General Antisemitism

Shlomo Sand’s Lies Don’t Go Away

This is a cross post from Emet m’Tsiyon

Shlomo Sand has become the Great White Hope of the anti-Zionists. Sand, a Communist, claims that the Jews of today are not descended from ancient Jews but from just about anybody but the ancient Jews. He needs this to sustain the anti-Zionist effort to delegitimize Zionism, which Communists, like himself, have opposed since the days of Lenin and Stalin. After all, Zionism is a liberation movement of the Jewish people. If there was no Jewish people, then what was the reason for Zionism? Well, the Jewish religion has always viewed the Jews, often called Israel or People of Israel in the ancient writings, as an ethnic or national group as well as a religion. The Biblical books are in part a history of the people of Israel. Later, after the deportation by the Assyrians of most of the population of the Ten northern Tribes, the history of the remainder of the people, the Jews, originally the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah, later called Iudaei by the Romans. The Jewish prayers too consider the Jews –also called Israel– as a people or nation. Hence, the belief in the existence of the Jewish people has existed for three thousand years at least, wherever the traditional prayers were recited and the Bible and other ancient Jewish literature was studied.

But anti-Zionists, who pretend to believe in national self-determination in principle, need the denial of a Jewish people, at least in modern times. At the same time, Sand, as a Communist or Communazi, needed to prove that there is no Jewish people today in order to justify not only his anti-Zionism but in order to vindicate Stalin. One of the scientific obstacles to arguing against the continuity of the ancient Jews with modern Jews is a series of some dozen to two dozen genetic studies that indicate such a continuity. Of course, no genetic scientist argues that the Jews are a pure race or that Arabs are a pure race and the like. What they can do is show the similarities in modal DNA for Jews from different geographic regions ranging from Morocco to Minsk, from Berlin to Baghdad, etc. Scientific genetic studies have shown this as well as Jewish DNA resemblances to Syrian and Lebanese Arabs, even to Palestinian Arabs, to Armenians, and –to a lesser extent– to Kurds, Greeks, Italians and Turks [the modern Turks of Turkey are actually mainly descended from peoples living in Anatolia before the Turkish conquest, including Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Jews, etc., as well as from Arab and Turkish nomad invaders]. So Sand and his cohorts have to get over the obstacle of scientific genetic research.

On the other hand, Arab Muslims do not need the pretext of “no genetic tie of ancient Jews to modern Jews” in order to hate the Jews of Israel. The Quran and early Muslim history and traditions [hadiths] give them plenty of excuses to hate today’s Jews precisely because they are descended from or related to the Jews who opposed Muhammad in Medina, Khaybar, and elsewhere. The Hamas Charter quotes a medieval hadith in Article 7 [found in at least four different versions in the hadith literature] that calls on Muslims to slaughter all the Jews at Judgment Day. Traditional Muslim society always oppressed Jews, as well as Christians and other non-Muslims, as dhimmis. That is, Jews were non-Muslims in the Islamic state who were tolerated in a state of inferiority subject to all sorts of oppressive, exploitative, humiliating laws, the dhimma. One Muslim professor at an American university, Ismail Farouqi, told a public meeting at Temple University that the Muslims were tolerant toward Jews and not genocidal towards them, since, he explained, We could have killed you all at the time of Muhammad, if we had wanted to.

