some Jews are not, so that’s a very weak point. Also, having relatives who chose to emigrate to a foreign land means nothing. In pretty much every nation in the world, you’ll find people whose relatives emigrated to the US. Does this make the families of these people a ‘nation’?

        “But besides religion, a Jew in NY whose ancestors lived in Europe for the past millennium or so and a Jew in Isfahan whose ancestors are quite literally biologically descended from the same ancestral population that once lived in Eres Yisrael. This is actually a fact.”

        To quote Alice in Wonderland (appropriately enough): that isn’t a fact. You made it up.

        What IS a fact, however, is in that long, rambling post of yours, you haven’t come up with one single thing – other than religion – which a Jew in New York has in common with a Jew from Isfahan. Not one. So my point stands.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 5:24 am

        @Annie

        “and, if it was the dominant language among jews, i suppose one could consider it their “national” language back then — for only about 5 centuries tho.”

        But even then, wasn’t Hebrew only spoken by the Jews of Palestine? I don’t think it was ever the ‘national language’ of the ‘diaspora’. These Jews spoke the languages of the region they were in: ie, Jews in Rome spoke Latin, Jews in Alexanandria spoke Greek, etc. This is another point agains the theory that Jews are a ‘nation’ which is ‘descended from the Jews of Palestine’. If Jews in the ‘diaspora’ really were the descendants of Palestinian Jews, why did they not speak Hebrew or Aramaic? After all, the extensive Greek and Roman diasporas in the ancient world brought their native languages with them. Why not the Jews? Could it be that they were not a diaspora at all, but simply converts to Judaism?

      • Annie Robbins
        November 16, 2015, 6:06 am

        oh, i think there was/is definitely a diaspora from ancient times although i think they primarily consisted of the males which is born out by the dna. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/dec/06/is-there-a-jewish-gene/

        but the term diaspora (imho) is used politically by many in the jewish community. the term (greek) means https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora

        a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland.[2][3] Diaspora has come to refer particularly to historical mass dispersions of an involuntary nature

        so i think it takes on a different connotation wrt palestinians vs european jews. the holocaust created a mass dispersion of jews from europe (a diaspora from europe). but dna suggests the origin of the jewish population of european jewry came from (primarily) males. this doesn’t mean it’s not a diaspora population because they were kicked around a lot. but it also suggests eupopean jews are not primarily a diaspora from the holy land if the females of the diaspora originated from europe. but i think one thing is certain, american jews are primarily from a diaspora. but the same could be said about many many americans. as a country of immigrants a lot of us who came here came as “a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale” and many came from “dispersions of an involuntary nature”.

        anyway, i don’t think it can be said the ” ‘national language’ of the ‘diaspora’ was primarily hebrew. unless one coopted the entire diaspora as originating from the holy land. so many (mothers) came from europe. at least according to the dna. besides, the hebrew spoken today .. so much of it was invented after (or coinciding with) the founding of israel. this is part of the grand nationalizing of the zionist branding project. do i care? not really. all those pretty european blonds — if they relate to a hebrew “national language” — let them. it’s not my business. do i take it seriously? nope.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 5:29 am

        @Yonah

        “The languages of the Exile/Diaspora: Yiddish and Ladino were written with Hebrew lettering despite their nonHebrew roots.”

        So what? Since these languages had no relation to any Middle Eastern languages, all this does is prove my point that the only thing ‘diaspora’ Jews have in common is religion. Urdu and Persian are completely unrelated to Arabic, but are written in the Arabic script, for religious reasons. Same was true of Turkish, until Ataturk’s language reforms. Scrpts are a very superficial aspect of language, which is why they can be – and are – changed quite easily.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 5:56 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: …. the only thing ‘diaspora’ Jews have in common is religion.
        —————

        No. Most Jews share the belief that Jews are a people, a people with a unique history, a shared destiny, a special fate, in addition to the incompletely shared “extended family” characteristics already discussed (language, religion, traditions etc.) Cf. Wittgenstein’s “Family resemblance” idea which argues that “things which could be thought to be connected by one essential common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all.” (Wikipedia )

        These beliefs may derive from Judaism, but one doesn’t have to believe in Jewish religion to hold them. Ultimately, peoplehood and/or nationhood are subjective construals based on beliefs which may or may not be empirically verifiable ; they are social constructions; they are “imagined communities” (Anderson).

      • echinococcus
        November 16, 2015, 6:23 am

        Mister Fredman,

        Is it such a good idea to exhibit your crass ignorance, only reinforcing the point you re trying to oppose?

        So you confirm that the only common point among the Jewish communities who used Hebrew (Aramaic) letters was strictly religious and liturgical, i.e. that it does not show any other commonality that would confirm your pretended cultural community? Thank you.

        Also, note that the Aramaic “alphabet” (wrongly called Hebrew letters) is definitely not “an ancestor of our Roman alphabet”. That’s the Phoenician one.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 6:27 am

        @Annie

        “oh, i think there was/is definitely a diaspora from ancient times although i think they primarily consisted of the males which is born out by the dna”

        The thing about DNA evidence is that it’s contradictory, extremely hard for the layperson to understand and can prove basically whatever the authors of a study want it to prove. Also, aren’t most of these studies done on Ashkenazi Jews, who genetically may have little or nothing in common with non-European Jews?

        But Shlomo Sand questions the notion that there was ever a Jewish diaspora in ancient times. The Jews of Palestine – unlike other diaspora-producing groups such as the Greeks and the Phoenicians – were not a trading or sea-faring people. It would seem odd that such a group would produce a far-flung diaspora. Surely it’s more likely that the vast majority of ‘diaspora’ Jews in ancient times were simply converts to Judaism, no different from the various people who would later convert to Christianity?

        ” i think one thing is certain, american jews are primarily from a diaspora.”

        Sure. But I think the Zionist idea is that all Jews outside Israel are, and always were, living in a ‘diaspora’. So for them, the pre-holocaust Jews living in Poland or Ukraine were also in the ‘diaspora’ because they were living outside their ‘national homeland’ of Israel.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 16, 2015, 3:44 pm

        for them, the pre-holocaust Jews living in Poland or Ukraine were also in the ‘diaspora’ because they were living outside their ‘national homeland’ of Israel.

        i know maximus but i don’t really buy into that. as i wrote earlier:
        eupopean jews are not primarily a diaspora from the holy land

        (this is solely my opinion derived from common sense and my own opinion regarding the definitions available of the term diaspora)

        from the several definitions of diaspora i cited from wiki, the first one:

        a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale.

        is applicable to euro american jews originating from smaller geographic locales in europe.

        But Shlomo Sand questions the notion that there was ever a Jewish diaspora in ancient times.

        well, if most of the people stayed there and converted to either christianity or islam and a portion of the males (traders or whatever) left and jumpstarted the religion outside the region it (those males) still could be considered “a scattered population”/ a diaspora, based given the first definition i cited. it still would not make a majority converted european population qualify as the 3rd definition “historical mass dispersions of an involuntary nature” from the holy land, but it would qualify for american jews in terms of their status of a diaspora originating from their original homeland (2nd definition) “movement of the population from its original homeland”, that original homeland being … europe.

        in so far as religions having homelands then judaism came from the holy land. but that doesn’t mean all the diaspora did. when i wrote “american jews are primarily from a diaspora. but the same could be said about many many americans.” i think my point is, if one is willing to go back thousands and thousands of years to track one ancestors, practically everyone on the planet could conceivably be construed as being part of a diaspora from somewhere at some time and place. i mean, why did the native americans originally leave asia? should we consider them part of a diaspora community? using diaspora as part of ones a self identity for political gain has validity when one is living in a refugee camp with no home or a person is being denied rights or the ability to travel to a location to visit ones relatives or their family home or for a number of reasons. but using diaspora from a specific (and geographically dubious) location that requires going back thousands of years and skipping over other locations ones immediate relatives originated (like europe) as part of ones a self identity for political gain is cynical manipulation. calling it a “birthright” when no one in ones family was born there in thousands of years (if ever) is even more cynical.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 6:32 am

        @Siberiak

        “Most Jews share the belief that Jews are a people, a people with a unique history, a shared destiny, a special fate, in addition to the incompletely shared “extended family”

        So what? ”Beliefs” are subjective and changeable. They do not a nationality make. Many, maybe most, Muslims also consider themselves to be ” a people with a unique history, a shared destiny, a special fate, in addition to the incompletely shared “extended family” – but nobody would ever claim that the world’s 1 billion Muslims constitute a ‘nationality’.

        Besides, not all Jews feel this way. I would guess that before the rise of ethno-nationalism and with it Zionism in the 19th century, few felt this way. If a Jew in a Polish schtel felt anything at all in common with a Jew in a Yemeni village – which is itself doubtful – then that would have been because of religion, not a sense of ‘nationality’.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 7:29 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: So what? ”Beliefs” are subjective and changeable.
        ——————

        Exactly. Nationality and peoplehood are subjective and changeable, indeed.

        Palestinian national identity, for example, didn’t become fully formed until the early 20th century, when Palestinians came to subjectively think of themselves as members of a Palestinian people with national aspirations–according to Rashid Khalidi, “Palestinian Identity: the Construction of Modern National Consciousness.” Note the word “construction”.

        I would guess that before the rise of ethno-nationalism and with it Zionism in the 19th century, few felt this way

        That’s debatable. The notion of a Jewish People is quite old. But that’s not essential to the argument. Read Shlomo Sand’s “Invention of the Jewish People” for an account of the emergence of the modern version of Jewish nationality. The argument isn’t that Jewish peoplehood and/or nationality were not “invented” or “imagined” (Benedict Anderson’s term) via a concrete historical process, but rather that all “peoples” and all “nations” have been invented/imagined.

        They do not a nationality make

        According to whom? Most historians and sociologists consider nationality not to be a bundle of objective characteristics, but rather a social construction based primarily on subjective identifications and aspirations.

        Perhaps you should give your definition of “nationality”.

        Muslims also consider themselves to be ” a people…”

        I don’t think so. Evidence please. And if they did, why couldn’t they be a people?

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 7:59 am

        Rashid Khalidi on the evolution of Palestinian national identity:
        ——————-

        “One of the central arguments of this chapter is that several overlapping senses of identity have been operating in the way the Palestinians have come to define themselves as a people , senses that have not necessarily been contradictory for the Palestinians themselves, but can be misunderstood or misinterpreted by others.

        As Palestinian identity has evolved over time, its elements have varied, with some eventually disappearing and others newly emerging. What follows is a discussion of this process, and of the ways in which both collective traumas and major obstacles have played a role in shaping and expressing a separate Palestinian identity, even while problems internal to Palestinian society have helped prevent—thus far at least—the realization of the Palestinian “national project.”

