Khazar hypothesis of Ashkenazi ancestry
The Khazar hypothesis of Ashkenazi ancestry, often called the "Khazar myth" by its critics,: 369: VIII is the hypothesis that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from the Khazars, a multi-ethnic conglomerate of Turkic peoples who formed a semi-nomadic Khanate in the area extending from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. The hypothesis draws on some medieval sources such as the Khazar Correspondence, according to which at some point in the 8th–9th centuries, the ruling elite of the Khazars was said by Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Daud to have converted to Rabbinic Judaism. The scope of the conversion within the Khazar Khanate remains uncertain: the evidence used to tie the Ashkenazi communities to the Khazars is meager and subject to conflicting interpretations.
This hypothesis has had a complex history within academia. While most contemporary scholars dismiss it, the hypothesis has often been argued in the past, and still finds occasional defenders of its plausibility. In the late 19th century, Ernest Renan and other scholars speculated that the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe originated among Turkic refugees who had migrated from the collapsed Khazarian Khanate westward into Europe, and exchanged their native Khazar language for Yiddish while continuing to practice Judaism. Though intermittently evoked by several scholars since that time, the Khazar-Ashkenazi hypothesis came to the attention of a much wider public with the publication of Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe in 1976. It has been revived recently by Eran Elhaik, who in 2012 conducted a study aiming to vindicate it. Despite skepticism, he reformulated the concept in 2016 by developing a novel method of genetic analysis that uses the fringe linguistic theories of the Yiddish expert Paul Wexler.
Genetic studies on Jews have found no substantive evidence of a Khazar origin among Ashkenazi Jews, as opposed to evidence they have mixed Near Eastern/Mediterranean and Southern European origins.
- 1 History
- 2 Genetics and the Khazar theory
- 3 Antisemitism
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Some sources attribute to the Ukrainian Rabbi Isaac Baer Levinsohn (1788–1860) the first reference to a connection between the Ashkenazi Jews and the Khazars. Levinsohn also recorded that the tradition of their forefathers was that Ashkenazi Jews had earlier spoken Russian before acquiring Yiddish. The hypothesis was advanced in 1808 by Johann Ewers, in the context of an early controversy over the foundations of the Russian state, which pitted scholars espousing a Norman origin for the Varangians against those who argued that these founders of the Kievan Rus' were Slavic and indigenous. Ewers proposed the idea that the Viking/Varangian founders were in fact Khazars. The Russian historian Nikolay Karamzin advanced the claim, asserting that considerable numbers of Khazars had left Khazaria for Kievan Rus' in the time of Vladimir I (980–1015). The German Orientalist Karl Neumann suggested as early as 1847 that the migration of Khazars might have contributed to the formation of the core population of the Jews of Eastern Europe, without however specifying whether he was referring to Judaizing Turks or ethnic Jewish residents of Khazaria.
Subsequently, Abraham Eliyahu Harkavi suggested in 1869 that there might be a link between the Khazars and European Jews. Three years later, however, in 1872, a Crimean Karaite, Abraham Firkovich, alternatively proclaimed that the members of his Turkic-speaking sect were descended from Turkic converts to Judaism. This hypothesis, that the descendents of Khazar converts to Judaism formed a major proportion of Ashkenazim, was first proposed to a Western public by Ernest Renan in 1883. In a lecture delivered in Paris before the Cercle du Saint-Simon on 27 January 1883, Renan argued that conversion played a significant role in the formation of the Jewish people, stating that:
This conversion of the kingdom of the Khazars has a considerable importance regarding the origin of those Jews who dwell in the countries along the Danube and southern Russia. These regions enclose great masses of Jewish populations which have in all probability nothing or almost nothing that is anthropologically Jewish in them.
Renan's thesis found an echo soon after, in 1885, when Isidore Loeb, a rabbi, historian and secretary of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, in arguing for the cause of Jewish emancipation, challenged the notion that nations were based on races, and the Jews therefore could be excluded as alien. To the contrary, he argued, they were no different from other peoples and nations, all of which arose from miscegenation: the Jews were no exception, and one could assume, he added, that many German and Russian Jews descended from the Khazars.
Occasional suggestions emerged that there was a small Khazar component in East European Jews in works by Joseph Jacobs (1886), Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu (1893), Maksymilian Ernest Gumplowicz, and by the Russian-Jewish anthropologist Samuel Weissenberg.
Leroy-Beaulieu, a critic of anti-Semitism who perhaps drew on Renan, queried whether or not thousands of Polish and Russian Jews might have their origins traced back to the "old nomads of the steppes."
In 1909 Hugo von Kutschera developed the notion into a book-length study, arguing that Khazars formed the foundational core of the modern Ashkenazi. Maurice Fishberg introduced the notion to an American audience in 1911 in his book, The Jews: A Study of Race and Environment.
When at the Versailles Peace Conference, a Jewish Zionist called Palestine the land of the Jewish people's ancestors, Joseph Reinach, a French Jewish member of parliament who was opposed to Zionism, dismissed the idea, arguing that Jews descended from Israelites were a tiny minority. In his view, conversion had played a major role in the expansion of the Jewish people, and, in addition, he claimed, the majority of "Russian, Polish and Galician Jews descend from the Khazars, a Tatar people from the south of Russia who converted to Judaism in mass at the time of Charlemagne."
Interwar years, 1918–1939
The idea was also taken up by the Polish-Jewish economic historian and General Zionist Yitzhak Schipper in 1918, by scholarly anthropologists, such as Roland B. Dixon (1923), and by writers like H. G. Wells (1921) who used it to argue that "The main part of Jewry never was in Judea", a thesis that was to have a political echo in later opinion. In 1931 Sigmund Freud wrote to Max Eitingon that the sculptor Oscar Nemon, for whom he was sitting, showed the lineaments of a "Slavic Eastern Jew, Khazar or Kalmuck or something like that".