Shlomo Sand attacks [in his book, The Invention of the Jewish People] the genetics researchers who have shown that the modal DNA of Jewish groups –Ashkenazic, Sefardic, Mizrahi, Yemenite– is close to each other and also close to Arabs and other Middle Eastern peoples such as Kurds and Armenians. He insinuates that these researchers were Israeli government agents assigned to invent the results that they obtained from genetic research. That is an ad hominem argument. He further falsifies his argument by only naming the Israeli researchers [and maybe some other Jewish researchers]. He did not mention the several non-Jewish genetics researchers [such as Arnaiz-Villena] who have obtained similar results about modal Jewish DNA. He cannot argue against genetics researchers in any real scientific way, since he has no competence in that field. But the genetics researchers get in the way of his Judeophobic, anti-Zionist claims, so he has to discredit them. That is, he argues ad hominem. But Sand too is open to ad hominem criticism and much more accurately than the Israeli genetics researchers. He cannot prove that the Israeli govt told those researchers what results to find. But it is well known that Sand was raised as a Communist, grew up in the Communist movement, and remained loyal to the general Communist outlook. As a Communist, Sand is echoing the argument of Stalin in 1913 that the Jews of his time were not a nation for several reasons, none of them genetic. These reasons were that the Jews didn’t live in one state; they didn’t have a common economic life; they didn’t speak a common language; they didn’t have a common psychological makeup or culture.* Well, the Swiss don’t speak one language but they are still considered a nation. Anyhow, the State of Israel’s very existence contradicts Stalin’s arguments. But Sand as a Communist would like to prove Stalin correct, that is, that there is no Jewish people.

Now, Sand’s whole argument is fake history and fake science. It is Judeophobic, anti-Zionist agitprop. In Europe, 100 years ago and before, Jews were considered non-Europeans, Orientals, Asiatics, swarthy aliens inferior to Nordics, etc. They were seen by the Judeophobes of the time as alien to Europe. This view was held by Kant, Hegel and Voltaire more than 200 years ago about Jews whose ancestors had long lived in Europe. Kant ironically called German Jews: “The Palestinians who live among us.” What recent anti-Zionists have done is to transpose the place where Jews are alien from Europe to the Middle East, to the Land of Israel. Now, the Judeophobes say that the Jews are alien to the Middle East and really “Europeans,” the most European, the Quintessential Europeans, the “true colonialists” while the colonialist oppressions of the Europeans are forgotten. It is the same argument, to wit, the Jews are alien. Only the place is different. The argument is old wine in a new bottle. The Jews are the ultimate, absolute Other.

Arguing against Sand’s claim is the fact that conversion to Judaism was forbidden in the Roman Empire even before Christianity became the state religion of the Empire. The Roman legal writer Paulus [1st half of 3rd century CE] states this. Modestinus, another legal writer of the same period, wrote:

It was permitted only to the Jews to circumcise their sons, by a rescript of Divine Pius [= the emperor]
Circumcidere Iudaeis filios suos tantum rescripto Divi Pii permittitur
[M Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, vol. III (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1984), p 65]

Paulus said that Roman citizens must not let themselves or their slaves be circumcised. Physicians performing circumcision were to be beheaded. After Christianity became the Roman Empire’s state religion, more explicit prohibitions on conversion to Judaism prevailed in the Empire and –later– in Christian-ruled lands up to the rise of the modern secular state in the 19th century.** Further, Sand makes much of the Khazars who lived in the northern Caucasus region between the Caspian and Black Seas. Not quite the center of Europe. But Sand claims the northern European Jews, called Ashkenazim, as descendants of Khazars. The Khazars or perhaps only their aristocracy or royal family converted to Judaism. But the Khazars disappeared from history after their defeat at the hands of the Kievan Russian state in the mid-10th century. Nothing solid and reliable is known about them after the defeat, just tenuous mentions of Khazars in Hungary, Constantinople and Alexandria, etc. Did the survivors flee east or west or south or north? Were there many survivors or did the Kievan Rus army wipe out most of the Khazar people? Did any survivors hold to Judaism? We bear in mind that in any case, it is probable that only the aristocracy converted to Judaism. There is no solid evidence for what happened to them and if any remained Jews. There is only speculation based on hints and tenuous mentions.

