Jewish people are a spiritual reality, so take care when imagining their homeland and genetic heritage.
Yesterday, I posted a blog asking questions about what “people” means. Please read it and carefully reflect on it before tackling this piece. Doing so, you’ll recognize that it presents ideas that might be earthshattering to many people. It dealt particularly with how the Jewish people are understood in various contexts, sometimes unfamiliar to average Christians or even Jews.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, watch the following video presentation—
Our spurious familiarity for looking at Jewish people, or anything else, often is fueled by seeing things superficially. Recently, someone informed me that, “Clearly, the state of Israel today is the same nation that King David ruled over in 3,000 BC. Unlike you, I went to Israel on a pilgrimage [read: parish-led vacation trip where Father gets a freebie]. They speak Hebrew there, the same language David and his people spoke!”
Except that’s not true. Yes, a kind of Hebrew is spoken in modern Israel—Israelis do have a culture and share a common language. But their Hebrew is not the Hebrew or Aramaic of Jesus’ day, much less the tongue David spoke. It’s not even close. Israeli Hebrew is thoroughly modern and barely resembles the biblical language.
In fact, as John Pilch and other scholars indicate, ancient, biblical Hebrew probably never was a spoken language! It was the sacred tongue of the sanctuary.
Jewish People & Everyone Else
I mentioned yesterday that everyone living today, including all Jewish people, is a mutt. By that, I mean all human groups are messy mixes of many origins, and there are no “races.” Whether we are talking superior races, inferior races, and in-between—there simply are no races. Therefore, there is no Jewish race.
This applies to Palestinians as well also. Whether it’s Palestinian Israeli citizens or folks in Occupied Palestine, where human rights have been violated for over half a century, it makes no difference. Palestinians are mutts also, despite what David Ben-Gurion initially thought upon arriving in their lands. Everyone is a mutt—praise God!
There are no straight lines of descent extending two millennia backward. Palestinians, be they Muslim or Christian or Samaritan or whatever, therefore, just like Jewish Israelis, cannot be the direct descendants of first-century Israelites. That being said, Palestinians are far more likely to be related to the Israelites of Jesus’ day than any Ashkenazi is on Planet Earth.
As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand says, “people” is a cultural concept, not biological. Therefore “Jew” is a culture-concept, not a genetic phenomenon.
What About Jewish DNA?
For different reasons, the findings of genetic studies are highly controversial, caught up with particular vested interests that put truth after agendas. But DNA evidence suggests that Ashkenazi Jews—over 80 percent of the world’s Jews—only have three percent ancient ancestry derived from the Middle East. This minuscule amount is comparable to modern Europeans sharing genes with Neanderthals (see studies below).
Among Jews, the Ashkenazi are genetically speaking mostly Turkic, like other south-central Russian peoples. Sephardim, in contrast, are much more robust in Semitic ties, but they are also mixed. What people do you know that isn’t enriched with many backgrounds?
Powerful historical and genetic arguments back up the understanding that the Ashkenazi lack Levantine origins and descend primarily from mixed Irano-Turko-Slavic backgrounds and Southern European peoples.
Genetics Research Into Jewish People
Never swallow anything I, or anyone else, tells you. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to contact any library in the world and acquire a copy of this article—
The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East.
Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Bernd Brinkmann, Partha P. Majumder, Marina Faerman, and Ariella Oppenheim.
Genetics 69:1095–1112, 2001.
Or these studies—
Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to primeval villages in the ancient Iranian lands of Ashkenaz
R Das, P Wexler, M Pirooznia, E Elhaik
Genome biology and evolution 8 (4), 1132-1149
The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish
R Das, P Wexler, M Pirooznia, E Elhaik
Frontiers in genetics 8, 87
In search of the jüdische Typus: a proposed benchmark to test the genetic basis of Jewishness challenges notions of “Jewish biomarkers.”
Frontiers in genetics 7, 141
Can these facts be re-contextualized and misused for genocidal hatred against Jews by racists? Absolutely, the same way the stories and words of Jesus as interpreted through “Mark,” “Matthew,” “Luke,” and (especially!!!) “John” have been for 2,000 years. Should we burn up these studies then, along with the Gospels? How about instead we explain them carefully? I think the latter is wisdom.
Getting to the topic of “homeland,” things become truly bizarre. For over one thousand years, Christians unleashed genocidal animus against various Jewish peoples. Christians considered Jews nothing less than Antichrist—an unwelcome plague of invading, treacherous outsiders. The message was that Jews were subhuman vermin who don’t belong, be it in England, in Spain, in France, or pretty much in any European land. Ultimately, Christians perennially spat at Jews, “Get out! This is not your homeland!”
