Sunday, July 29, 2007

No, Rivkele, The Jews Weren't Driven into Exile by the Romans

"In A.D. 70, and again in 135, the Roman Empire brutally put down Jewish revolts in Judea, destroying Jerusalem, killing hundreds of thousands of Jews and sending hundreds of thousands more into slavery and exile."

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 5, 2006

"Well, now: We were expelled from the land and taken into captivity in the year 70 of the Common Era."

Leonard Fein, The Jewish Daily Forward, May 11, 2007–07–23

"After Bar Kochba…Jewish emigration, a more or less permanent feature of ancient Palestinian demography, now assumed alarming proportions."

Salo Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews (New York/Philadelphia, 1952), vol. 2, pp. 122-3.

Despite their ideological differences, what unites columnists like Charles Krauthammer and Leonard Fein, and what distinguishes them from Salo Baron,the greatest historian of the Jews in the twentieth century, is inter alia their acceptance of the myth that the Jews were forcibly expelled from the Land of Israel, and taken into captivity by the Romans. To this day, most lay people, Jews and non-Jews, accept the myth of the exile, whereas no historian, Jew or non-Jew, takes it seriously.

This post will look at the disconnect between popular and scholarly belief and try to examine the origin of the myth several centuries after the event occurred. I will follow pretty closely the first part of a comprehensive article on the subject by Hebrew University professor, Yisrael Yuval, which is available here . Because this article is under copyright, I can’t quote more than a few passages, and so I will just be paraphrasing him. But I urge you to read the article, especially his copious footnotes.

The myth was not invented by the Zionists, although it was greatly used by them, in part, to justify the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland. For the tacit assumption of the Zionists was that if the Jews had left the land willingly, if they had merely “emigrated” because they found opportunities beckoning in the Diaspora, then they would have betrayed their allegiance to the land, and their return would have been less justified. That is one of the reasons why Zionists argued for years that the Palestinians left Palestine of their own free will – if they were forcibly expelled, then somehow their claim to the land would be stronger. Of course, the putative expulsion by the Romans was not the only claim of the Jewish people to the land – many peoples have been exiled from their lands, and the Zionists were not claiming that all of them had a right to return -- but it dovetailed nicely with the historical view of the wandering Jew that finds no rest outside of his native place from which he was expelled.

The first point to make is that well before the revolt against Rome in 66-70 c.e., there were Jewish communities outside Palestine, most notably in Babylonia and in Egypt, but elsewhere as well. References to the dispersal of the Jewish people throughout the civilized world are found in the book of Esther, Josephus, and Philo. There is no indication that these communities were small, satellite communities.

Second, there is no contemporary evidence – i.e., 1st and 2nd centuries c.e. – that anything like an exile took place. The Romans put down two Jewish revolts in 66-70 c.e. and in 132-135 c.e. According to Josephus, the rebels were killed, and many of the Jews died of hunger. Some prisoners were sent to Rome, and others were sold in Libya. But nowhere does Josephus speak of Jews being taken into exile. As we shall see below, there is much evidence to the contrary. There was always Jewish emigration from the Land of Israel, as the quote above from Baron indicates.

The first mention of the exile of the Jews occurs in remarks attributed to the third century Palestinian rabbi, R. Yohanan that are found in the Babylonian Talmud, a work that received its final recension several centuries later (c. 500 c.e.): “Our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt, and we ourselves exiled from our land” (Gittin, 56a). The editor/s of the Talmud referred this statement to the Roman exile. Similar statements can be found elsewhere in the Babylonian Talmud attributing to rabbis living in the Land of Israel the view that the Romans were responsible for the destruction of the House, the burning of the temple, and the exile from the land. But if one examines other Babylonian sources, and most sources from the Land of Israel, the statements most likely refer to the First Temple, and the exile by the Babylonians. There is, after all, something odd in having rabbis living in the Land of Israel bemoaning an exile from the Land of Israel. Yuval summarizes the sources as follows:

“In other words, it seems that the triple expression—destruction of the House, burning of the Temple, exile from the land—originally (in the sources from the Land of Israel) referred to the First Temple and were applied to the Second Temple only in Babylonia.10 In the Tannaitic and early Amoraic sources, Rome is accused only of destroying the Temple, not of exiling the people from their land.11 A broad historical and national outlook, one that viewed the “Exile of Edom” (Rome being identified with the biblical Edom) as a political result of forced expulsion, did not survive from this period. Nor would such a view have been appropriate to the political reality and the conditions of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, which were certainly very well known to the members of that generation.”

In fact, Chaim Milikowsky, professor and past chairman of the Talmud department at Bar Ilan university, has argued that in 2nd and 3rd century tannaitic sources, the Hebrew term rendered as “exile” has the meaning of political subjugation rather than physically being driven from the land (cited in Yuval, p. 19, n.1) This, by the way, dovetails nicely with the Zionist historiography that emphasizes the loss of political independence, rather the physical removal of the Jews from the Land of Israel. For Zionists were somewhat at a loss to explain how Jewish rabbis could create the Mishnah and subsequently the Talmud of the Land of Israel if there was a mass exile.

This much of Yuval’s essay is uncontroversial and based on widely-accepted historiography. What follows is speculative and fits well the general trend of Yuval’s work, which is to see much greater Christian influence on the formation of rabbinic Judaism than has hitherto been recognized. Yuval points out that in early Christian sources, following the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion, there is an attempt to interpret the removal of the Jews from Jerusalem as punishment for the sin of rejecting Christ, and the depletion of the Jewish population of Jerusalem in light of the Biblical prophecies of exile. The Jewish reaction, on his reading, was to emphasize that Jews were still very much in the Land of Israel – which contemporary Jews, for the first time, interpreted to include not merely the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but the entire land. Only later, during Talmudic times, was the Exile from the Land incorporated in Jewish collective memory.

