Thursday, October 8, 2015

Morality of Our Enemies: Present and Past

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                       
Palestinians demonstrating 

What turns my stomach is the morality displayed by the Palestinians.  They are made joyous over the death of innocent Jews of Israel.   The Palestinians do not seem to share our morals.  From Palestinian Media Watch we learn that "Palestinians have been celebrating the murder of Israelis by distributing the pictures of dead bodies of Israelis and the terror scenes on Twitter and Facebook, according to the official PA daily. The "most significant" picture is that of the dead bodies of the young Israeli couple Naama and Eitam Henkin who were murdered in front of their four children last week. According to the PA daily, the killing of the couple brings "joy" to Palestinians who see the killing as "heroic".  This is their practice, to give out candies and be happy when they hear of a Jew killed by one of them.  They call the killers martyrs and name streets and places for them.  

Palestinians danced in the streets when they heard about 9/11 and the 3,000 Americans that were killed.  (
IS on the prowl 
Today Palestinians have reason, one would think, of fearing IS as this Salafist group has been cutting off the heads of Sunnis, followers of Islam but of a different sect than IS.  IS is a group gone mad and enticing to other madmen and women.  They are the epitome of evil.  They kill and rob others.  

During the Exodus 3,200 years ago, Moses taught the Jews to not cheer when the Egyptian soldiers who were chasing them died in the returning water and drowned.  The Jews were told that they were G-d's children, also.  Our lessons came to us while on the Exodus from Moses who was told these things by G-d. It was during a time when mankind was practicing the most vile of habits as judged by today's standards.
It's taken a long time for us Homo Sapiens to learn about having morals. It's possible that Cro-Magnon (early humans) knew something and did have some social standards. They were in the Middle East 37,000 years ago.                                                                          

 Remember  the story of Lot, Abram's nephew who was the son of Abraham's brother, Haran?
  Lot had traveled with Abraham but quarreled with his uncle and decided to settle in famed city of Sodom. Have you read  the story of Sodom and Gomorrah?  Sodom's people were most wicked without any morals at all.  Abram had been born in the year 1948 BCE  from the time of creation as Avram, the Hebrew-speaking Ivri (Hebrew)  who came from the other side of the Euphrates River with his father, Terah.  The Sodomites wanted to sodomize (gang rape) some strangers. who had sought refuge in Lot's  house in Sodom.    At that point, Lot offered his 2 daughters to the masses who were rioting outside his window because they wanted the strangers that were with Lot.  The code of honor was that a guest was safe in his house, and he chose to offer his daughters to pacify the crowd instead. Lot didn't realize it but the strangers were angels.    One can only imagine what they would do to his daughters.  One sees that females were not at the same level as males yet.                                                                      
Then, of course, according to the original Jewish story, Abram offered Isaac to G-d, ready to do child sacrificing, which was obviously done in those days at that locale.  It turned out to be a story showing when this practice stopped with the Jewish people as G-d then told him that he was to sacrifice an animal, instead. With Abram's birth, the world had gone into a new phase of intelligence and understanding. It was then his name changed to Abraham because he was told he would be the father of many nations.  (Genesis 17:5).
Later, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, in about 1310 BCE,  he had to go through the land of the Amaleks, who chased them with great hostile forces.  The Amaleks themselves were a nomadic people who wandered between the southern lands  and Canaan,  and had attacked the Israelites in the desert near Rephidim shortly after the Exodus had started and they killed the weak and weary travelers that lagged at the end of the line.  Other lands had not reacted as violently when they realized that 600,000 men, women and children were going through their lands to reach their destination.  "The Amaleks had their origin within the Edomites, being descendants of Esau. They are often associated with Edom, living in the same area as Edom"     Edom, also called Idumea, was around Mt. Seir and mountainous. The people lived by hunting.  They had kicked out the Horites who had lived their first.  These people, also Semites,  were tribal with a chief, and later had a monarchy.  They fought against King Saul and later, King David.   Finally they became part of the Jewish people as John Hyrcanus, ruler in Jerusalem 135-104 BCE  converted them by force. He was the son of Simon, the Hasmonean.   Herod was one of the Idumean  descendants.                                                        