On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence about Jewish migrations to southern Europe and from southern Italy and Sicily to northern France and then to the Rhineland after Charlemagne allowed Jews to migrate into Germany in 815. The links of Jews in northern Europe [Ashkenazim] with Jews in Israel, Spain, Egypt and Babylonia in the Middle Ages are documented. Likewise, the migration of Jews eastwards in the later Middle Ages to Poland, the Lithuanian kingdom [inc. Belarus] and Ukraine is documented. One obvious argument against Sand is that the Jews in Eastern Europe spoke Yiddish among themselves. But most of Yiddish vocabulary is Germanic, based on the medieval Rhineland dialect, with some important words and personal names derived from Romance tongues, besides the large Hebrew-Aramaic component of Yiddish. The Romance elements include the common word bentshn meaning to bless, from the Italian bendicere. Romance names include Shprintseh [Speranza], Belle & Bella, Bunim [Bon Homme], etc. If the Eastern European Jews were really Khazars, as Sand claims, how did it happen that they were not speaking the Khazar tongue, a Turkic language?? Why were the Polish, Rumanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian Jews speaking Yiddish, a language based on a medieval Germanic [MHG] vocabulary with some key words of Romance origin?? If supposed Khazar migrants to the countries mentioned could not maintain their original Turkic language in the new, non-Khazar environment, then why didn’t they adopt one of the Slavic languages spoken in those countries [or, in Romania, Romanian], instead of speaking Yiddish??

Next, let’s consider the personal appearance of various known Ashkenazic Jews. Look up photos as young men of Albert Einstein, Ferdinand Lasalle, Karl Marx [born a Jew, although not raised as a Jew]. Look up photos of Zionist leaders such as Theodor Herzl, David Ben Gurion as a young man, Moshe Sharett [2nd prime minister of Israel; original family name: Shertok], Abba Ahimeir, etc. Do they look like Khazars?

Before I end, I will speak of personal experience. I am an Ashkenazic Jew. But I have been taken for an Arab by Arabs on several occasion. Once, while in the United States, an Arab who had just met me, asked me –before knowing my name– in a friendly way, happy to be meeting someone that he thought was a fellow Arab: A’anta `arabi min al-`uruba? [rough translation: Are you an Arab of the true Arab essence?]. I have also been taken for an Italian and an Armenian several times, by Italians, Armenians, and others. Am I really a Khazar?

– – – – – – – – – – -footnotes- – – – – – –
Researchers on Jewish genetics include Bonne-Tamir, DM Behar, K Skorecki, MF Hammer, PP Majumder, A Nebel, D Filon & D Weiss, Arnaiz-Villena, SA Santachiara-Benerecetti, O Semino & G Passarino, AJ Redd & ET Wood, etc. The subject is important in medicine, such as in the field of organ transplants where genetic similarity is best, if not necessary, for the transplant to succeed. Of course, none of the various peoples mentioned above is a pure race in modern times. Here is the general genetic view today of Ashkenazic Jews:
Recent genetic studies, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe [here].
This study shows that 11.5% of Ashkenazi Jews present a DNA type that may indicate Khazar and/or other non-Jewish Eastern European ancestry. This percentage is not the dominant Ashkenazi Jewish DNA type.

On the Khazars, see Encyclopedia Judaica, “Khazars.”

* JV Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question” [1913; see International Publishers edition in English (New York); also in B Franklin, ed., The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-1952 (London 1973), pp 62-65]; Robert Wistrich discusses Stalin’s argument in The Left against Zion [London 1979], p 13.

** Amnon Linder, Jews in the Legal Sources of the Middle Ages [Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 1998]

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36 replies »

  1. Shlomo Sand seems to be a ‘little person’ of no importance who saw an opportunity to ‘elevate’ himself to ‘fame’ by mis-interpreting scientific fact, ignoring much altogether.

    He has solicited the help of the irrational rabidly anti Israel far left who were never ones to be swayed by facts when facts stood in the way of their ideological beliefs.

  2. It is interesting how low a standard of scholarship is needed to convince the bigots’ brigade. Sand falls into the same category as Mearscheimer and Walt, though admittedly he sold a whole book while their book failed and they just skidded into view riding an essay.

  3. ‘The state of Israel contradicts Stalins agreements’

    This maybe, but ironically, without Stalins support, the state of Israel would probably not have come into existance in 1948.

