The Jews and the Khazars

Fact Paper 23

© Samuel Kurinsky, all rights reserved

Chinese tomb figure of a mounted foreigner, late 7th to early 8th century. The so-called "silk route" across Central Asia was pioneered a thousand years earlier by Persian Jews. Seventeen hundred years later Marco Polo followed the same route and achieved fame by relating his adventures in a Genovese jail to a fellow prisoner who happened to be a scribe. The statue depicts a "Ferghana" horse, a breed employed in Persia; the heavily bearded rider bears distinctly Semitic features (as interpreted by the Chinese sculptor). The Judaic/Persian entrepreneurs traded with the Turkic tribes at trading posts along the route. Among these nomadic tribes were the Khazars, who obtained agricultural and technological skills from the Judaic traders. The Khazar kings, nobility and many tribesmen converted to Judaism and the Khazars became a sedentary nation. Together with their Judaic compatriots they advanced civilization throughout Russia and Transylvania.
Photograph by courtesy of the Ontario Museum, George Crofts collection.

An Unusual Association

One of the most ignoble examples of the institutionalized obfuscation of history is that applied to the history of the Khazars by the Byzantines, the Islamic Muhammadans, the pan-Arabists, and the Russian/Stalinist ethnocentrists. Each in turn went to great lengths to expunge whatever records endured the destruction of the Khazar kingdom, and to put a self-serving spin on the surviving elements.

One reason for the extraordinary effort to distort history was the unique relationship that developed between the Khazars and the Jews. The two peoples, whose languages had different roots, one illiterate and the other highly literate, one shamanist and the other monotheistic, one nomadic and the other urban, peacefully merged to share a common destiny. How, indeed, did such a strange union evolve?

The association of the two peoples begins early on. The Jews encountered the Turkic tribes, including the Khazars, in the fifth century BCE in Asia, when Judaic entrepreneurs from Persia passed over the Pamir mountains to blaze a new trade route to Kaifeng, then the capital of China.1 Trading centers sprang up along the trail to serve the passing traders and their heavily laden beasts. The caravansaries became bustling commercial towns in which Jews were prominent. Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Balkh, Kabul, and other posts along the tortuous route through the central Asian deserts and mountains burgeoned with the passing centuries. The Jews and the Turkic nomads enjoyed a peaceful exchange of goods in these strategic centers throughout that long period.

Many Turkic tribes began to infiltrate into Europe about the fifth century CE. The Magyars moved into what is now Finland; The Avars, Sabirs and Bulgars occupied the Danube basin; the Khazars followed the Kok Turks and spread out along the northern flanks of the Caucacus Mountains, skirting the Aral, Caspian and Black Seas. The tent-dwelling, horse-riding, Khazar herdsmen absorbed some peoples of that hilly area, allied themselves with others, and became transformed into a sedentary nation.

The Khazars were brought into contact with other communities of Jews already functioning around the Caspian Sea from the time Sidonese Israelites had been deported in 351 BCE. Documentary evidence shows that, likewise, both Karaite and Rabbinate Jews had been in continuous habitation in the Crimea at least as far back as the first century CE.2

The Judaic communities around the Caspian Sea burgeoned with refugees after Roman legions crushed the Bar Khochba revolt and proceeded to destroy the Judaic state in 135 CE. The expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and the enslavement and exportation of scores of thousands of Jews spurred the exodus to the east.

A few centuries later the Khazars moved into the area and evolved into a vigorous civilization. They became self-sufficient enough to become independent of the sovereignty of the Khagans who ruled over the vast eastern Turkic empire. They conducted affairs under their own Khans, warrior kings who derived from the same roots which produced the much-feared Genghis Khan.3

New waves of Judaic immigrants again joined those established in the region as a result of recurrent problems with the Byzantines, the Persian Sassanians, and finally with the Arabs. Jews crossed the Caucasus and found respite among the Khazars. Jews became the technological and commercial advisors to the Khazar Khans. The Khazars were duly impressed with the technical sagacity and cultural acumen of the Jews. Abba Eban notes that:

"As elsewhere, the Jews engaged in pioneering pursuits. They taught their rather primitive neighbors more advanced ways of cultivating the soil, and means of exchanging goods among themselves and with foreign nations. They taught the art of writing. A tenth century Arab author states, 'The Khazars use the Hebrew script.'"4

Evidence of Judaic Presence

One of the arts introduced into the Khazar region was that of glassmaking, a pyrotechnological tour-de-forcedominated by Judaic masters of the art. The trail of the associated Judaic/Khazar traders through central Asia and up the Russian rivers are peculiarly coincident with that of the establishment of glassworks, an art that provides unique evidence of the presence of the Jews.