We know that when Joshua  in the 13th century BCE reached Canaan, there was a fight for the land, and the most all of the Canaanites were slaughtered in that battle.  Those that lived were taken into the new society by marriage.  Few left the land.  Canaanites, a people descended from Canaan, son of Ham, were divided into 11 peoples who occupied the area between the Nile River of Egypt and the Euphrates River of Iraq.  The recent people of Syria had called themselves Canaanites.  Going back even further, the Canaanites were a mixture of HoritesHittites and Hebrews who dated back to the Hyksos period of the 17th century BCE, Philistines who had lived along the coast in the 12th century BCE, and the Arameans in the north in the 11th century BCE.  
King Saul sparing the life of Agag
When Saul was Israel's first king, he captured Agag, the Amalek  king  in a battle  and spared his life.  Samuel, the prophet was not happy about this bid of kindness because the Israelites had been told to wipe out the Amaleks by G-d because they were so evil.
King David
The Amaleks were finally defeated by the Israelite men under Joshua's leadership.  Israelites regarded the Amaleks as an eternal foe.  Later, during the period of Israel's judges before they had a king, of the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, the Amaleks penetrated western Israel at various points and their presence was a standing threat to the peace of the country.  During King David's time, (1010-970 BCE)  the Amaleks invaded southern Judea and burned the town of Ziklag.  David fought and defeated them mightily, with only 400 escaping from him.                                                                            
Haman and his 3 cornered hat
When Hezekiah, King of Judah  reigned from 720-690 BCE,  the tribe of Simeon overwhelmed the Amaleks and settled in their territory.  The name, Amaleks, has remained as a symbol of everlasting enmity to Israel.  Haman, the villian in our Purim history  that took place in Persia, who had the morality of Hitler, was an Agagite and was regarded as a descendant of Agag, King of  Amalek.  Haman wanted to kill all Jews in the empire and had a decree for it to happen.
Moses taught us to have morals and to not be like the people around us.  That's why so many laws existed.  We were to remember and be above the actions of others since we were to act as the examples of good behavior so as to be copied.   This is what we are all about;  people of the Golden Rule of not treating people in a way we wouldn't want to be treated, and people of the Mosaic Law.
 The story is that all the people were visited and offered the 10 Commandments, but there was always given some kind of excuse as to why all 10 could not be followed.  Finally, Moses accepted them all for us to follow.  I find it interesting that Hammerabi, king of Babylon from 1728 BCE to 1686 BCE also had had a code, but the 10 commandments from Moses surpassed and improved on that list.  His penalties for not following his code were severe.  Hammerabi held to the Jus Talionis (eye for an eye) punishment.   The 10 Commandments have appeal to the human conscience through the religious and ethical nature of the Torah .  Hammerabi's code depended on custom and obedience to the king's will.

Update: 6:57pm Thursday: Jerusalem especially has been under attack this last week.  "Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat:

“Come out today with your licensed guns, for those who know how to use it, that’s what needed right now. In a way, this is like reserve duty.”

This is a complete list of attacks that Arutz7 has published, it will give you some idea of what we are facing here in Israel.Thursday, October 1:
Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin were gunned down in their car near Itamar, in Samaria. The young parents, who were in their thirties, were residents of Neria in Samaria. They were murdered in front of the eyes of their four children, aged four months, four years, 7 and 9, who were in the car at the time. A five man Hamas terror cell that carried out the attack was arrested several days later.  from friend Victor Sharpe's article, Israel is one big terror attack right now.  Information sent to him by  a Danish friend, Jane Kiel, in Jerusalem, Israel:
Also happening: Israeli Man Seriously Hurt in Jerusalem Stabbing Attack – Stand for Israel
Hamas, Islamic Jihad Praise Wave of Terrorist Attacks – Israel Hayom
Khamenei Bans Negotiations with the US – Arutz Sheva
Empathetic Jon Bon Jovi Dedicates Song to Israel – Stand for Israel


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Arabs Went to Palestine

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                          
In 70 CE, the Romans burned down the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem besides the city itself.  Jewish independence had come to an end.  The Jewish population at that time was at least 5 million to 7 million, with the higher number claimed by Josephus's figures.
60 years later, the Jewish General Bar Kokhba faced a depleted  Jerusalem of only 3 million according to the figures of Dio Cassius.  He fought from 132 to 135 to take it back and was killed.  The Romans had never faced such strong forces before.  There were no Arabs there.
Arabs lived in Arabia made up of 1,027,000 square miles or 2,630,000 square kilometers and today is broken up into the states of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrein, Qatar, Trucial Oman on the Persian Gulf, Muscat and Oman, and South Yemen.  They stayed there until the 7th century when Mohammad died in 632.
Arabs then emerged from their desert country with a new goal of conquest in order to spread Islam.  They established an empire that over 100 years extended over 3 continents, from the Atlantic Ocean to the border of China.  The Arabs, led by the Sasanians in 614 by Khosrow Prviz, sacked Jerusalem and thus  conquered Palestine from the Byzantines who had stepped in to fill the void. Actually, the Sasanians were rulers of the Persians (Iranians) heirs of the ancient Achaemanean Empire.   The Byzantines were the Eastern Roman Empire with its capital in Constantinople, Turkey AKA Istanbul,  and held Palestine until the year 637, 5 years after the death of the Islamic leader. In 1165 Benjamin of Tudela found 2,000 Jews and 500 Karaites living there.  The Turks captured it in 1453.  The Jewish population had grown to 90,000 by 1919 but was reduced to 20,000 by 1990 by WWII and the creation later of Israel.

 Emperor Justinian (527-565) besides including elaborate anti-Jewish laws in his Code, issued a decree in 553 which interfered with the conduct of the synagogue services.  Heraclius is reported in about 614 to have issued an edict ordering the conversion of the Jews.  The practice of Judaism was formally forbidden by successive emperors;  Leo in 723, Basil 1st from 873 to 874;  Romanus Lucapenus in 932-936, and so on.  On each occasion, Jewish life reestablished itself, and in 1170, Benjamin of Tudela found Jewish communities throughout the Empire.  He emphasized that in Constantinople itself, Jews were treated with contempt.  Jews remained in the Byzantine Empire until the last group was conquered by the Turks in 1453, but continued to live in Constantinople.