        It is characteristic of both time and place that the intellectuals, writers, and politicians who were instrumental in the evolution of the first forms of Palestinian identity at the end of the last century and early in this century, figures who will be discussed further in the chapters that follow (among them Sa‘id al-Husayni, Ruhi al-Khalidi, Najib Nassar, ‘Isa al-‘Isa, Muhammad Hassan al-Budayri, ‘Arif al-‘Arif, Khalil al-Sakakini, and Musa al-‘Alami), identified with the Ottoman Empire, their religion, Arabism, their homeland Palestine, their city or region, and their family, without feeling any contradiction, or sense of conflicting loyalties.31

        By the late 1920s and the 1930s, the way in which such individuals or others like them related to these foci of identity had changed greatly The Ottoman Empire had disappeared, the importance of religion in public life had declined somewhat, Arab nationalism and its association with Syria had suffered defeats at the hands of the French (whose troops drove an Arab nationalist government out of Damascus in 1920), and Britain had received a mandate for Palestine within fixed frontiers, wherein national rights had been promised for the Jewish minority, but not mentioned for the Arab majority.

        All these changes intensified and transformed the preexisting identification with Palestine of such people, their contemporaries, and the generation that followed them into politics, education, and journalism, although they still continued to identify with religion, Arabism, and their localities and families.

        This process of identification with new entities—nation-states, or nation-states-in-embryo in most cases—was not particularly unusual for its time and place. The main difference was that that unlike Egyptians, Iraqis, Syrians or Lebanese, all of whom developed a loyalty to some form of nation-state nationalism over approximately the same period (albeit in different ways in every case, and with markedly different understandings of what the nation-state was, and how it related to the nation),32 the Palestinians had not only to fashion and impose their identity and independent political existence in opposition to a European colonial power, but also to match themselves against the growing and powerful Zionist movement, which was motivated by a strong, highly developed, and focused sense of national identification, and which challenged the national rights of the Palestinians in their own homeland, and indeed the very existence of the Palestinians as an entity.” [emphasis added]

        ” Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness”

        ———————–

        I think you can see from that account of evolving Palestinian identity that “nationality” is indeed largely subjective and changeable.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 8:20 am

        Nationalism is a relatively new concept – dating only to about the 19th century – and all ‘nations’ are artificial to some degree.

        However, it seems bizarre to draw a parallel between the Palestinian and Jewish ‘national identities’. The Palestinians have inhabited the same territory for centuries, speak the same variety of the same language, eat the same food and practice the same customs. The Jews, as I’ve said, live all over the world and have nothing in common other than religion – sometimes barely even that.

        “I don’t think so. Evidence please”

        Note the use of the phrase ”ummat al-Islamiyah” which literally means ”The Islamic nation” and has been in use for centuries.

        “And if they did, why couldn’t they be a people?”

        If you’re going to set the bar that low, why can’t anyone be a ‘people’? Maybe fans of Justin Bieber should demand their right to ‘peoplehood if they thus consider themselves to be one’?

        And btw the word being discussed was ‘nationality’, not the impossibly vague ‘people’.

      • echinococcus
        November 16, 2015, 8:20 am

        Annie,

        As MDM also says, genetic mappings do not indicate anything more than the presence of given strands in the samples examined. Those of us familiar with the statistical methods used (which are ones borrowed from “social sciences”, not from measurable science) will tell you that they are extremely speculative and impossible to validate on known degrees of parentage, so they only allow conclusions on the degree of interpenetration or mixing among the world’s populations. Even Cavalli-Sforza, the father of the new science and an overenthusiastic person as far as drawing conclusions to parallel linguistic trees, does not claim otherwise. Now, if you want to look a little more closely at the Ashkenazi, depending on the statistical method your fancy dictates, their commonalities with the (equally extremely mixed) Turkic populations are more striking than with anything else.
        Interpreting genetic mappings should be left to the professionals, provided they are not the usual Zionists who took it up to write property deeds at x,000 years distance and bolster dreams of invasion and genocide –like the fake archeologist-generals.

      • YoniFalic
        November 16, 2015, 8:53 am

        I avoid the use of Ashkenazi as an ethnic term because it is liturgical and inappropriate for use in a secular scholarly context. By using Ashkenazi to describe the ethnicity of most of the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, progressive anti-racists and anti-Zionists facilitate mental colonization by genocidal racists.

        We whose ancestors belonged to Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities descend primarily from converted Slavic, Turkic, Germanic, and Byzantine populations. We have no ancestry from Greco-Roman Judeans.

        Only a stupid, ignorant, or dishonest person claims otherwise.

        [Note English unlike Arabic and Hebrew is fortunate in having a distinction between “Jew” and “Judean”.]

        As one of my professors at Columbia pointed out, no one ever claims that Polish Jewish Tatars descend from ancient Judeans even though the migration of Tatars from the Caucasus to Poland is documented, and the Caucasus is a stone’s throw from Pontus where there were ancient Judaic communities. (Read Acts of the Apostles.)

        Yet we are expected to believe the completely ridiculous and infinitely improbable Rhineland hypothesis.

        To tell the truth, the Greek-speaking Judaic communities of Pontus were descended from converts. Greek and Roman authors, whether gentile or Judaic, routinely distinguished between Judaic and Judean. Ancient historians like Dio Cassius explicitly stated that the largest part of the Judaic population descended from non-Judean converts.

        The largest Judaic convert populations of antiquity consisted of Greeks, Phoenicians, and Aramaic-speaking Mesopotamians. Ancient and Medieval historians as well as archaeological evidence document a large amount of conversion in Palestine (including the Herodians), S. Arabia, Armenia, Scythia, Sarmatia, Parthia, Khazaria, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Italy.

        There is no evidence of large emigration from Judea — although there is evidence of back and forth migration and trading of Judeans in Egypt (Onias), Transjordan (Tobiads), and Hejaz. The Roman Expulsion never happened. It is first religious Christian myth meant to show superiority of Christianity and than racist Zionist myth meant to justify white racist genocidal colonialism in Palestine.

        The Romans document large conversion of Judeans (and lesser conversion of Samarians) to Christianity from the 5th through 7th centuries. After the Islamic conquests practically the entire population of Palestine (including probably all remaining Judeans practicing some form of Judaism and nearly all Samarians practicing Hebraic religion convert to Islam, which differs little from popular Judaic or Hebraic religion of the early Islamic period).

        Linguists like Paul Wexler have pointed out that there is little evidence of knowledge of Hebrew among European and N. African Judaic populations (excluding Egypt before the 900s).

        In contrast to Hebrew, which is completely lost as a spoken language among Judeans and Phoenician convert descendants by the sixth century, evolved SPOKEN versions of ancient Greek dialects survived in the Greek Diaspora until the 20th century (when television killed them) because the Greek Diaspora really descended from emigrants from Greece and because Greek survived as an intellectual language of the Christian Orthodox Church.

        If Palestine had remained a center of Hebrew language and Judaic religion, perhaps a dialect of Canaanite/Phoenician/Punic/Hebrew could have survived among Phoenician converts to Judaism, but Palestine became an Islamic center among the Judeans and Palestinians that converted to Islam.

        Paul Wexler, Talya Fishman, and Maristella Botticini (with Zvi Eckstein) identify the 10th-13th centuries as constituting a period of major linguistic religious economic transformation among the Judaic/Jewish communities descended from converts in Europe, Mesopotamia, N. Africa, and Yemen.

        Hebrew language Rabbinic Judaism supplants vernacular and Greek-language Judaism throughout the Medieval world, the major Jewish trade networks develop based in united faith and religious law (halakhah of Rabbinic Judaism), and linguistic relexification creates the Yiddish language (probably descended in part from a lingua franca used for communication between Germanic and Slavic elites), which eventually becomes the primary vernacular of Eastern European Jewish communities descended primariy from Germanic, Slavic, Turkic, and Byzantine convert populations.

        We

        1) that descend from those communities,

        2) that don’t practice the silly and repugnant religion, and

        3) that hate Zionism as well as the State of Israel

        should start calling ourselves something other than ethnic or secular Jews, which racist Zionist genocide-supporters opportunistically use to legitimize the crimes they perpetrate or support in Palestine or in the Middle East.

        I think Zhidic might be a good ethnic term. Wexler seems to support use of the term Slavo-Turk, but I have noticed that when it is used, people start debating the Khazar conversion.

        We should scorn and laugh at stupid gentiles that believe the modern invader population in Palestine has any descent whatsoever from ancient Judeans.

        Maybe my Zio-Nazi grandfather that helped perpetrate genocide in Palestine was right after all about goyishe kep/gentile heads == morons.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 9:04 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: Nationalism is a relatively new concept – dating only to about the 19th century
        ————–

        That “modernist” take on nationalism, exemplified by Ernest Gellner among others, is highly contested and very eurocentric in approach. There are mountains of historical evidence on the existence of nationalism and nations centuries before the modern period.

        The Jews, as I’ve said, live all over the world and have nothing in common other than religion – sometimes barely even that.

        Religion is a huge thing to have in common. But more importantly I listed another of other things held in common. You dismissed them as “subjective and changeable”, but I do not consider that objection valid.

        Note the use of the phrase ”ummat al-Islamiyah” which literally means ”The Islamic nation” and has been in use for centuries.

        First of all, YOU used the word “people” , not “nation”. Second, the word “nation” does indeed have multiple meanings. But even so, if pan-Islamism really became predominant, and most Muslims dropped or subordinated their other national allegiances, then there would indeed be a Muslim nation in the sense being used in this discussion. But as it is, various groups of Muslims believe themselves to be members of different peoples and nations below the level of a unifying Islamic identity, and it is that level of identification that generally takes the label of “nation” or “nationality”.

        Maybe fans of Justin Bieber should demand their right to ‘peoplehood if they thus consider themselves to be one’?

        They don’t, though. Look, you have been asked several times to specifiy your definition of “nationality”. It seems to me you are equating it with what is generally considered “ethnicity”, but perhaps I am wrong.

        And btw the word being discussed was ‘nationality’, not the impossibly vague ‘people’.

        A definition of a “people” need not be any more vague than a definition of “nation” and “nationality”. The problem is not so much the vagueness of definitions, but the fact that different definitions are used by different writers and organizations. There’s no doubt about that.

        Morever, the concept of a “people” is critically important in that the right of “self-determination of peoples and the rights of “indigenous peoples ” are fundamental concepts in international law and are major foci of international organizations (the UN etc.).

        I personally believe that the concepts which could be labeled “ethnic group” (ethnos), “people” and “nation” are all important. The actual labels used for the concepts can and do vary.

        I will explain in a separate post.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 9:52 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: The Palestinians have inhabited the same territory for centuries […]The Jews, as I’ve said, live all over the world.
        —————————–

        If you wish to define “nation” and “nationality” such that the group involved must have a fixed territorial residence, then fine. You will then need to have another concept like “people” to discuss the kind of identity that binds together Jews and other peoples spread across different territories. If it is not a matter of definition, then you need to explain why fixed territoriality is a must for nationality. Perhaps Jews are unique in their degree of territorial spread, but why should that disqualify them from nationhood?