What implications does the exposure of the myth of the Roman Exile have for Zionism, the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, etc., etc. None, in my opinion. It is less important that the Jews were actually carried off into Exile than that they thought they were. The rabbis, and even earlier Jewish scholars, tended to conflate the Babylonian exile with the later loss of independence among the Romans. As a formative moment in Jewish religious consciousness, the destruction of the first temple and the exile was vastly more significant than the destruction of the second temple; some, like Bible scholar Adele Berlin, have argued that parts of the Bible, and maybe even the Torah, were edited in light of the trauma of the Babylonian exile. What this means is that in Jewish (and Christian) consciousness destruction, exile, and return, became significant categories in light of which history was read. If there is any argument for a right to return, it is not based, in the case of the Jews, on being driven out of the land against their will. It is more because of the Land of Israel playing such an important role in the consciousness of many (though not all) Jews. This is a more modest claim than is generally heard; it certainly does not in itself justify Jewish hegemony over Palestine. But it does put on the table the very real connection (imagined or not) between the Jewish people and Palestine. That, to me, is what is reasonable about Zionism.

In the words of J.K. Rowling, just because it is in your head doesn’t mean that it is not real.

46 comments:

Phyliss said...

This is great info to know.

amyrpk said...

My education didn't tell me that the Jews were rounded up and sent into exile (as was the case with the Babylonian exile) ... it was that those who didn't run for their lives were slaughtered or starved.

Ethnic cleansing by another means is still ethnic cleansing.

Those pesky Romans weren't so bad, I guess, since in your view they didn't "drive the Jews into exile."
They just made the place so uninhabitable that the inhabitants said, "Oh, dear, let's find someplace new for tea, shall we?" It was all about upward mobility, it seems.

Peskiness abounds.

Jerry Haber said...

amyrpk said:

"My education..."

stop there, amyrpk. Your education was false propaganda. Nothing of what you write here is true. Jews stayed in Palestine way for centuries after 70 c.e.

Please cite the scholarly sources for your so-called "education".

amyrpk said...

Well duh there were Jews there after 70 CE. How else could Bar Kokhva have had his rebellion decades later? How else was the Talmud Yerushalmi (aka "the Palestinian Talmud") compiled if there was nobody here to do it?

My education was generally from SUNY and CUNY. I know, pathetic and public. But entirely in the classrooms of Arabists. Which at the time suited me fine.

FWIW I lean left.

The fact of there having been only thousands of Jews in Judea after the fall of the Temple doesn't make anything that was learned untrue.

The Jews were exiled from their homes. The same way that the Palestinian Arabs were exiled from theirs ... despite leaving 100,000 of their brethren behind to become Israeli citizens.

The fact that there are Arabs here doesn't negate the exile of those who left, whether they left on their own or were chased out.

The fact that there were Jews here doesn't negate the exile of those who left, whether they left on their own or were chased out.

So I'm still not sure what your point is.

Jerry Haber said...

"The fact that there were Jews here doesn't negate the exile of those who left, whether they left on their own or were chased out"

Oh, I see... the problem is one of English. You understand the word "exile" to mean "left". So according to you, the thousands of Jews who left the US for Israel over the last several decades were exiled. And the millions of Mexicans who have migrated to the US were "exiled" from Mexico.

Thanks for clearing this up. I am glad to see that you are in full agreement with the point of my post.

I think, however, that you will find that dictionaries understand "exile" to mean "forced to leave against one's will, often by an explicit decree.". It was in that sense that I wrote my post.

Now, as for your comparison between Arabs and Jews of yore.

In the case of Israel, there was an explicit decree that forbade c. 700,00 Arabs from returning to their homes. That was the Israel Citizenship law and the Nationality law.

In the case of the Jews during the Roman period, there was no law forbidding the Jews from living in Palestine. Nor does there seem to be any policy of encouraging Jews to leave. Nor have you brought any evidence that Jews were forced to leave.

I couldn't give a hoot what your political opinions are. Just provide me with some historical evidence to back up your assertions. All you have to do is find a reputable modern, academic historian of the Second Temple and Mishnaic period, who will back up your assertions.

amyrpk said...

You do have such a pleasant attitude in your response, such a joy to converse with you, brother.

Anyway.

Here's from a quick google search of "Jews" and "exile" and "Aelia Capitolina" and, to ensure that you'll get your oh-so-scholarly reply that will meet with your surely intensely intellectual standards (no Wikipages here for certain), "scholarly."

http://books.google.com/books?id=YBarWAR2qVkC&pg=PA159&lpg=PA159&dq=scholarly+jews+exiled+romans+aelia+capitolina&source=web&ots=r690ra60Y-&sig=-iAu_dMhnhwoIY0me7L7PjA1Wg8&hl=en&ei=YNiZSZjwG42K0AXv4fiKDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#PPA159,M1

Jews were completely exiled from Jerusalem and barred re-entry. According to this source, Jews were forbidden on pain of death to enter.

Since it was their capital city, sounds like they were forced to leave to me.

It's not semantics, you know very well what I meant with "left." Don't be cute, it doesn't get you points either.

You are very intense about insisting that the Jews totally chose to leave. Am totally scratching my head over the point. How can I be in agreement with your point? You still haven't made one.