  4. Greensleeves – excellent point about low standards.

    Simply by publishing a book whose entire thesis is actually faulty, Sand provided the bigots with a source they could point to. Of course, since his book was written by a “Jewish professor from Tel Aviv” they can claim it must be authoritative. The fact that his field of study is French cinema is overlooked as irrelevant.

  5. Hawkeye

    This is a very comprehensive article and I should like to see some of its strands explored further.

    Were Khazars Slavs? I really know nothing about them except what the antisemites claim, falsely.

  6. One unfortunate aspect of the “Ju Flu” is the tenedency to use absurd, immoral, iconoclastic revisionism to advance ones career; in this, Sand is in the illustrious company of Barry CHamish, Norman Finkelstein, ….

  7. Emet m’Tsiyon

    ” anti-Zionists.. need the denial of a Jewish people, ”

    This is nonsense…it is when “! a Jewish people ” arm themselves to the teeth and defy international law by abusing others that anti Zionists have a problem…. no one is denying the Jewish people …what a crock..

  8. am

    ” without Stalins support, the state of Israel would probably not have come into existance in 1948. ”

    He was trying to wrong foot Britain…the UN decision was never based on an equitable division of land… it was international power play . No wonder the Arabs rejected it ..35% of the population getting 55% of the land?

  9. @ heres 2dave. I for one, will never forgive Britains abstention from the vote. You talk of populations and number games.. The Jews Of Europe, SIX Million of them had just been incinerated in the crematoria of Christian Europe, in the wake of that, the Arab states ethnically cleansed almost One Million of their own INDIGINOUS Jewish populations, The Palestinian leadership of the time in Palestine was a Bloody Nazi war criminal(most Arab states held far right sympathies) Husseni ,however, toured Aushwitz with Himmler and planned to export his own final solution to the INDIGINOUS Jews of Palestine. I know it must grate against your western philosophical ponderings, but Israel was too busy tryen to survive,too busy confronting the reality of all that happened before and all that was happenign now, e.g being attacked by 5 states. I realise, that it grates against everything you hold dear, But the truth is that without Stalins support Israel would maybe not have come into existance,

  10. Emet m’Tsiyon

    Thanks for an interesting article. An interesting aspect of all this is how quickly the anti Zionist were regurgitating the conclusions of the book by Sand. We saw the references numerous times on the CIF threads.

    By the way, what can possibly drive someone to still embrace communism? I feel lucky that I’m not one of the 100,000 that died (or were murdered) in the twentieth century while testing this total failure of a political system.

  11. @ smtx01

    You talk a lot of sensible stuff both here and on CiF.

    Please understand that Berch is in no way representative of “western philosophical ponderings”.
    (not all, at least)

    “I for one, will never forgive Britains abstention from the vote.”

    “Knowing” you as I do, I assume that doesn’t include everyday people like my grandparents, who had no say in the matter.

    Then again: were it not for the British govt. and the Balfour Declaration, who’s to say if Israel would have been reborn?

  12. @ Hello pretzelberg, of course I did not mean the Brave,courageous and never forgotten men and women of Britain who gave their lives for all of us. Were it not for their sacrifice, myself and many others would probably not be here.I would never forget that. I meant something else

  13. p.s. I see I didn’t even comment on the article.

    Fair play to the author, but his easy destruction of the Jews-are-actually-Khazars argument is no news to posters here (yes, including me).

    The right stuff in the wrong place, as it were. Preaching to the converted (and some of those CiF wasters would no doubt claim that I have been “converted”).

    One thing:
    “Yiddish, a language based on a medieval Germanic vocabulary”

    My university Yiddish teacher would have taken him to task for that.

  14. @ smtx01

    As I said before: I’m pretty confident I “know” you.

    And when you say you “will never forgive Britains abstention from the vote”, I was always pretty sure what you meant. And that attitude is IMO all too understandable.
    I might sound like an apologist (re. said decision), but I think that abstention was based on a rather tardy appreciation of local Arab sentiment – but, more importantly, on regional interests.

