I don’t imagine a book like The Thirteenth Tribe, by Arthur Koestler, could be published today. It came out in 1976. If I read the scene correctly, there was still a mildly unfettered publishing environment in those days. The era was littered with poseur/academics writing at behest of CIA, of course, but fakes and spooks did not completely dominate the publishing world as they do now. Journalism, a safe refuge for the “vaguely talented”, according to Lippman, has always existed under the heel of power.
So it is hard to evaluate what is true in the book and the controversy around it. Modern genealogy states that only 12% or so of Jewry is Khazar in origin, but why should I trust modern genealogy when the whole matter of Jews and Zionism is a political circus? If they can fake moon landings and presidential assassinations, they can fake gene studies too. The mysterious Jewish Diaspora is not well chronicled, and reads like mythology. We might assume that the Romans indeed crushed the land of Israel and Judah, but what was there to crush? An Israeli archeologist disputes the existence of a powerful kingdom, or even that of figures like Solomon and David. There is no evidence, say Israel Finkelstein and his American colleague Neil Asher Silberman. (See The Bible Unearthed.)
The “twelve” tribes are nothing more than astrotheology, the number twelve used as a substitute for constellations, just as twelve “apostles” gathered around the sun god, “Jesus,” who bears strong similarities to Horus.
I am interested in this subject because my name, Tokarski, is Jewish, and my father’s family history is riddled with mystery. (I was raised and educated as a Catholic.) I grew up thinking I was Czech, but the Tokar/Tokarski name has origins in Germany and Ukraine, with immigrants making their way to Pennsylvania. My grandfather immigrated to Montana from Pennsylvania. In those days a Jewish background was something to hide. One branch of my family changed the name to one of Spanish origin, though they are in no way Spanish.
But that would make me only half Jewish (the other half Irish), and that on my father’s side, which does not count. I am not allowed to say “my people.”
Given all of the deceit around Zionism and the political goals behind the State of Israel, then, I would expect Koestler’s book to be trashed, and it was at the time. His thesis is that modern Ashkenazi Jews are the product of eastern European tribes, mostly the legendary fighters who stopped the spread of Islam at the Caucasus, the Khazars. According to legend, the Khazars adopted the Jewish faith as a way of avoiding a choice between Rome and Constantinople.
And so, the narrative goes, the Jews who found a safe haven in Khazaria had a civilizing effect, a blend resulting in culturally advanced warriors. As the Khazar kingdom collapsed, its descendants ended up in Germany and Poland, says Koestler. He finds no evidence to support the theory that these were the remnants of Western Jewry as it scattered from Spain and France.
There’s far more to the history of Jewry than that, including ghettos and shtetls and inbreeding, surviving the plague, a sense of identity reinforced by the hatred of others. The high intelligence of Ashkenazi could be genetic, or merely the result of exclusion from the normal trades and being forced to make their way in non-agricultural and non-industrial pursuits, like banking and finance.
Were it not for Zionism, none of this would be controversial and there would not be such a cloak of deceit behind all of the studies of modern Jews. The claim by Jews on the state of Palestine was specious with or without any historical truth in the Bible. The history of humankind is one of global wanderers. Who among us, besides Jews, gets to go back and steal land from others based on historical mythology? If there is any merit to that claim, then all residents of the United States except our Native American Indians need to pack our bags.
That whole affair, Zionism, strikes me as an attempt to colonize the Middle East in the manner of the United States and Australia, seeding it with Europeans.
So I read Koestler’s work wanting to know my own roots, and learned that those roots, on Dad’s side, are cultural, and not genetic. I am not “Semitic,” but then, according to Koestler, neither are most Jews. And then too, I am Irish, that is, I am a citizen of the United States, a seeded European colony.