This interwar period consolidated also a belief, originally developed by the Russian Orientalists V.V. Grigor’iev and V.D. Smirnov, that the East European congregations of the Karaite sect of Judaism were descendants of Turkic Khazars. The idea of a Khazarian origin of the Karaites was then adopted as their official viewpoint. Seraja Szapszal (1873–1961), from 1927, the ḥakham of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaite community had begun to implement a thorough-going reform policy of dejudaizing Karaite culture and traditions and transforming along Turkic lines. As a secular Jew and orientalist he was influenced by Atatürk's reforms, and his policy was dictated by several considerations: Jews were suffering from harassment in public and private in Eastern Europe; he wished to forestall the threat he had intuited was imminent in both Fascism and Nazism, which were beginning to gain a foothold; he was passionate about the Karaites' language, Karaim, and its Turkish tradition, and somewhat insouciant of the Judaic heritage of his people. In 1934 Corrado Gini, a distinguished statistician, interested also in demography and anthropology, with close ties to the fascist elite, led an expedition in August–October 1934 to survey the Karaites. He concluded that Karaites were ethnically mixed, predominantly Chuvash which he mistook to be Finno-Ugric descendants of the Tauro-Cimmerians who at one point had been absorbed into the Khazars who for Gini however were not Turkic. A further conclusion was that the Ashkenazi arose from ‘Turko-Tatar converts to Judaism.’ Though the Khazar-Karaite theory is unsubstantiated by any historical evidence, - the early Karaite literature speaks of Khazars as mamzerim, 'bastards' or 'strangers' within Judaism - this myth served a political purpose, of taking that community out of the stranglehold of anti-Semitic regulations and prejudices directed generally against Jews in Eastern Europe.
In 1943, Abraham N. Polak (sometimes referred to as Poliak), later professor of the history of the Middle Ages at Tel Aviv University, published a Hebrew monograph in which he concluded that the East European Jews came from Khazaria.
In Nazi Germany, unlike most race theorists in Germany down to his time Hans F. K. Günther argued that the Jews were not a pure race, although he nevertheless considered them to be highly inbred. He argued that the Ashkenazi were a mix of Near Eastern, Oriental, East Baltic, Eastern, Inner-Asian, Nordic, Hamite, and Negro peoples and separate from the Sephardim. Günther believed that the conversion of the Khazars, whom he took to have been a Near Eastern race constituted a further external element in the racial makeup of the Ashkenazi Jews, strengthening its Near Eastern component.: 32–33 Günther’s theorizing about racial consequences flowing from the conversion of the Khazars was embraced by Gerhard Kittel.: 175
The Karaite claim not to be ethnic Jews, but descendants of the Khazars, was eventually accepted by the Nazis who exempted them, unlike the Crimean Krymchaks with whom they had historic ties, from the policy of genocidal extermination on these grounds.
In debates leading up to the UN plan in 1947 to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the British politicians John Hope Simpson and Edward Spears, intent on denying Zionism that part of its claim that drew on biblical arguments, asserted that Jewish immigrants to Mandatory Palestine were the descendants of pagan converts and not of the Israelites. The approach was one shared by both gentile and Jewish anti-Zionists. Rory Miller claims that their denial of a lineal descent from Israelites drew on the Khazar theory.: 128
In anti-Zionist argumentation delivered at the UN during 1947 Faris al-Khoury and Jamal Al-Husseini used the theory to oppose the creation of a Jewish state on racial and historic grounds. Cecil Hourani claimed that the Arab leaders had been convinced of the value of the argument by Benjamin H. Freedman. Internal British documents seem to support the claim.: 129 It would later play a role in Arab anti-Zionist polemics, taking on an antisemitic edge, though Bernard Lewis, noted in 1987 that serious Arab scholars had dropped it, remarked that it only occasionally emerged in Arab political polemics.: 48
D.M. Dunlop, writing in 1954, thought very little evidence backed what he regarded as a mere assumption, and argued that the Ashkenazi-Khazar descent hypothesis went far beyond what "our imperfect records" permit.
Léon Poliakov, while assuming the Jews of Western Europe resulted from a "panmixia" in the first millennium, asserted in 1955 that it was widely assumed that Europe's Eastern Jews descended from a mixture of Khazarian and German Jews. Polak's work found some support from Salo Wittmayer Baron and Ben-Zion Dinur, but was dismissed by Bernard Weinryb as a fiction (1962).
In 1957 Salo Wittmayer Baron, called by his biographer an "architect of Jewish history", devoted a large part of a chapter in his Social and Religious History of the Jews to the Khazarian Jewish state, and the impact he believed that community exercised on the formation of East European Jewries in his Social and Religious History of the Jews (1957). The scarcity of direct Jewish testimonies did not disconcert Baron: this was to be expected since medieval Jews were "generally inarticulate outside their main centers of learning". The Khazarian turn to Judaism was, he judged, the "largest and last mass conversion", involving both the royal house and large sectors of the population. Jews migrated there to flee the recurrent intolerance against Jews and the geopolitical upheavals of the region's chronic wars, which often proved devastating to northern Asia Minor, between Byzantium, Sassanid Persia, and the Abbasid and Ummayad Caliphates.
For Baron, the fact of Jewish Khazaria played a lively role in stirring up among Western Jews an image of "red Jews", and among Jews in Islamic countries a beacon of hope. After the dissolution of Khazaria, Baron sees a diaspora drifting both north into Russia, Poland and the Ukraine, and westwards into Pannonia and the Balkans. where their cultivated presence both established Jewish communities and paved the way, ironically, for the Slavonic conversion to Christianity. By the 11th and 12th centuries, these Eastern Jews make their first appearance in the Jewish literature of France and Germany. Maimonides, bemoaning the neglect of learning in the East, laid his hopes for the perpetuation of Jewish learning in the young struggling communities of Europe but would, Baron concludes, have been surprised to find that within centuries precisely in Eastern Europe would arise thriving communities that were to assume leadership of the Jewish people itself.
Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe and contemporary views
The Khazar-Ashkenazi hypothesis came to the attention of a much wider public with the publication of Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe, which made sweeping claims for a Khazar legacy among the Ashkenazi in 1976. Koestler's work was both positively and negatively reviewed. Israel’s ambassador to Britain branded the book "an anti-Semitic action financed by the Palestinians", while Bernard Lewis claimed that the idea was not supported by any evidence whatsoever, and had been "abandoned by all serious scholars". Raphael Patai, however, registered some support for the idea that Khazar remnants had played a role in the growth of Eastern European Jewish communities, and several amateur researchers, such as Boris Altschüler (1994) and Kevin Alan Brook, kept the thesis in the public eye. Brook's views evolved as new data became available: in the first edition of his book (1999), he contended that about one-fourth of Ashkenazic ancestry may trace back to the Khazars, whereas in the second edition (2006) he regarded the Khazar contribution as "small" and in the third edition (2018) he argued against any Khazar contribution. Koestler argued that this theory would mitigate European racially based antisemitism.
The theory has been used to counter the concept of Jewish nationhood. It has been revived recently in a variety of approaches, from linguistics (Paul Wexler) to historiography (Shlomo Sand) and population genetics (Eran Elhaik). In broad academic perspective, both the idea that the Khazars converted en masse to Judaism, and the suggestion that they emigrated to form the core population of Ashkenazi Jewry, remain highly polemical issues.
Genetics and the Khazar theory
Before modern DNA population genetics entered the field, Raphael Patai described the Khazars in racial terms as being a Turkic people with some Mongoloid admixture. After major advances in DNA sequence analysis and computing technology in the late 20th and early 21st century, a plethora of genetic research on Jewish and other human populations has been conducted worldwide. The Yiddish scholar Alexander Beider regards genetic studies as often offering contradictory information, further complicated by the fact that some researchers' work is influenced by personal views.
According to Martin B. Richards, presently available genetic studies, including his own study on Ashkenazi maternal lineages, all refute the Khazar theory. The claim that Ashkenazis as a whole take their origin from Khazars has been widely criticized as there is no direct evidence to support it. Using four Jewish groups, one being Ashkenazi, Kopelman et al found no evidence for the Khazar theory.
While the consensus in genetic research is that the world's Jewish populations (including the Ashkenazim) share substantial genetic ancestry derived from a common Ancient Middle Eastern founder population, and that Ashkenazi Jews have no genetic ancestry attributable to Khazars, at least one study authored in this period diverges from the majority view in favor of the Khazar theory.
Counter-evidence exists to the Khazar hypothesis claiming that the male lineage of Ashkenazi Jews originates from an ancient (2000 BCE - 700 BCE) population of the Middle East who spread to Europe. -DNA studies of Ashkenazi Jews conclude that their male lineage was founded by ancestors from the Middle East. and that they share this paternal ancestry with Sephardic Jewish populations. Genetic studies show that the male lineage of Ashkenazi Jews bear a common genetic heritage which originates in the Near East, and that they bear their strongest resemblance to the peoples of the Fertile Crescent. A study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA by a team led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Huddersfield found no maternal lineages attributable to the Caucasus. Richards summarized the findings on the female line as such:
"[N]one [of the mtDNA] came from the North Caucasus, located along the border between Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. All of our presently available studies including my own, should thoroughly debunk one of the most questionable, but still tenacious, hypotheses: that most Ashkenazi Jews can trace their roots to the mysterious Khazar Kingdom that flourished during the ninth century in the region between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire."
In 2000, the analysis of a report by British writer and journalist Nicholas Wade named Y Chromosome Bears Witness to Story of the Jewish Diaspora
"provided genetic witness that these [Jewish] communities have, to a remarkable extent, retained their biological identity separate from their host populations, evidence of relatively little intermarriage or conversion into Judaism over the centuries.... The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism."
In 2001 Nebel et al., summarizing studies that reported a low-level European gene flow contributing to Ashkenazi paternal gene pool, suggested this influence might be reflected in the Eu 19 chromosomes common in Eastern Europe, or otherwise, that Ashkenazim with this component might descend from Khazars, an hypothesis the authors found "attractive".
In 2003 Behar, remarking on the high frequency haplogroup R1a1 NRYs in that former Khazar sphere of influence and noting Paul Wexler's theory of relexification, raised the possibility that the Khazar theory might offer an attractive source for an important eastern component of the Ashkenazim. In 2008 David Goldstein asserted that the Khazar theory "now seems to me plausible, if not likely".
A 2013 study by Rootsi, Behar et al. of Ashkenazi Levites (4% of the Jewish male line) found a high frequency of haplogroup R1a-M582 among them (64.9% of Ashkenazi Levites) pointing to a founding event and paternal ancestor common to half of them. Since R1a shows high frequency in Eastern Europe generally, it was thought possible, that the evidence might indicate the founder was a non-Jewish European. Testing the 3 hypotheses of a European, a Near Eastern or a Khazarian origin, their data excluded both the European and Khazarian origin of a Levite founder since they found no evidence of R1a-M582 Y-chromosomes was found in either group, other than singletons, while it occurs with significant frequency in Near Eastern regions Iranian Kerman, Iranian Azeri, the Kurds from Cilician Anatolia and Kazakhstan, and among Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews. R1a-M582 was not detected among data from Iraqi, Bedouins, Druze and Palestinians sampled in Israel.