    Same with the US’s initial reluctance re. Israel.

  15. Toko LeMoko

    An interesting study indeed, fortunately with the conclusions in words for the non-scientist, non-statistician.

    I wonder why Roman Jews are treated as a separate group from European Jews.

  16. These reds used to hide under our beds,now they are lecturing in Universities, producing Anat Kamms and Uri Blaus.

    Shlomo Sands needs to pull his head in.(With a little help of course)

    Israel has allowed these people to run riot,and now finds it hard to reel them in.

    There is a very simple way to deal with these people.You have to come down hard on them, with sheer determination and with all the legal weapons that the government possesses.

  17. Unofrtunately, consciously or not, Sand has been part of the ongoing Islamic campaign to culturally cleanse Jews from history.

    This campaign includes:
    – denial of Jewish identity (“Ashenazim are just Europeans/”Mizrahim are just Jewish Arabs”)
    – denial of Jewish history (Rambam was MUslim)
    – denial of the Jewish naqba
    – denial of 1,400 years of dhimmitude
    – denial of the Jewish conntection to Palestine
    – assertions the ancient Jews were or became Palestinian Arabs
    – destruction of synagogues (Morocco)
    – de-Judaisation of Ezekiel’s tomb
    – destruction of priceless Jewish cultural heritage by the Waqf (in/under Solomon’s stables)
    – violent objection to the reconstruction of Hurva synagogue
    – Arab league plan to disposses all Mizrahim
    – cleansing of Jews from the Muslim world
    – use of the anti-Semitic, revisionist, denialist theories of Koestler and Sand
    – Turkish and Egyptian refusal to return ancient Jewish artifacts confirming the Jewish people’s heritage

    Thus, for a long time, the Msulim world has behaved analogously to the German world, with full intent to cleanse the Jews from history both physically and culturally. Having failed thus far in the physical part, the Muslim world is well-along in the cultural part.

    For his own egocentric fame, Shlomo is playing the role of just another treacherous scorpion in the Sand.

  18. The author is right that Sand’s book contains lies about Jewish ancestry and that he overstates the Khazar component.

    However I quibble with the remark “If supposed Khazar migrants to the countries mentioned could not maintain their original Turkic language in the new, non-Khazar environment, then why didn’t they adopt one of the Slavic languages spoken in those countries [or, in Romania, Romanian], instead of speaking Yiddish??”

    They DID adopt Slavic. If you read chapter 10 of my book “The Jews of Khazaria, Second Edition” (2006) you’ll see evidence that Jews in what is today Belarus spoke Slavic prior to the arrival of Yiddish-speaking Jews.

    But within several generations Yiddish became the new language of the community because the number of Yiddish-speaking Jews was overwhelming and so was their influence. Jewish families speaking different languages intermarried and Slavic names and words became less and less common – though Yiddish does retain many Slavic words that perhaps came from the Slavic dialect the Belarusian Jews were speaking.

  19. Kevin, I don’t disagree with you. I am aware of the many Slavic words in the Yiddish vocabulary, especially words concerning plants and animals found in those areas plus local foods [ie. borsht], material objects of everyday life, etc. I should have mentioned the Slavic component of the Yiddish vocabulary. What I was focussed on was the absence of Khazar words. Now, can you point out any Khazar or other Turkic words in Yiddish? Also, the original Turks were more Mongol in race, as far as I know. Look at today’s Turkic peoples such as Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirghiz, etc. Today’s Turks in Turkey are not mainly descended from the original Turks. Jews descended from Khazars ought to look more or less like Kazakhs and Uzbeks. Maybe some do but not many.

    As to the languages of Jews in Eastern Europe, it is known that many Jews in those places were speaking Slavonic, called in Hebrew “Knaanit”. That is, Canaanite. For whatever reason the Western Europeans identified Slavs as slaves. The English word slave and the French esclave and Italian schiavo seem to come from the ethnic term Slav. Apparently, the Slavic lands were a major source of slaves for other parts of Europe and for the Muslim world. Likewise, Slavonic was called Knaanit because of the Biblical reference to “Canaanite slave.”

