If I was reading a booklet from some “Christian Identity” person like Pete Peters in Colorado or some anti-Semitic person like David Duke I would simply shake my head and say typical. But instead I am reading a new publication by “The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”
At least that is what it states on the booklet and it was recommended to me by them at their booth at the Presbyterian Women’s Gathering.
The booklet, a large booklet, is titled, “Steadfast Hope: the Palestinian Quest for a just peace.” I am troubled as I read; the information is slanted, terribly slanted. But although not finished with my reading or research I must write.
The “Identity” groups insist that the Jews of Israel and elsewhere are not Jewish but only people who converted to Judaism, probably Edomites or Khazars. They insist that the white European and British people are the “lost” tribes of Israel. But the Israel/Palestinian Mission Network have a new but old story to tell. It isn’t that the white races are the true Israel it is rather that only those Jewish people who have lived in Palestine for several thousand years belong, by ancestry, to ancient Israel.
So what about all of the other Jewish people who migrated to Palestine both before the Holocaust and after? Oh, they are just converts to Judaism. They supposedly have no link to ancient Israel. That would of course mean that those who died in the Holocaust were not genealogically linked to ancient Israel!
Under the subtitle, “The Genealogical Claim to Israel,” the authors write:
“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”
This lie about the Jewish people both inside of contemporary Israel and outside of Israel is undoubtedly the worst affront I have experienced concerning Israel and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. At least a small group of people in the denomination, my denomination, are truly anti-Semitic- they are capable of using the worst kind of lies to bring about their own political agenda.
Since, evidently, Shlomo uses the Khazars as an example just as the neo-Nazi groups do I will copy part of my paper that dealt with that here:
“In 740 AD a group of people who were Tatars converted to the Jewish religion. This was the kingdom of Khazar, “on the western shore of the Caspian Sea between the Volga and Don rivers.” This kingdom was aggressive and existed until 969, when the Khazars were conquered by Russia. Henceforth, the people became Russian Orthodox under Vladimir. These people who were Jews by conversion, as many people are, are neither the Israelite descendants nor are they the Jews of today as many Identity teachers insist. They are simply a group of people who were converted to Judaism in the early Middle Ages and then converted to Orthodox Christianity.”
And then I should, from the same paper, explain the genealogical linkage of most of the Jewish people of today with ancient Israel.
“While the history of the Jews is complex and travels over many roads and centuries, it is very clear that the ancient Israelites are the Jews of today. Their language, religion and communities connect their centuries in an unbreakable line.
“Both from biblical texts and from historical sources it can be shown that at the time of Jesus, Jewish communities, (those who were Israelites), existed not only in Palestine but also in most of the known world. The Jews of the Diaspora, that is the Jews living outside of Palestine, were diverse but linked by “ethnicity,” “the local community,” “links with Jerusalem and other Diaspora Communities,” “the Torah” and “Jewish practices and beliefs.”7
Scholars consider the Jews in Diaspora to have been a large population. Although they do not know the exact amount they acknowledge, “that the total Jewish population of the Diaspora considerably exceeded the Jewish population in Palestine.”8 The Dictionary of New Testament Background gives information about many of those communities including the acknowledgement that, 'Literary and inscriptional sources indicate that some Jewish communities in the Diaspora continued to flourish until the end of antiquity.'9
The Jews of second century A.D., who existed without a central location, built into their Diaspora communities a means of connectedness that prevented them from being absorbed totally into the cultures where they existed. They held the Hebrew language and the liturgy of their worship in tact. Max Dimont, author of Jews, God and History, explains:
To prevent the Hebrew language from becoming fragmentized into hundreds of dialects, Jewish scholars set about writing the first Hebrew dictionary and grammars. Though modern Hebrew has grown in the number of words, anyone able to speak Hebrew today can read the Hebrew of the ancient Israelites, the Hebrew of the Jews in Islamic civilization, or the Hebrew of the Jews in the Middle Ages, without special guide books.10
The Jewish people and their culture, which connects with ancient Israel, are found in many cultures in many different ages culminating in contemporary Jewish communities and peoples including the state of Israel. By 1960 Israel had a population of two million people, “Jews from Yemen and Germany, Morocco and Russia, Turkey and Poland.”11
These many diverse peoples, who of course, include converts from many other races and people groups, are generally the physical children of Abraham through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob; they are not Edomites. And they are not Khazars.”
At this point I believe it is time for many in leadership in the Presbyterian Church to rise up out of concern for the awful place we are descending to and confront those who are moving into the murky world of anti-Semitism.
7 For a detailed description of these links see, P.R. Trebilco, “Diaspora Judaism,” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, Editors, Craig A. Evans & Stanley E. Porter, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 2000), 291-93.
8 Ibid., 285.
9 Ibid., 295.
10 Max I. Dimont, Jews, God and History, (New York: Signet Books 1962) , 121.
11 Ibid., 410.