The earliest glassworks found in the southern foothills of the Caucasus was at Mecheta-Santawbro, which appears to date back to the fourth century, pre-dating the association between the Khazars and the Jews.5 The Mecheta glasshouse seems to have continued operation into the ninth century as the Judaic/Persian traders reached a peak of activity. A significant glass workshop was excavated at Orbeti, dating from the seventh and eighth centuries, the period in which the Khazars converted to Judaism and an exodus from Persia took place. The art thereafter spread with the advancing Khazar/Judaic influence up the Volga, Don, Danube, Dniester and Dniepr rivers into Transylvania (now Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania) and Silesia (now Poland).

A camel caravan leaving Kaifeng during the Northern Song period (960-1127). The caravan is pictured issuing from the Judaic sector of the city. The Jews traded with Turkic tribes along the route between Kaifeng and the Near East. Among these tribes were the Khazars. The Khazars had already converted to Judaism several centuries before the above-illustrated caravan left Kaifeng.
From an embroidered reproduction of a famous scroll painting, Riverside Scene at Clear and Bright Festival Time, by Zhang Zeduan, 12th century.

Studies of glassware of the eighth through the thirteenth centuries found throughout the vast territory from central Asia through Russia. Poland, and the Danube basin, have shown a correlation of style and composition by which the art can be traced back through time and territory to a single source, the Near-Eastern enclaves where the Jews were carrying on the art. Maria deKowna, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, expressed amazement at the phenomenon of commonality. Comparing the characteristics of glass beads found throughout the territory, the single most prevalent glass artifact, DeKowna demonstrated that they "exhibit a strong resemblance (form, color, and motif of ornamentation) which cannot but suggest their influx into the territory from one unique center of production."6

DeKowna's observations are supported by numerous analyses conducted in the past 60 years. The ruins of glassmaking and jewelry shops were found in the artisan's quarters within the confines of a mighty Khazar fortress defending the Khazar city of Sarkal, situated at the lower reaches of the Don. By that time the Khazars had converted to Judaism. The Khazars were persuaded by the unpretentious precepts of Judaic philosophy, the rationality of Judaic religion, and the technological advances wrought by their Judaic advisors. The khan, nobles and many of their subjects demonstrated the impact the Jews had made not only by converting but by bringing Jews into the government. It was a government whose tenets incorporated the democratic, tolerant teachings of the Jews. The composition of the governmental court is given by al-Masudi, a Baghdad-born Arab, who wrote a comprehensive treatise on history and geography about 956:

"The custom in the Khazar capital is to have seven judges. Of these two are for the Muslims, two are for the Khazars, judging according to the Torah (Mosaic Law), two for the Christians, judging according to the Gospel, and one for the Saqualibbah, Rus, and other Pagans."7

Martin Gilbert noted that the Khazar king, Bulan, converted to Judaism about 700 CE and that a later king, Bulan, strengthened Judaism among the Khazars by inviting rabbis into his kingdom and erecting synagogues. Gilbert extols the composition of the judicial court and adds, "Religious toleration was maintained for the kingdom's 300 years."8

The most revealing, and probably the most accurate, description of the process by which the Khazars discarded Shamanism and adopted Judaic religion and law came down to us from Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, a youthful Jew appointed by the caliph of Cordoba to an important administrative post. Hasdai was a linguist, a doctor and a scientist who continued important researches, developing new medicines and rediscovering ancient formulas while carrying on delicate diplomatic assignments for the caliph, Hasdai carried the title nasi (prince) among the Jews, for the caliph had conferred upon him the authority to settle the affairs of the Judaic community as he saw fit.

The caliph also assigned the management of customs to Hasdai, central to the administration of foreign affairs. Hasdai was in touch with the world through this privileged post, and he utilized his position to pursue his passion, which was to to exchange information with Judaic communities of the Diaspora, to assist those in difficulties and to find a refuge for the nation. Hasdai, and beleaguered Jews everywhere, sought desperately to find a realm where the Jews could live and practice their religion in freedom. There were persistent rumors that such a place did indeed exist, stories repeated by merchants bringing back merchandise from Slavic countries. Hasdai pressed them for information, met with Persian emissaries who reported on the kingdom to their north, and interrogated other envoys arriving at the court. He obtained a picture of the Judaic kingdom of the Khazars, despite the barrier of Byzantine belligerence separating the Khazrs from the west.