    Kevin, you probably know about the Bielorussian translation of part of the Bible. A scientific edition of this translation was published in Jerusalem. I think by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. That fits into what you said. But where is the Khazar connection to Jews in Belarus [called Litvaks by other Jews because Belarus was the key part of the Lithuanian kingdom]? You point out the arrival of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Belarus who outnumbered the previous Slavonic-speaking Jews. Where did those Yiddish-speaking Jews come from? They came from the west, from the region called in Hebrew Ashkenaz.

  20. Eliyahu, the Yiddish-speaking Jews came from the west, true, but the Slavic-speaking Jews came from the south and east – as far as we know from the Khazar Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and almost certainly of mixed Israelite-Khazar ancestry. (There were Israelites in Khazaria, too.)

    The number of Turkic words in Yiddish is minimal (davenen and yarmulke are among them – Sand got that part right, because he got the sources from my book) and it is not clear how all of them arrived in Yiddish. As I said in my book (page 205 in the 2nd edition): “Nor is there any reason to expect the East Slavic–speaking Jews to have retained much, or even anything, from the Khazarian language (or any other language they may have spoken previously) after centuries of speaking Slavic. There was never the opportunity for the transmission of pure Khazarian into pure Yiddish.”

    We don’t know what the original Khazars looked like but it is an oversimplification to presume that they looked like Mongols and Kyrgyzes. It is known that the original Central Asian Turks looked more European before the Mongol conquest, and there are some references to the Khazars (and other Turks) as white-skinned, red-haired, and even blue-eyed. Some of them may have resembled modern-day peoples of the Caucasus Mountains region.

  21. Kevin Brook
    “The number of Turkic words in Yiddish is minimal (davenen and yarmulke are among them”

    I actually looked it up and found the following.

    from the Aramaic “d’avhatana” דאבהתנא (or d’avunon דאבונן) , meaning “from our fathers.”
    from Hebrew “daf” דף , meaning “page”, so that “dafnen” would mean “to turn the pages.”
    Some say that “daven” originally meant to say the morning prayer, and hence look either to the English “dawn” or to Middle High German for “tagewen”, meaning “to do one’s morning chores” or “digen” meaning “to request.”
    from the Arabic “da’awa”, meaning “to pray”
    the Lithuanian word “davana”, meaning gift
    from Middle High German “doenen”, meaning to sing
    from the Hebrew “davav” דבב , generally translated as “to move the lips” or “to speak”.

  22. Sergio, the new theory (by Herbert Zeiden) is that “davenen” comes from “tabun-dum”, Turkic for “to pray”. The other etymologies didn’t make sense and did not suggest words that mean as “tabundum”.

  23. Kevin,,

    Many thanks for your reply. As you put it yourself, this is a just ” a theory”. And its validity is iffy at best. I’ll leave it at that for now.

  24. Kevin, you agree that the Yiddish-speaking Jews coming from the west were the numerically preponderant group among Jews in Eastern Europe. We can agree on that. As to where the Slavonic-speaking Jews came from I will look at your book and other writings on the subject. I used the Encyclopedia Judaica article “Khazars,” which I read before writing my article, as well as other things that I have read over the years. Then I will judge what I think is reasonable and reliable.

    Uriel Weinreich writes [College Yiddish, New York: YIVO 1971]: “… (up to the 12th century), Yiddish was the speech used by the Jews who had come from Romance-speaking areas and had settled in the regions of the middle and upper Rhine. It adapted large portions of local varieties of German. A great number of Hebrew and Aramaic words, which had been used by the Jews even before they settled in the Rhineland , became part and parcel of the language which was evolving. From the very beginning, too, Yiddish incorporated many words from the Romance languages (Old French, Old Italian) which the Jewish settlers had spoken before. Some Romance words have survived in Yiddish to this day. . . .
    . . . . Somewhat later, Slavic elements from Czech, Polish, Ukrainian and Russian were also introduced into the language [Yiddish]. . . .
    [end Weinreich]
    Note that Weinreich puts Czech first. Czech is the westernmost of the Slavic tongues named.

