The Jews now living in Israel and other places in the world are not at all descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the so called Kingdom of Judea.
By Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
Speaking at a cabinet meeting held in Tel Hai last february, Israeli PM Netanyahu said “Our existence depends not only on the IDF or our economic resilience – it is anchored in our store of knowledge and the national sentiment that we will bestow upon the coming generations, in our ability to justify our connection to the land.”
Netanyahu was so eloquent in his statement and he managed to touch upon the problematic status quo of the state of Israel when he mentioned Israel’s ability to justify its connection to the occupied land of Palestine. But is it true? Are the Israelis of today the descendants of the ancient Israelites? Does merely being a Jew give anyone the right to claim connection to the land of Palestine and its history? I think it is up to historians not politicians to decide that.
Only by understanding history can we understand why things are the way they are right now. Many of the past events and histories in the world have shaped what we are as of now.
Historians agree- despite the scanty archeological findings- that the ancient Israelites inhabited part of Palestine- or the southern Levant- thousands of years ago. But so did the Phoenicians, the Canaanites, Philistines , the Hittites and the Aramaeans. Nevertheless we do not find some Canaanite people – whom were at least mentioned in the Mesopotamian and Ancient Egyptian texts. – appearing in modern age after thousands of years had elapsed with claims to the right to return to the land of their ancestors.
How did the ancient Israelites live in that part of the ancient Near East?
Their old Bible states that they lived in a monarchy of a political and military power close enough to be the rival of magnificent kingdoms like the Egyptian, the Babylonian and the Hittites. But history and archeology says different.
The Biblical Israelites
In his book “the Bible unearthed” The archeologist Israel Finkelstein states that although the book of Samuel, and initial parts of the book of Kings, portray Saul, David and Solomon ruling in succession over a powerful and cosmopolitan united kingdom of Israel and Judah, Finkelstein regards modern archaeological evidence as showing that this is a pious fiction.
The united kingdom of Israel and Judah depicted in the bible was nothing more than a sparsely populated rural region, nomadic tribes at best until the 7th century BCE. And the whole region was an Egyptian protectorate extending north to where Syria is today.
And by following the Biblical story of the Israelites we will find out that they were driven out of their land in the form of mass exile in 607 BCE by the Babylonians, and from Judea in 70 CE by the Roman Empire. Somehow we are more concerned with the second mass exile or what is better known as the “Diaspora” as it is the Zionists` pretext for claiming the right to return to their homeland.
According to Shlomo Sand in his bestseller book “ The invention of the Jewish people”, the description of the Jews as a wandering nation in exiles, “who wandered across seas and continents, reached the ends of the earth and finally, with the advent of Zionism, made a U-turn and returned en masse to their orphaned homeland,” is nothing but “national mythology.” For the ancient Israelite never left their homeland nor wandered across different parts of the world in what is known as the “Diaspora”
Inventing the Diaspora
“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom” – thus states the preamble to the Israeli Declaration of Independence. This is also the quotation that opens the third chapter of Sand’s book, entitled “The Invention of the Diaspora.” Sand argues that the Jewish people’s exile from its land never happened.
“The supreme paradigm of exile was needed in order to construct a long-range memory in which an imagined and exiled nation-race was posited as the direct continuation of ‘the people of the Bible’ that preceded it,” Sand explains. Under the influence of other historians who have dealt with the same issue in recent years, he argues that the exile of the Jewish people is originally a Christian myth that depicted that event as divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel.
Sand added “I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land – a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country. The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th century. From this, in effect, the whole book of shlomo sand was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.”
In his historical research, sand attempts to prove that the Jews now living in Israel and other places in the world are not at all descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the so called Kingdom of Judea. Their origins, according to him, are in varied peoples that converted to Judaism during the course of history, in different corners of the Mediterranean Basin and the adjacent regions. Not only are the North African Jews for the most part descendants of pagans who converted to Judaism, but so are the Jews of Yemen (remnants of the Himyar Kingdom in the Arab Peninsula, who converted to Judaism in the fourth century) and the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe (refugees from the Kingdom of the Khazars, who converted in the eighth century).
The same conclusion was adopted by Arthur Koestler in his famous book The Thirteenth Tribe (1976). It advances the controversial thesis that the modern Jewish population originating from North / East Europe and Russia including their descendants, or Ashkenazim, are not descended from the historical Israelites of antiquity, but from Khazars, a people originating and populating the Caucasus region (historical Khazaria) who converted to Judaism in the 8th century and later voluntarily migrating or were forced to move westwards into current Eastern Europe (Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Germany and other places outside the Caucasus region) before and during the 12th and 13th century when the Khazar Empire was collapsing.
History’s final word
So this is how history unfolds to refute the Biblical narration of a kingdom of David and Solomon, negates the Diaspora ever happened and tells us that the current Jews are mainly the descendants of Khazar tribes, berber tribes in north Africa and Arabic tribes in Yemen who converted to Judaism and have no strong Genetic link to the Jews who lived in Palestine during Roman times something that Israel now is trying to prove otherwise by financing Genetic clinical trials that only revealed Genetic similarities amongst Jews expected of people with the common ancestral origins mentioned above.
The UN records show that there are 5 million uprooted Palestinians today do not have the right of return to their homes despite the fact that Ashkenazi Jews (European, with no ties to biblical Israel other than their adoption of the Jewish religion) do.
History negates that the ancient Israelites ever left their home land and approves the thesis of their conversion to Islam in the 7th century and in doing so undermines the historical connection of modern Jews to the land of modern day Palestine.
History says the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that modern Israelis are its descendents.
He writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, comparative religion and politics especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Founder and board member of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina friends' society. Some of His articles have been published in Egyptian magazines and online publications ( e.g., Salem News.com, Opinion Maker, Dissident Voice, Intifada Palestine, Uprooted Palestinians and My Catbird Seat)
He regrets the fact that most people dismiss the vital role history plays in our life.History helps us understand change and how the society we live in came to be.
Dr. Ezzat studied video editing and photography in 2010. And has been making some short films and documentaries ever since.
One last thing, he likes listening to opera and classical music.
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