        As I said, I hope to post on the related notions of “ethnic group”, “people” and “nation”, but as food for thought, consider these statements on the meaning of “nation””

        “11. The meaning which is given nowadays to the word “nation” in many countries is far removed from the original meaning.

        12. Historically, it would seem that use of the word dates back to the Middle Ages; it comes from the Latin natio, a substantive derived from the verb nascere (to be born), and denotes origin, membership of a community, a relationship to an entity within which one was born. ”

        http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/X2H-Xref-ViewHTML.asp?FileID=11332&lang=en
        ———

        “Nation has various meanings, and the meaning has changed over time.[1] The concept of “nation” is related to “ethnic community” or ethnie. An ethnic community often has a myth of origins… and descent, a common history, elements of distinctive culture, a common territorial association, and sense of group solidarity.

        A nation is, by comparison, much more impersonal, abstract, and overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its coherence, unity, and particular interests. [2]

        The nation has been described by Benedict Anderson as an “imagined community” [3] and by Paul James as an “abstract community” .[4] It is an imagined community in the sense that the material conditions exist for imagining extended and shared connections .”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation

        [emphasis added]

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 10:28 am

        “There are mountains of historical evidence on the existence of nationalism and nations centuries before the modern period.”

        Show me the ‘mountains of evidence’ that a Jew in Yemen considered himself of the same nation as a Jew in Ukraine before the 19th century.

        “ligion is a huge thing to have in common.”

        Maybe so. But if that’s all a group has in common – as I believe it is for Jews – then they are no different from Christians, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or whatever. They are not a ‘nation’ with a right to its own nation state.

        “But more importantly I listed another of other things held in common. You dismissed them as “subjective and changeable”, but I do not consider that objection valid. ”

        Suit yourself.

        “But as it is, various groups of Muslims believe themselves to be members of different peoples and nations below the level of a unifying Islamic identity, and it is that level of identification that generally takes the label of “nation” or “nationality”.

        But we’re talking in circles now – you’re basically saying that anyone who wants to be a ‘people’ can be one, and everyone else has to respect that. Do you have a cut-off point for % of members of a group who have to identify as a ‘people’ in order for everyone else to be obliged to recognise them as such? And how would one measure this ‘identification’? Very many Jews consider themselves American, or Iranian, or even Israeli rather than being, or before being, Jewish. In your mind, does this exclude them from being part of this ‘Jewish nation’? I ask because you have given no criteria for membership in this ‘nation’ other than subjective feelings.

        “If you wish to define “nation” and “nationality” such that the group involved must have a fixed territorial residence, then fine.”

        That’s not what I said though. I said that the Palestinians have lots of things in common, among them a territory. The Jews do not.

        ” You will then need to have another concept like “people” to discuss the kind of identity that binds together Jews and other peoples spread across different territories.”

        I already mentioned it – religion.

        “Perhaps Jews are unique in their degree of territorial spread, but why should that disqualify them from nationhood?”

        Because they are not a nation, any more than Muslims or Christians – religious groups with a much wider spread than Jews – are a nation. They are a religious group.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 10:47 am

        @Mikhael

        ” Conversion to Judaism historically has been a process that is akin to a tribal initiation rite where someone is adopted into the group. ”

        So what? The fact that it is possible to convert to Judaism – and until well into the first century AD it was quite common for people to do so – makes it inarguable that by no means all Jews share a common genetic origin, as you persistently claim.

        ” In most cases, however, conversion happens within the context of marriage with someone born Jewish.”

        Now, yes. But not so for those hundreds of years when Judaism was an actively proselytising religion.

        “Well, “white” and “black” aren’t nationalities. You are confusing nationality with “race” (whatever the latter is).”

        No. YOU are the one who has claimed – more than once – that Jews share a common genetic origin. But since Judaism admits converts – and for some time, actively sought them – then it is obvious that this is not the case.

        ” that is akin to converting, so yes, you can convert to an ethnic group”

        That’s debatable, but again: You weren’t talking abot cultural identificaiton. You said:

        ” a Jew in NY whose ancestors lived in Europe for the past millennium or so and a Jew in Isfahan whose ancestors are quite literally biologically descended from the same ancestral population that once lived in Eres Yisrael. This is actually a fact.”

        And like I’ve said, and your own comments have reinforced, it isn’t a fact at all.

        “. Israeli law, however, excludes such people from the right to gain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because the religious political parties (who still recognize such people as Jews) are afraid that they will missionize. ”

        All hail the Middle East’s only secular liberal democracy! Excluding citizenship to people who -so the mythology goes – share the same genetic ancestry as all other Jews, for fear they might ‘missionise’! You must be pround to be part of a nation which promotes such great religious tolerance.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 11:56 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: [Jews] are a religious group.
        ——————–

        Well, that’s your opinion. And I guess we are not going to get much further in this discussion.

        I just don’t buy it because:

        1) It doesn’t accord with many accepted definitions of peoplehood and nationhood. These common definitions used by historians and sociologists do differ on details, but most of them accept the essentially subjective basis of the group identities in question, a basis which includes beliefs about a unique history, a shared destiny, a special fate, common descent, membership in an “extended family,” shared characteristics(but no single common one required) pointing to “family resemblance” such as language, religion, traditions, mythologies, political aspirations etc.

        You dismiss such group beliefs as “subjective and changeable” and therefore not a valid basis for peoplehood or nationhood. You dismiss the idea of a nation as a “cultural-political community that has become conscious of its coherence, unity, and particular interests” or similar such definitions with subjective elements. That seems to be an unbridgeable disagreement between us. I do note that those same kind subjective elements are essential to defining the Palestinians as a people or nation, as Khalidi has made clear.

        2) There are millions of people who consider themselves Jews, but who are not religious. If, as you say, Jews are a religious group, then you have to believe all those non-religious Jews are in fact not Jews, but are self-deluded persons incapable of understanding their own identities. I don’t think that position is tenable.

        3)Many (most) people in the world have considered and continue to consider Jews be a people or nation or an ethno-cultural group–pick your term–not simply a religious group. I see no reason to reject that common sense understanding.

        Finally, I would add that in regards to advocating for Palestinian rights, I believe that denying that Jews are a people or nation is an ineffective, unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive stance. One can accept Jews as a people or nation without accepting the claim that they had a legitimate right to colonize Palestine and deny Palestinians their right to self-determination in their homeland.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 12:12 pm

        “I do note that those same kind subjective elements are essential to defining the Palestinians as a people or nation, as Khalidi has made clear. ”

        Yes – and I note that the Palestinians, objectively, have many things in common other than some supposed ‘shared belief’. The Jews (other than religion) do not.

        “There are millions of people who consider themselves Jews, but who are not religious.”

        Right. And every single one of these people – zero exceptions – considers him/herself Jewish because he or she is descended from someone who practiced Judaism. That person could be a parent, or it could be a great-great-great grandparent. No matter. We’re back to the same point I’ve been making all along – that Jews have nothing in common other than religion, whether or not they still practise it.

        “3)Many (most) people in the world have considered and continue to consider Jews be a people or nation or an ethno-cultural group–pick your term–not simply a religious group. ”

        So because many people believe something, I have to do the same? If that’s your logic, then because many (in the US, most) people believe that the Jews have more right to the land of Palestine than the native Palestinians do, then I’m obliged to agree with them.

        To repeat: neither you, nor anyone else, has given me examples of anything that Jews have in common other than religion – a vague ‘shared identity’ doesn’t count imho. Therefore, I remain of the opinion that Jews are no more a ‘nation’ than Muslims or Buddhists.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 12:19 pm

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: Show me the ‘mountains of evidence’ that a Jew in Yemen considered himself of the same nation as a Jew in Ukraine before the 19th century.
        ——————-

        The Jew in Yemen and the Jew in Ukraine both likely believed in a Judaism which held that Jews were a nation. In other words, the concept of a Jewish nation is part of Jewish religion. I don’t have the evidence right at hand, but do you doubt that the typical pre-19th century Yemenite and Ukrainian Jews were religious?

      • Mooser
        November 16, 2015, 12:21 pm

        Why is everybody saying that “the Jews have a religion in common”? We most certainly do not have a Jewish religion in common. As a matter of fact, don’t the Orthodox Jews consider Reform (to put it mildly) to be another religion?
        Jews may have a religion, but we by no means have it in common.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 12:28 pm

        @siberiak

        “The Jew in Yemen and the Jew in Ukraine both likely believed in a Judaism which held that Jews were a nation. In other words, the concept of a Jewish nation is part of Jewish religion. I don’t have the evidence right at hand, but do you doubt that the typical pre-19th century Yemenite and Ukrainian Jews were religious?”

        And so here we are again. Back to religion and beliefs.

        With every post made by you and the other defenders of the notion of ”Jewish nationhood’, you confirm my view that Jews have nothing in common other than religion.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 12:34 pm

        @mooser

        “Why is everybody saying that “the Jews have a religion in common”? We most certainly do not have a Jewish religion in common”

        You do in the sense that you are defined as a Jew because of the fact that at least one of your ancestors practiced the Jewish faith. If you did not have such an ancestor, you could not consider yourself Jewish. Therefore, all Jews have religion (and only religion) in common, whether or not they personally practice Judaism.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 12:59 pm

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: Yes – and I note that the Palestinians, objectively, have many things in common other than some supposed ‘shared belief’.
        ———————-

        But those objective “things in common” could also make them part of an “Arab nation” or “Greater Syrian nation” or “Jordanian nation” or “Islamic nation” etc. Khalidi has shown how Palestinian identity as a uniquely Palestinian people/nation subjectively evolved over time. The subjective factor is the critical one—the belief that they are one people, one nation, separate from any other, and that that identity is the most important politically. The objective factors can be subjectively construed in any number of different ways.

        “There are millions of people who consider themselves Jews, but who are not religious.”

        Right. And every single one of these people – zero exceptions – considers him/herself Jewish because he or she is descended from someone who practiced Judaism. That person could be a parent, or it could be a great-great-great grandparent. No matter. We’re back to the same point I’ve been making all along – that Jews have nothing in common other than religion, whether or not they still practise it.

        You seem to be conflating a belief in a common descent with being a member of a religious group. You stated flatly that “Jews are a religious group”, but believing that one is a descendant of someone who who practiced a religion does not make a person a member of a religious group. There is no doubt that religion is interwined with ethnicity and peoplehood/ nationality in Jewish identity, but that does not mean everything can be reduced to the religious factor. While a non-religious Jew may believe he/she is descended from a religious Jew, he/she will likely believe that he/she has other things in common with other Jews besides Jewish genetics, whether or not those other commonalities are genetically inherited or not.

        So because many people believe something, I have to do the same? If that’s your logic,

        That’s not my logic.

        To repeat: neither you, nor anyone else, has given me examples of anything that Jews have in common other than religion

        I gave you a list of shared beliefs in common descent, common destiny, etc. etc. You, however, reject such unifying beliefs as “subjective and changeable” and therefore unacceptable as a basis for peoplehood or nationality. You insist that people can be bound together as a nation or people only on the basis of objective commonalities, not subjective ones. If that is so, then it does indeed come down to a matter of your definition of what constitutes a nation or people. And we disagree on that definition.