Let's face it.  The Byzantine Empire was absolutely horrible for the Jews.  Then the Arabs took over.  Their headquarters was in Damascus, Syria.  The Arabs were from the Omayyad dynasty and their rule lasted a little over 100 years.  They in turn were overthrown in 750 by their bitter enemies and antagonists, the Abbasids who ruled for 200 years.  The Abbasids were dominated 1st by the Persians, then by the Turks.  Finally,  they were defeated by the Fatimids, who were Arabs that were not accustomed to governing anything.
During all this period, those subjected to these strangers ruling them had to learn Arabic which became the dominant language.  They were also forced to convert to Islam.  Those that converted did so because they had been suffering from social and economic discrimination if they didn't.  The Arabs called this period THE GOLDEN AGE OF ARABIC CULTURE.

All they really brought to people was what they had set out to bring;  Islam.  People learned to translate from their original language to Arabic.  Great volumes on mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy were simply translated materials into Arabic and thus claimed as originating from Arabs.  At least the Romans had brought aquaducts of which some still stand.  If some Arab sought a higher form of learning in those days, they had to go to Damascus or Egypt.  It wasn't offered in Palestine, which was always considered the backwater of any of the empires.  Jerusalem, where the Moslems built their Temple over the Jews' 2nd Temple, never achieved any political or cultural status.  The people there were useful only for forking over taxes to the rulers.

In the early Arab period, Arab immigrants from Arabia were encouraged, and later  given the Jewish lands.  When the Crusaders came to Palestine after 460 years of Arab and non-Arabic Moslem rule, they found an Arabic-speaking population.  The people were from at least 12 different races apart from the Jews and Druzes.  They were  practicing 5 different versions of Islam and 8 of Christianity.

The Persians and the Turks of the Abbasid empire; and the Berbers and the Egyptians of the Fatimid empire; none had an interest in Palestine except for what they could extract from it for their treasuries or their imperial armies.  

The Christian Crusaders were followed by the Mamluks in 1250.  They had divided the land to administer.  All the people were being exploited and the administrators were hostile and indifferent.  Arabs had no part or direct influence in the Mamluk regime anymore than Jews had.  They were just conquered subjects.
Turks changed Arabic-style Turkish alphabet  in 1928 to ABC style.  
When the Ottoman Turks took over, nothing changed for the Arabs.  The Ottomans even replaced Arabic with Turkish as the language of the country.  Arabs hated the Turks just slightly less than the heavily taxed Jews.  Because the Arabs came from a rugged desert and were familiar only with sand, they had no respect for soil and what it could do.  They caused the land to become devastated.  They in turn were helped by the Turks, Persians or Egyptians and Crusaders and by the invading hordes of Mongols or Kharezmians.  The revolts of chieftains, civil strife, and inter-tribal wars that went on in this land ruined it..
Camel Caravan


Bedouin of today in Negev where about 200,000 live

Today Bedouins serve in IDF and make excellent trackers.  
Arabs that were Bedouins, like the Hashemite tribe of Jordan, would raid upon communities and destroy land.  The land was depleted and eroded over the 15 centuries of constant misuse.  Bedouins destroyed the land more than ever during the Abbasids and Fatimid eras.  Palestine was one big wasteland.  Time went by and the Bedouins continued to raid others, plunder their livestock, destroyed crops and plantations, and were a plague to farmers.  This started in the 13th century and grew worse under Ottoman mis-rule.  Bedouins camped along the countryside where they would attack people on the highway who were traveling, especially attacking  caravans carrying merchandise, or on pilgrim cavalcades.

They are no longer nomadic.  "Today, many Bedouin call themselves 'Negev Arabs' rather than 'Bedouin', explaining that 'Bedouin' identity is intimately tied in with a pastoral nomadic way of life – a way of life they say is over. Although the Bedouin in Israel continue to be perceived as nomads, today all of them are fully sedentarized, and about half are urbanites.  They now keep sheep and goats.  " Ishmael Khaldi, who has a master’s degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University and serves in Israel’s Foreign Service, describes his own people, the Bedouin. “The Bedouin are more tribal than nationalistic,” Khaldi adds. It’s that deeply ingrained tribal culture that has allowed the Bedouin to survive centuries of nomadic existence, but it’s also the trait that presents barriers to their continued well -being in modern Israel."

It is my opinion that Hamas must be made up of such descendants of hostile Arab Bedouins, as their only skill seems to be attacking Israelis.  Fatah, too, for where is a farmer among them who values land?  Arabs on the whole were not educated city-folk, but wild  hot-tempered tribal people, easily stirred up by their leaders such as the Sherif of Jerusalem who was against Jews.  He had led many riots in the 1920s.