Eran Elhaik has argued, in two separate papers, the first in 2012 and the latest (2016) co-authored by Wexler, that his genetic analysis strengthens the Khazar hypothesis. Of the 2012 study Elhaik wrote:
- "Strong evidence for the Khazarian hypothesis is the clustering of European Jews with the populations that in his opinion resided on opposite ends of ancient Khazaria: Armenians, Georgians, and Azerbaijani Jews. Because Caucasus populations remained relatively isolated in the Caucasus region and because there are no records of Caucasus populations mass-migrating to Eastern and Central Europe prior to the fall of Khazaria (Balanovsky et al. 2011), these findings imply a shared origin for European Jews and Caucasus populations."
In the 2016 study Wexler, Elhaik, et al. argued that the first Ashkenazi populations to speak the Yiddish language came from areas near four villages in Eastern Turkey along the Silk Road whose names derived from the word "Ashkenaz," rather than from Germanic lands as is the general consensus in scholarship. Elhaik and Wexler proposed a variant for the canonical Khazarian hypothesis, proposing that Iranians, Greeks, Turks, and Slavs converted to Judaism in Anatolia prior to migrating to Khazaria where a small-scale conversion had already occurred. The historian Bernard Spolsky commenting on Elhaik’s earlier study wrote. “Recently, Elhaik (2013) claims to have found evidence supporting the Khazarian origin of Ashkenazim, but the whole issue of genetic evidence remains uncertain.”
In June 2014, Shaul Stampfer published a paper challenging the Khazar hypothesis as ungrounded in sources contemporary with the Khazar period, stating: "Such a conversion, even though it’s a wonderful story, never happened".
Criticism of the Elhaik study
Elhaik's 2012 study proved highly controversial. Several noted geneticists, among them Marcus Feldman, Harry Ostrer, and Michael Hammer have maintained — and the view has gained widespread support among scientists — that the worldwide Jewish population is homogeneous and shares common roots in the Middle East, Feldman stated Elhaik's statistical analysis would not pass muster with most scientists; Hammer affirmed it was an outlier minority view without scientific support. Elhaik in reply described the group as ‘liars’ and ‘frauds’, noting Ostrer would not share genetic data that might be used ‘to defame the Jewish people’. Elhaik’s PhD supervisor Dan Graur, likewise dismissed them as a ‘clique’, and said Elhaik is ‘combative’ which is what science itself is.
Elhaik's 2012 study was specifically criticized for its use of Armenians and Azerbaijani Jews as proxies for Khazars and for using Bedouin and Jordanian Hashemites as a proxy for the Ancient Israelites. The former decision was criticized because Armenians were assumed to have a monolithic Caucasian ancestry, when as an Anatolian people (rather than Turkic) they contain many genetically Middle Eastern elements. Azerbaijani Jews are also assumed for the purposes of the study to have Khazarian ancestry, when Mountain Jews are actually descended from Persian Jews. The decision to cast Bedouin/Hashemites as "proto-Jews" was especially seen as political in nature, considering that both have origins in Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula rather than from the Ancient Israelites, while the descent of the Jews from the Israelites is largely accepted. The study was also criticized as interpreting information selectively—The study found far more genetic similarity between the Druze and Ashkenazim than the Ashkenazim and Armenians, but Elhaik rejected this as indicating a common Semitic origin, instead interpreting it as evidence of Druze having Turkic origins when they are known to come from Syria.
Geneticists conducting studies in Jewish genetics have challenged Elhaik's methods in his first paper. Michael Hammer called Elhaik's premise "unrealistic," calling Elhaik and other Khazarian hypothesis proponents "outlier folks… who have a minority view that’s not supported scientifically. I think the arguments they make are pretty weak and stretching what we know." Marcus Feldman, director of Stanford University's Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies, echoes Hammer. "If you take all of the careful genetic population analysis that has been done over the last 15 years… there’s no doubt about the common Middle Eastern origin," he said. He added that Elhaik’s first paper "is sort of a one-off." Elhaik’s statistical analysis would not pass muster with most contemporary scholars, Feldman said: "He appears to be applying the statistics in a way that gives him different results from what everybody else has obtained from essentially similar data." 
Elhaik and Wexler's 2016 study was challenged by two prominent scholars of Jewish demography from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shaul Stampfer, a professor of Soviet and East European Jewry, deemed it “basically nonsense.” Sergio DellaPergola, the primary demographer of the Jewish people at the university, called it a "falsification", criticizing its methodology, using a small population size and selectively removing population groups that refuted the findings they wanted, namely other Jewish groups such as the Italkim and Sephardic Jews, to whom Ashkenazi Jews are closely related genetically. “Serious research would have factored in the glaring genetic similarity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, which mean Polish Jews are more genetically similar to Iraqi Jews than to a non-Jewish Pole.” The Yiddish scholar Marion Aptroot states "Seen from the standpoint of the humanities, certain aspects of the article by Das et al. fall short of established standards." Elhaik replied that “studying the DNA of non-Ashkenazic Jews would not change the DNA of Ashkenazic Jews nor the predicted origin of their DNA.'.
Recently, a study by a team of biologists and linguists, led by Pavel Flegontov, a specialist in genomics, published a response to Das, Elhaik and Wexler's 2016 study, criticizing their methodology and conclusions. They argue that GPS allows inferences works for the origins of modern populations with an unadmixed genome, but not for tracing ancestries back 1,000 years ago. In their view, the paper tried to fit Wexler's 'marginal and unsupported interpretation' of Yiddish into a model that only permits valid deductions for recent unadmixed populations.  Alexander Beider also takes issue with Elhaik's findings stating that "They cannot be taken seriously."