      • Mooser
        November 16, 2015, 1:13 pm

        “Therefore, all Jews have religion (and only religion) in common, whether or not they personally practice Judaism. “

        Don’t tell me, tell the Orthodox. They don’t think so.

      • Sibiriak
        November 16, 2015, 1:21 pm

        Maximus Decimus Meridius: Jews have nothing in common other than religion.

        —————–

        Which brings me back to the same problem. Non-religious Jews believe that they have things in common with religious Jews of all stripes and antler configurations. They believe they have a shared descent. Doesn’t matter what the objective DNA facts are. They believe in a shared kinship with other Jews. They believe they are a single people with a special fate, a shared destiny. Something in common, maybe many things in common; maybe many things that not everyone agrees on. Maybe there will never be agreement on what it is, but they agree there is something. Something crucial enough to be the basis for a Jewish identity. And when that belief is reflected back on them and reinforced by non-Jews who believe the same thing, it becomes the basis for a social constructed, invented, imagined community. But a real community. Just as real as any other.

      • YoniFalic
        November 16, 2015, 1:25 pm

        While it is obvious that descendants of the Yiddish speaking religious communities share an ethnicity that persists after a Yiddish speaker or his non-Yiddish speaking descendant renounces his religion (as my grandparents did), it certainly is far from clear that descendants of Jewish communities of descended from various non-Judean convert populations throughout the world share a common ethnonationality.

        That moronic belief in common ethnonationality is meant to justify stealing Palestine from the natives, who were to be destroyed or to be expelled. Anyone that holds that moronic belief is simply stupid, ignorant or mendacious.

        I had nothing ethnically in common with the Moroccans, Yemenis or Iraqis with whom I attended school even if their ancestors like mine practiced Judaism.

        Here is how the RAMBAM defined the Jewish community in the Letter to Yemen. (See paragraph starting “lefikhakh” at bottom of pg. 40.)

        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1PzrttiPfjMejVWY2ZkYmQ2aDA/view?usp=sharing

        I assume the Hebrew translation is faithful to the original Arabic, which I could not find online.

        Essentially, one is a member of the Jewish religious community if one accepts the theophany at Sinai and all associated ramifications.

        The RAMBAM would certainly have been aghast at Sibiriak’s definition of “Jewish” and would have considered him a gentile.

        As for me, I certainly consider the theophany at Sinai to be total crap. Thus, according to the RAMBAM, I am a gentile. While I share an ethnic background with Rabbi Dovid Weiss, Philip Weiss, (apparently) Sibiriak, and (apparently) Annie Robbins, only Rabbi Weiss among us is Jewish.

        When I was in high school, my “Jewish” Algerian girlfriend Mazal shared no ethnic background with me (and my parents were very suspicious of her), but she shared ethnic background with my (not very Muslim) Algerian college girlfriend Karima. (To tell the truth my parents consider both Mazal’s and Karima’s backgrounds to be equally uncouth.)

        As I now understand Jewish Algerian history, the Alliance israélite universelle tried to assimilate Jewish Algerians to Jewish French or German models, but Mazal’s family was never Europeanized — which is apparently why they emigrated from Algeria to Israel and not to France.

      • Mooser
        November 16, 2015, 1:54 pm

        “Which brings me back to the same problem. Non-religious Jews believe…/…as real as any other.”

        Well, that’s their problem. Don’t make it yours. It’s mostly pretense, and the facts don’t bear it out.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 2:04 pm

        @siberiak

        “The objective factors can be subjectively construed in any number of different ways ”

        Yes indeed. THat’s why I said, earlier, that all nationalisms are artificial to some degree. However, in the case of the Palestinians, the objective factors I referred to do actually exist, even if they can be interpreted in different ways. In the case, of the Jews – as you seem to agree – they have nothing in common other than ‘beliefs’. That’s a very significant difference, in my opinion.

        “You seem to be conflating a belief in a common descent with being a member of a religious group. ”

        You’re really reaching here. By DEFINITION, if someone is Jewish, then either they have an ancestor who practiced Judaism, or they converted to the Jewish faith. Without this, they simply cannot be considered Jewish.

        “There is no doubt that religion is interwined with ethnicity and peoplehood/ nationality in Jewish identity, but that does not mean everything can be reduced to the religious factor. ”

        It can in the sense that it is impossible to be considered Jewish unless you have an ancestor who practiced Judaism, or if you yourself converted to that religion. Therefore religion – and only religion – is indispensable to ‘Jewishness’. I’m not sure why you’re trying to argue this point, since it is demonstrably true.

        “While a non-religious Jew may believe he/she is descended from a religious Jew, he/she will likely believe that he/she has other things in common with other Jews besides Jewish genetics, whether or not those other commonalities are genetically inherited or not.”

        Since when is everyone obliged to accept what Jews (supposedly) believe as the gospel truth? Many of these Jews will also believe that they have an absolute right to live in Palestine, while non-Jews indigenous to the land do not. Are we supposed to take that at face value too?

        “That’s not my logic.”

        So what is your logic then? All you did was say ‘lots of people believe this’, as though that were your argument. I don’t care if ‘many’ people believe that Jews are a ‘nation’. That’s not good enough for me.

        “I gave you a list of shared beliefs in common descent, common destiny, etc. etc. ”

        So if Jews want to believe that they have ‘common descent’ in Palestine, – demonstrably false – we’re also obliged to take it seriously?

        Anyway, since you agree that Jews have nothing in common other than ‘beliefs’ – be they religous or tribalist – then I think you’ve confirmed my original claim. You think that nationhood is all in the head. I don’t. Maybe best to leave it at that, as we seem to be talking in circles and repeating ourselves by now.

      • YoniFalic
        November 16, 2015, 2:08 pm

        @Sibiriak

        Which brings me back to the same problem. Non-religious Jews believe that they have things in common with religious Jews of all stripes and antler configurations. They believe they have a shared descent. Doesn’t matter what the objective DNA facts are. They believe in a shared kinship with other Jews. They believe they are a single people with a special fate, a shared destiny. Something in common, maybe many things in common; maybe many things that not everyone agrees on. Maybe there will never be agreement on what it is, but they agree there is something. Something crucial enough to be the basis for a Jewish identity. And when that belief is reflected back on them and reinforced by non-Jews who believe the same thing, it becomes the basis for a social constructed, invented, imagined community. But a real community. Just as real as any other.

        Sibiriak repeats the core of German Nazi beliefs about Aryans (Jew substituted for Aryan) or the core of Zionist, to wit, Jewish Nazi, beliefs about Jews.

        These moronic ideas were thoroughly rejected by most people even while the German Nazis were in power (as Shlomo Sand has pointed out) and even more so in the aftermath of WW2.

        These ideas have currency today because the Zionist state embarked on a successful campaign of racial propaganda (starting in the 50s). Ben-Zion Dinur seems to have modeled the Israeli “Jewish” educational system on that which existed in Germany under the German Nazis.

        Nonetheless, I know I was able to deprogram myself, and the increasing amount of literature

        1) debunking Zionist claims and

        2) pointing out that we should not excuse Eastern European genocidaires and genocide-supporters for their vile, sick, and perverted racial beliefs makes it clear

        1) that Sibiriak supports a lost cause and

        2) that the right thing to do is to scorn absolutely such racist nonsense and to punish the disgusting racists that hold or justify such ideas.

        After all the majority of US whites used to have comparably stupid beliefs about themselves and about blacks.

        My old high school mates will only get over their stupid belief system when they realize the whole world despises them with complete justice.

        People that ever supported the State of Israel and Zionism must become even more ashamed than Germans are supporting Nazi Germany. I am certainly ashamed that I ever wore an IDF uniform.

      • YoniFalic
        November 16, 2015, 4:36 pm

        @annie

        well, if most of the people stayed there and converted to either christianity or islam and a portion of the males (traders or whatever) left and jumpstarted the religion outside the region it (those males) still could be considered “a scattered population”/ a diaspora, based given the first definition i cited. it still would not make a majority converted european population qualify as the 3rd definition “historical mass dispersions of an involuntary nature” from the holy land, but it would qualify for american jews in terms of their status of a diaspora originating from their original homeland (2nd definition) “movement of the population from its original homeland”, that original homeland being … europe.

        Why do you cling to this silly idea that ancient Judeans have some connection to Judaism of the medieval Rabbinic Diaspora?

        Ancient Judeans were primarily peasant farmers. Such people do not leave their homelands.

        Probably with the start of the Hasmonean Rebellion (maybe before) Judaism became a massively proselytizing religion in the Occident. It may have started as a way to realize the ingathering of exiles prophecy of Deuteronomy 30:1-5. The main proselytes were Greeks and Phoenicians, the main mercantile populations of the Greco-Roman world.

        The Greek proselytes created their own Hellenistic Greek-language Judaism, which was very different from Judean Temple Judaism. The nature of Judaism among Phoenician converts was less clear. The politics of early imperial Rome is still not fully elucidated, but the new Roman economic order was strongly associated with the new imperial cult. Judaism became the rallying religion of those that lost out in the new economy. The three major rebellions of this time period involved

        1) the mercantile class of the Judeans in the first rebellion that ended with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and of the Leontopolis Temple even though the Greek-speaking Judaic population seems to have sided with Rome,

        2) the Phoenician convert population in the Kitos war, which started in Libya and then spread to the Greek convert population in Alexandria, the Greek and Phoenician convert population of Cyprus, then to the Aramaic speaking convert population of Mesopotamia, and finally to Judea, and

        3) once again the mercantile class of the Judeans in the Bar Kochba Rebellion.

        [Note the Judean peasantry, which seems mostly to have practiced a form of Judean Christianity, appears to have sided with the Hasmonean elite and with the Romans.]

        By the end of the 2nd century, Judean Temple Judaism was completely shattered. One can see a very similar religion in Samaritan religious practices which are utterly unlike those of Rabbinic Judaism.

        Hellenistic Judaism went its own way and became the Judaism of the Roman West. Mesopotamia became the center of Aramaic-speaking Talmudic Judaism. Phoenician converts seem to have supported academies in Palestine, but post-Constantine imperial pressure seems to have forced Judaism and Samaritanism into irrevocable decline in Palestine.

        The rising tide of the post 7th century Islamic Empires seem to have elevated Aramaic-speaking Talmudic Judaism of Mesopotamia to the religious and financial center of Judaism.

        Expanding Aramaic/Arabic Talmudic Judaism supplanted the local Judaisms in N. Africa and Europe while the religion simultaneously was refocused onto Hebrew and became Rabbinic Judaism after the 10th century.

        However we understand this evolution, one thing is clear. Rabbinic Judaism is fundamentally Mesopotamian in origin. The Mesopotamian liturgy overwhelmed the Palestinian liturgy. The Mesopotamian calendar replaced the Judean calendar. And obviously the Babylonian Talmud and not the Palestinian Talmud is authoritative. We are not so conscious of the real origins of Rabbinic Judaism today because Mesopotamia to this day still suffers from the ill effects of the Mongol invasions.