In 1785 the land was described as ruined and desolate country.  Pilgrims and travelers continued to report on its poor condition and barrenness.  Again in 1835 Alphonse de Lamartine wrote that he and his group saw no living object outside the gates of Jerusalem.  All was silent, like a tomb of a whole people.  1867 was when Mark Twain visited the land who saw and felt a rich soil that was full of weeds.  He didn't see any human being after traveling a great stretch to Tabor.He saw hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere, even the olive and the cactus were rarities.  He stated that he thought Palestine would never come to life again.  He wrote:

   "Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes.  Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.  Palestine is desolate and unlovely."   Mark Twain.

So, now tell me again about this country called Palestine that the Arabs demand to "return to" and create their own state and still be against Israel?  What state-the state of weeds and mosquitoes and swamps?  Jews have returned after 2,000 years, yes, but they were kept out by the prevailing powers.  WWI's defeat was their chance and the Arab's defeat once again.  If they wish, they could always live in the other 48 Muslim  states in the world. For Jews, there is only one Jewish state, and that is Israel.   They all could have had their own state in 1948 when offered half of the Jewish land but THEY REFUSED IT.  They had entered Palestine when the Jews started returning and building in the late 1880s looking for work.  They called themselves Syrian Arabs.  They didn't just come from Syria, either, but from all the neighboring lands.

Now we have ISIS creating an empire out of Iraq and Syria, but what an empire called Islamic State!  They're busy killing off Muslim sects they don't approve of,  the Sunni, as they are Salafists, and any Christians found in the area.  Then we now have Russians in Syria killing off anyone not Alawites as they are propping up the Syrian President Assad.  In reaction to the bedlam, the Palestinian Arabs led by Fatah and Hamas leaders are copy cats-trying to start a 3rd round of an Intifada.

Resource;Battleground, fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz
2nd edition, Middle East, past & present by Yahya Armajani, Thomas M. Ricks, Textbook for college

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Thousand Years of Jewish Return to Palestine Before WWI

RASHI, Rabbi Solomon Yitzhaki (b:1040 in Troyes, France-d: 1105)studied, lived in Rhineland, famous Jewish commentator 
The 10th century marked the Moslem conquest of the Middle East and Palestine.  It was also a time when the Karaite leaders (Jews who did not support the Oral Law-only Mosaic Law who broke off from mainstream in 8th century)  called for aliyah in Jerusalem.

In 1121, 300 Jews went to Palestine from France and England.  Nahmanides went in 1267 and Obadiah of Bertinoro went in 1488.  Both were followed by groups of disciples.  Then in 1492 saw many Sephardi Jews including an important kabbalistic circle moved to Palestine, mainly in Safad (Tzfat).  Joseph Nasi's resettlement attempt in 1564 brought groups from Italy, while in 1700, 1,500 arrived from Eastern Europe in response to Rabbi Judah Hasid's call.  In the end of the 18th century, there was an influx of both Hasidim and followers of the Vilna Gaon.  30 years (1850-1880)  before the Bilu (1st modern Zionist pioneering movement started in 1882 at Kharkov by Jewish students reacting against the wave of Russian pogroms.  , 20,000 to 30,000 Jews settled in Palestine.  That was the start of the 1st Aliyah which then started in 1882 to 1903 which started from going through the Russian pogroms and was led by the Bilu.  300 families and smaller groups came from Russia in 1882.  Also arriving were the 450 pioneers from Romania and a few dozen from Yemen.  The Turkish authorities didn't make it any easier.  More persecutions of Jews in Russia caused more to come in 1890 when thousands more entered.  By 1948, there were 750,000 Jews living in Israel when the state was re-born.