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United Kingdom and United States
Maurice Fishberg and Roland B. Dixon's works were later exploited in racist and religious polemical literature, by advocates of British Israelism, in both Britain and the United States. Particularly after the publication of Burton J. Hendrick ‘s The Jews in America (1923) it began to enjoy a vogue among advocates of immigration restrictions in the 1920s; racial theorists like Lothrop Stoddard; antisemitic conspiracy theorists like the Ku Klux Klan’s Hiram Wesley Evans; and anti-communist polemicists like John O. Beaty
In 1938, Ezra Pound, then strongly identifying with the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, sent a query to fellow poet Louis Zukofsky concerning the Khazars after someone had written to him claiming that the ancient Jews had died out and that modern Jews were of Khazar descent. He returned to the issue in 1955, apparently influenced by a book called Facts are Facts, which pushed the Jewish-Khazar descent theory, and which for Pound had dug up "a few savoury morsels". The booklet in question, by a Roman Catholic convert from Rabbinic Judaism Benjamin H. Freedman was an anti-Semitic tirade written to David Goldstein after the latter had converted to Catholicism.
John O. Beaty was an antisemitic, McCarthyite professor of Old English at SMU, author of The Iron Curtain over America (Dallas 1952). According to him, "the Khazar Jews were responsible for all of America's – and the world's ills," beginning with World War I. The book had little impact until the former Wall Street broker and oil tycoon J. Russell Maguire promoted it. A similar position was adopted by Wilmot Robertson, whose views influenced David Duke. The British author Douglas Reed has also been influential. In his work the Ashkenazi are false Jews, descendants of the Khazars.: 355
A number of different variants of the theory came to be exploited by the Christian Identity movement. The Christian Identity movement, which took shape from the 1940s to the 1970s, had its roots in British Israelism which had been planted on American evangelical soil in the late 19th century. By the 1960s the Khazar ancestry theory was an article of faith in the Christian Identity movement. The Christian Identity movement has associated two verses from the New Testament, Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 with the Khazars. Jeffrey Kaplan calls these two passages the corner stone of Identity theology. He also reports that Christian Identity literature makes selective references to the Babylonian Talmud, while the works of Francis Parker Yockey and Arthur Koestler work are raised almost to the status of Holy Writ.
Soviet Union and Russia
The theory was prominent in Soviet antisemitism, gaining a place in Soviet historiography. The theory influenced Soviet historians including Boris Rybakov, Mikhail Artamonov and Lev Gumilyov and was used to support soviet political theory.: Vii-Viii Artamonov argued that the Khazars had played an important role in the development of Rus’. A view that Rybakov disputed instead regarding the Khazar state as parasitic.: 260–261 Official Soviet views on the Khazars hardened after December 1951 when Pravda published a critical review of Artamonov's work under the pen name P. Ivanov.: 313–314 Rybakov for his part denied that he was Ivanov.: 261 It has been speculated that Ivanov was in fact Stalin. In Ivanov’s review the Khazars were regarded as parasites and enemies.: 237 Ivanov’s views became the certified Soviet position.: 314
Lev Gumilyov’s theory of ethnogenesis draws heavily on the Khazars theory. For Gumilyov ethnicity was defined by stereotypical behavior which was linked to adaption to the terrain.: 121–122 Jews, he regarded as a parasitic, international urban class. The Jews had dominated the Khazars creating a chimera, subjecting Rus’ to the "Khazar Yoke.": 358–359, 368
Since the 1970s the term Khazars has entered the Russian nationalist lexicon, it is used as a euphemism for Jews. Vadim V. Kozhinov theorized that the Khazar Yoke was more dangerous to Rus´ than the Tatar Yoke.: 90 The Khazars were imagined as a persistent danger to Rus’.: 359 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union the theory maintained a role in Russian antisemitism. Contemporary Russian anti-Semites continue to perpetuate the Khazar myth.: 355–356 Gumilyov and his students work remain popular in Russia.: 356 “Khazars” and “ethnic chimera” have become preferred terms for antisemitic Russian chauvinists.: 356
Aum Shinrikyo is a Japanese doomsday cult. The cult was active in Japan and Russia, with an estimated 10,000 and 30,000 followers respectively. The groups “Manual of Fear” used the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in addition to other anti-Semitic material. The manual claimed that the Jews are really Khazars intent on world domination. The Khazar theory has also become part of the Ascended Masters theology. Hatonn, an extraterrestrial, transmits messages including the complete text of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He identifies the authors of The Protocols as Khazars and speaks of false Zionist Jews who have usurped and controlled the true Jews.
- Genetic history of Europe
- Genetic studies on Turkish people
- History of the Jews in Turkey
- Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory
- Japhetic theory
- Jewish ethnic divisions
- Jewish history
- List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
- Rus' Khaganate
- Theory of Kashmiri descent from lost tribes of Israel
- Theories of Pashtun origin
- Timeline of the Turkic peoples (500–1300)
- Turkic migration
- Peter Golden; Haggai Ben-Shammai; András Roná-Tas, eds. (2007). The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Selected Papers from the Jerusalem 1999 International Khazar Colloquium. BRILL. ISBN 9789047421450.
- Boris Zhivkov (2015). Khazaria in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries. BRILL. ISBN 9789004294486.