Hasdai learned that the Khazars had no formal dynasty of kings. A noble who distinguished himself militarily might be chosen to become commander-in-chief, and usually assumed kingship thereafter. Thus a Jewish commander achieved this position. His wife, Sarah, persisted in urging him to practice Judaism in its entirety. He did so, and many of the noblemen followed suit. The neighboring Moslems and Christians, who had been proselyting their causes within the Khazar realm, angrily protested, sending envoys to counteract Judaic influence and win the nation over to their respective religions.

A disputation was arranged. Greek. Muslim and Judaic scholars were heard in turn. Since all based themselves upon the Holy Scriptures of the Judaic Bible, and since the Jews were able to interpret the hole writings far better than their competitors, the nobles accepted Judaism as the true faith. The Khazar Jews who had relinquished the faith in part or in whole returned to it, and became the teachers of the Khazars.

If it were not for the correspondence carried on by Hasdai and by a miserably few references from Arabic and other sources, the very existence of the Khazars would hardly have become known!

This hiatus is all the more remarkable inasmuch as the Khazars endured as a sovereign nation for five centuries. For two of those centuries the Khazars exercised hegemony over, and together with their Judaic allies, brought civilization to a considerable part of southern and western Russia, the Baltic and, along with other Asian peoples, controlled much of the effluvial basin of the Danube. One is left to wonder "How can the dearth of information about five hundred years of a significant part of Europe be accounted for?"

The Perfidy of the Byzantines

We start with one of the great ironies of history. The first attempt to annihilate both the Khazars and their history was by the Byzantines, whose very existence can be attributed to the military assistance given them in the Persian and subsequent Islamic wars with Byzantia. The Byzantines were allied with the Khazars, who formed the main bulwark against the dynamic eastern forces. The Arabs, having learned from the Persian attempts to conquer Byzantia that it was necessary to crush the Khazars first, turned their army against the Khazars, seeking to protect their flanks in their westward drive against the Christians. They bypassed the formidable natural barrier of the Caucasus range through the file of Durband, along the Caspian shore. After the year 642 they repeatedly drove through the Darband gate, but their incursions int Khazaria were beaten back each time. In 652 they suffered a disastrous defeat in which "four thousand Arabs were killed, including their commander Abd-al-Rahman ibn-Rabiah; the rest fled in disorder across the mountains."9

The Arabs, frustrated, turned upon Byzantia, besieging Constantinople again and again by land and by sea. The Khazars re-entered the fray in 722. Arab sources speak of armies of from 100,000 to 300,000 men engaging in the battlefield during multiple campaigns waged during the "Second Arab War." It was a war characterized by "death-defying fanaticism [and the] traditional exhortation which would halt the rout of a defeated Arab army and make it into a fight to the last man: 'To the Garden, Muslims, not the Fire' - the joys of Paradise being assured to every Muslim killed in the Holy War."10

In 737 a Pyrrhic victory was won after an insidious attack which followed an offer of alliance caught the Khazars by surprise and forced a retreat to the Volga. The Muslim pincer movement was halted and reversed, and this last Khazar initiative saved the Byzantine Empire from being inundated and probably destroyed by Islamic hordes. 40,000 Khazar lives were lost in the process of curtailing Arab aggression. D. M. Dunlop, author of the most authoritative work on the Khazars, emphasizes that but for the Khazars, "Byzantium, the bulwark of European civilization in the east, would have found itself outflanked by the Arabs, and the history of Christendom and Islam might very well have been different."11

When the Persian Empire began to disintegrate, the Byzantines launched a perfidious plan to destroy their erstwhile ally and savior. The plot was fully outlined early on by Constantine in a dissertation entitled How War is to be Made on Khazaria and by Whom. Constantine proposed that surrounding peoples as well as dissident peoples within the Khazar domain be encouraged to rip apart the Jewish Empire. The English historian Toynbee, generally an admirer of Constantine and no friend of the Jews, puts this patently devious scheme into historical perspective:

"Khazaria was one of the most pacific states in the world ... her arms had never been directed at the East Roman Empire. The two powers had, in fact, never been at war with each other, while, on the other hand, Khazaria had frequently been at war with the East Roman Empire's enemies, and this to the Empire's signal advantage. Indeed, the Empire may have owed it to the Khazars that she had survived the successive onslaughts of the Sassanid Persian Emperor Khusraw II Parviz and the Muslim Arabs."12

The principle of "divide and conquer" was applied by the Byzantines with consummate duplicity. The Byzantines had no compunction about secretly encouraging the pagan Rus tribes to invade Khazar territory from the north. The city of Kiev had become a great, bustling, commercial center. This rich and tempting prize was offered as bait to the Rus by the Byzantines, the first step toward the implementation of the Constantine plan.The bribe succeeded; the first break between the Khazars and the Rus commenced with the occupation of Kiev by the Rus in the year 862.

Relations nonetheless resumed with time between the Khazars and the Rus until, circa 965, the Russian Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev renewed a Byzantine-supported campaign against the Khazars by sacking and destroying Itil, a formidable Khazar commercial and communications center.

The Khazars again attempted to reconstruct a mutually beneficial relationship with the Rus by peaceful means. An old Russian chronicle relates that a group of Jews arrived in Kiev in the year 986 in an attempt to make peace and to convert Vladimir, a dissolute son of the prince. But Vladimir, like his father before him, had accepted baptism. In 988 the pagan Russian dynastic rulers officially adopted the Greek Orthodox faith, and relations between the Rus and the Khazars deteriorated further. During that same period the Slavic and Scandinavian peoples likewise converted to the Latin Church of Rome.

The decay of the Abbasid (Persian) Empire during the tenth century removed the Byzantine fear of the Persians and rendered the Judaic/ Khazar state superfluous as a buffer. "Constantinople offered it as bait to the Russians, who promptly seized the opportunity to invade it."13 The Byzantines welded their duplicitous alliance with the Rus by bribing them with the promise of further spoils, especially by ceding possession of the important Crimean port of Cherson, until then under contention between them.

Judaic\Khazar integrity was again threatened by a concordance between the Byzantine Emperor Leo and the Magyars, fierce Turkic tribes who had conquered and absorbed the native Finns. The Byzantines supported the Magyars to assail the Bulgars, allies of the Khazars, from the rear. The Magyars invaded and integrated into the area to become the modern-day Hungarians. Finally, in the year 1016, the Byzantine and Rus forces joined in a massive invasion of Khazaria.

The primitive Rus tribes thus became heir to the industrial, technological and commercial development that took place under the Judaic/Khazar state over the course of three centuries. The presence of residual communities of Jews in Kiev and elsewhere in the Ukraine and southern Russia were tolerated, inasmuch as they were essential for maintaining the industries they had established and for bringing wealth into the region with the commercial ties they had likewise established. In Perislavl and Cernigov major Jewish enclaves continued to carry on crafts and commerce. The multiplicity of Khazar and Judaic eponymic names of ancient towns of western Russia testify dramatically to a continuous and pervasive Judaic presence: Zydowo, Kozarzewk, Kozara, Kozarzow, Zhydowska Vola, Zydaticze, to mention but a few.

The Jews were understandably uncomfortable under the hegemony of the Rus. A movement of Jews into Silesia (now Poland) and western Russia ensued, enticed into the region by a newly rising class of feudal noblemen. At this time the Polish nation was formed, and the Jews were central to its formation. The Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian nobility, eager to obtain industries and develop commerce, proffered refuge to the Jews escaping Western European and Byzantine persecution and created an environment in which a new social structure developed, the shtetl civilization, a fully articulated nation within a nation.

A rich store of early Polish legends exists, persistent despite having been regarded as next to blasphemous by churchmen and as bourgeois Zionist [!] propaganda by the Soviets. The very creation of the Polish nation is attributed in these folk tales to a legendary Jew, Abraham Prokownik. The Polans were the mightiest of several Slavonic tribes who formed an alliance around the year 962. Concluding that they needed a king capable of creating a viable state, the "Slav backwoodsmen" elected Abraham to that office. "Abraham, with unwonted modesty, resigned the crown, in favor of a peasant named Piast, who thus became the founder of the historic Piast dynasty which ruled Poland from circa 962 to 1370."14

The culturally and economically underdeveloped Silesian region eagerly welcomed Judaic craftsmen and merchants of all sorts from Germany, Armenia and Khazaria. The Jews were granted extraordinary privileges. The Jewish towns, large and small, became bustling craft centers and trading posts from which the people of the surrounding hinterlands obtained local and imported products. Fairs were regularly held in which farm products, timber, products manufactured in the towns and in rural cottage industries and imported wares were exchanged. The local trade centers were integrated into a free market network which spanned across the borders of the regional fiefs of the noblemen. The metal working acumen of the Jews provided them with the obligation of minting coins for most of the rulers of central Europe, a discipline that remained in Judaic hands over many centuries. Polish silver coins of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries bear Polish inscriptions in Hebrew lettering.

