AP Photo, file
Benjamin Bugsy Siegel

Jewish Khazar mafia controls Ukraine: a new Jewish conspiracy theory.

By Jacob Sivak, The Algemeiner

When it comes to bizarre conspiracy theories involving Jews, it is difficult to top Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)’s QAnon-inspired contention that the 2018 California wildfires were caused by space lasers controlled by the Rothschilds (that is, Jews).

But a recent article by the Institute for Strategic Studies, an organization that targets disinformation, highlights a new antisemitic conspiracy theory that comes close: “An Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory is Being Shared on Telegram to Justify Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine.”

This conspiracy, used to justify Russia’s attack on Ukraine, was disseminated on Telegram, a cloud-based messaging app. It claims that Ukraine is controlled by a fascist cabal of “fake” Jews, the Khazars.

The Khazars were a semi-nomadic tribe of Turkic people that inhabited a large swath of territory north of the Caucasus Mountains, between the Caspian and Black Seas. An important and independent Khazar state existed from the late seventh century CE until the 10th century, when it was overrun by Russian forces. That’s not in doubt. What is in doubt is the legend that Judaism was adopted as the state religion of Khazaria in the eighth century CE.

The writing of a Spanish-Jewish poet and philosopher, Yehuda Halevi, gave the story of the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism widespread appeal. The “Kuzari,” completed in 1140 CE and originally written in Arabic, is a lengthy five essay dialogue between the pagan king of the Khazars and a Jewish scholar, who tries to convince the king that Judaism is the true faith. A prominent example of the long tradition of Jewish apologetics, the “Kuzari” is a stirring and epic tale that fascinated me when I studied it as a Hebrew school student a number of years ago.

Arthur Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage” (1976), in which he proposes that the Jews of Eastern Europe are/were the descendants of the Khazars, has given new life to the Jewish Khazar narrative. While the author’s intention was to nullify the racial basis of antisemitism, he actually encouraged it by abetting the efforts of antisemites and anti-Zionists to deny the Jewish claim to a homeland in Israel.

In fact, a comprehensive, multi-authored genetic study published in 2013 shows that Ashkenazi Jews share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations. This finding, as well as the finding that there is no evidence of genetic similarity between these people and populations from the Caucasus, has debunked the idea of a multi-racial Jewish source.

Moreover, the Israeli historian Shaul Stampfer — “Did the Khazars Convert to Judaism?” — points out in Jewish Social Studies, that references to the conversion of Khazars to Judaism are of questionable reliability, while those sources that are credible do not mention the conversion at all.

Of course, when it comes to Jewish conspiracy theories, the facts do not matter. For example, the blood libel, which accuses Jews of using the blood of Christian children in Jewish rituals, continues to be given credence to this day. The same is true for the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fabrication purporting to reveal plans by Jews to dominate the world. In the same vein, the nefarious Jewish Khazars will likely continue to pop up from time to time.

Jacob Sivak, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is a retired professor, School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo.

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