- Seth J. Frantzman. "Terra Incognita: The return of the Khazar myth". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
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- Behar, Doron M.; Metspalu, Mait; Baran, Yael; Kopelman, Naama M.; Yunusbayev, Bayazit; Gladstein, Ariella; Tzur, Shay; Sahakyan, Havhannes; Bahmanimehr, Ardeshir; Yepiskoposyan, Levon; Tambets, Kristiina; Khusnutdinova, Elza K.; Kusniarevich, Aljona; Balanovsky, Oleg; Balanovsky, Elena; Kovacevic, Lejla; Marjanovic, Damir; Mihailov, Evelin; Kouvatsi, Anastasia; Traintaphyllidis, Costas; King, Roy J.; Semino, Ornella; Torroni, Antonio; Hammer, Michael F.; Metspalu, Ene; Skorecki, Karl; Rosset, Saharon; Halperin, Eran; Villems, Richard; Rosenberg, Noah A. (2013). "No Evidence from Genome-Wide Data of a Khazar Origin for the Ashkenazi Jews". Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. Wayne State University (41). Retrieved 14 October 2014.
Final version at http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol85/iss6/9/
- Sand 2010, p. 240.
- Elhaik, Eran (2013). "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses". Genome Biology and Evolution. 5 (1): 61–74. doi:10.1093/gbe/evs119. ISSN 1759-6653. PMC 3595026. PMID 23241444.
- Batya Ungar-Sargon 'The Mystery of the Origins of Yiddish Will Never Be Solved,' Tablet 23 June 2014
- Atzmon, G; Hao, L; Pe'er, I; et al. (June 2010). "Abraham's children in the genome era: major Jewish diaspora populations comprise distinct genetic clusters with shared Middle Eastern Ancestry". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 86 (6): 850–9. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.04.015. PMC 3032072. PMID 20560205.
- Lawrence J. Epstein, Converts to Judaism: Stories from Biblical Times to Today, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 p.72
- Bernard Spolsky, The Languages of the Jews;A Sociolinguistic History, Cambridge University Press 2014 p.297 n.3.
- Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Verso p.243.
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- Alexander Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture: A History to 1860, Stanford University Press, vol.1 1963 p.213.
- Birgit Scholz, Von der Chronistik zur modernen Geschichtswissenschaft: die Warägerfrage in der russischen, deutschen und schwedischen Historiographie, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000 pp.13-14.
- Vilhelm Thomsen|Vilhelm Ludvig Peter Thomsen, The Relations Between Ancient Russia and Scandinavia, and the Origin of the Russian State: Three Lectures Delivered at the Taylor Institution. Oxford, in May, 1876, Cambridge University Press, reprint 2010 p.16.
- Jits van Straten, The Origin of Ashkenazi Jewry:The Controversy Unravelled, Walter de Gruyter 2011 pp.2-3.
- Mikhail Kizilov, 'National Inventions:The Imperial Emancipation of the Karaites from Jewishness,' in Roland Cvetkovski, Alexis Hofmeister (eds.),An Empire of Others: Creating Ethnographic Knowledge in Imperial Russia and the USSR, Central European University Press, 2014 pp.369-393 p.399, citing Karl Neumann, Die Völker des südlichen Russlands in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung, (1847) 2nd ed. Teubner 1855 pp.125-6:'Die Chasaren verschwinden nun als gebietende Horde aus der Geschichte, aber ihr Name hat sich, wie bekannt, in den Ländern und an den Meeren, wo sie ehemals herrschten, noch Jahrhunderte lang und zum Theil bis auf den heutigen Tag erhalten. Auch ist ja die Masse des Volkes von dem Jaik bis zur Donau immerdar dieselbe geblieben; es haben die Chasaren nur die Herrschaft verloren, welche auf andere Türken überging, auf Petschenegen, Usen und Komanen. Reste dieses Volkes, namentlich der zum Mosaismus sich bekennenden Abtheilung, sind die Karaim im südlichen Russland und den ehemaligen polnischen Ländern, welche türkisch sprechen undauch in Körpergestalt und Gesichtszügen den Türken gleichen. Von der Krim aus mögen auch zuerst die Juden, welche, wie wir wissen, so zahlreich waren im Reiche der Chasaren, nach Russland und Polen gewandert sein.'
- Rossman 2002, p. 98: Abraham Harkavy, O iazike evreev, zhivshikh v drevnee vremia na Rusi i o slavianskikh slovakh, vstrechaiuschikhsia u evreiskikh pisatelei, St. Petersburg.
- Nathans 1999, p. 409.
- Barkun 1997, p. 137: Ernest Renan, "Judaism as a Race and as Religion." Delivered on 27 January 1883.
- Rossman 2002, p. 98.
- Renan 1883:Cette conversion du royaume des Khozars a une importance considérable dans la question de l’origine des juifs qui habitent les pays danubiens et le midi de la Russie. Ces régions renferment de grandes masses de populations juives qui n’ont probablement rien ou presque rien d’ethnographiquement juif.'
- Isidore Loeb ‘Reflections on the Jews,’ in Mitchell Bryan Hart (ed.) Jews and Race: Writings on Identity and Difference, 1880-1940, UPNE, 2011 pp.12-20 p.17. Cf. Isidore Loeb, Réflexions sur les Juifs,' Revue des Études Juives, 27 (1893) pp.1-31). This was published posthumously.
- Singerman 2004, pp. 3–4, Israël chez les nations (1893):Eng.Israel Among the Nations (1895).
- Polonsky, Basista & Link-Lenczowski 1993, p. 120. In the book Początki religii żydowskiej w Polsce, Warsaw: E. Wende i S-ka, 1903.
- Goldstein 2006, p. 131. Goldstein writes: ‘The theory that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars was originally proposed by . .Samuel Weissenberg in an attempt to show that Jews were deeply rooted on Russian soil and that the cradle of Jewish civilization was the Caucasus’. Weissenberg’s book Die Südrussischen Juden, was published in 1895.
- Singerman 1998, p. 347
- Koestler 1976, pp. 134,150. Die Chasaren; historische Studie, A. Holzhauen, Vienna 1909. 2nd ed., 1910.
- Koestler 1976, pp. 134,150.
- Goldstein 2006, p. 131. Maurice Fishberg, The Jews: A Study of Race and Environment.