    On the linguistic examples that you give, Kevin, davenen & yarmulke, I differ strongly. Yarmulke ירא מלכא is an Aramaic term meaning “fears the king”. It is pronounced in Aramaic yereh malka. In other words, wearing the yarmulke, a skullcap, is a sign and act of fearing God.

    Davenen דאווענען is supposed to be from the Old French devinisser, meaning “to pray.” On this check Weinreich’s textbook, College Yiddish, and the Yiddish-language Algemeyne Entsiklopedye, particularly the article dealing with the origins of Yiddish in the encyclopedia. One way to check the origin of this word, as to whether it is from Old French or a Turkic source, is to inquire if it is found in Western Yiddish and how early is it first found. Western Yiddish was still spoken 200 years ago by Jews in the Rhineland and Alsace, and elsewhere west of Poland. It presumably developed in the Rhineland after the Jewish migration over the Rhine first permitted by the Emperor Charlemagne in 815.

    At this point, I would have to say that if S Sand depended on the linguistic interpretations of origins that you offer for those two words, then you misled him, no doubt unintentionally. Anyway, if you didn’t supply him with material on these two words, Sand would probably have found something else to refer to to support his claims, whether true or false, because he was not especially concerned with truth but with making an argument convincing to the ignorant, which in regard to Jewish history, Jewish languages, and Jewish genetics includes many college profs.

  25. Kevin Brook

    “the Yiddish-speaking Jews came from the west, true, but the Slavic-speaking Jews came from the south and east – as far as we know from the Khazar Empire … ”

    Who is “we”?

  26. I think deriving yarmulke from Aramaic’s yereh malka is stretching things. Again, the Turkic explanation is more direct: yarim qapas (half cap), something you wear on your head. It means the same thing, just as daven and its Turkic equivalent tabun both mean pray.

    The equivalent of davenen in Western Yiddish is “oren”, and “yarmulke” is equivalent to Western Yiddish’s “kippa”. So neither davenen nor yarmulke came from Western Yiddish.

    It’s sad you feel the need to go with convoluted etymologies just because you can’t handle the fact that any Turkic word whatsoever has come into Yiddish. Another is lokshn, Yiddish for noodles, from the Turkic word laqsha. Almost nobody denies that one. There are several more possible ones in my book (the second edition mentions more than the first edition).

    Psychologically, you will have to come to terms with the fact that between 1 and 19 percent of your Ashkenazic ancestry (and mine) comes from Khazar and Slavic ancestry, and embrace this as part of yourself. It doesn’t mean Sand is right or that it’s the primary way you need to define yourself.

  27. I think it’s problematic to genetically compare ethnic groups that formed a few thousand years ago using genetic markers that are ten or twenty thousand years old. This is the problem comparing Jews, Arabs, Kurds, Italians, this, that, by primarily using haplogroups, and that’s what some of these studies often focus on. This is why haplotypes seem to be a more fruitful avenue of study. Looking into modal haplotypes formed early in a group’s history, or perhaps shortly before a group’s ethnogenesis, would be more enlightening. For example, the 6/6 Cohen Modal Haplotype is very useful in this regard. It not only unites the major Jewish diasporas, given that Cohens are relatively randomly distributed amongst this communities (as opposed to being concentrated in one village of origin), and the only explanation of this fact would be Jewish migrations from a common region. It’s also useful for comparing ethnic groups. It’s often claimed that Palestinian Arabs come from the pre-Islamic Palestinian community. However, if this were the case, one would expect to see Palestinian Arabs to exhibit some statistically significant frequency of the 6/6 CMH, but we don’t. Haplotype diversity, which measures, in effect, the age of a group, is also useful. We see in these studies that Palestinian Arabs have a lower haplotype diversity than Jews, meaning that the “founding event” that defines the group defined as “Palestinian Arabs” occurred much more recently than that of the Jews. I think more interesting lines of comparisons would be comparing Maronite Lebanese, Aramaic Syrian Christians, and the Jews.