People forced to leave through a situation of war ... refugees ... can be said to be exiled. And by any standard, what happened in the land way back when under the Romans left all those Jews as refugees. Surely some stayed. That doesn't negate the refugee status of those who left.

If you'd like the repeat the semantic game of your previous response, feel free. Your blog, your rules & all that. But it's not making your point any clearer, nor is it effectively negating my point.

The vitriol is entirely unnecessary, BTW. Am open minded to learn new things if they're based in reality. But there's that old saying about attracting flies with honey v. shit and all that. Might be something to think about.

And lastly, I have no doubt that quick google searches surely don't meet your high level of intellectual rigor, but some of us can't afford the libraries that you folks with your overpriced formerly-Arab homes in Baka have, so ... there ya' go. It is what it is.

Jerry Haber said...

amyrpk

three strikes and you are out.I asked you to give me evidence that the Jews were exiled and forced to leave Palestine. You did not. I wrote, specifically,

"In the case of the Jews during the Roman period, there was no law forbidding the Jews from living in Palestine. Nor does there seem to be any policy of encouraging Jews to leave. Nor have you brought any evidence that Jews were forced to leave."

What evidence did you produce?

Nothing.

Instead, you completely changed the subject and found a reference to the Roman prohibition of Jews living in Jerusalem after the Bar Kokhbah revolt.

If you think that forbidding Jews from entering and living in a city -- while at the same allowing them to live in large numbers in Palestine, especially the Galilee, -- is the same as exiling vast numbers of people from their country, then even learning English won't help you.

amyrpk said...

And you still haven't made your point. Though you do the snark thing oh so well.

So what's the point?

The fact is that the Romans razed Jerusalem and spent decades attempting to de-Judaize Judea. Yes, Jews survived in the region. There were over half a million slaughtered in the Bar Kokhva rebellion in the 2nd century, right? So there were at least that many left over after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Josephus estimates the Jewish population at a million-ish, if memory serves, and that approximately half were slaughtered in the 1st century's war along with another 100,000 being sold into slavery.

Again, a google search (since this is now being done during my work hours) ...

http://books.google.com/books?id=ex9WFQ1ICsQC&pg=RA1-PA456&lpg=RA1-PA456&dq=historical+jewish+population&source=bl&ots=fPxOLunT_G&sig=3XiwvdI0qe7X2lyk8iojFuVdtN8&hl=en&ei=5XSaSbKcLI-80AXs2tC3Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA97,M1

p. 99: "Hadrian ordered the expulsion of all Jews who remained in Judea."

So maybe what you're trying to do is clarify that the Jews were kicked out after the last of the Bar Kokhva rebellions as opposed to after the destruction of Jerusalem (at which time they were only kicked out of Jerusalem).

Is that your point?

Jerry Haber said...

amyrpk

no snark -- let's begin with what you and I agree about.

We agree that the Jews were banned from living in Jerusalem and in Judaea by Hadrian.

Fine, so what is my point, you ask?

You think that this is what the rabbis referred to when they say that the Romans exiled the Jews from the Land of Israel. But in fact, they spoke of a large scale exile from all of the Land of Israel.

I claim that the Hadrianic "exile" was nothing more than an internal exile within the Land of Israel. The Jews from Judaea went elsewhere *within the Land of Israel.* And, indeed. Jewish settlement thrived in the Land of Israel after Hadrian. The myth of Exile and Return is a rabbinic one that was taken up by the Zionists.


The evidence for my assertion that there was no mass exile is precisely from the book that you found on Google Books, the Historical Atlas of the Jewish People. On p. 102, there is a section called The Jewish Settlement after 140 CE.

"Although Jews were still forbidden to reside in Jerusalem, the authorities tended to "turn a blind eye" when they arrived in the city of pilgrimages, provided they stayed only a short time. The settlements in the south -- in the Shepehlah and the Jordan valley -- continued to exist AND THE PERCENTAGE OF THE URBAN POPULATION IN THESE PLACES INCREASED. The Galilee remianed almost entirely Jewish...ECONOMICALLY, THE LOT OF THE JEWISH POPULATION IMPROVED IN THE GENERATION FOLLOWING THE RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION BY HADRIAN....SOME JEWS WHO HAD LEFT THE COUNTRY RETURNED, a few prisoners-of-war managed to return to their settlements, and those already settled never thought of leaving the Holy Land....." (pp. 102-3)

In other words, the Jews suffered in Judae during the Hadrianic persecutions, and things rebounded when Hadrian died, especially in other areas of the country. The view of a desolate country with a few communities producing the Mishnah and the Palestinian Talmud (centuries later) is a myth.

No, Rivkele, there was no mass Exile of Jews to other communities outside of the Land of Israel because of Romans.

That was my point. So why the myth?

To understand why later rabbis thought there was a mass exile, I direct you to the following article by Israeli historian Yisroel Yuval:

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ckn/v012/12.1yuval.html

Best
Jerry

amyrpk said...

I don't see the contradiction. During the period of the wars with Rome, Jews were slaughtered wholesale and were exiled/thrown out/made to leave/turned into refugees.

And yes, they were completely ethnically cleansed from their capital city and its environs.

I still don't get the point. So ... what? Because there were still some Jews left after this, then what? That somehow means Jews have some less historical claim on the land?

I do believe that's what you're getting at.

There were still some Jews left in Europe after WWII. Does that mean that the slaughter didn't happen there?