The 1st Bilu was made up of 15 men and women who reached Jaffa in the summer of 1882 and the others later that year.  They were true pioneers in a barren land. They went from cold Russia to hot Palestine.
Crusaders ruled the land and immigration was forbidden.  No Jew could legally or safely enter Palestine during that period.  Testing the waters, Yehuda "Judah Halevi, the greatest Hebrew poet of the exile, called for the Jews to immigrate, and many generations drew inspiration from his teaching.  He was killed soon after arriving in Jerusalem in 1141 by a Crusader whose horse had crushed him to death.  He was born in 1075 in Toledo, Spain, and lived in Cordova, a physician by profession, lived a life of affluence and honor.  .   and died 1141 by the Wall according to legend, or  in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Crusaders' grip on Palestine was over when 300 rabbis from France and England made aliyah in the year 1210 to help the Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Acre and Ramleh.
The Mongol invaders arrived a generation later who were the most destructive.  Here they had taken Baghdad.  After Baghdad, the Mongols continued on westward. They conquered Syria from the Ayyubids, with help from the Armenians and neutrality from the Crusaders. In Palestine they reached the extent of their conquests.
Moses Nachmanides, AKA Ramban,  then made aliyah to Jerusalem and found only 2 Jews, father and son who were dyers.  Nevertheless, Moses had disciples who answered his call and they reestablished the community.  From 1267, he lived in Palestine, where he settled in Acre, reorganized the Jewish settlements and wrote his popular bible commentary with hits characteristic combination of rational interpretation and insistence on kabbalistic implications.  "Ramban became a practicing physician in his native town. However, he was the communal rabbi of Gerona at the same time, and later became the chief rabbi of the entire province of Catalonia.
For many years the Ramban lived in his native town, supporting himself as a physician, and devoting most of his time to the study of the Talmud and Kabalah, and to his literary work, writing commentaries on the Talmud. But in his declining days, when he was nearly seventy years old, his quiet life underwent a sudden change. An apostate Jew, masquerading as a devout Catholic, Paulus Christians, had challenged the Jews to a religious disputation."  He was the 2nd Spanish Jewish doctor who saw the need to return to the Jewish ancient homeland.  
Ship called a Cog in 1304. 
So, from the 12th century onward, Jews came to settle in Palestine.  Europe had become a purgatory for Jews,  This was during the Middle Ages and people were primitive when "Jews were subjected to the whole range of persecutions, from mass degradation to death after torture."  All travel was dangerous.
The 13th, 14th and 15th centuries were very dangerous for Jews in Europe.  To go from Western Europe to Palestine was a heroic undertaking which most often ended in disaster.  Praying for the return to Zion was a dream of heaven.
Pope Nicholas V in 1447-gave Catholics what would become the Vatican Library and the Doctrine of Discovery – the right of Christians to take any non-Christian lands they “discover”. In “Dum diversas” (1452), to get Portugal interested in a crusade against the Turks, he allowed the Portuguese to put non-Christians Africans into “perpetual servitude”.
Popes ordered their followers to stop Jewish travel to Palestine.  In the 15th century, the Italian maritime states denied Jews the use of ships for getting to Palestine.  Jews had to end their project or make the whole journey by a roundabout land route and take on more dangers by going through Germany, Poland and Southern Russia or another route of going through the inhospitable Balkans and Black Sea crossing before reaching Turkey that was semi-safe.

In 1433, right after the ban against Jews traveling was imposed, Yitzhak Tsarefati urged Jews to come by way of Turkey.  Often, the journey took years! This was so the traveler could work at the stopping places to raise money for the next leg of his journey.  If Jews lived there, he would ask rich ones to finance his journey and share vicariously in the mitzvah (good deed) of his aliyah.


Christian pilgrims Siebald Rieter and Johann Tucker visited Jerusalem in 1479 .  They followed the path taken by a German Jew who had set out from Nuremberg and traveled to Posen, Poland (300 miles).  They went from Posen to Lublin, Poland (250 miles), then Lublin to Lvov in Galicia, now in Ukraine (120 miles), then Lvov to Khotin, Bessarabia, now Moldova (150 miles), and from Khotin to Akerman (150 miles) and from Akerman to Samsun, Turkey  (6 days), Samsun to Tokat, Turkey (6-7 days), Tokat to Aleppo, Syria (15 days), Aleppo to Damascus, Syria  (7 days), and finally-Damasuc to Jerusalem, Judah (6 days).  Aleppo came to have a very large Jewish community, larger than Damascus had.  After traveling 970 miles from Germany to get to Turkey, they had to travel another 41 days at least to get to Jerusalem.

How about the Ottoman Empire?  They held the land of Palestine for the past 400 years from about 1517.  They had encouraged Jewish immigration into their dominions.  A stream of immigrants moved to Palestine even though conditions in Europe made it possible for only a few Jews to get up and go before the call.
Many who heeded the call were refugees from the Spanish Inquisition of 1492  All sorts of skilled Jews came; scholars, artisans and merchants.  The 16th century now had a new pulse into the Jewish life in Palestine.  The Empire wasn't doing so well and life there became harsher.  By the 17th century, rebelling Cossacks in 1648 and 49 started massacring Jews.  Those that could flee went to the nearest refuge which was in Western Europe and from there they made their way to Palestine.

That same generation saw Shabbetai Zevi b: 1626 in Smyrna and affected by Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-49 and was manic-depressive .   a self-appointed Messiah who compiled followers from the East and West.  People saw he wasn't able to take them magically to Palestine so they got there  by sea or by overland through Turkey and Syria.

The Ottoman Empire suffered from anarchy in the local administration, the degradations and exactions, plagues and pestilence and the ruin of the country continued in the 18th and into the 19th centuries.  Jews in Europe were doing worse than ever living in even greater poverty.  Groups massed together and came from Italy, Morocco, and Turkey.   Hasidim, disciples of the Baal Shem-Tov came from  Galicia and Lithuania.  Jews were dying in Palestine faster than immigrants could take their place.

By 1810, disciples of the Vilna Gaon had just immigrated and mentioned that "even in Palestine's ruin, there is none to compare with her, even in her desolation she is unequaled, in her silence there is none like her.  Good are her ashes and her stones."  They knew this was HOME.  These poor immigrants suffered from an earthquake, pestilence and murderous onslaught by marauding brigands.  Yet they or their children lived to see the beginnings of the modern restoration of the country.
Sir Moses Montefiore, a Jewish philanthropist from Britain had great plans to resettle Jews in their own homeland.  In 1869, moved a group of 7 Jews in Jerusalem and set up the 1st housing project outside the walls.  Each built a house among the rocks and jackals and it came to be called Nahlat Shiva (Estate of the 7).  Today it is the heart of downtown Jerusalem, bounded by the Jaffa Road between Zion Ssquare and the Bank of Israel.

