By David Ramírez
Whenever I see a new post in the Ashkenazi media on the subject of the Lost Tribes or Iberian anusim, I ask myself: Whatever happened to basic Jewish decency? The latest Forward article “The New Jewish Diaspora?” by Sam Kestenbaum hit a new low when trying to find an answer to that question.
Kestenbaum relates to us how there has been a shift in the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs in regards to groups of people trying to have some connection with the Jewish people, after the “State of Israel, for the most part, has kept many of these groups at a distance.” That is to put it mildly.
See, with the exception of few Jewish individuals and well-meaning organizations, Ashkenazi establishment institutions, the Israeli government counting as one of them, has ignored—and often being ugly antagonistic with—people who feel to have a historic connection with the people of Israel, however real or imaginary this connection happens to be. And quite honestly, the cause of this behavior is the exclusivist racist mindset that Ashkenazim absorbed from living for centuries in genocidal Christian Europe.
Knowing of the racism experienced by Arab Jews who migrated to the nascent Israeli state, this comes to no surprise. And in hindsight, if Israel had been massively populated by Ashkenazim before or after 1948, thus achieving a demographic majority, perhaps the expulsion of Palestinians, and its consequent mass expulsion of Arab Jews, would have never had happened; and neither our need to point out the obvious in this ongoing Zionist charade, because for Ashkenazim nobody is Jewish enough as them, until they really, really need anybody else to be.
And the keyword for the obvious in this whole story we all must pay attention to is “demographics:” Demographics for maintaining a Jewish majority within the State of Israel, and demographics for maintaining pro-Israeli political support in the Jewish Diaspora and among non-Jews. That is the whole name of the game for which the Ashkenazi Zionist project pours untold amount of resources, while the Jewish poor, holocaust survivors, the Israeli Arab Jewish unemployed, the middle to lower class Orthodox Jews battling the high cost of community living—to name a few—have to be content with the crumbs that fall from the Zionist table. We all can go to hell as long as the Israeli state gets to survive.
Second is the centralization of control, because as we all know by now, only the Israeli state can speak for and represent the whole of the Jewish people, regardless. As noted by Kestenbaum:
«The fact that Israel is now reaching out to previously marginalized groups is significant, said Marla Brettschneider, a professor of political philosophy who has traveled with Kulanu. And so, she added, is the timing.
“This is a political moment when Israel is being criticized abroad, with the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,” Brettschneider said. “With this committee, Israel gets to constitute new Jewish communities in the Diaspora.”
In doing, the State of Israel — as opposed to another body — becomes the central authority recognizing Judaizing groups.»
Indeed, the article does show us the historic process of how assistance to the “Lost Tribes” has evolved from few disparate individuals, to independent organizations, to now establishment government institutions. The musical chairs have been consolidating until only one shrewd and clever player remains.
Historically and for the most part, the acceptance of non-Jewish groups and individuals into the Jewish fold has been handled transparently, without pressure and naturally. The Hebrew Bible’s message of compassion, freedom and autonomy has struck a spark in the consciousness of people who have come in contact with Jews or their writings. During the Roman period, non-Jews were Judaizing at different degrees by their own will, partaking the synagogue space along with Jews, some taking the final path of conversion, others just remaining sympathizers but coexisting with Israel. Pauline Christianity came to disrupt that balance for time to come, which turned out to be damaging to Jews for 2,000 years.
In medieval times, the Khazars and Berbers became converts, the latter of whom were to be instrumental in the Muslim conquest of Spain and liberation of Iberian Jewish communities from Visigoth Christian persecution and oppression.
But one must take notice that in this process of gentile inclusion rabbis were involved, and done for the sake of observing the Torah only, with or without a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. However, the main component in this latest iteration of “in-gathering” pursuits is not the observance of Torah per se, but the protection of the Zionist polity in the Land of Israel.
Though the “in-gathering” work was initiated by Ashkenazi rabbi Avichail, an alumn of the fascist extremist Yehuda Kook, for mystical reasons; and later Kulanu’s non-denominational kumbaya moves, generally their efforts have been loving, honest, modest and unambitious, uncontaminated by the toxic and corrosive Zionist international politics
As I had previously mentioned in my “The Zionist Politicization of Conversos and its Risks,” the acceptance of new converts to Judaism within Israel proper is fraught with red tape, especially at the level where the Israeli state-sponsored Orthodox rabbis are given a final say on the matter. Being this is so, the alternative being drawn has moved from considering resolving the issue of conversion via the Israeli rabbinate to merely recognize Judaizing groups as a substitute new Jewish Diaspora (which will never be quite Jewish).
Now, other reporters and I have shown that “in-gathering” organizations like Freund’s Shavei Israel are motivated by demographic and messianic concerns, and who have no qualms of accepting money from Christian Zionists, the likes of whom very much have supported the religious fascist and odious former U.S. presidential runner Ted Cruz. This contrivance of interests is a very dangerous thing to have for the welfare of the Jewish people, but Freund and his Zionist like-minded buddies do not care what may come of this.
If the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is motivated by political support, as Brettschneider suggests above, due to anti-Israeli movements like BDS—you know, that chutzpa of anti-Semites we should and should not really worry about—and combined with the former, then what kind of horizon is this trend leading us to?
In a nutshell: More complications. And none other like the Ashkenazim to make things more complicated than they need to be, just like the plot of any Woody Allen movie or, well, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All criticism aside, I have to agree it is very interesting to observe the trend of Judaizing groups which have been sprouting all over the globe, most of them originated thanks to millennial Protestant influence. And it is a pity that the classic Sephardic Religious Humanism has no influence in the current Jewish zeitgeist, as this tradition has a better handle at simplifying things with tact and concern, and placing everything more in context to devise ethical solutions to be inclusive. More so in this particular arena of Jewish status, where rabbis need to be involved, should we still want to have any shred of concern for Jewish tradition (and hence any Jewish decency), which obviously political Zionists do not.
At the eye of the storm, it is because of Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbis’ antagonistic position towards converts and gentiles that have led non-denominational organizations (such as Kulanu) and non-clerical Israeli-nationalist extremists (such as Freund) to enter the scene of “assisting” the philo-Judaizers, which all they do is to figure out how to jump through the long-developed secular and religious Ashkenazi super-structure firewalls of misanthropy and rejection, but never to dismantle the super-structure of their own parochial hatred itself.
It is anybody’s guess how this new development will complicate the lives of Jews and non-Jews in the near and long-term future, but if recent Jewish history under Ashkenazi leadership is any indication, it is going to be a huge hot mess with a bunch of losers and only one winner once the music stops playing.
I make no predictions as to who that “winner” will be.
Written for Sephardic Heritage Update newsletter, published in May 9, 2016.