Turning this to the subject which is surely underlying your post, that of the exile of many Palestinian Arabs after the '48/'49 war, does the fact that over 150,000 Arabs remained in Israel in their homes, does that negate what happened to the others?

And the facts are that Arab population of these places increased. And eventually, economically, the lot of the Arab population improved in the generation following the Nakba ... and even some Arabs who had left the country returned, though yes, it did take some time. (I chose not to use all caps in my paraphrase of the quotes you used from the book, because all caps, to understanding, is shouting. And impolite. And since we are obviously both Western Olim, we still retain some of our politness, I assume.)

So I'll try it on for size:
"No, Fatima, the Arabs weren't driven into exile by the Jews."

No, sorry, it doesn't work that way, either.

But it sure plays well in some corners of the Internet.

Jerry Haber said...

No problem, amyrpk, I will explain it to you...I have students who also don't get it.

" I don't see the contradiction. During the period of the wars with Rome, Jews were slaughtered wholesale and were exiled/thrown out/made to leave/turned into refugees"

OK, so five points off for not saying *where* they were slaughtered wholesale and were exiled/thrown out/made to leave/turned into refugees."

They were not thrown out of the Land of Israel; they were thrown out of one province of the land of Israel. They went into exile into other parts of their ancestral land and not from it.

You want an analogy with Europe? If, say, there was a holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed or exiled from Europe, and 400 million Jews stayed in Europe, that would be rougly analogous,especially if the Jews claimed Europe as their ancestral land.

Anyway, that was your analogy.

The vast majority of Jews living in the land of Israel stayed in the land of Israel throughout the Roman period.

Did you get that? No? Really?

" I still don't get the point. So ... what? Because there were still some Jews left after this, then what? That somehow means Jews have some less historical claim on the land?"

Ok, five more points off for "some". Because that implies that the vast majority of the Jews were driven out of the land by the Romans. And this is false. So you cheated by saying "some" because of the implication. Another five points off.

"There were still some Jews left in Europe after WWII. Does that mean that the slaughter didn't happen there?"

The majority of European Jews died during the Holocaust. So the analogy with the Palestinian Jews during the Romans is once again false and misleading, since the majority of Jews stayed in the Land of Israel. Let's take 10points off for that.

Now, the fact that there were Jews left in Europe obviously doesn't mean that there was no slaughter there, just as the fact that there were Arabs living in Palestine or Jews living in Russia doesn't imply that there were no slaugters of Jews in Russia (pogroms) or of Arabs in Palestine (read Benny Morris's book.)

So I would take five points off for that silly analogy there.

"Turning this to the subject which is surely underlying your post, that of the exile of many Palestinian Arabs after the '48/'49 war, does the fact that over 150,000 Arabs remained in Israel in their homes, does that negate what happened to the others?"

Over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were denied the right to return to their homes, and 150,000 Palestinians were placed under a military government. Together, that was the entire Palestinian population of a large part of Palestine. Before that, the Jews were a minority.

If one wanted to draw an analogy with the Romans, then the best analogy would be with the Jews of Judaea, not the Jews of the Land of Israel. That would be the proper analogy, since some Jews were allowed to have pilgrimages in Jerusalem, and, of course, Jews shortly came back to Judea after the end of the Hadrianic persecutions.

But, once again, you want to draw a false analogy between the Palestinians of Israel and the Jews of the entire Land of Israel, and there simply is no analogy -- for the Jews were not exiled from the Land of Israel, whereas the Palestinians were. Some Jews were exiled from one part of their homeland to another. That's it.

So you get ten points off for that.

You have failed so far, but I have the patience of Job, so let me help you out.

Look, you could make another analogy -- there were Palestinian Arabs that were exiled from their villages by the Israeli government, but remained within the State of Israel. And I agree with you that those Arabs have the same rights to return to their original villages as the original Jews had to return to Judaea.

Now, you ask, what is my point?

Well, my point simply was that there are people who claim that the Jews were exiled from their ancestral homeland, never forgot that homeland, and hence have a historical right to it. Some of those people wrote the Israeli Declaration of Independence:

"After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom."

Historians have shown that the Jews were not forcibly exiled from their land but left willingly. They stayed in Babylonia, Egypt, and many other places in the Mediterranean world. And for two thousand years, the vast majority of them preferred to stay in their homelands even when they had the choice to migrate to Israel.

As, for example, Maimonides.

True, there were some individuals who made aliyah. And traditional Jews prayed for the restoration of Zion.

But the Jews did not have historical national rights in Palestine by virtue of having lived there and having been exiled. That's all. They certainly did not have rights to a state simply by virtue of that. That is my opinion, and in 1948 was the opinion of the vast majority of the civilized world, including the vast majority of the Jewish world.

And, finally, you wrote:

"and even some Arabs who had left the country returned, though yes, it did take some time."

Excuse me? What Palestinian refugees have been allowed to return to their lands?

Sixty years after the Bar Kokhbah revolt, more Jews had returned to Judea than Palestinians returned to Palestine after the Nakba --
even if you count the Palestinians who were shot on sight when they tried to return to their lands.

There is no analogy. The Romans were much more generous to the returning Jews than the Israelis to the returning Palestinians.

To sum up our agreement, then:

1) We agree that the Romans exiled some Jews from one province to another in the Land of Israel.

2) We agree that the Romans did not decimate the Jewish population of the Land of Israel after the Hadrianic Revolt. (I am glad that you finally came around to that.)

3) We agree that there was no exile or forced immigration from the Land of Israel. (I am also glad that you admitted that.)

