Many people in the alt-right say that “the Ashkenazi Jews are Khazar”. This is not true. This is based on an autobiography by a Jew who thought that if Europeans thought the Jews were European, they wouldn’t want to kill them. This is also based on one study, where all the rest of the literature says they derive from the Levant and the Middle East. I will go through the myth and then tell the truth of the origins of the Ashkenazi Jews.
In this research paper by Eran Elhaik, he says that the rise of European Jewry is explained by the rise of Judeo-Khazars. Though contribution of Khazar genetics can only be estimated by empirically, but the absence of genome-wide data precluded the Khazar hypothesis. The findings by Elhaik, he says, support the Khazarian hypothesis and it represents the European Jewish genome as an amalgamation of Caucasus, European and Semitic ancestry.
Razib Khan has this to say about it:
In general I have to say that the historical framework of the paper is very skeletal, verging on incoherent (at least to me).
Setting aside the historical fuzziness of the paper, the major issue I have is that though the methods are totally kosher, so to speak, the data you put into them strongly shape your outcomes. Dienekes and Maju both anticipated my own key concern. The “Middle Eastern” aspect of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry might in fact be most well represented by populations in the zone of the northern Fertile Crescent and Eastern Anatolia; rather near or overlapping with the homelands of several of the Caucasian populations used in the above study as a proxy for Khazars. Additionally, modern Palestinians (the HGDP data set) are used as a reference to the Middle Eastern ancestors of Jews. I now believe that the Arabian contribution to the ancestry of Levantine and Iraqi Muslim population which dates to after the 7th century, and differentiates Muslim Arabs from their local non-Muslim Arab* co-ethnics, is significant. Perhaps on the same order of Germanic ancestry in modern England which dates to the 6th century and later. In plainer language the Caucasian component that is being detected in this paper may simply be a indigenous Middle Eastern ancestral element which has now been somewhat displaced northward in its modal frequency due to the expansion of the Arabs, and later the admixture of some Sub-Saharan admixture among Muslim Arabs.
Finally, despite the fact that I praise the author’s utilization of a wide array of contemporary statistical genetic methods, one can’t just do away with a thick and sturdy historical framework and reasonable questions derived from this superstructure.
The new findings were seen as support for the idea that there was significant admixture with non-Jews in Greco-Roman times. This is based on the clustering of the European/Syrian Jews and the fact that these groups have been separated since ancient times. The authors argue that the data are consistent with historical accounts of proselytism and large-scale conversions to Judaism in ancient times. When I reviewed the historical data in A People That Shall Dwell Alone (Ch. 4, pp. 62-78), I ended up rejecting this theory, coming down on the side of historians who doubted how important conversion really was. One thing that convinced me was that there was a lot of evidence for biases against converts. For example, once they converted they were regarded as very undesirable marriage partners and that a pure Jewish genealogy was a very big asset in the marriage market. Families keep their genealogies for generations, and there is a lot of evidence for hostility toward converts. Contrary to Atzmon et al., conversion is not required to explain the large numbers of Jews in the ancient world.
Though, this theory, before this one singular study came out, was first put forth by Arthur Koestler in his book The Thirteenth Tribe. He became interested in the founding of the Hungarian empire, and how the Khazars were at the center of that. He then makes a huge jump in logic to say that all of European Jewry are descended from those from Khazaria who then converted to Judaism.
This theory was quickly latched on to by the alt-right when it first was published and used as ammunition to say that the Jews weren’t the rightful bearers of Canaan (modern-day Israel/Palestine). However, we know that Jewish populations are more closely related to each other than to outside populations:
Livshits, Sokal and Kobylianskyt investigated the genetic affinities of Jewish populations. They concluded that Jewish populations are more like one another than they are to non-Jews and that pairs of Jewish populations from different locations are more alike than pairs of non-Jewish populations. They maintained that the most economical explanation of their findings is that the modern Jewish population throughout the world was derived from a common original gene pool which underwent few changes during the dispersion of the Jewish people. They also reported that it was highly likely that the common origin of the Jewish populations was more recent than that of the non-Jews.
Which, if Ashkenazi Jew were Khazar, we wouldn’t see this coming up in genetic testing.
Even the world’s foremost researchers on the Jews like Dr. Kevin Macdonald and Dr. David Duke say that the Khazar Hypothesis is long refuted.
In Ted Sallis’ article on the Occidental Observer, More Jewish Genetics: The “Weak Khazar Hypothesis” he cites a study which says that there may be a minute component in the Ashkenazi Jewish genome which is Khazar, which that part is from a North Caucaus population. Though, that might just be showing genetic similarity and not that some of the Ashkenazi Jewish genome derives from those populations.