- John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice, Duke University Press, 1990 p.71
- Litman 1984, pp. 85–110,109. Schipper’s first monograph on this was published in the Almanach Žydowski (Vienna) in 1918, While in the Warsaw ghetto before falling victim to the Holocaust at Majdanek, Schipper (1884-1943) was working on the Khazar hypothesis.
- Brook 2009, p. 210.
- Wells 2004, p. 2:"There were Arab tribes who were Jews in the time of Muhammad, and a Turkic people who were mainly Jews in South Russia in the ninth century. Judaism is indeed the reconstructed political ideal of many shattered peoples-mainly semitic. As a result of these coalescences and assimilations, almost everywhere in the towns throughout the Roman Empire, and far beyond it in the east, Jewish communities traded and flourished, and were kept in touch through the Bible, and through a religious and educational organization. The main part of Jewry never was in Judea and had never come out of Judea."
- Singerman 2004, p. 4.
- Morris 2003, p. 22: Pasha Glubb held that Russian Jews ‘have considerably less Middle Eastern blood, consisting largely of pagan Slav proselytes or of Khazar Turks.’ For Glubb, they were not 'descendants of the Judeans . .The Arabs of Palestine are probably more closely related to the Judeans (genetically) than are modern Russian or German Jews'. . 'Of course, an anti-Zionist (as well as an anti-Semitic) point is being made here: The Palestinians have a greater political right to Palestine than the Jews do, as they, not the modern-day Jews, are the true descendants of the land's Jewish inhabitants/owners'.
- Roland Burrage Dixon The Racial History of Man, 1923; H. G. Wells, The Outline of History (1921)
- Gilman 1995, p. 30.
- Malkiel 2008, p. 263,n.1.
- Mikhail Kizilov, The Sons of Scripture: The Karaites in Poland and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century, Walter de Gruyter 2015 pp.109ff., p.450.
- Barry Dov Walfish (ed.), Библиография Караитика: Аннотированная Библиография Караимов И Караимизма, BRILL, 2011 p.146.
- Mikhail Kizilov, The Karaites of Galicia: An Ethnoreligious Minority Among the Ashkenazim, the Turks, and the Slavs, 1772-1945, BRILL, 2009 pp.266,269-271,277ff.282, 335.
- Riccardo Calimani, Storia degli ebrei italiani, vol.3, Mondadori 2015 p.583.
- Golden 2007a, p. 29. 'Poliak sought the origins of Eastern European Jewry in Khazaria'.
- Sand 2010, p. 234.
- First written as an article in 1941, then as a monograph (1943), it was twice revised in 1944, and 1951 as Kazariyah: Toldot mamlacha yehudit be'Eropa (Khazaria: History of a Jewish Kingdom in Europe) Mosad Bialik, Tel Aviv, 1951.
- Alan E. Steinweis (2006). Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany. Harvard University Press.
- Steven Bayme Understanding Jewish History: Texts and Commentaries, KTAV Publishers 1997 p.148.
- Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, (1961) New Viewpoints 1973 p.241.
- Rory Miller (2013). Divided Against Zion: Anti-Zionist Opposition to the Creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, 1945-1948. Routledge.
- Harkabi 1987, p. 424:"Arab anti-Semitism might have been expected to be free from the idea of racial odium, since Jews and Arabs are both regarded by race theory as Semites, but the odium is directed, not against the Semitic race, but against the Jews as a historical group. The main idea is that the Jews, racially, are a mongrel community, most of them being not Semites, but of Khazar and European origin." This essay was translated from Harkabi Hebrew text 'Arab Antisemitism' in Shmuel Ettinger, Continuity and Discontinuity in Antisemitism, (Hebrew) 1968 (p.50).
- Bernard Lewis (1999). Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry Into Conflict and Prejudice. W. W. Norton & Company.
- Dunlop 1954, pp. 261,263:'.'
- Poliakov 2005, p. 285:'As for the Jews of Eastern Europe (Poles, Russians, etc.,) it has always been assumed that they descended from an amalgamation of Jews of Khazar stock from southern Russia and German Jews (the latter having imposed their superior culture).'
- Sand 2010, pp. 241–2. Sand cites Salo Wittmayer Baron,Baron 1957, pp. 196–206, p.206:'before and after the Mongol upheaval the Khazars sent many offshoots into the unsubdued Slavonic lands, helping ultimately to build up the great Jewish center of Eastern Europe'; and Ben-Zion Dinur, Yisrael ba-gola 5 vols., 3rd ed. (1961-1966) Tel-Aviv: Jerusalem:Dvir;Bialik Institute, 1961. (OCLC:492532282) vol.1 p.2,5:'The Russian conquests did not destroy the Khazar kingdom entirely, but they broke it up and diminished it And this kingdom, which had absorbed Jewish immigration and refugees from many exiles, must itself have become a diaspora mother, the mother of one of the greatest of the diasporas (Em-galuyot, em akhat hagaluyot hagdolot)-of Israel in Russia, Lithuania and Poland.'
- Golden 2007a, p. 55:’Salo Baron, who incorrectly viewed them as Finno-Ugrians, believed that the Khazars "sent many offshoots into the unsubdued Slavonic lands, helping ultimately to build up the great Jewish centers of eastern Europe’
- Golden 2007a, p. 55:’dismissed. . .rather airily’.
- Liberles 1995.
- Baron 1957, pp. 196–222.
- Baron 1957, p. 196.
- Baron 1957, p. 197.
- Baron 1957, pp. 206–207
- Baron 1957, pp. 208–210,221.