        Christianity is a religion that originates in Palestine, but Rabbinic Judaism is not.

        We, who descend from Yiddish speaking religious Jewish communities of E. Europe, have no real connection to Palestine and should get out as quick as possible as part of a settlement to provide relief to the natives, who really do descend from Greco-Roman Judeans.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 16, 2015, 8:36 pm

        We, who descend from Yiddish speaking religious Jewish communities of E. Europe, have no real connection to Palestine

        i already know that yoni, it seems you were so eager to copy and paste and insult me you didn’t read what i wrote.

        Why do you cling to this silly idea that ancient Judeans have some connection to Judaism of the medieval Rabbinic Diaspora?

        i neither know what “the medieval Rabbinic Diaspora” means nor do i care. so i’m hardly clinging to any notion of it. why do you cling to this technique of initiating your comments with your patronizing insulting tone? …

      • Mooser
        November 17, 2015, 12:20 pm

        “(To tell the truth my parents consider both Mazal’s and Karima’s backgrounds to be equally uncouth.)”

        Gee, I wonder what that is like. My parents made it clear to me, from High School on, that any woman I went out with was too good for me. And when they met them, they usually made it clear to them, too.

      • echinococcus
        November 17, 2015, 7:38 pm

        Yoni Falic,

        Only 2 observations on points of detail.
        – The passage to Hebrew did not happen among the Romaniotes, or it was partial and much later, and due to the influence of the Sefardí immigration.
        – None of the Greek dialects surviving all across the Mediterranean and Pontic area was an “ancient” dialect; they all evolved from the Alexandrian Koinê. The only surviving dialect identifiable as ancient is Tsakonic, around Sparta.

      • echinococcus
        November 17, 2015, 7:45 pm

        Annie,

        Had to laugh a lot reading our explanation re “diaspora”. OK, but the wording to shorten that will need a lot of work to avoid systematic misreading.

      • YoniFalic
        November 18, 2015, 8:25 am

        @echinococcus

        Only 2 observations on points of detail.
        – The passage to Hebrew did not happen among the Romaniotes, or it was partial and much later, and due to the influence of the Sefardí immigration.
        – None of the Greek dialects surviving all across the Mediterranean and Pontic area was an “ancient” dialect; they all evolved from the Alexandrian Koinê. The only surviving dialect identifiable as ancient is Tsakonic, around Sparta.

        Romaniote Jews are sometimes called Byzantine or Yavanic Jews. Probably, Byzantine should be applied when the community used the Septuagint or other Greek-language versions of the TANAKH and Yavanic should be applied when they became Hebraicized to Rabbinic or to Karaite Judaism from the 10th through 13th centuries.

        In fact, Byzantine/Yavanic Jews were early adopters of Mesopotamian Rabbinic and Karaite Judaism — probably because of trade opportunities in the ME. The 11th century Talmudist Tobiah ben Eliezer is an example.

        RASHI (a contemporary) probably had a Byzantine/Yavanic connection, for he was a member of the Kalonymos family, and his Biblical commentary indicates knowledge of Greek translations of the Bible at least second hand.

        At various times the Yavanic Jewish community absorbed Sicilian and South Italian Jewish refugees, who may have been Greek-speaking.

        The Yavanic and Roman Minhag may show features of the Jerusalem Talmud, but I suspect the Jerusalem Talmud was financed by Phoenician Judaic communities, and I doubt that many people of Phoenician ancestry joined Roman or Byzantine Judaic communities. In any case, these communities have not preserved any clearly Palestinian customs (like the Palestinian Torah reading cycle). Thus I suspect unique Yavanic and Roman rituals may be preserved from earlier Greek-language Judaism, which was supplanted by Hebrew-focused Judaism.

        I have encountered Grico-speaking Sicilians and Calabrians in NJ. I only know Attic and Koine, but I find that after getting used to their vowels I can understand them when they don’t mix too much Italian into their language. Also, I could not find mention of Sicilian Grico online, but I met a Sicilian, who swore that everyone in his village spoke Grico. He also told me that almost all the village had emigrated to NJ.

        Here is a Grico video.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSktx_kr4ww

        To me the existence of Grico-speaking people in the 21st century belies the claim of descendants of Eastern European Jewish communities to having any ancestry from Greco-Roman Judeans.

        Why didn’t my great-grandparents speak an evolved dialect of Hebrew or Aramaic?

        Dovid Katz is such a moron of this obvious question.

      • echinococcus
        November 20, 2015, 11:44 pm

        Yoni Falic,

        Thanks for the religious details of the Romaniotes’ language contact with Hebrew. The Karaites seem to be their first contact with Turkic languages at any rate; what you have there contradicts what is believed on the language side, ie that priestly persons don’t seem to know Hebrew prior to Sefardí arrival. Would appreciate reading recommendation.
        As for Grico, it is also a development of Koinê through Byzantine –not “ancient”.

      • YoniFalic
        November 22, 2015, 2:14 am

        @echinococcus

        I wrote the following.

        In contrast to Hebrew, which is completely lost as a spoken language among Judeans and Phoenician convert descendants by the sixth century, evolved SPOKEN versions of ancient Greek dialects survived in the Greek Diaspora until the 20th century (when television killed them) because the Greek Diaspora really descended from emigrants from Greece and because Greek survived as an intellectual language of the Christian Orthodox Church.

        I referred to EVOLVED SPOKEN versions of ancient Greek dialects. I did not not write that ancient Greek dialects continued to be spoken in the Greek Diaspora until the 20th century. (I should have written 21st century.) I usually think of Koine as an ancient Greek dialect because it was spoken before the fall of Rome in the fifth century. Even though most modern Greek dialects descend from koine, usually they are described as demotic Greek today.

        Wiki says the following about Southern Italian Grico or Katoitaliotika.

        Southern Italian or Italiot (Κατωιταλιώτικα) comprises both Calabrian and Griko varieties, spoken by around 15 villages in the regions of Calabria and Apulia. The Southern Italian dialect is the last living trace of Hellenic elements in Southern Italy that once formed Magna Graecia. Its origins can be traced to the Dorian Greek settlers who colonised the area from Sparta and Corinth in 700 BC.

        It has received significant Koine Greek influence through Byzantine Greek colonisers who re-introduced Greek language to the region, starting with Justinian’s conquest of Italy in late antiquity and continuing through the Middle Ages. Griko and Demotic are mutually intelligible to some extent, but the former shares some common characteristics with Tsakonian.

        As I said, I had some difficulty with the vowels of Grico.

        A Spartan mother speaking Doric would tell her son going to battle “ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς” but the Attic or Ionic version of saying would be “ἢ τὴν ἢ ἐπὶ τῆς”.

      • YoniFalic
        November 22, 2015, 2:49 am

        @echinococcus.

        WRT pre-15th century Rabbinic scholarship among Yevanic Jews, there does not seem to be a good book on the subject in English, Hebrew, or German. You could start with Midrash Lekah Tov edited by Solomon Buber, but even if you know Modern Israeli Hebrew, you might have some difficulty with it because Buber uses a lot of Rabbinic idiom, which is not really used in MIH. Buber provides copious notes. Here is a link to the book. It can be downloaded.

        https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=MVIVAQAAIAAJ&rdid=book-MVIVAQAAIAAJ&rdot=1

        For RASHI’s probably secondary knowledge of Hellenistic Jewish scholarship, you could check out Rashi, Interpreter of the Biblical Letter by Menahem Banitt. The book is occasionally republished. I found it quite interesting.

      • echinococcus
        November 22, 2015, 3:59 pm

        Yoni Falic,

        Thanks for the ref. I have a Modern Hebrew reader who can scan it for what interests me (language contact of Romaniotes, exclusively.)

        The ancient component in Magna Grecia dialects is a bit doubtful –but then Wikipedia is not the best forum for that discussion (no surprise, nationalist reflexes are playing the whole time with language identifications, too.)

      • YoniFalic
        November 23, 2015, 4:03 am

        @echinococcus

        Probably best then to get hold of Banitt’s book and go through it first, for it explains how to look for evidence of language contact in the hermeneutic literature. In the works I have examined, there has been no evidence of contact with Turkic languages, but I have not looked at Karaite literature or the early the early literature of Yevanic Jews (whether Karaite or Rabbanite) in detail.

        Yiddish shows evidence of absorption of a small amount of Turkic and shares some grammatical constructions with Judeo-Tatar, but Yiddish was already well-formed linguistically when Turkic speakers were absorbed into the Eastern European Jewish communities, and the Slavic or Germano-Slavic ancestral component of the Eastern European Jewish communities seems to have been much larger than the Turkic ancestral component.

    • echinococcus
      November 16, 2015, 3:36 am

      Michael –
      “They also share Hebrew as their historical national language; this is actually the national language of all Jews”

      Oh, sure. Catholics from Ireland to China share Kitchen Latin as theitrhistorical **national** language; this is actually the **national** language of all Catholics. They all have inexplicably become alienated from Kitchen Latin, the mother tongue of all Catholics from Ireland to China but now, thanks to a mountebank from Minsk who adapted it to Slavic grammar and Ashkenazi pronunciation, have adopted it again.
      Or, the Orthodox from Alexandria to Kamtchatka share Church Greek as their historical **national** language; this is actually the **national** language of all Orthodox Christians. They all have inexplicably become alienated from Church Greek, the mother tongue of all Orthodox from Syrte to Kamtchatka but now….
      Or, the Muslim from Morocco to China share Classical Arabic as their historical **national** language…

    • MHughes976
      November 16, 2015, 7:09 am

      There was a Jewish presence in Iraq – Babylonia – at least from Nebuchadnezzar’s time (600 – 560 ish). There’s archaeological record of the allowance made to the exiled Jewish royal family and others, voluntary supporters or enforced fellow-exiles, must have been around them, presumably becoming the nucleus of the Jewish presence that continued for so long. There was clearly a Jewish presence in Egypt at very least from Alexander’s time (330 ish), when they became a major component of the new city of Alexandria and eventually had a Temple or pseudo-Temple of their own at Leontopolis, supposed to be not far from Cairo. The later arrival of the Roman Empire caused there to be a significant Jewish presence in Rome, sometimes (in 19 CE for excessive rates of conversions among Romans – if this could even be said it is an indication of an influential presence – and again in 49 for ‘incessant tumults driven on by Chrestus’) ‘expelled’. In the Western Empire the main Jewish centre seems to have been Spain, which is why there are indications that Paul preached or intended to preach in ‘the uttermost West’.
      It is absolutely clear that no Semitic language was prevalent enough in the widespread Jewish world of Alexandrian times and onwards to be sufficient for religious purposes. That is why the Greek Bible emerged and is still an important witness to the original text.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 16, 2015, 7:34 am

        “There was a Jewish presence in Iraq – Babylonia – at least from Nebuchadnezzar’s time (600 – 560 ish). ”

        Nobody denies this. And these Jews were certainly the descendants of Palestinian Jews, though the notion that none of them intermarried with locals over the intervening 2500 years pushes the boundaries of plausibility.