And, so, Amyrpk, although you have repeatedly failed the test, and although you have repeatedly confused the Roman suppression of a local revolt in a part of the Land of Israel with the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine -- in which over 80% of Palestine was emptied of its natives, you at least have learnt something.

The subject is closed. You can repeat the course at another website.

Peter Schwartz said...

Interesting Jerry.

I'm wondering if you could recommend a good journal of Jewish history--I know that's a big area--so I can keep up.

As to your argument with amyrpk, it's interesting how people can talk past each other, especially on this topic. I don't think he really understood your point.

I don't know if this thread is closed, but I noticed that your last comment was made on my birthday, so I thought, what the heck.
But one of the ancillary points of your, or Yuval's, argument is the strong historical connection Jews DO have to the land. Many, wishing to deny it, claim that the claim is based solely on "religious"--read: imaginary--grounds. Which clearly it is not.

I'm no historian, but one of the key points lying at the center of these discussions is the fact of the Jews' perpetual (eternal?) status as a minority, except, perhaps, in very small places. Even in America, we haven't grown very large and conditions for "reproducing" have been ideal.

Jews' minority status sharpened their ethical critique of society (in part). But it also contributed mightily to their perpetual--though not uninterrupted--troubles. One leg of the Zionist project was to change this status as a way out the "Jewish question."

Minorities' rights are always vulnerable, simply by virtue of the minority status. Majority rights--whether truly right in an ethical sense--always carry what I think of as greater "inertia." IOW, they tend to win out just because there are more of them. They have, almost literally, greater weight.

Only the rule of law can protect the minority--but that's often a thin reed as we found out. So now we're finding out the limits of force...

Visitor said...

K, a few points. I really don't understand what the author is implying. He claims that, "the Jews weren't driven into exile by the Romans", without clearly defining what he means by that. Is he implying that the Romans didn't take every last Jew in Israel/Palestine and put them on boats and send them away? Because I don't think anyone, Zionists included, believe that. The scenario that is widely accepted is that the Romans occupied the land, and made life very difficult for the Jews there, causing massive migration waves throughout the next few centuries. I don't see how that in any way undermines the Zionist argument that most Jews' ancestors lived in Israel/Palestine. During Israel's War of Independence, many Palestinians left Israel on their own volition because they had better places to go (where they felt their lives wouldn't be in jeopardy), just like more Jews left Arab and Islamic countries for Israel between 1949-1955. Egypt didn't force Jews on trains and boats to Israel following it's independence, but they did clearly demonstrate that it wasn't the best place for them to remain. Does that count as an "exile"? This whole article seems to be nothing but semantics to me...

Jerry Haber said...

"The scenario that is widely accepted is that the Romans occupied the land, and made life very difficult for the Jews there, causing massive migration waves throughout the next few centuries"

Call the above the "exile myth" in its moderate form. According to the commenter it is "widely accepted"; there is also no evidence for it whatever. Jews did not migrate out of Palestine because "the Romans made life difficult for them". Where is the evidence for that?

Why do people write things without citing any historical evidence or support?

Jerry Haber said...

"During Israel's War of Independence, many Palestinians left Israel on their own volition because they had better places to go (where they felt their lives wouldn't be in jeopardy), just like more Jews left Arab and Islamic countries for Israel between 1949-1955."

Excuse me? Leaving your home temporarily during wartime because you don't want to be killed counts as emigrating from your country?

I didn't say anything about other Zionist claims, such as that most Jews today are descendants of people who lived in Palestine/the Land of Israel

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with amyrpk! Thje Jews should be given Rome as their new home. It's only fair!

Liz said...

Mr. Haber,
I'd like to respond to a few of your comments.
Despite their ideological differences, what unites...
It says in the prayerbook:
סדור תפלה-נוסח אשכנז-סדר תפלת מוסף לשלש רגלים
ומפני חטאינו גלינו מארצנו. ונתרחקנו מעל אדמתנו
“Because of our sins we were exiled from our Land.”
Jews were (and are) exiled because G-d did not bring the Jews back from the exile (yet).

The myth was not invented...
Jews have been trying to come back to Israel for 2,000 years. If you call the claims of “the Zionists” a myth, then why do you call yourself a Zionist? Why did you move to Israel?

But if one examines other Babylonian sources,...
This is an absurd statement. The Gemara clearly refers to the events of the Roman Occupation in Israel:
Gittin 55b
Through the scrupulousness of R. Zechariah b. Abkulas our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt and we ourselves exiled from our land.

Furthermore, the exile of Greece took place in Israel. Spiritual exile can exist without being physically removed. Your comments are ridiculous and ironically a result of a basic lack of knowledge/Jewish learning.

I don't think one can win an argument by "grading" and belittling his "opponent." A good argument stands on it's own merit. Have a wonderful Matan Torah!

Jerry Haber said...

Liz, thanks for your comments and for agreeing with the thesis.

My point was that the story of an exile by the Romans does not appear until the Bavli, which is centuries after the events.

Whether the story/myth originates in Christian sources or Jewish sources is hard to say. It is common for religious sources to view the hand of God in everything.

Have a hag sameah.

Liz said...

the story of an exile by the Romans does not appear until the Bavli...

I certainly do not agree with what you are saying. There is no Orthodox Rabbi here (Jerusalem), that I know, who would corroborate your view of things. I spoke to a rabbi on Shavuot who told me there is a community in Roman who traces their heritage back to having been slaves of the Romans after Beit Sheni was destroyed. Your account sounds like revisionist history.

David Stern said...