"These coins are the final evidence for the spreading of the Hebrew script from Khazaria to the neighboring Slavonic countries. The use of these coins was not related to any question of religion. They were minted because many of the Polish people were more used to this type of script than to the Roman script, not considering that it was particularly Jewish."15

A bridge across the Bian River in Kaifeng during the Northern Song period (960-1127). Kiafeng, then called Bianjing or Bianling, was China's capital, and a very active commercial center. A substantial Judaic community of up to 3000 persons flourished in the city into the twentieth century. It appears that sometime after the Khazar empire was destroyed, the Jews lost contact with the West.
From an embroidered reproduction of a famous scroll painting, Riverside Scene at Clear and Bright Festival Time, by Zhang Zeduan, 12th century.

Among the Jews there were those who served the nobility as physicians, managers of estates, accountants, tax collectors, and bankers; but by far the vast majority were blacksmiths, gold- and silver-smiths, jewelers, millers, tailors, millwrights, bakers, tanners, textile manufacturers, candlestick makers and most other skilled trades; they were scribes who wrote letters for the essentially illiterate indigenous populace; they ran the inns at which merchant/travelers found respite; they were the carters who brought the local goods to market and ranged abroad for goods produced in neighboring shtetls and from other countries; they were bards, itinerant story tellers, and troupes of actors and musicians.

Among these artisans and entrepreneurs were the Judaic glassworkers. After its appearance across the Caucasus, the art spread up the Volga, Dan, Dnieper, Dniester and Danube river routes coincident with the advance of Judaic/Khazar civilization. By 1964 Russian archaeologists had confirmed eleven glassworking sites in Kievan Khazaria "notably at Kiev, Cernogov, Kolodjajin, Kostroma, Novgorod and others.16 All the sites lie along established Judaic/Khazar trade routes

From Kiev and its outlying towns the art advanced to Novgorod and finally into Silesia (Poland). The Khazars had penetrated northwest to Grodno. Lithuania, the Slavic city in which a Judaic glassworks was established in the late ninth or early tenth century. Documentation of that event is contained in the famous Judaic libraries assembled by the Jewish Barons Gunzberg and Polakoff. Both libraries were confiscated by the Bolsheviks and stored away in the Hermitage in Leningrad.17

The glassmakers continued to operate in the region after the defeat of the Khazar state. The Silesian barons enticed the glassmakers with forest privileges and sundry other inducements to encourage the immigration of these artisans into their fiefs. One of the oldest was uncovered at Wolin, dating to the first half of the tenth century. That facility was followed by others at Opole, Niemeza Sl. Wroclaw, Kruswica, Miedzyrzecz Wielkapolski.

The region's economy prospered, and the position of the Jews was solidified by King Boleslav the Pious, with a charter in 1264; it became the model for securing Jewish freedom of opportunity and security from molestation.

How is it, therefore, that so many hundreds of years of the advance of civilization into central Europe is virtually absent from modern historiography?

The final obliteration of this glorious history was perpetrated in Stalinist Russia.

The Distortion of History

Pre-Soviet Russian sources were unequivocal regarding the advanced status of Judaic/Khazar civilization and the beneficial influence it exercised on the evolution of the Russian nation. In 1798 Miranovich cited documents which recorded the ninth-century activity of a substantial and thriving Judaic/Khazar community in Kiev, documents which disappeared during the Soviet period. The documents detailed the seminal role of the Khazars in the development of commerce and particularly in the importing of big fish, caviar and salt, exchanged for furs and other products of the aboriginal Rus and other northern tribes.18 The earliest Soviet Russian histories likewise credited both the Khazars and the Jews with playing a seminal part in pre-Russian and proto-Russian development. Typical of the early Soviet historical renditions is that of the Professor Artamonov, whose book expounded on the progressive cultural influence the Jews had exerted upon the uncultivated Northmen. Artamonov expanded on the Jewish role in propelling the tiny village of Kiev into the great commercial and administrative center which subsequently became the capital of Russia. Artamonov presented this history at a session of the Department of History and Philosophy at the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1952. He was subjected to a vicious attack in Pravda:

"The idealization of the Khazar kingdom reflects a manifest survival of the defective lies of the bourgeois historians who belittled the indigenous development of the Russian people. The erroneousness of the concept is evident. Such a conception cannot be accepted by Soviet historiography."1`9

A shameful campaign of calumny against Artamonov ensued. His magnum opus, History of the Khazars, apparently in preparation when Pravda and the Stalinists struck, was not published until ten years later. It was an adulterated version which carried a recantation in its final section which amounted to a denial of all that went before - and indeed of the author's life-work:

"The majority [of the Khazars] merged with other peoples and the minority, settling in Itil, lost its nationality and turned into a parasitic class with a Jewish coloration... From the Itil Khazars the Russians took nothing. Thus also by the way the militant Khazar Judaism was treated by other peoples connected with it: the Magyars, Bulgars, Pechangs, Alans, and Polovians. These insignificant eastern elements in Rus culture which were passed down by the Khazars... did not penetrate into the heart of Russian culture, but remained on the surface and were of small significance."

Another Russian historian, Krachovski, suffered similar abuse. In 1939 Krachovski reviewed the documents of Ibn Fadlan, written by that Arab traveler about an extended sojourn in Atil (Itil), one of the major Khazar cities at the delta of the Volga River. "In one part," Fadlan reported, "live Muslims and in the other part the Khazar king and his entourage. The Khazars and their king are all Jews, the Slavs (as-Sakaliba) and their neighbors obey the Khazar king submissively." The mere mention of such historical documents was deemed by the Soviet hierarchy as the fulminations of a renegade flouting the party line.

The remnants of even greater and more significant city of Sarkal, the main fortress and headquarters of the Khazar nation, have since been demolished. Russian diffidence regarding Khazar historiography came painfully into evidence when investigation into the site gave way to callous industrialization. Little protest and no effort at preservation or rescue was made when a dam was built and the entire city was inundated. "The famous fortress and priceless archaeological site... was submerged in the Timslansk reservoir, adjoining the Volga-Dan Canal."20

The "idealization of the Khazars' was condemned and the "autochthonous Slavic tribes" (Great Russians) were extolled as "the real creators of the Russian State structure and culture." This rendition of history was formally rendered obligatory at the Thirteenth International Congress of Historians held in Moscow in 1970. The historians who had written on Khazar history were required to write retractions of their "spurious claim" that the Russians had built upon the foundation laid by the Khazars and to admit that the Jewish religion had corrupted the Khazar elite by turning them to parasitic trade and enrichment. The doctrine was termed the "Solution of the Khazar Problem."

Russian ethnography was welded to "Soviet Patriotism," a euphemism for the Stalinist party line. The position had to be adhered to by all who wished to avoid the Siberian Gulag. It had an equally disastrous effect upon archaeological research; an archaeologist's reports had to conform to Stalinist doctrine.

How strange and patently ironic is the opposite, no less vehemently vindictive tack taken by American right-wingers, one of whom lamented that communism was the creation of Judaized Khazars, "for the Babylonian Talmud had taught them to accept authoritarian dictation on everything from their immorality to their trade practices," and that the insidious Khazar subversives had "infiltrated the Democratic party and were in high positions in the American, British, and French governments."

It was not only the ethnocentric Stalinist doctrines which reduced the Khazars to a "small parasitic group of bourgeois decadents" who contributed so little to Russian culture and history that they are hardly worth mentioning. There are a number of pan-Arabic renditions which aim at proving that the Jews stem from a nation of 10,000,000 Asian Tatars to substantiate the argument that since modern Jews did not originate in the Kingdom of Judah they were not Semites and had no inherent claim to Israel.21

This view found support in the United Nations. Sir Abdul Rahman, representing India, opposed the partition of Palestine, arguing that Zionist claims to a homeland were invalid because its proponents were racially unqualified. He argued that the Jew's claim of returning to the land of their ancestors cannot be made by people of the Turco-Finn race who had converted to Judaism about 690 A.D.22

The Jews have become inured to being the butt of extremists from the right, the left, and the center. They are regularly condemned with the same breath for being usurious capitalists and radical communists; for adopting worldly atheism, and otherworldly orthodoxy; for being endogamous and internationalists.