        “There was clearly a Jewish presence in Egypt at very least from Alexander’s time (330 ish)”

        Again, nobody denies this. However, the question remains as to whether these Jews were mostly emigres from Palestine, or locals who converted to Judaism. Given that they spoke Greek rather than Aramaic or Hebrew, the latter seems more likely.

        “The later arrival of the Roman Empire caused there to be a significant Jewish presence in Rome”

        I don’t see why the existance of an empire would ’cause’ a large community of inland, agrarian people in a Levantine backwater to emigrate to Rome.

        “It is absolutely clear that no Semitic language was prevalent enough in the widespread Jewish world of Alexandrian times and onwards to be sufficient for religious purposes”

        I’m not sure what you mean here. If these Jews were all, or mostly, emigres from Palestine, why would they not have brought their own Semitic language with them, just like the Phoenicians did?

      • MHughes976
        November 16, 2015, 12:30 pm

        I meant that the new Empire caused many people to move to where there were new opportunities to make money and careers, and that these people did not in general know enough Hebrew or Aramaic as was necessary for their religious activity. Greek was quite possibly the majority language in the Jewish religious world of the two ‘first centuries’.
        It must be true both that the boundaries of ‘Judaism’ were a little fluid – how far did a ‘godfearer’ have to go in order to be considered ‘Jewish’ at least by some others? – and that many people regarded as Jewish, in those days when the Pharisees would traverse heaven and earth, or so the Christians said, to convert one person, had very little hereditary connection with anyone who had lived in Palestine.
        I would quite like to see the definition of ‘nation’ under which the people currently Jewish under Israeli law are – they and only they – of the same nation as (say) Jeremiah and Jesus. I think it would have to be somewhat complex but then everyone has the right to define any word anyhow, so long as in the process they make themselves reasonably clear. I strongly doubt that that definition could play any reasonable part in demonstrating the validity of any moral or political claims. The idea that desire creates rights, especially that the shared desires of groups with some, any, kind of affinity create rights of destroying existing polities and creating new ones, is deeply mistaken in every form.

      • YoniFalic
        November 16, 2015, 12:49 pm

        Why would anyone that actually read the Bible believe that the Babylonian Judaic population was descended from Judeans?

        The Book of Esther explicitly describes conversion to Judaism — probably to explain why the Judaic population of Mesopotamia was so much larger than that in Judea and to undermine the claim of the House of Zadok to the high priesthood.

        I have no doubt that the Judaic population of Mesopotamia was primarily descended from Aramaic speaking converts.

      • echinococcus
        November 24, 2015, 2:22 am

        Yoni Falic,

        Probably best to stop exchanges that wandered outside forum topic. Just to mention I meant language contact as a technical term. At any rate, thanks for the suggested sources.

    • Sibiriak
      November 16, 2015, 3:17 pm

      Maximus Decimus Meridius: THat’s why I said, earlier, that all nationalisms are artificial to some degree. However, in the case of the Palestinians, the objective factors I referred to do actually exist, even if they can be interpreted in different ways.
      ——————–

      If the “objective factors” can be interpreted different ways, then it’s the subjective factors which are decisive in terms of which interpretation ultimately predominates. If, for example, Palestinians believed that they were members of a Jordanian people/nation, then that subjective belief would be decisive.

      In the case, of the Jews – as you seem to agree – they have nothing in common other than ‘beliefs’.

      It didn’t say they had “nothing in common other than beliefs”. I said they might not have one objective feature common to all members of the group . I drew your attention to Wittgenstein’s “Family resemblance” idea which argues that “things which could be thought to be connected by one essential common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all. ” “No one feature common to all” does not mean no overlapping similarities based on “objective factors”.

      By DEFINITION, if someone is Jewish, then either they have an ancestor who practiced Judaism, or they converted to the Jewish faith. Without this, they simply cannot be considered Jewish.

      So, a non-religious Jew can be a Jew by dint of having [being believed to have] a religious-Jewish ancestor. Thus, a non-religious Jew can be a Jew without being a member of a religious group. (Having a religious ancestor doesn’t make one a member of a religious group). Therefore, your claim that Jews are only a religious group cannot be correct.

      religion – and only religion – is indispensable to ‘Jewishness’.

      Religion is indispensable, but , as you point out, that could be religion in the past , not necessarily in the present. Jews began as an ethnos that adopted a religion which defined them as a people/nation. Over time, however, the belief in a Jewish people/nation transcended its ethno-religious origin. So you could say that both ethnicity and religion were indispensable to the evolution of Jewish identity. There would have been no Jewish religion without there having been a Jewish ethnos, and no “Jewish People” without there having been Jewish religion.

      Since when is everyone obliged to accept what Jews (supposedly) believe as the gospel truth?

      No one is “obliged” to believe that Jews are a people/nation any more than they are obliged to believe that Palestinians are a people/nation.

      So if Jews want to believe that they have ‘common descent’ in Palestine, – demonstrably false – we’re also obliged to take it seriously?

      You are conflating to different implications of beliefs. It’s perfectly valid to to subject (non-value based) beliefs to empirical verification. That’s treating a belief as an factual proposition.

      But a belief doesn’t have to be true for it to be a basis for group identity. Showing that a belief is false does not prove that the group identity based on the belief does not exist.

      So no, you do not have to take the belief seriously from a truth-value standpoint. But you do have to take the identity based on the belief seriously, because even group identities based on false beliefs can be objective social realities.

    • Dan
      November 16, 2015, 9:12 pm

      @YoniFalic

      Sibiriak didn’t talk about race, nor did he refer to feelings of superiority, or to looking down on others as inferior.
      He just described how people can come to identify as a community, an ethnic group, which is a separate issue from how those people then behave.

      You came to essentially the same conclusion when you wrote “While it is obvious that descendants of the Yiddish speaking religious communities share an ethnicity that persists after a Yiddish speaker or his non-Yiddish speaking descendant renounces his religion…..”.

      You just limit that common ethnicity, (after the dots which I added), to the Yiddish speaking Jewish communities, and descendants (which I would add includes many Jews in North America and Western Europe), and claim it doesn’t apply to other Jewish communities around the world. Sibiriak, I believe, is saying it can, if they choose to self identify.

      Fine, that’s open to debate. How that distinction gets you to a rant about Nazi’s and White on Black racism is not clear to me.

      • YoniFalic
        November 17, 2015, 5:54 am

        When Yiddishists and Bundists claimed that Yiddish-speakers constituted an ethnic group within Poland and said of non-Yiddish-speakers that זיי זענען נישט אידן ווי אונדז (they are not Jews like us — a comment made by eminent Yiddish historian Israel Abrahams), they were saying something obvious

        (1) When Jewish Bolsheviks created a Jewish (еврейский actually Hebraic) nationality within the Soviet Union for people descended from Yiddish-speakers but not for Jews of other ethnic groups (Tatars, Georgians, Persians, etc.), (2) when Birobidzhan was only meant for Yiddish-speakers, and (3) when the Евсекция focused only on Yiddish-speakers, such decisions had some logic.

        When Zionists fabricated a pan-Judaic ethnonationality (even though Yiddish-speakers and Kypczak speaking Polish Jewish Tatars hated one another*) in order to claim Palestine from the native people, they duplicated the German Nazi concept of the Aryan race even if the racist genocidal Zionist (Jewish Nazi) idea preceded the racist genocidal German Nazi idea.**

        Yet Zionist writings are very clear that the white racist genocidal Eastern Europeans considered members of non-European Jewish ethnic groups to be racially inferior and not racially desirable immigrants for the campaign to steal Palestine and to destroy or to drive out the native Palestinians.***

        It is time to bury the Zionist (Jewish Nazi) idea of ethnic or secular Jew and to treat any progressive supporting this stupid idea as utterly contemptible.

        The correspondence between Zionist (Jewish Nazi) ideas and German Nazi ideas is obvious to anyone with half a brain, and genuine progressives opposed to Zionism and the continued existence of the racist genocidal State of Israel have to start hammering this point in order to delegitimize both Israel and also anyone that continues to support this disgusting state.

        As for the connecting Israel and Zionism to US white racist ideology, it should be clear at this point that the State of Israel has become an intrinsic component of US white racist ideology.

        * I just reread סיפור פשוט, in which out of nowhere Agnon defames Polish Jewish Tatars.

        ** Haaretz recently covered Nordau’s racist belief linking progress and genocide.

        http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.676420

        The author seems to be unaware of the friendly correspondence between Nordau and Thomas Dixon, author of The Klansman, the book on which the movie Birth of a Nation is based.

        *** My parents certainly viewed my nominally Jewish and Muslim Algerian ex-girlfriends to be our racial inferiors. It’s a common belief among Israeli E. European “Jewish” invaders.

        BTW, E. European “Jews” and German Nazis had similar negative views toward Slavs. I can produce quotes in which a nominally Jewish historian describes Yiddish speakers as the cultural wall of civilization against against Slavic un-culture or barbarism.

        Columbia has excellent Jewish studies scholars. I don’t understand why Edward Said never availed himself of Columbia’s Jewish studies resources when he was a professor at Columbia. He could have made his critique of Zionism and Orientalism much stronger if he had broadened his knowledge.

    • YoniFalic
      November 17, 2015, 8:03 am

      @annie

      We, who descend from Yiddish speaking religious Jewish communities of E. Europe, have no real connection to Palestine

      i already know that yoni, it seems you were so eager to copy and paste and insult me you didn’t read what i wrote.

      Why do you cling to this silly idea that ancient Judeans have some connection to Judaism of the medieval Rabbinic Diaspora?

      i neither know what “the medieval Rabbinic Diaspora” means nor do i care. so i’m hardly clinging to any notion of it. why do you cling to this technique of initiating your comments with your patronizing insulting tone? …

      I apologize Annie for misunderstanding you. I got lost in the hypotheticals. To tell the truth, English hypotheticals are more logical than Hebrew hypotheticals if correct grammar is used, but they are still complex.

      I had the impression that you accepted the propaganda nonsense, which describes E. European “Jewish” males as of ME descent while E. European “Jewish” females” descend from Europeans.

      This stuff is all silly as Raphael Falk of Hebrew University has pointed out.

      http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fgene.2014.00462/abstract

      Nadia Abu el-Haj has written an excellent critique of Zio-Nazi genetic science even if she would not use the term. Her book is The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology. To my mind, she is without doubt the most important living Jewish studies scholar.

      I have to admit that I am irritated with you, Annie, because you have adopted the wimpy HRW euphemism of “extra-judicial execution” instead of the legally correct “act of genocide” when the IDF and Israeli police murder Palestinians. The distinction is important because the terms activate different subsets of international law.

      As for the issue of Diaspora, the original sense in the Septuagint has been perverted by Zionist ideology.