What a contrast there is today! Because if someone were to tell a London Jew that Great Britain was her homeland, that person might well be accused of being anti-Semitic. The same goes for anyone telling Parisian Jews that France is their homeland, or Sofian Jews that Bulgaria is their homeland, or Pittsburg Jews that the U.S. is their homeland. This turnaround is very peculiar!
And what exactly is the homeland of Jews? Leaving Zionist fantasies aside, Jews are a spiritual, not genetic, people. Therefore, as with Christians and Muslims, the actual homeland of Jews must be spiritual also—a spiritual reality. Myth will always be true even if not factual, like interpreting Alternate Reality via culturally specific ways. As with Muslims and Christians, the Jewish homeland is metaphysical (really-real!), but not geographical.
Jewish Homeland is Spiritual
Spurious familiarity, the reliable “go-to” for so many Christians today, makes simple things muddled. Consider “Land of Israel.” What does that mean to most people living today? Be careful because “Land of Israel” as imagined by racist Zionists is quite different from the expression held by many Ashkenazi before Zionism. Do you think that the Zionist idea of the “Land of Israel” is biblical? If so, clean up your ignorance—the Zionist idea nowhere found in the Bible.
Where did the Zionist idea originate? Zionists took a mystical Talmudic concept about a spiritual, metaphysical homeland accessible through altered states of consciousness and death. They built it up into something foreign to both Talmuds and Scripture. They distorted it into a geo-political homeland that physically exists. This homeland exists not really for its taxpayers (Israelis of whatever origin) but for Jews anywhere on earth, all of whom have a “total right” to the land.
Further, Zionists based this idea on an old Christian myth that Jews were expelled in 70 CE from the physical Land. Folks that never happened. Yes. Roman imperial forces destroyed Jerusalem, but they didn’t exile all the people. And those people in 70 CE were not Jewish! Jews come around 500 CE with the Talmuds.
Jewish Land Rights?
Can you imagine if you attempted to fix the world’s problems in the Zionist way, meaning establishing rights of ancestral peoples on present-day lands? Imagine the upheaval and atrocities. Or skip imagining it and just take a look at the issue of Occupied Palestine and water rights. You’ll get a good understanding quickly.
If you believe that Jewish people wherever they are on earth have a right to Palestine because of Zionist mythological ideas on circumstances 2,000 years ago, think about what that would mean. Are Serbs justified then to destroy the Kosovars for land claims only two centuries past? Let’s be logically and ethically consistent. Supporting Jewish “rights” in Palestine demands recognizing Serbian claims for Kosovo. Why? Because only two hundred years ago, people with the Serbian dialect resided in Kosovo.
And while we are at it, why not militarize some Delaware peoples so they can uproot New Yorkers living in Manhattan? Sound good? After all, their ancestors got swindled just a few hundred years ago, not two millennia. And that screw job wasn’t mythological, I assure you. Suppose Woody Allen has land rights in Palestine. In that case, Serbs have the same in Kosovo, as do Arabs in Spain, the Lenape in New York City, and Celts in the British Isles, just to name a few.
What a crazy and violent idea “historical rights to land” is, huh?
The Jewish “Land of Israel” is a beautiful thing, like the Christian “heaven.” Alternate Reality where God dwells interpreted through many different culturally-informed brains is terrific. It lacks any and all borders and isn’t geographical—ʿolam ha-ba (the coming age) is lovely! Jews, like Christians and Muslims, are spiritual people. Spiritual people have spiritual homelands. No, not in the sense where consensus reality (this world) becomes worthless or not worth changing. But in the very sane understanding that nothing is eternal here.
For centuries, when Jewish people declared at the Passover Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem!” they did not mean, “Let’s all emigrate to Jerusalem!” They instead communicated the hope of being redeemed by Ha’Shem—God. But racist Zionists spun that into something horrible, full of human rights violations.
Religious or spiritual peoples don’t have geographical homelands, but other peoples do. The only way that religion might be said to have a geographical homeland is if that religion exists embedded in the politics of a people—like Jesus’ people. To the historical Jesus, “kingdom of God” meant Israelite theocracy, and his religion existed embedded in politics. But that isn’t how it is for us.
Much like for Christians and Muslims, the “place” for Jews is metaphysical, not geographical. Sure, there may be various geographical signs that you might visit. But don’t stay there too long! Throughout history, most people go to holy places to die, not live. As Shlomo Sand wisely says, it isn’t easy living in a holy place. He’s right. And be very careful if you meet someone who relishes “living” in holy places. Be on guard for your life with that person!