Refuting the Khazar Myth: The Strange Intersection of Neo-Nazis and Genetic Genealogy


Albert Einstein's DNA is e1b1b, which originates in the Near East (Middle East).


Khaz-wha? Defining Khazar

The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people who created the most powerful Western steppe empire, Khazaria, between the late 7th and 10th centuries. The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups that live in northern, eastern, central, and western Asia, northwestern China, and parts of eastern Europe. The term Turkic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of peoples including existing societies such as the Turks, Tatars, Uzbeks, and Azerbaijanis.

Turkic tribes, such as Khazars and Pechenegs, probably lived as nomads for many years before establishing the Gokturk Empire or Mongolia in the 6th century. The first reference to the group's existence is in the 6th century. More information about Khazars is available online.

Purpose of the Khazar Myth

The Khazar hypothesis is an argument that Ashkenazi Jews are not ethnically Jews, but descended from the Turkic Khazar Empire. The argument is largely advanced by KKKers, neo-Nazis, and others who seek to displace Jews from Israel.

The purpose of the Khazar hypothesis is to create a separation between the modern Jews living in Israel and their ancestral claim to that land. This argument is advanced specifically for the purpose of stripping Ashkenazic Jews of personhood, self-determination, and nationhood.

Ashkenazim Defined

The term "Ashkenazi" is well defined and refers to Jews whose paternal ancestors immigrated to the following parts of central and eastern Europe: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, former Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. It excludes Jews from the Balkans, Greece, Italy, and the Iberian peninsula (Spain).

It is historic fact that some Khazars converted to Judaism around 740 C.E. However, many historians believe that only royalty and some members of the aristocracy converted. Thus, it is possible that some Ashkenazic Jews have Khazar ancestry. That said, the vast majority do not.

DNA Studies

A variety of DNA studies over an extended period of time support the fact that Ashkenazic Jews originated in the Middle East (also called the Near East). Some of these studies include the following:

  • Hammer, et al. conclude that the Y chromosome of most Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population (source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2000). This suggests that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East;

  • The proportion of male genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with "relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim," according to Hammer et. al. (source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2000);

  • Two studies by Nebel et al. in 2001 and 2005, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, suggest that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe -- defined in the using Eastern European, German, and French Rhine Valley populations (source: European Journal of Human Genetics);

  • In 2004, Behar et al compared data from Ashkenazi groups in ten different European areas (France, Germany, the Netherlands; Austria-Hungary, Byelorussia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine ) with data from non-Jewish groups in seven different countries (France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Russia). They found that nine of the Jewish groups were similar, with low rates of admixture with non-Jewish groups, but that these Ashkenazi groups were closely related to non-Ashkenazi Jews and to some non-Jewish Near Eastern groups (Human Genetics, 2004);

  • A 2006 study by Behar et al. based on high-resolution analysis of haplogroup K (mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or "founder lineages", that were likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool originating in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E. Behar et al. suggest that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from ~150 women, most of those likely of Middle Eastern origin. (source: American Journal of Human Genetics, 2006);

  • Medical studies of the DNA of various diaspora Jewish populations -- from Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Ashkenazi -- have shown them to all be close Middle Eastern kin (source: American Journal of Human Genetics, 2010); and

  • Ashkenazi Levites paternally descend from an Iranian people, not from Khazars or Slavs, according to genetic evidence revealed in a study by Siiri Rootsi et al. (Nature Communications, 2013).

  • Since no other paternal or maternal haplogroup among Ashkenazim comes from a Central Asian Turkic source either, there is a total absence of evidence for Khazar ancestry in Ashkenazi Jews. Kevin Brook, who has been researching the possibility of Khazar ancestry for 20 years among Ashkenazim and wrote a book entitled "The Jews of Khazaria", concludes: "Surprisingly, there is evidence for small amounts of southern Chinese, Berber, and Slavic ancestry in Ashkenazi Jews, but not for Turkic Khazar ancestry."

    Conclusion

    Though Ashkenazim are the largest ethnic group of Jews today, Sephardim and Mizrahim also consist of a significant part of the Jewish population, both in Israel and in the diaspora. Additionally, Israel has become the home of many smaller Jewish ethnic groups, such as Ethiopian Jews, Yemenite Jews, and Kaifeng Jews.

    The Khazar hypothesis does not address these populations in Israel at all. Sephardim and Mizrahim have historic claims to Israel. Additionally, based on the above evidence, Ashkenazim also have historic claims to Israel. Moreover, the genetic studies above refute the claim that all Ashkenazic populations descend from Khazars.

    The genetic studies above put the Khazar myth to rest. If you bump into the Khazar myth, make sure to refute it.


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