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Question About Jewish Roots

Rabbi Jonathan Blass29 Adar I 5763
474
Question
I have recently begun studying the Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the most common arguments I see on anti-Israel websites is that the Ashkenazi Jews are not actually descended from the Israelites. They are, in fact, descended from a group of people called the Khazars. By claiming this, these websites are trying to diminish the Jewish people’s claim to Eretz Yisrael. Could you please shed some light on this topic? Is it true? Is it an exaggeration? Does it even matter? Thank you very much.
Answer
Do these anti-Israeli websites recognize the rights of Yemenite and Spharadi Jews to the Land of Israel? If so, then since they are aware that the rightful owners of the Land- the Jewish People- have returned to claim what is ours, why is it any of their business if the Land belongs to one group of Jews or the other? It is clearly not the Arabs' homeland. If, on the other hand, they don't recognize the right of Jews- Ashkenazi, Spharadi or Yemenite to the Land of Israel (and this is unfortunately the case)- they should stop muddying the waters with nonsense about the Khazars. There are many Ashkenazi Jewish families who can trace their lineage back to the time of King David and before, including all Cohanim and Leviim, who by definition, are descendants of the tribe of Levi on the fathers' side and not converts. Recent DNA studies have demonstrated the common ancestry (based on similar genetics) of Jews the world over- Ashkenazim, Spharadim and Teimanim are more closely related genetically to each other than to the Gentile nations among whom they lived. The Khazars were residents of a central Asian Kingdom that converted to Judaism more than a millenium ago. Unfortunately, the kingdom was conquered by its enemies and the inhabitants were forcibly assimilated on the most part into the neighboring kingdoms. A good documentary series on the Khazars, by reporter Ehud Yaari, was released by Israel television's second channel and probably can be acquired from them.
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