Last week I wrote about Zionist myths and the lack of historical evidence connecting today’s Jews with the Jews of Judah 2,000 years ago. It is highly likely, I wrote, that I, being of Lithuanian ancestry, am descended from the Khazars, an empire of converted Jews who ruled over a vast territory, stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, during the medieval period.
Now, less than a week after my previous article, research has been published that backs up what I wrote. A genetic study conducted by Dr. Eran Elhaik of Johns Hopkins University has found that the Khazars were indeed the precursors of European (or Ashkenazi) Jewry.
Another finding was that there are no blood or family connections between European and non-European Jews. “The various groups of Jews in the world today do not share a common genetic origin,” Dr. Elhaik said in an interview. “We are talking here about groups that are very heterogeneous and which are connected solely by religion.”
Like all studies, this one should be treated cautiously until it has been subjected to critical assessment. Genetics are a contentious issue, which could have a potentially critical role in demystifying the origins of modern Jewry Previous genetic research that ostensibly substantiated the link between ancient and current Jewry has, to a large extent, been tendentious. We need to be just as wary of results that point in the opposite direction, even though I myself believe them to be true.
The stakes are enormous, given that the state of Israel was established on the basis of the theory that Jews were a homogeneous “nation” with an immutable claim to the land – which remains the logic behind Israel’s occupation policies today. Verifiable evidence to the contrary could have devastating consequences. I don’t expect Bibi Netanyahu to accept the findings with a shrug and hand the land back to its previous inhabitants, but this study could prove to be the first hole in the dyke.
By the way, if one accepts the post-Zionist reasoning (not to mention the historical record) that there never was an en-mass exile of Jews from the Kingdom of Judah and that most of the inhabitants remained where they were after 70 AD, the inevitable question is: what happened to them? The most likely answer is that some of them converted to Christianity and the rest of them converted to Islam, when the Arabs arrived in the region in the 6th Century. Their descendants are now living in Ramallah, Nablus and East Jerusalem. So, irony of ironies, the Palestinians who Israel has been kicking off the land for the past century are, more likely than not, the Jews of old.
Try get your heads around that one!
On to something else. As an afterward to my piece last week, I raised the question of what lies behind the American infatuation with guns. I’m not going to get into the subject too deeply, as American studies is not my forte and I try to keep my kibbitzing focused on stuff I know a little about. But there is one historical point I’d like to make.
I don’t think that American gun madness can be seen as a stand-alone phenomenon, divorced from the other factors that make up the society and the collective psyche. It comes from the same source as the abhorrence of taxes, the hankering for small government and a loathing for anything that smacks of socialism (including the social democracy that is typical of most European countries) – the myth of the American as a self-reliant individual, fighting for hearth and home against the forces of evil and tyranny.
The reasons for the endurance of the American myth include not only the experiences of Americans over the past 200 years but also – and possibly, particularly – what they didn’t experience – namely, two world wars. American soldiers fought in both wars, but they did so abroad. The fighting never reached the shores of the US. As a consequence, Americans were spared the enormous civilian casualties, the destruction and the social dislocation that were the lot of practically every European country.
The two world wars left an indelible mark on Europe. The people of Europe not only witnessed the devastating consequences of modern weaponry; they also experienced, particularly in WWII, the disintegration of societies and the total social mobilization that was necessary to, first, wage the war and later to rebuild the countries it had destroyed. The Europe that emerged after 1945 was deeply traumatized. For Eastern Europe, the trauma continued under communism, but for Western Europe it was a time of rebuilding and taking steps to ensure that the events of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 would never recur.
To put it simply, the reality of WWII trumped all national myths. When it was over, European imperialism was also over and the strident nationalism of the first half of the 20th Century was dead. National aspirations took the more modest form of support for national football teams. It took a massive, centralized effort to rebuild Europe (funded, ironically, by the US) and that experience led to a pan-European appreciation of strong, but democratic, government and social welfare. It also gave rise to a European collective, as an antidote to the uncontrolled nationalism of the past.
America is not burdened by such traumas. Americans are able to continue to believe that guns are for killing deer, big government is government that levies high taxes and enacts social programs – such as the New Deal and the Great Society – which smack of socialism and of telling people what to do and that their country is the greatest on earth. Had they experienced Hitler first-hand, they might be looking at things a little differently.
As it is, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that any effective gun control will be enacted. Guns are an immutable part of the American character and the killing of 27 people in a school is not sufficiently traumatic to dispel the myths. It will take a lot more killing, unfortunately, before anything changes.