Only a few thousand people were exiled in the Babylonian exile according to the Tanakh. That was probably a couple of percent of the population. Something similar happened in the Roman "exile" too. Some number of Jews were taken as captives to Rome as you say. Later there was a ban imposed on Jews living in Aelia Capitolina. Or is that a myth?

I haven't had a different view of either exile.

Anonymous said...

... I myself exiled from the land ...


I exiled myself from the land. I left the land without thought of return.

zkharya said...

'In the case of the Jews during the Roman period, there was no law forbidding the Jews from living in Palestine. Nor does there seem to be any policy of encouraging Jews to leave. Nor have you brought any evidence that Jews were forced to leave.'

They ended any kind of Jewish state. No Jewish Jerusalem, ever. The Christians insisted Jews abide as a people exiled or dispossessed, forever, legislating to make Jewish habitation of the land more difficult, encouraging Greco-Roman or gentile Christian colonizing. Jerome, writing in the late 4th early 5th century, describes how gentile Christians have inhabited the villages and towns abandoned or bereft of Jews.

Archeology clearly shows how churches predominate in the Judean heartlands, synagogues in the north, bespeaking a substantial demographic shift.

'There is no analogy. The Romans were much more generous to the returning Jews than the Israelis to the returning Palestinians.'

I must say, I think that is balderdash.

The Romans didn't permit Jews to live in or visit Jerusalem, control the temple mount, let alone build on it. Or agree to a separate Jewish autonomy or state, with a capital in Jerusalem, under any circumstances (except briefly in 364). They certainly didn't grant Jews or Judeans citizenship, anywhere, pretty much. There was no talk of a restored Judean state, once Jews made peace with Rome, to which Jews might return.

If Cassius Dio's figures are an exaggeration, the Romans surely killed Judeans in numbers that were exceptional even for them. Even if you take a nought off, 60 000 would still be a maximum figure of Palestinian Arab dead at Palestinian and Israeli Jewish hands over 60 years, against some 30 000 Israeli Jewish dead in total.

In any event, Cassius Dio suggests a major event of mass killing or dying as a consequence of war.

So, Jewish refugees fled north, into the Galil. Even as Palestinian refugees fled into other parts of Palestine. Would Palestinians allow they had not then suffered a dispossession?

zkharya said...

'Mr. Esterson does not take into any of the scholarly suggestions how the myth of Exile arose, both in Christian and Jewish circles'

I think it is manifestly obvious that I do. Except that pagan Romans contribute to the process by punishing all Jews, empire-wide, for the rebellion of Judeans, even as Jews outside the land rise in revolt in sympathy with the destruction and lose those within experienced. This likely only confirmed Jews in a sense of shared ethno-nationality, loss, dispossession and subjugation. Sand also skirts around the fact that that Jews were an ethnos, laos or phulos is the normative view in Greek and Roman pagan times, whatever exceptions he may care to find. Absurdly he only adduces one or two ancient instances of Jews' being described as these, despite its being the norm.

That the Jews are an ethno-national group, exiled and dispossessed is either normative as a view for most of Christian and Islamic history, or entirely unremarkable.

A consequence is that, even in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Jews of old world Christendom or Islam are seen as more nationally Judean or 'Palestinian' than, say, European or Arab. With a result being that most are either killed or effectively expelled: before 1914 mostly to America, after mostly to Palestine or what became Israel.

Even in the USSR, Jews have on their identity papers "Natsionalnost: Evreiski", "Ethno-nationality: Jewish", an identification taken over from Czarist and earlier Christian times. They are discriminated against on that basis, an ethno-national basis.

You can tell Israeli Jews that Jewish is not an nationality, that Israel does not alter a shared historical sense or experience of dispossession, all you please. They are unlikely to listen, least of all the descendants of Arab Jews whom Arab Muslims and Christians treated as de facto fellow Judeans of Palestinian and Israeli Jews precisely because their cultural Islamic and Christian traditions taught them that that is originally what they were.

Judaism says the exile is or was real. As does historical Christianity and Islam i.e. the (often oppressive) historical host societies and cultures in which Jews have lived for most of the last 2000 years, with real, national-consciousness shaping consequences for Jews.

In the face of continuing Palestinian and other Arab Muslim and Christian hostility to Israel, Israeli Jewish national consciousness is unlikely to diminish, no matter how much Palestinian, Arab or indeed European Christians and Muslims try to erase from history what their historical perceptions and attitudes towards Jews have actually been.

"'But I can tell you that every ancient Christian author, even those living in Palestine, speaks as though Israel has been completely dispossessed from the land, not because it necessarily reflects reality, but because it reflects things as they think they should be.'

which, of course, just means to show they cannot be relied upon on the historical question whether Jews were exiled by the Romans."

No, not 'just means'. It also shows how the process of alienating Jews from the land continues in the imperial Christian period, that it was not just one thing that occurred in 70 or 135 CE. It is process of discrimination that carries on from the imperial Christian into the imperial Islamic period. It is that process no less that contributes to narrative and experience of exile as enunciated by the rabbis, and formative of Talmudic Judaism.

The church fathers can also be relied upon to show how early the assumption that Jews are an ethno-national group, exiled and dispossessed, is. Whence it becomes the normative view, and a basis upon which Jews are treated for most of subsequent Christian (and indeed Islamic) history.

Jerry Haber said...

I am not going to comment on anything except the question of exile, since my post was about that. I said nothing about anything else in Sand's book.

"That the Jews are an ethno-national group, exiled and dispossessed is either normative as a view for most of Christian and Islamic history, or entirely unremarkable."