      Ancient Greeks did refer (1) to the Greek Diaspora which represented the Greek colonies, whose founders came from Greece, but in koine Greek Diaspora could refer (2) to a sort of ideological Diaspora, to wit, the Diaspora of the Cult of Asclepius, to which all ancient physicians practicing Greek medicine belonged, whether or not they were Greek and whether or not they lived in Greece, a Greek colony, or a non-Greek city.

      Neither the Greek-speaking convert Judaic population nor the Phoenician Judaic convert population nor any of the other large Judaic convert populations of antiquity seems to have believed itself to live in exile from the Kingdom of Judea, which was a region of Palestine. Yet the members of the convert descended populations might consider themselves to be members of the 2nd type of Diaspora.

      One need only note that Philo never bothered to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He does not seem to have considered it important.

      If I remember correctly, diaspora only occurs twice in the Septuagint. In neither place does it translate גולה or גלות.

      Diaspora does actually have relevance in “Jewish” history. One can reasonably refer to the Diaspora of Jews expelled from Spain, and one can also refer to the Diaspora of Polish Jews that was created by the collapse of Commonwealth Poland from the Chmielnicki Rebellion through the 3rd Partition in 1795. In this Diaspora Polish Jews did not actually leave their residences but went from living in a mighty kingdom to living dispersed in the hinterlands of the Hapsburg, Hohenzollern, and Romanov Empires.

      In many regards, Zionism is a rerun of the mythology and conspiracy of ethnic Poles to restore an imagined version of Commonwealth Poland.

      As Marx wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,

      Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Caussidière for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire.

      Poland between WW1 and WW2 was the tragedy. The State of Israel is the farce. It is also a tragedy and an evil.

      As Ahmedinejad correctly stated, “This regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

      BTW, we can talk about the Medieval Diaspora of Rabbinic Judaism, which is an ideological dispersion of the Rabbinic Jewish religion whose origin and center was Mesopotamia, to wit, in Sura and Pumbeditha (nowadays Fallujah). Of course, there was never a scattering of Jews from Mesopotamia — at least before the Mongol invasions. There was also a smaller Medieval Diaspora of Karaite Judaism.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 17, 2015, 2:40 pm

        I had the impression that you accepted the propaganda nonsense, which describes E. European “Jewish” males as of ME descent while E. European “Jewish” females” descend from Europeans.

        no, that’s not logical. the offspring of a small population of male jews could not produce descent “w/European “Jewish” females” ” and ” “Jewish” males as of ME descent.”

        i am familiar w/Nadia Abu el-Haj and her expertise, just recently we posted and article of hers and the ensuing response. although i have not read her book i have read reviews of it.

        I have to admit that I am irritated with you, Annie, because you have adopted the wimpy HRW euphemism of “extra-judicial execution” instead of the legally correct “act of genocide” when the IDF and Israeli police murder Palestinians. The distinction is important because the terms activate different subsets of international law.

        got it. you may have to just keep being irritated because we have editors here and it seems unlikely to me they’d be publishing an article like this:

        Executed: Dania Ersheid, 17, from Hebron

        Israeli forces executed another teenage girl at a checkpoint in Hebron on Sunday. See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/executed-arshid-hebron#sthash.nC83ib1h.dpuf

        but instead titled and opening like this:

        Genocided: Dania Ersheid, 17, from Hebron

        Israeli forces continued their genocide today executing another teenage girl at a checkpoint in Hebron on Sunday.

        you never know tho. and as for

        The circumstances sound eerily similar to the “extrajudicial execution” of Hadil al-Hashlamoun in Hebron on September 22. Hashlamoun was left on the ground for 45 minutes, she bled to death.

        there’s an embed, i was quoting.

        also, i’m a tad busy and while i appreciate all the scholarly info i don’t really have the time to follow thru on this topic and don’t really care that much. all religions have their myths and it’s not the battle i’m fighting right now. i understand how it’s used to justify a whole slew of narratives but i’d rather other people duke it out. it’s just not my fixation. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out european jews mostly came from the euro region and regions in close proximity. lots of jews have an enormous investment in their historical narratives. i’m more focused on current info and solving/ending the crime being perpetrated. thanks for the info tho. appreciated.

  4. Mooser
    November 12, 2015, 3:32 pm

    “For the record, it is ignorant, stupid, or dishonest to claim that members of historic Eastern European religious Jewish communities were in any way Semitic and descended from ancient Greco-Roman Judeans.”

    Even if they were, it doesn’t give an excuse, let alone a reason or a right, to what the Zionists did.

    • YoniFalic
      November 12, 2015, 7:44 pm

      I agree, but we must undermine the whole logic by which white racist E. Europeans justify to themselves the crimes that they committed against the native Palestinians.

      In addition, we must explain to Americans how they have been conned by white racist genocidal E. European thieves and invaders.

      Americans must accept that there is no basis whatsoever to sympathize with the white racist European scum that stole Palestine from the natives and that are scamming Americans. (I keep telling my sister to get out of Israel so that she can become a decent human being.)

      As long as white racist E. Europeans are demonizing the native Palestinians, we must factually delineate the villainy of E. Europeans that practice 19th century style white racist genocidal European colonialism.

      They don’t pull punches. Neither should we.

      • Mikhael
        November 13, 2015, 6:36 am

        In addition, we must explain to Americans how they have been conned by white racist genocidal E. European thieves and invaders. –

        What’s your obsession with “white”? Are you saying that the Arabic-language speakers who’ve recently identified as “Palestinians” cannot be white? Are you saying that all Zionists are white and “East European”? The most committed, self-identified Zionists in Israel tend to not be of exclusively Ashkenazi heritage; those professing the most enthusiastically Zionist attitudes in Israel today mostly come from edot ha Mizrah. We must explain to Americans that the extreme anti-Zionist and post-Zionist fringe in Israel today is composed primarily of people of Eastern European Ashkenazi roots (although of course most Ashkenazim of Eastern European descent in Israel do not have these views, that extremist segment of Israeli society is overwhelmingly composed of Ashkenazim, ethnic Jews whose family lived in Eastern Europe prior to their aliyah). The number of anti-Zionist Mizrahim in this fringe group are exceedingly few. We must explain this to Americans, and Europeans, and Australians.

      • zaid
        November 13, 2015, 2:11 pm

        “Are you saying that the Arabic-language speakers who’ve recently identified as “Palestinians” cannot be white?”

        Labeling the inhabitants of modern Palestine as Palestinians are common throughout history.

        ” Are you saying that all Zionists are white and “East European”? The most committed, self-identified Zionists in Israel tend to not be of exclusively Ashkenazi heritage; those professing the most enthusiastically Zionist attitudes in Israel today mostly come from edot ha Mizrah. We must explain to America”

        When a Mizrahim Jew shouts death to Arabs, he is wishing the death of the Arab inside him and not the Arab in Gaza or East Jerusalem.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 13, 2015, 2:28 pm

        “When a Mizrahim Jew shouts death to Arabs, he is wishing the death of the Arab inside him and not the Arab in Gaza or East Jerusalem.”

        True.

        Plus, in colonial/apartheid situations like this, it’s often the ‘lower class’ segements of the dominant population who are the most fervant supporters of the status quo. Working class Presbyterians tend to be much more hard-core Loyalist than middle-class Anglicans in Northern Ireland, for example. I suppose the logic is that, while you may be considered low caste within your own grouping, at least you can still lord it over the untermenschen.

        So as well as the fact that they’ve been indoctrinated into denying their own Arab heritage, it’s no suprise that the Mzrahim, who are a big step down from Ashkenazim in the Israeli Jewish hierarchy, are (even) more fiercely anti-Palestinian than their more genteel ‘brothers’.

      • Mikhael
        November 16, 2015, 2:00 am

        Maximus Decimus Meridius November 13, 2015, 2:28 pm

        “When a Mizrahim Jew shouts death to Arabs, he is wishing the death of the Arab inside him and not the Arab in Gaza or East Jerusalem.

        True.

        False. Mizrahim aren’t Arabs, just as Kurds are not Arabs. We share a common nationality with our fellow Jews.

        Plus, in colonial/apartheid situations like this, it’s often the ‘lower class’ segements of the dominant population who are the most fervant supporters of the status quo.

        What condescending crap. In 2015 Israel, there’s no shortage of Israelis from edoth ha Mizrah who are university-educated, who are white-collar professionals, who are technocratic elites, who are successful industrialists. Guess what? They will almost all define themselves as Zionists. And no, that doesn’t mean they are shouting “Death to the Arabs” at Beitar Jerusalem games. It means they want Israel to continue as the nation-state of the Jewish people, that they see themselves as part of the Jewish people, and they will defend their country.

        I suppose the logic is that, while you may be considered low caste within your own grouping, at least you can still lord it over the untermenschen.

        If there are still Israeli Ashkenazim who consider Mizrahim to be “lower-class,” you might find this attitude prevalent among the extreme anti-Zionist fringe. They need to feel superior to someone even as they espouse faux progressive cant.

        So as well as the fact that they’ve been indoctrinated into denying their own Arab heritage

        Having ancestors who used to live in an Arab country doesn’t mean your heritage is “Arab” except maybe in a linguistic sense. But that would mean, I, as as the son of Israelis of Syrian-Jewish and Sephardic heritage on one side and Ashkenazi Hungarian on my mother’s side have an “English” heritage because I was raised in an English-speaking country. In that sense, and only in that sense, is there an “Arab heritage” of Mizrahi Jews. It’s a language they (or their ancestors) once used — but not part of their national identity.

        it’s no suprise that the Mzrahim, who are a big step down from Ashkenazim in the Israeli Jewish hierarchy…

        In Israel circa 1950-1977, recent immigrant Mizrahim were a big step down in the Israeli hierarchy, and one reason for their exclusion was their inclination to support Herut/Likud. Then again, new immigrant Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe were also a big step down in the hierarchy. (Veteran Mizrahim who had been present in the country for many generations. like my paternal ancestors, were in the elite in the “Old Yishuv” (pre-Zionist Jewish community) and in the New Yishuv (post Zionist, pre-State Jewish community). In Israel of the 1990s and 2000s, the socioeconomic gap between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim is almost completely gone (and in fact secular Mizrahim fare way better in economic and educational achievements than ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazim) and the Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Sefaradim are basically fucking like rabbits and marrying each other like crazy. With the sole exception of prime minister, every single crucial cabinet post has been held at one time or another in the last 30 years by a Mizrahi (e.g., foreign ministry, interior ministry, finance ministry, defense ministry, as well as attorney general, president, head of the joint chief of staffs, etc.). Mizrahi titans of industry like (oligarchical billionaire) Yitzhak Teshuva hold the Israeli economy in thrall as capitalists are wont to do. You’re pretending that you have a clue about what you’re talking about with your “big step down” rhetoric .

        are (even) more fiercely anti-Palestinian than their more genteel ‘brothers’

        On the whole, except for some fringe messianist lunatics, most Israeli Jews, whether Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, or Sefaradi or a mix of all of the above, are prepared to accept as neighbors the Arabs who’ve recently started identifying themselves as “Palestinians” when they are ready to accept us and our presence here as free Jews in our own state.