In 1878 another group came across the mountains of Judea and set up the 1st modern Jewish agricultural settlement at Petah Tikva, which became the mother of the settlements.  8 years earlier, the 1st modern agricultural school in Palestine was opened at Mikveh Yisrael near Jaffa.  Thus the Jews were awakened to return to what had been their ancient home of Israel and Judah, called Palestine for almost 2,000 years since 135 CE by the Romans who had to fight 3 years to take Jerusalem again after taking it in 70 CE.  The Jewish General Bar Kokhba almost had won against the wily Romans.
Meanwhile, the newly formed Catholics thought it was their duty to enforce Jewish dispersion.  They could not stand the idea of Jews returning to their own land.  But, by 464 CE, the Emperor Julian announced his intention of rebuilding the Temple.  What a change of heart.  This was part of his apostasy.  Protestant sects had been forming and they all voiced a new chant of saying it was a Christian act now to help the Jewish people regain its homeland.  Maybe this was because it was in the secure hands of the Ottoman Turks, and there was no way of carrying out this new 180 degree change of objectives towards Jews.
As luck would have it, Christians turned 180 degrees again in the early 19th century.  Napoleon Bonaparte had something to do with it.  He had a plot of conquest of Palestine in 1799 and had promised to restore the country to the Jews!  Somehow he lost the battle and didn't take over Palestine.  He did ring a bell in everyone's minds, though of the idea of restoration of Jews to Palestine.
1865 picture of Lord Lindsay and son Ludovic
Lord Lindsay, Lord Shaftesbury who learned Hebrew, Lord Palmerston, Disraeli, Lord Manchester, George Elliot, Holman Hunt, Sir Charles Warren, Hall Caine, all spoke, wrote, organized support and submitted practical projects of ways Britain might help the return of the Jewish people to Palestine.  Some even wanted the British government to buy Palestine from the Turks to give it to the Jews to rebuild!

     Lord Lindsay wrote: "The Jewish race, so wonderfully preserved, may yet have another stage of national existence opened to them, may one more obtain possession of their native land...
    The soil of "Palestine still enjoys her sabbaths, and only waits for the return of her banished children, and the application of industry, commensurate with her agricultural capabilities, to burst once more into universal luxuriance, and be all that she ever was in the days of Solomon."

1845 and Sir George Gawler called for replenishment of the deserted towns and fields of Palestine with the energetic people whose warmest affections are rooted in the soil (Jews).  How did they know anything?  They didn't have cell phones in those days, or even telephones.  It was in 1839 that the Church of Scotland sent 2 missionaries, Andrew Bonar and Robert Murray M'Cheyne, to report on the conditions of the Jews in their land.  The newspaper, The Times urged the Jews to take possession of the land.  If they needed another Moses, they supposed one would appear.  They were very naive. Many pitched in with more thoughts and ideas.
Benjamin Disraeli, twice voted a British Prime Minister, b: 1804 to Jewish Italian parents, baptized to Christianity in 1817, -d: 1881. 
Along came the Crimean War which pushed all these great ideas back.  1878 saw the Prusso-Turkish War, and the Congress of Berlin tried to find a peaceful solution.  Lord Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli) and Lord Salisbury were proposing to declare a protectorate over Syria and Palestine and that Palestine would be restored by the Jews.  The reports were unfounded but the political planners in Britain had this in their minds.  The newspaper, Spectator, on May 10, 1879 criticized Beaconsfield for not having adopted it and wrote:  "If he had freed the Holy Land and restored the Jews, as he might have done instead of pottering about Roumelia  (today southern Bulgaria) and AFGHANISTAN,  he would have died as Dictator."  Roumelia was a historical term describing the area now referred to as the Balkans or the Balkan Peninsula when it was administered by the Ottoman Empire.
How about the Moslems of the Middle East?  In 1831, Palestine was conquered from the Turks by Mehemet Ali, who ruled it from Egypt for the next  9 years.  This was when Sir Moses Montefiore was busy making plans for Palestine and the Jews.  He visited Mehemet Ali in Egypt in 1839 and presented his ideas of large scale Jewish settlement to regenerate Palestine.  MEHEMET ALI ACCEPTED IT.    Right in the middle of getting in the practical details, Ali was forced to leave Palestine and the land returned to Turkish rule.

40 years later the Turks were presented with the same plans of Jewish return.  Laurence Oliphant was the man who worked on these newer plans.  He showed the Turks that this idea was in their own interest as well as in Britain's benefit to restore Jews to Palestine.   He had plans for Gilead to have a settlement and it was Beaconsfield who  presented it.

The Sultan liked the plan, The Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury and even the Prince of Wales (later the King Edward VII)  and the French government as well wanted it to happen.but in  1880, a British election caused Beaconsfield to lose his position and he was replaced by William Ewart Gladstone, who was considered an enemy by the Turks.  Jews settling in Palestine was to become an idea to be shelved.