It was a normative view for most of Christian and Islamic history that the Jews were rejected by God.

Through the nineteenth century many people thought that the Native Americans were descendants of the ten lost tribes

Your point?

I grant you that Jews, Christians, and Muslims believed in the story of the exile. They also believed in divinely revealed scripture.

Your point?

I am glad to see that you agree with the historians that a) more Jews lived outside of Palestine during the second temple period (i.e., before the so-called "exile") than within Palestine; b) there was no mass Roman exodus of Jews from Palestine as a result of the Romans. There was a loss of political sovereignty.

Archaeology teaches us nothing about the ethnic makeup of the people who worshiped in what you call churches. They may have been Jews who used Christian and Hellenistic symbols in their worship. Read Seth Schwartz's Imperialism and Jewish society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E

The Romans allowed Jews to live in Palestine, and there was contant traffic between Babylonia and Palestine. Try getting permission as a Palestinian to live in Israel.

I am not denying that the Jews lost sovereignty, or that had sovereignty been restored things would not have been better for them as Jews. But this has nothing to do with the myth of the exile.

You may want to read Yuval's piece that I refer to.

zkharya said...

I read Schwartz years ago.

The Romans left the Jews relatively alone until the 4th century: destroying Jerusalem and possibly 100s of 1000s of Jews, 100s of Jewish villages etc were enough to go on with. From the 3rd century date the building of most of the large synagogues found mostly in the north i.e. witnesses to a major demographic shift.

Jerome, an inhabitant of Bethlehem, says the new inhabitants of abandoned Jewish villages and towns are gentiles. And both Jewish and Christian sources agree with this. Their inscriptions are almost universally in Greek. Christian Aramaic dates from much later, and is derived from a pagan, not a Jewish variant. That strongly suggests that Palestinian Christians were primarily culturally Greek, with little to no Semitic culture.

Conversely, Judaism Judaises: Greek translations fall out of use, and the Hebrew replaces them. From the 2nd century there is virtually no Hellenistic-Jewish literature tha survives. After the widespread destruction wreaked on the Alexandrian community, it ends. And, as I said, the pagan Roman state identifies and punishes all Jews as de facto Judeans, a policy which Christian Romans continue, only more so.

It is absurd to say that Rome does not continue a policy of further alienating Jews from the land. It is absurd to say that it was not founded on an ethnic cleansing of substantial proportions, large enough to be recorded as such by Greco-Roman historians themselves.

Shlomo Sand uses the preposterous argument that Rome wanted taxes ergo it never committed ethnic cleansing.

In the case of the troublesome Jews, ethnic cleansing proved more beneficial than leaving them be.

One might as well argue that, since most Palestinian refugees still live within the borders of original British ruled Palestine ergo no acts of ethnic cleansing were committed against them.


The Roman Christians, however, changed the policy of the pagans: they defined Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed, and enacted more and more law discriminatory against them, and in favour of Christians, in the land, and elsewhere.

Their policy was one of alienating Jews further from the land.

It is absurd to say that the killing of 100s of 1000s of Judean (and other) Jews does not constitute ethnic cleansing. Especially given the killing of 8000 Muslims in Srebrenica counts today even as genocide.

There was ethnic cleansing of the Judean heartland, and the changing of the name of the province, the only instance of doing so after a revolt, almost certainly reflecting both a material demographic shift i.e. the loss of substantial number of Jews, for whatever reason, and a policy to alienate Jews from the land forever.

So what that Jews have been regarded as an ethno-national group dispossessed for most of Jewish, Christian and Islamic history, including Palestinian history?

So, it is perverse of descendants of those same cultural Christians and Muslims, having expelled or killed Jews as an alien people displaced and under g-d's or man's curse, thus leading to the creation of the two largest Jewish communities today, to then say 'Sorry, we were wrong, and the whole basis of your nationalism and nation state is illegitimate a priori'

Especially since Mahmoud Al Zahar, co-founder and leader of Hamas, recently reverted to a more traditional Palestinian Islamic reading of Jewish history, free from the western revisionism that is re-writing what the historical view of Jews and their relation to the land of Palestinian Christian and Muslims i.e. a people dispossessed for their sins has actually been.

zkharya said...

I read Schwartz years ago.

The Romans left the Jews relatively alone until the 4th century: destroying Jerusalem and possibly 100s of 1000s of Jews, 100s of Jewish villages etc were enough to go on with. From the 3rd century date the building of most of the large synagogues found mostly in the north i.e. witnesses to a major demographic shift.

Jerome, an inhabitant of Bethlehem, says the new inhabitants of abandoned Jewish villages and towns are gentiles. And both Jewish and Christian sources agree with this. Their inscriptions are almost universally in Greek. Christian Aramaic dates from much later, and is derived from a pagan, not a Jewish variant. That strongly suggests that Palestinian Christians were primarily culturally Greek, with little to no Semitic culture.

Conversely, Judaism Judaises: Greek translations fall out of use, and the Hebrew replaces them. From the 2nd century there is virtually no Hellenistic-Jewish literature tha survives. After the widespread destruction wreaked on the Alexandrian community, it ends. And, as I said, the pagan Roman state identifies and punishes all Jews as de facto Judeans, a policy which Christian Romans continue, only more so.

It is absurd to say that Rome does not continue a policy of further alienating Jews from the land. It is absurd to say that it was not founded on an ethnic cleansing of substantial proportions, large enough to be recorded as such by Greco-Roman historians themselves.