- Bacon 1957, pp. 173,222
- Golden 2007a, p. 9
- Lewis 1987, p. 48:'Some limit this denial to European Jews and make use of the theory that the Jews of Europe are not of Israelite descent at all but are the offspring of a tribe of Central Asian Turks converted to Judaism, called the Khazars. This theory, first put forward by an Austrian anthropologist in the early years of this century, is supported by no evidence whatsoever. It has long since been abandoned by all serious scholars in the field, including those in Arab countries, where Khazar theory is little used except in occasional political polemics.' Assertions of this kind has been challenged by Paul WexlerWexler 2002, pp. 538 who also notes that the arguments on this issue are riven by contrasting ideological investments: "Most writers who have supported the Ashkenazi-Khazar hypothesis have not argued their claims in a convincing manner ... The opponents of the Khazar-Ashkenazi nexus are no less guilty of empty polemics and unconvincing arguments."(p.537).
- Patai & Patai 1989, p. 71: "it is assumed by all historians that those Jewish Khazars who survived the last fateful decades sought and found refuge in the bosom of Jewish communities in the Christian countries to the west, and especially in Russia and Poland, on the one hand, and in the Muslim countries to the east and the south, on the other. Some historians and anthropologists go so far as to consider the modern Jews of East Europe, and more particularly of Poland, the descendants of the medieval Khazars."
- Brook 1999, p. 281
- Brook 2009, p. 226
- Brook 2018, pp. 207–208
- Michael Scammell (2009). Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic. Random House Publishing Group. p. 546.: "Every prayer and ritual observance proclaims membership of an ancient race, which automatically separates the Jew from the racial and historic past of the people in whose midst he lives. It sets the Jew apart and invites his being set apart. It automatically creates physical and cultural ghettoes."
- Toch 2012, p. 155,n.4.
- Wexler 2007, pp. 387–398.
- Sand 2010, pp. 190–249.
- Elhaik 2012, pp. 61–74.
- Golden 2007, pp. 9–10.
- Raphael Patai; Jennifer Patai (1989). The Myth of the Jewish Race. Wayne State University Press. p. 70.
- Alexander Beider, Origins of Yiddish Dialects, Oxford University Press, 2015 p.553:’Unfortunately, genetic studies on Ashkenazi Jews, numerous since the 1990s, often provide contradictory information. Related methodological issues are huge: no access to the genetic pool of populations who lived centuries before us, the possibility of the genetic variation related to national selection, etc. To these objective problems one should add striking subjective elements: for certain authors, the way they proceed in their investigation and their interpretation of obtained results are clearly skewed by their political and/or religious feelings.'
- Martin Gershowitz (16 October 2013). "New Study Finds Most Ashkenazi Jews Genetically Linked to Europe". Jewish Voice. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- Melissa Hogenboom, 'European link to Jewish maternal ancestry BBC News, 9 October 2013.
- "No indication of Khazar genetic ancestry among Ashkenazi Jews". ASHG. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
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- Goldstein, David B. (2008). "3". Jacob's legacy: A genetic view of Jewish history. Yale University Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-300-12583-2.
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- Burgess, Matt (20 April 2016). "Yiddish may have originated in Turkey, not Germany". Wired.co.uk.
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- Spolsky 2014, p. 297 n.12.
- Shaul Stampfer, "Did the Khazars Convert to Judaism?," Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society 19 (3) pp.1–72
- Rita Rubin, ‘Jews a Race’ Genetic Theory Comes Under Fierce Attack by DNA Expert,' The Forward 7 May 2013
- Terra Incognita: Return of the Khazar Myth
- No Evidence of Genome Wide Khazar Origin of Modern Jews
- Rita Rubin, 'Jews a Race' Genetic Theory Comes Under Fierce Attack by DNA Expert,'. The Forward, 7 May 2013.
- Prominent scholars blast theory tracing Ashkenazi Jews to Turkey
- Marion Aptroot (2016). "Yiddish Language and Ashkenazic Jews: A Perspective from Culture, Language, and Literature". Genome Biol Evol. 8 (6): 1948–1949. doi:10.1093/gbe/evw131. PMC 4943202. PMID 27289098.
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- Barkun 2012, p. 165:'Although the Khazar theory gets surprisingly little attention in scholarly histories of anti-Semitism, it has been an influential theme among American anti-Semites since the immigration restrictionists of the 1920s,'.
- Goodrick-Clarke 2002, p. 237.
- Boller 1992, pp. 2,6–7; Barkun 1997, pp. 141–2.
- Pound & Zukovsky 1987, p. xxi, citing letterd of 10 July 1938 and 24/25 September 1955. Ahearn speculates that Pound may have thought:'If there were no such people as Jews, then the problem of indiscriminate anti-Semitism would disappear. On could focus one’s attention on usurers of whatever description.'
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- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. NYU Press. p. 237.
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- Wade, Nicholas (14 May 2002). "In DNA, New Clues to Jewish Roots". New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- Wells, H. G. (1973) . The Outline of History: The Roman Empire to the Great War. 2. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0-7607-5867-0.
- Wexler, Paul (2007). "Yiddish Evidence for the Khazar Component in the Ashkenazic ethnogenesis". In Golden, Peter B.; Ben-Shammai, Haggai; Róna-Tas, András (eds.). The World of the Khazars:New Perspectives. Handbuch der Orientalistik: Handbook of Uralic studies. 17. BRILL. pp. 387–398. ISBN 978-90-04-16042-2. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Kutschera, Hugo, Freiherr von, (1909): Die Chasaren; historische Studie
- Fishberg, Maurice (1911): The Jews: A Study of Race and Environment.
- The Kievan Letter scan in the Cambridge University Library collection.
- Resources - Medieval Jewish History - The Khazars The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- Khazar Historic Maps
- The Kitab al-Khazari of Judah Hallevi, full English translation at sacred-texts.com
- Ancient lost capital of the Khazar kingdom found