Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
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Define ethnic boundaries of Jews

Many young Israelis emigrate, since they have never lived among gentiles, an experience that deterred older Jews who fled Eastern Europe. In the modern cosmopolitan world, young Israelis adapt much more easily than their Jewish ancestors. Jewish assimilation is increasing, as it often does in prosperity, especially as anti-Semitism subsides before cosmopolitanism, eroding Jewish borders and self-awareness. Jewish organizations should not fight mild anti-Semitism.

Israel is not a closed society organized to prevent Jewish assimilation. Israel initially agreed to unite different ethnic Jewish groups under the umbrella of Judaism. Yet Jewish assimilation is in some ways like the Holocaust. An assimilated Jew is no longer a Jew. He is as good as dead.

The way for Israel to decide who is a Jew is to distinguish between ethnic Jews and religious Jews, which will mean recognizing atheist Jews and proselytes. True, the Hebrews mixed with other nations during the Exodus when other aliens in Egypt joined them. The Assyrians resettled aliens in Judea; Idumeans and many other ethnic groups were in at the formation of the modern Jewish nation. Yet Hebrew genetic features are traceable.

The current Israeli standards are hypocritical. Why let maternal descent determine Jewishness? Among Jews, paternal lineage defines nationality. The Torah pays no attention to a mother’s nationality.[1] The rabbinical teaching that one can be certain of Jewish child’s mother but not its father not only insults the morals of Jewish mothers but is also illogical because it ignores the unknown variable. DNA testing obviates the rabbinical argument, which is also impractical: Jewish males often converted their gentile wives, and children were raised as Jews, though children of mixed marriages with Jewish mothers rarely turned to Judaism. If, however, gentiles converted to Judaism are Jews, why care at all about parentage? Genetics does matter, though it is not predominant after the influx of Egyptians, Assyrians, Edomites, Khazars, and others. The small Jewish nation needs a continuous influx of genes, and intermarriages are indispensable. Israeli guidelines must be honest and sensible, perhaps combining genetic relevance with acceptance of the Torah’s basic tenets.

Studies of mtDNA in various Jewish communities show that the women are largely of local origin, related to neighboring groups but not to Middle Eastern genetic patterns, as are the Jewish paternal Y-chromosomes. That confirms the empirical observation that Jewish men frequently marry converted gentile females. The issue of lineage is important to a small Jewish nation which needs to breed with aliens to avoid degeneration from the Jews' marrying genetically too close.

Other Jewish genetic issues should be studied, not dismissed as curiosities. Who are the Cohanim with their peculiar haplotype? What is the historical affinity between Jews and Kurds and Palestinians that explains their genetic similarities? Thirteen Jewish haplotypes surprisingly correspond to the thirteen biblical founding males and tribes, though probably without a common Abrahamic sire.

Why consider proselytes Jews? Ethnic Jews do not always observe the Law, but converted gentiles must. Many Israeli Jews are atheists. Today ethnic traits decide who is a Jew, with a concession for proselytes. The rabbis are glad the Israeli government pretends to determine Jewishness by religious standards, though the Israeli policy makes no sense, since atheist Jews are also Jews for purposes of immigration—on the unlikely presumption that apostate Jews still have a spark of Judaism and can always return to the Law.

The question affects black Jews who might practice Judaism but are not ethnic Jews. Ethiopian Jews, though they have much the strongest credentials to be the “lost tribe” of Namibia, genetically one not only with Jews in general but with the Cohanim in particular, are disregarded in Israel.

The next question is, to whom should the state of Israel belong? To all the Jews in the world who don’t pay Israeli taxes or vote, to Israeli citizens (including gentiles), or to some other group like Israeli Jews?

The answers to those questions bear on many Israeli issues. Jewish society has a proper interest in proliferation for metaphysical and economic reasons and could offer subsidies to Jewish families, though offering them mostly to large families promotes Jewish religious orthodoxy and has little economic effect on Israel, since many of the orthodox Jews do not work productively but hold religious sinecures. A just Israeli system would subsidize families with three children but no more and certainly not Arab families. Israel might offer bonuses for every Jewish child born and deduct a billion dollars a year from the inflated military budget. Not weapons but Jewish minds are Israel’s hope. A better option would be for Israel to promote child-bearing by working Jewish families and a twenty percent tax break for each Jewish child under eighteen with further tax breaks for grandchildren to stimulate early child-bearing by Jews. Still better, Israel might reduce the welfare provisions to the sustenance minimum the Torah prescribes, so that Jews will have more children to make a safety net for themselves.

To identify Jews (potential citizens of Israel) with adherents of Judaism leads to absurdity when converts to Judaism are discouraged, often by a humiliating conversion experience. Otherwise Israel would face massive immigration of superficial converts, technically Jews, from poor countries. At the beginning of this era, the cynical pagan population found Judaism attractive as the religious embodiment of many philosophical notions, and there were many Jewish proselytes, as could be now. Israel must become a state for Jews, not for all believers. Whether Jews want to encourage conversion or not is another question, but converts to Judaism should not be given permanent residence in Israel to remove the economic advantages of conversion to Judaism. Jewish proselytes could live in the Palestinian territories. Israeli propaganda should emphasize conversion to Judaism,[2] drawing more people to the religion Jews believe to be true and increasing Israel’s base of foreign political influence. The ancient Jews were not told to convert conquered people by force since in the messianic age, all nations would turn to God. They would still be different from the Israelites, suggesting the importance of Jewish ethnic traits. At the very least, Jewish proselytes should not have the same rights as Jews in Israel until four generations have passed. Proselytes have always been at a disadvantage in Judaism, e.g., in marital matters. Temporary economic and political disadvantages in Israel for converts to Judaism would filter out frivolous converts if the Jews decide to proselytize actively.

Defining Jewishness was not important previously because persecution united all Jews. A person oppressed as a Jew was a Jew. Since anti-Semites did not bother with minute differences, Jewishness was very broad. Even earlier, a Jew was anyone who sacrificed to the God of the Hebrews. Since no other worship was licit in Judea, the local population automatically became Jewish. Normalization mitigated the anti-Semitism which generated persecution, and religious tolerance blunted many Jews’ dedication to Torah. Unless Jews define Jewishness practically, assimilation will accelerate.

Distinguishing between Jews and proselytes is not only a Jewish religious good deed but also an Israeli political necessity to convert Israeli people to Judaism. Muslims recruit Western sympathizers. Mosques and Arab cultural centers are open throughout the world. Arab cultural expansion hopes to turn public opinion against the Jews, who should respond that Judaism is culturally much more nearly Western. Israel should emphasize Israel's kinship with Christianity and particularly promote the sects that view the Gospels as human works, Jesus as prophet, and accept the Mosaic law.

[1] To prove that the Torah prohibits male Jews to marry gentile women, the Talmud (Kiddushin 3:12) twists Deut 7:3-4, especially since Deuteronomy limits the prohibition to the Canaanites (Kiddushin 68b unconvincingly extends the injunction to other nations). The Talmudic argument is intended to deal with situations of dubious Jewish paternity.

[2] Right now, only few books on Judaism are available for non-Hebrew speakers. The Talmud is not translated into most languages, and even the English translation is not widely available. In contrast, thousands of Christian theological texts, many of high quality, can be downloaded free from the internet.