Jewish groups were then born and a wave of Jewish immigration took place.  The First Aliyah was in 1882, but remember, movements of Jews returning started in 1121.  Theodore Herzl's place in history was still 15 years away when the World Zionist Organization would be developed.  After all this, how did the mandate of Great Britain, given to them on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo Conference, ever get so sidetracked from England's main goal of settling Palestine with Jews once again.  The answer is:  Oil in the Middle East for Britain's use.  They gave away 80% of the Jewish land to Jordan, and then tried to divide the 20% left between  the Palestinian Jews and  Palestinian Arabs to make 2 states.  The Arabs declined.  They didn't want half.  They wanted all of it.  Today many of those Arabs and their descendants live in Jordan.  Abbas and his Palestinian Fatah members (PA), are not negotiating at the present.  They are trying to start the 3rd Intefada.

Resource: BATTLEGROUND, fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz, p 100-105.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Khazarians, Karaites, Tatars and The Jews of Crimea

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                             

Crimea has been a Russian peninsula in the Black Sea for years and years.  Way back in the 5th century BCE, there were Greek colonies here.  Jews settled there from the 1st Century BCE  before  the fall of Jerusalem from the Roman invasion but during their Occupation.  Roman soldiers had entered Crimea in 47 BCE and stayed until 330 CE.  Many were taken as slaves to work for the Roman army  in dirty work.   Inscriptions have been found dating this evidence.
Along came the 7th century and eastern Crimea was controlled by the prevailing Khazars which lasted until 1117.  Khazaria's ruling party had converted to Judaism, but did not make it a forced decision on their population.  It was a choice.  The royal family had converted, that we know.
Karaites Dance 
By the 12th century, with Khazaria swallowed up by Russia, a large Karaite population lived in Crimea, centered at Eupatoria, Crimea.  Karaites were a Jewish sect that had rejected the Oral Law the rest of the Jewish family followed.  They had developed in the 8th century in and around Persia where the Jewish community was not long established and did not accept the discipline of the Babylonian gaonate (leadership).  They had been exposed to the Messianic hopes that came to them from the local  people.  There had been the Arab conquest of Persia in 640; the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 750, and the urge toward social justice and asceticism which they had inhaled from the local population.  An ancient document from the 760s was written by the new Karaite, Anan Ben David who had interpreted the Tanakh (Bible) literally and tried to deduce a code of life without reference to the Oral law.
The decendants of the khazars are most like the crimean karaites who 1) look "eastern" 2) speak turkic 3) are from the General area of the khazar empire
During the next few centuries, there were others who rejected the ancient Oral Law in this area. There were Karaites who traveled as far as to Egypt to make converts to their particular doctrine of Judaism.  They presented themselves as an austere asceticism that didn't go over very well.  Rabbis just avoided controversy with them until Saadyah Gaon, who died in 942, attacked them violently and tried to exclude them from the Jewish family.  Educated scholars emerged among the Karaites inaugurating the Golden Age of Karaite literature in  both Arabic and Hebrew.  Intermarriage between the 2 groups was common.  Karaite scholars studied along with rabbis and were influenced by them.
Karaites are Jews who take their shoes off before entering their shul.  
During the 10th century, Karaite communities sprang up in the Byzantine Empire of Asia Minor, the Balkans, Damascus, Syria, Cyprus, Toledo Spain which had gone Moslem, etc.  The Palestinian and Egyptian centers surpassed those of Persia and Babylonia which dwindled and degenerated.  The Palestinian Karaites were most austere, and had settled in Jerusalem and mourned for the Temple and prayed continually for redemption.  Karaism spread to the Crimea by the 12th Century, to Troki, Lithuania in the 13th century, and Volhynia (Luck), after the Russian Karaites received from the Czars privileges and rights denied the Rabbanites.  The question begs, why did the Russians accept Karaites and not mainstream Judaism?  Probably because they saw them as having broken away from the mainstream Judaism like Christianity had, and Judaism had been so slandered.  They saw Jesus as having broken away.  They just didn't know what they had broken from, and it WAS NOT THE TORAH.  IN FACT, THEY WERE STRONG KEEPERS OF THE TORAH.
At ancient Theodosia,today's (Kaffa), the Jewish community preserved the Byzantine rite of prayer, published finally in 1793 and is now extinct.  .  Many Jews converted to Islam under Tatar rule which was from the end of the 13th century.  In 1346, the bodies of Mongol warriors of the Golden Horde who had died of plague were thrown over the walls of the besieged Kaffa (ancient Feodosiya). It has been speculated that this operation may have been responsible for the advent of the Black Death in Europe.  Kaffa had a synagogue there already in 909 CE, and a strong Jewish community was reported during the 13th to 15th centuries.  After the 18th century, the Jewish population declined and before WWII, numbered about 2,000.  
These Crimean Tatars planned on boycotting elections last year in September. "More than 99%of Crimean Tatars boycotted the Moscow-orchestrated referendum on transferring Crimea to Russian control, Mustafa Cemilev said. Now, as a result of enormous Russian pressure, 98% of them will not participate in Sunday’s election in their occupied homeland."