David Duke even accepted the Khazar theory as true for years as he admits, however, he says that it wasn’t until he thought of the hypothesis both scientifically and logically that his doubts on the theory became aroused.
He says that Koestler, who he didn’t know was a communist Jew, bragged in a Jewish magazine that he made the hypothesis to fight anti-semitism. He believed, and cited the Gospels as evidence, that if he could get Europeans to believe they are related by blood to Jews, that anti-semitism would be lessened. Dr. Duke then goes through many studies which show that, in fact, the Khazar hypothesis is long discredited.
In my own articles on this website, I have written about the origins of Ashkenazi Jews.
A few thousand years ago, male Jews migrated from the Middle East and mated with beautiful Roman women who then converted to Judaism. The four major founders of the Ashkenazi Jew population have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, and not the Caucus or the Near East. The four minor founders share a deep European ancestry. So with genetic testing, we can see that the majority of the Ashkenazi population didn’t have its origins in the Caucus or Levant, but through assimilation of Roman women who converted to Judaism.
Male Jews migrated from the Levant to Rome during Greco-Roman times, which mass conversions led to 6 million Roman women who then began to practice Judaism. The genetic proximity of Ashkenazi Jews and Syrian Jews to Northern Italians, Sardinians and French populations suggest that there is non-Semitic ancestry in Ashkenazi Jews. The findings also say that any theories of Ashkenazi Jews having ancestry in Khazaria or from Slavs are incompatible with genetic studies. The close genetic similarity of Ashkenazi Jews and Southern Europeans has been noted in many studies.
So we have male Jews from the Levant who trekked to Rome around Greco-Roman times. They took beautiful Roman women as wives, who then converted to Judaism.
These two new studies from within the past few years again corrobarate that Ashkenazi Jews are not Khazarian, but derive from the same four founder populations; ancient European women and are not descended from Turkish populations.
Blogger Diversity is Chaos believes so. He says:
Persian Jews converted Turks to Judaism to create the rump of what would become today’s Jewish population, DNA research has revealed. The fascinating insight, which shows that most Ashkenazi Jews descend from Turkey, was made possible by state-of-the-art computer modelling and genetic techniques. The project, led by Israeli-born Dr Eran Elhaik, even pinpointed Iskenaz, Eskenaz and Ashanaz – three Turkish villages an ancient Silk Road route which still exist today – as part of the original Ashkenazi homeland.
As shown above, this is wrong. No idea why he wrote this article the other day, seeing as this debate has been put to rest for years.
He said that the word Ashkenaz likely derives from Ashguza, the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian term for Iron Age Eurasian steppeland people known as Scythians.
No. It is Biblical:
from modern Hebrew, from Ashkenaz, son of Japheth, one of the sons of Noah (Gen. 10:3).
Concurrent analysis of Yiddish suggests that it was originally a Slavic languagewhich the researchers think was developed by Jewish tradesmen travelling along the Silk Roads linking China and Europe 1,200 years ago.
The prevalent view claims Yiddish has a German origin, whereas the opposing view suggests a Slavic origin with strong Iranian and weak Turkic substrata,” they say. “One of the major difficulties in deciding was the unknown geographical origin of Yiddish speaking Ashkenazic Jews,” they say, but their analysis “demonstrates that Greeks, Romans, Iranians, and Turks exhibit the highest genetic similarity with Ashkenazic Jews”.
They show genetic similarity to those populations due to population migration. I have touched on and already linked to the origins of the Roman component in the Ashkenazi Jewish genome, and the same applies for those other populations. Genetic similarity does not mean that those populations were a founder population, or even that there is ancestry from those peoples.
Yiddish and modern German are both derived from the same source, which is Middle High German. Why, if they were Khazar, would it be derived from Middle High German? Why would the Ashkenazic travelers speak Old French, Hebrew and Aramaic? Yiddish is an amalgamation of languages with an extremely heavy German component. As the Jews traveled, they picked up new languages and began to integrate them into their language and eventually Yiddish formed.
To conclude, those who still believe and push the Khazar hypothesis are ideologically blinded. They let their bias cloud their judgement to the facts. Just because one singular study came out that says the Jews are Khazar is meaningless…. Since all other studies have shown that Jews, all Jews no matter where they live in the world, show affinities with the Middle East. Even the world’s foremost scholars on the Jewish people say that the Khazar hypothesis is wrong. One study on this doesn’t show that “all Jews descend from Khazars”, as we have to take a look at all studies as a whole and see where they point. All studies do not point to an origin like this, so it’s safe to say that this one study be thrown in the trash where it belongs. It’s intellectually dishonest to believe the Khazar hypothesis when it has been discredited time and time again by the newest genomic studies.