    As an aside, can anyone recommend anything on Jewish migration from Italy to France to Germany?

  28. Kevin, I first saw those etymologies for davenen and yarmulke offered by others when there was no reference to the Khazar issue, when the claim of Khazar origin was not being noisily made. This study quoted below found that 11.5% of Ashkenazim present a Y chromosome haplogroup typical of East Europeans. However, this haplogroup is not necessarily a sign of Khazar ancestry, since it is typical, again, of East Europeans, not all of whom or most of whom descend from Khazars. However, its presence among 11.5% of Ashkenazim may be in part due to Khazar ancestry.

    Recent genetic studies, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe. However, Ashkenazim have an elevated frequency of R-M17, the dominant Y chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europeans, suggesting possible gene flow. In the present study of 495 Y chromosomes of Ashkenazim, 57 (11.5%) were found to belong to R-M17. Detailed analyses of haplotype structure, diversity and geographic distribution suggest a founder effect for this haplogroup, introduced at an early stage into the evolving Ashkenazi community in Europe. R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazim may represent vestiges of the mysterious Khazars.

    On medieval Jewish migration from Italy to Germany, I first suggest studying the history of the Kalonymos [or Kalonymus] family, which made that migration. This was a very prominent family in the Middle Ages. You can look them up in some history books and, I think, in encyclopedias like the Judaica or The Jewish Encyclopedia.
    Then Avraham Grossman who wrote/writes in Hebrew is considered a reliable source. I don’t know how much of his writings have been translated. Then there is Irving Agus [I think that his first name is Irving]. He wrote The Heroic Age of Franco-German Jewry or some such title. Some of his points have been disputed but it should get you into the subject with his references and bibliography. Cecil Roth wrote an article on Jewish population movements for a volume of the World History of the Jewish People. Simon Schwarzfuchs wrote on Jews in medieval France. Try Blumenkranz and Robert Chazan.

  29. “Another is lokshn, Yiddish for noodles, from the Turkic word laqsha”

    You’re wrong again, Kevin. It comes from the Russian word : lapsha. Look it up.

  30. P.S. This or that Turkic term most likely came to Yiddish through Russian or Ukrainian given that the Mongols under Batu Khan advanced far into eastern Europe and established in 1251 the rule of the Golden Horde in Russia. This is irrefutable.

  31. Kevin, I don’t claim to be an expert on Yiddish etymologies. But daven from tabun & yarmulke from yarim kapas don’t really convince me. I know that t & d and b & v are pairs often transforming into one another, especially in Armenian by the way. For example, the names Garabed and Karapet are the same name. Yet the proposed Turkic derivations are not convincing. Likewise, yarim kapas is not convincing. Even less convincing. Where did the second syllable of yarmulke [to wit, mulke or ulke] come from??

    Further, on loksh, I see that the Russian for noodle is lapsha, as Sergio writes. Harkavy, whose Yiddish dictionary first published in 1891 or 1893 was the first or one of the first Yiddish dictionaries, defines loksh:
    “1) strip of dough; strip of leather” and in the plural, lokshn, “a) macaroni, vermicelli; b) whip, cat-o’-nine-tails”
    I don’t know how this fits in with a Turkic derivation for loksh. But in general, there is an authoritative source for Yiddish etymologies. That is, the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, that a staff of scholars is working on in Jerusalem. I think that I have the title right. This is a multi-volume dictionary meant to be like the Oxford English. But it will be in Yiddish, as I understand. The compilers have not gotten very far, as far as I know. But I think that they have published vol. Daled already. So they ought to have something to say about devinisser. And will have someting about other terms in dispute. I would also check an old French dictionary for devinisser. You ought to take into account the possibility that efforts to proffer or offer or find a Turkic derivation for a Yiddish word may have a political motivation, which in itself is not invalidating but at least raises questions.