Crimean Tatars were a Turkic ethnic group that formed in the Crimean Peninsula from the 13th to 17th centuries from Turkic tribes that moved to the land from the Asian steppes beginning in the 10th century and mixed in with the pre-Cuman population of Crimea.  The Tatars were led by Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan in 1223 and they went into Kiev, Ukraine.  They constituted the majority of Crimea's population from the time of its ethnogenesis until the mid 19th century.  "Crimean Tatars are not Turkic but a mixture of many settlements from Europe to Asia."  When Tatars entered the area, they managed to cause the blending of Greeks, Armenians, Italians and Ottoman Turks on the southern coastline, Goths of the central mountains and Turkic-speaking Kipchaks and Cumans of the steppe which formed the Crimean Tatar ethnic group.  This Golden Horde of Tatars mixed with populations which had settled in Eastern Europe and Crimea since the 7th century; the  Tatars, Mongols, Khazars, Pechenegs, Cumans and Kipchacks.  They took slaves from the eastern Europeans that they invaded, such as Polish, Lithuanians, Russians, etc.  
They emerged as a nation when the Crimean Khanate, which was an Ottoman Empire vassal state from the 15th to 18th centuries and was one of the great centers of slave trade for the Ottoman Empire.  Crimea had mostly adopted Islam in the 14th century following the conversion of Ozbeg Khan.  Note Khazaria went from pagan to Judaism, now Crimea switched to Islam.

The first Russian invasion of Crimea was in 1736The Russian Empire annexed the territory of Crimea in the last quarter of the 18th century, after a number of bloody wars with the Ottoman Empire. The city of Simferopol had piped water, sewerage and a theatre where Moliere was performed in French.  Their port of Gozleve could be compared with Rotterdam. Bahcesarai, the capital,  was described as Europe's cleanest and greenest city.  "However, in the Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol, which is considered a separate region of Crimea, there are very few Crimean Tatars and around 22 percent of Ukrainians, with over 70 percent of the population being Russians."
Crimean Tatars in traditional costume in traditional dance.

On the negative side, beginning in the 18th century, Crimean Tatars were known for annual and devastating raids into Ukraine and Russia.  The Crimean Khanate kept a huge slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East which was the basis of their economy.  Kefe was one of the most important trading ports and slave markets.  Slaves and freedmen formed about 75% of the Crimean population.

May 1944, the USSR ordered the removal of a majority of the Tatar population from Crimea, including the families of Crimean Tatars serving in the soviet Army-in trains and boxcars to Central Asia, mainly to Uzbekistan.  In 1967, some were allowed to return to Crimea.  In 1989, the USSR condemned the removal of Crimean Tatars from their motherland as inhumane and lawless.  Today the Tatars make up 12% of the population in Crimea.  A large group still lives in Turkey and Uzbekistan.  

The Genoese ruled southern Crimea in the 15th century and they prohibited interference with internal Jewish affairs.

From 1475 to 1783, the Turks ruled as the Ottoman Empire.  Chafut-Kale was the Jewish center then.  Many Jewish captives from the Ukraine next door were sent to Crimea after 1648.

Then the Russian conquest occurred in 1783 and many Ashkenazi Jews settled in Crimea.

In 1863, the Russian authorities granted the Karaites equal rights, but other Jews continued to suffer from disabilities until the 1917 Russian Revolution.

In the late 1920s, thousands of Jews were settled in Crimea under a plan to establish an autonomous Jewish agricultural center.  By 1939, the peak of Nazi takeover in Germany and disaster for the Jews, the Jewish population in Crimea numbered 50,000 including 40,000 Ashkenazim and 6,000 Krimchaks and 4,000 Karaites.

Almost everyone was wiped out by the Germans by 1941 and only a few, including some 300 Karaites, survived.
Karaites Praying 
By   1980 the Jewish population was up to 25,614 from nothing.  Post WWII European Jews had made their way there for some unknown reasons; most likely common language and cultural reasons along with lack of finances.  They could have opted for Israel but didn't, no doubt because of the attacks previously happening there.  However, 1980 was a good year to make Aliyah.  I did.  Many Russians from the Motherland also did.  Why didn't the Crimean Jews?   Since 1948, the Karaites in Egypt moved to Israel, next door, settling in Matzliah and elsewhere.

 By 1990 there were 25,000 Karaites living in Israel.
When you come right down to it, Karaite doctrine is conservative and more stringent than rabbinical Jewish teachings.  It forbids levirate marriage (marriage with a brother's childless widow.  Such a marriage is commanded where the brother has left no offspring; ) see Deut 25:5, 25:7-10, and Lev 18:16.  and all  Sabbath lighting and is stricter on laws of purity.  They have differences in laws of ritual slaughter that prevent social intercourse with the Rabbanites.  They do not celebrate Hanukkah as it is post-biblical.  They do not use tephillin or mezuzot in prayers.  The surprise is that they have evolved with their own Oral Law, showing that through time, this is something necessary that takes place.  Sometimes theirs even overlaps rabbinical traditiion.  They just don't sanctify our Oral Law.  They rarely discuss ethics and metaphysics.

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jews of Khazaria, 2nd Edition by Kevin Alan Brook