    • zaid
      November 18, 2015, 12:14 pm

      Mekael

      You are an Arab so stop fooling yourself.
      No matter how much you hate us , you will still be one of us.

  5. gamal
    November 12, 2015, 7:46 pm

    Next year in the Haram, sacred to all, tear gas looks like incense, who’s to know.

    “Sacred” is one of those words that seems to have no meaning whatsoever.

  6. zaid
    November 12, 2015, 9:41 pm

    The biggest Zionist theft of Palestinian historic sites is the so called Kotel (Western wall) which were built by the Umayyads.

    There are no mention in Jewish old text of any significance for this wall.
    The western wall rituals is newly invented.

    • Kay24
      November 12, 2015, 9:47 pm

      And we know the Israelis are experts at inventions. ;))

    • yonah fredman
      November 13, 2015, 11:23 am

      Regarding the wall’s builders: Just over half the wall’s total height, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, and is commonly believed to have been built around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, although recent excavations indicate that the work was not finished by the time Herod died in 4 BCE. The very large stone blocks of the lower courses are Herodian, the courses of medium-sized stones above them were added during the Umayyad era, while the small stones of the uppermost courses are of more recent date, especially from the Ottoman Period.

      Regarding Jewish prayer at that spot: Jews were not allowed to pray nearer the spot of the destroyed Temple, either by soldiers of foreign armies and their local allies, or by Jewish law and therefore the Kotel became the focus of prayer in that neighborhood.

      • zaid
        November 13, 2015, 2:18 pm

        ” and is commonly believed to have been built around 19 BCE by Herod the Great”

        Believed by Whom?

        I guess by the Zionist who wrote the wikipedia article that you read.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t52LB2fYhoY

        There are no historic mention of the western wall as being of religious importance to Jews,not in Islamic sources, nor Chritians nor Jewish.

        By the way King Herod is an Arab.

        http://www.britannica.com/biography/Herod-king-of-Judaea

      • MHughes976
        November 13, 2015, 4:22 pm

        The indication that the wall was not finished by Herod comes from coins discovered just beneath it dating to 17 CE, the prefecture of Valerius Gratus, whereas Herod died in 4 BCE (most people think). The problem then is that Josephus says that the Temple was begun in the 18th year of Herod’s reign (20 BCE) and finished, even in respect of its peribolos, outer surrounds, by 12. The later work that he records concerns a wall beside the inner sanctuary (irrelevant) to conceal important activities from prying eyes, and work to restore buildings threatened with subsidence in the 50s, Nero’s time. All in all there are serious difficulties in thinking, in the light of Josephus’ emphatic statements and the evidence of the Vslerius coins, that the wall was erected pre-70, Ie was ever a Jewish structure. Note that I said serious not necessarily insuperable. The story begins at Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15 para. 380.
        Herod was called ‘an uncircumcised Edomite’ (bloody Arab) by his rivals but he considered himself a Jew of the utmost piety, elected by God himself to be King.

  7. xaf
    November 13, 2015, 3:13 am

    I feel that this article and many of the commenters are denying the Jewish people’s right to define what is special to them or holy to their religion.

    Zionists claim ad nauseum that Palestinians have no inherent connection to Palestine/Levant and that their claimed religious connection to Jerusalem, Hebron, etc are fictitious and political inventions. We know this is false and deeply offensive. The above is simply the flip side of it applied to Israelis.

    The Tomb of Joseph, whether real or not, is holy to the Jewish people. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, whether real or not, is holy to the Palestinian people.

    We do not gain anything by denying another people’s religious beliefs, but rather should focus exclusively on human rights and ending crimes against humanity rather than devolve into “my god can beat up your god”.

    • Mooser
      November 13, 2015, 12:58 pm

      “We do not gain anything by denying another people’s religious beliefs, but rather should focus exclusively on human rights and ending crimes against humanity rather than devolve into “my god can beat up your god”.

      And gee, do the Zionists see Israel and its works, as a failure or demonstration of the weakness of their God? I sorta doubt it.

      Tell it to the Zionists. And if something is “holy”, you don’t profane it by fighting over it or stealing it. Just go make something else “holy”. It’s not a big effort.

    • diasp0ra
      November 13, 2015, 2:20 pm

      That’s a false equivalence though.

      I understand your point in general, but in this case it doesn’t apply. A site that is appropriated, misrepresented and used to ideologically legitimize settler colonialism is not the same as people having holy sites that we should respect. Especially if it has never had those ties that are claimed.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      November 13, 2015, 2:21 pm

      “I feel that this article and many of the commenters are denying the Jewish people’s right to define what is special to them or holy to their religion.”

      Jews – or members of any religious group – do not have a ‘ right to define what is special to them or holy to their religion’ at the expense of the indigenous people of the land where they are busy ‘defining’ themselves.

      • MHughes976
        November 13, 2015, 4:49 pm

        We all consider beliefs about religious matters which are in conflict with our own to be false and therefore would have to deny their truth if we are asked and reply honestly.
        To say that you consider a place or object or person to be sacred is to say that you have certain feelings about it. if you say that these feelings are justified by traditions or texts that cannot be a reason for those who do not accept those authorities, or who interpret them differently, to share your feelings. Feelings cannot by themselves create rights.
        It is morally undesirable to set out to hurt the feelings of others but it is also undesirable to set out to indulge them, because that would mean you would rather be liked than be true to your own real beliefs, which leads to ‘following a multitude to do evil’, which as the Jewish scriptures rightly say is just not very good.

      • Mooser
        November 13, 2015, 5:06 pm

        “We all consider beliefs about religious matters which are in conflict with our own to be false”

        Nonsense. I consider all other religious beliefs to be just as true as my own.

  8. WH
    November 13, 2015, 4:03 am

    Fascinating article – but what does Joseph’s Tomb have to do with Judaism? Joseph is only of significance as the biological father of Jesus.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      November 13, 2015, 3:05 pm

      I’m guessing the ‘Joseph’ is the one with the coat of many colours, rescued from bondage in Pharoah’s land?

      • MHughes976
        November 13, 2015, 4:58 pm

        Joshua 24 says that the patriarch Joseph was buried at Shechem, later seemingly a major Samaritan sanctuary destroyed by the Hasmonean King John rather before 100 BCE. Nablus is the favourite candidate for the site of Shechem but as I understand there is little archaeological confirmation.

  9. Citizen
    November 13, 2015, 12:48 pm

    Not directly related, but I thought I should share Binart’s recent interview: Peter Binart: Y 1-state solution won’t work & Y he supports #BDS http://www.haaretz.com/peace/1.685766

  10. DaBakr
    November 14, 2015, 1:55 am

    Palestinian Muslims claiming Josephs tomb is not really connected to the Jewish people in any way historical or ‘true’ and only by tradition ( proof dating from apprx. 300a.d, btw) is as legitimate as Jews claiming that the al-aqsa compound or temple mount has no legitimacy as a Muslim holy site because-obviously-a flying donkey/mule touching its hoof on the rock before ascending to 7th heaven has no basis in historical accuracy nor anything resembling ‘truth’.

    there is no other time in the entire history of Islam that so-called ‘scholars’ denied the traditions and history of Jewish holy sites. Previous to the last decade of the I/P conflict there were no serious opinions or educators that separated the links between Judaism and Islam and if there was any bias displayed at all would most likely be pride that Islam succeeded Judaism as its well known that Muslims are taught that Islam is the superior of the 3 abramic faiths (which is
    nothing more then typical for most religions. Maybe there were Muslims who were proud that mosques were built as places of worship and prayer over destroyed or ruined synagogs and churches. Surely many were some of the most outstanding architecture the world has known.
    But now it has all devolved to the lowest form of de-legitimization. The stench of political opportunism and propaganda is so strong that its a wonder the MW commenters here can stand it since they are so finely attuned to anything Israel does in the political hasbara department.

    If one follows the current Palestinian campaign -most likely being pushed by hostile western far left-wing ngo’s working to find new angles to spread discord and sow seeds of poison-one will end up in a land where Palestinians have declared there is absolutely 0% Jewish connection to anything from the ‘river to the sea’ except for maybe Masada ;). And the rest of the Christian and Jewish Buddhist and ‘other’ world will see the land in all of its context from the Land of Israel to Judea Jerusalem and up through to the current situation. At some point it has to b asked to what degree the Palestinian people actually benefit from these crude attempts to distort history by turning it inside out and twisting it into something entirely different. Akin to a ‘scholar’ trying to ‘prove’ that the Greeks stole all of their cultural, civic and religious precedents from the Romans (who actually predated the greek empire by 100s -if not 1000s of years)

    • diasp0ra
      November 14, 2015, 8:41 am

      That’s nonsense,

      Appropriating areas and claiming that they were holy to ancient Jewish tribes was one of the main tasks of Zionist archaeologists to legitimize their ethnic cleansing practices.

      That can’t be compared to a site that has had over a millennium of continuous worship.

    • Mooser
      November 14, 2015, 11:21 am

      “If one follows the current Palestinian campaign -most likely being pushed by hostile western far left-wing ngo’s working to find new angles to spread discord and sow seeds of poison “

      Hi, “Dabakr”! Just as a favor to a loyal fan, could you give me an example of, or even a couple examples of “hostile western far left-wing ngo’s”? Just so we know the kind folks we are dealing with.

  11. zaid
    November 14, 2015, 11:11 am

    ” is as legitimate as Jews claiming that the al-aqsa compound or temple mount has no legitimacy as a Muslim holy site because-obviously-a flying donkey/mule touching its hoof on the rock before ascending to 7th heaven has no basis in historical accuracy nor anything resembling ‘truth’.”

    But still, the flying donkey have more historical accuracy than the existence of Joseph ,Solomon and the Patriarchs themselves.

    Also,It does not matter whether the Isra and Miraj happened or not, what matters is that Muslims built Alaqsa 1400 year ago, and that is an undisputed fact, so it is Islamic and Historic and only Muslims have rights there.

    Deal with it and go build your temple somewhere else because you will never ever pray there .

  12. ruthieofamerica
    November 18, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Is it really an acceptable act for Palestinians to show their anger at Jews by throwing petrol bombs at the tomb they describe as their holy site?

    Jordan was an oppressor when it had possession of the most holy places in the Jewish religion. They violated their pledge to continue to allow people of all religions to visit the Western Wall. They betrayed their promise to leave the historical Jewish Quarter intact by kicking out the Jews who had lived there since before the birth of Jesus and razing it to the ground. Worst of all, Jordan dug up historic Jewish tombstones on the Mount of Olives and used them for steps and latrines.

    Yet when the Jews were finally able to return to the Western Wall in 1967 nobody threw anything at it to show their anger at the outrageous behavior of Jordan. Jews wept. They touched the stones of the Wall reverently and prayed.

    Because when you believe a place is holy you don’t throw things at it, even if it is made mostly of stone and will mostly survive the fire.

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