It is evident that Khazar historiography has suffered the same obfuscation as has affected that of the Jews. Account must be taken not merely of the obliteration of traces of Judaic and/or Khazar contributions by the Byzantines and their lackeys, the Rus and the Magyars, but of the swath of destruction wreaked by the Mongols as they swept through the region shortly after the Byzantines obliterated the Khazar state. The Crusaders likewise ravaged through the East, employing the cross to capture treasure and territory. The Inquisition wrought its havoc upon history, and the hierarchy of the reformation was no less intent upon deleting references to positive contributions to civilization by the Jews. Truth must be culled out from between the distortions of the promulgators of a wholly Arabic Near-East, and by the rabid McCarthyites and their successors. The process was epitomized by the Nazis, whose professed intent was to wipe out the Jews along with their history. Last, but not the least, were the abject Stalinist conformists who were required to substitute Russian nationalism for scientific objectivity. The latter were the most destructive of Khazar history, for most of the relics of that history lie within Russia's borders, and recovery is affected by a doctrine that persists despite the passage of its promulgator.


  1. See HHF Fact paper 3: The Silk Route; A Judaic Odyssey. Fact Papers 3 and 23 are largely digests of chapters 8 and 10 in Samuel Kurinsky, The Glassmakers; an Odyssey of the Jews, Hippocrene Books, 1991., in which a more extensive Bibliography and references is provided.
  2. C. De Boor, ed. Theophanis Chronographia, 1963, p. 357; M. J. De Geoje, ed. Ibn al-Faqih, Compendium Libri Kitab al-Boldan, 1885, p. 271.
  3. D. M. Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, Princeton Un. Press, 1954. P. 160.
  4. Abba Eban, My People, Behrman House, 1984, p. 149.
  5. This and many other references to glassmaking sites established along the route of the Jews and Khazars made by archaeologists deKowna, Trudnovskaya, Abdurazakov, Bezborodov and Zadneprovskij, and other researchers are to be found in The Glassmakers; op cit., Ch. 10.
  6. Maria Dekowna "Remarques sur les Methodes d'Examen de Perles de Verre du Haut Moyen Age Trouvees en Pologne," Bulletin of the Fourth International Congress on Glass, 1967, p. 151.
  7. Al-Musadi, Muruf al-Dhabad ("Meadows of Gold" [and Golden Stones]) II; Musudi Les Prairies d'Or, text and translation C. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, 9 vols. Paris, 1861\1877, 2: 9-12, 15, 18-25; 3:61-65.
  8. Martin Gilbert, Atlas of Jewish History, Dorset Press, 1969.
  9. Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe,; The Khazar Empire and its Heritage, Hutchinson, London, 1976, p.27.
  10. Koestler, idem.
  11. D. M. Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, Princeton U. Press, 1964, pp ix-x.
  12. A. Toynbee, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his World, Oxford U . Press, 1973, p. 508.
  13. Abba Eban, My People, Behrman House, 1968, p 150.
  14. Koestler, ibid.
  15. Koestler, ibid., p. 62, quoting from Poliak, The History of the Jewish Kingdom in Europe, in Hebrew, 1951.
  16. DeKowna, Ibid, p.122.
  17. David Bezborodko, An Insider's View of Jewish Pioneering in the Glassmaking Industry, Gefen Publications, Jerusalem 1987, p.63..
  18. Ya. Miranovich, Zapiski o Malorosii, (Notes on Little Russia, i.e., Ukrainia), 1789, reprinted in Regestry I Nadpisi, St. Petersburg, 1913, no. 2450. Cited by David D. Weinryb, "The Khazars, an Annotated Bibliography," in Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, vol. XI, 1976, p. 57.
  19. Pravda, as quoted in the New York Times, Jan. 12, 1952.
  20. Arthur Koestler, Ibid., p.85.
  21. Alush Naji, Al-Masira Ila Filastin (The Journey to Palestine), 1964; Al Nashashibi, Nasir al-Din, Tadh-karat 'Awda (Return Ticket), 1962 claims that such European Jews as Ben-Gurion, Ben-Zvi, Dizengorff and Sharrett were Khazars.
  22. U N Special Committee on Palestine, Report to the General Assembly, vol. 2, 1947