Shlomo Sand uses the preposterous argument that Rome wanted taxes ergo it never committed ethnic cleansing.

In the case of the troublesome Jews, ethnic cleansing proved more beneficial than leaving them be.

One might as well argue that, since most Palestinian refugees still live within the borders of original British ruled Palestine ergo no acts of ethnic cleansing were committed against them.


The Roman Christians, however, changed the policy of the pagans: they defined Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed, and enacted more and more law discriminatory against them, and in favour of Christians, in the land, and elsewhere.

Their policy was one of alienating Jews further from the land.

It is absurd to say that the killing of 100s of 1000s of Judean (and other) Jews does not constitute ethnic cleansing. Especially given the killing of 8000 Muslims in Srebrenica counts today even as genocide.

There was ethnic cleansing of the Judean heartland, and the changing of the name of the province, the only instance of doing so after a revolt, almost certainly reflecting both a material demographic shift i.e. the loss of substantial number of Jews, for whatever reason, and a policy to alienate Jews from the land forever.

So what that Jews have been regarded as an ethno-national group dispossessed for most of Jewish, Christian and Islamic history, including Palestinian history?

So, it is perverse of descendants of those same cultural Christians and Muslims, having expelled or killed Jews as an alien people displaced and under g-d's or man's curse, thus leading to the creation of the two largest Jewish communities today, to then say 'Sorry, we were wrong, and the whole basis of your nationalism and nation state is illegitimate a priori'

Especially since Mahmoud Al Zahar, co-founder and leader of Hamas, recently reverted to a more traditional Palestinian Islamic reading of Jewish history, free from the western revisionism that is re-writing what the historical view of Jews and their relation to the land of Palestinian Christian and Muslims i.e. a people dispossessed for their sins has actually been.

zkharya said...

I read Schwartz years ago.

The Romans left the Jews relatively alone until the 4th century: destroying Jerusalem and possibly 100s of 1000s of Jews, 100s of Jewish villages etc were enough to go on with. From the 3rd century date the building of most of the large synagogues found mostly in the north i.e. witnesses to a major demographic shift.

Jerome, an inhabitant of Bethlehem, says the new inhabitants of abandoned Jewish villages and towns are gentiles. And both Jewish and Christian sources agree with this. Their inscriptions are almost universally in Greek. Christian Aramaic dates from much later, and is derived from a pagan, not a Jewish variant. That strongly suggests that Palestinian Christians were primarily culturally Greek, with little to no Semitic culture.

Conversely, Judaism Judaises: Greek translations fall out of use, and the Hebrew replaces them. From the 2nd century there is virtually no Hellenistic-Jewish literature tha survives. After the widespread destruction wreaked on the Alexandrian community, it ends. And, as I said, the pagan Roman state identifies and punishes all Jews as de facto Judeans, a policy which Christian Romans continue, only more so.

It is absurd to say that Rome does not continue a policy of further alienating Jews from the land. It is absurd to say that it was not founded on an ethnic cleansing of substantial proportions, large enough to be recorded as such by Greco-Roman historians themselves.

Shlomo Sand uses the preposterous argument that Rome wanted taxes ergo it never committed ethnic cleansing.

In the case of the troublesome Jews, ethnic cleansing proved more beneficial than leaving them be.

One might as well argue that, since most Palestinian refugees still live within the borders of original British ruled Palestine ergo no acts of ethnic cleansing were committed against them.

zkharya said...

Part 2


The Roman Christians, however, changed the policy of the pagans: they defined Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed, and enacted more and more law discriminatory against them, and in favour of Christians, in the land, and elsewhere.

Their policy was one of alienating Jews further from the land.

It is absurd to say that the killing of 100s of 1000s of Judean (and other) Jews does not constitute ethnic cleansing. Especially given the killing of 8000 Muslims in Srebrenica counts today even as genocide.

There was ethnic cleansing of the Judean heartland, and the changing of the name of the province, the only instance of doing so after a revolt, almost certainly reflecting both a material demographic shift i.e. the loss of substantial number of Jews, for whatever reason, and a policy to alienate Jews from the land forever.

So what that Jews have been regarded as an ethno-national group dispossessed for most of Jewish, Christian and Islamic history, including Palestinian history?

So, it is perverse of descendants of those same cultural Christians and Muslims, having expelled or killed Jews as an alien people displaced and under g-d's or man's curse, thus leading to the creation of the two largest Jewish communities today, to then say 'Sorry, we were wrong, and the whole basis of your nationalism and nation state is illegitimate a priori'

Especially since Mahmoud Al Zahar, co-founder and leader of Hamas, recently reverted to a more traditional Palestinian Islamic reading of Jewish history, free from the western revisionism that is re-writing what the historical view of Jews and their relation to the land of Palestinian Christian and Muslims i.e. a people dispossessed for their sins has actually been.

zkharya said...

European, North African and Asian Muslims and Christians, including Palestinian Muslims and Christians, have regarded Jews as ethno-national group dispossessed for most of Christian and Islamic history.

A significant consequence of this is that, in the 19th and 20th centuries, most European, North African or Asian Jews were killed, expelled or alienated from where they were: hence US and Israeli Jews.

Palestinian Christians and Muslims objected to Jews existing in the land in other than tiny numbers. Their national movement evolved from apartheid, to exclusivism, to expulsionism, to eliminationism.

They have regarded, and treated, Jews as a people exiled and dispossessed for Jewish sins. This did not teach them sympathy for Jews, rather the reverse.

Israeli Jews do not have to dissolve themselves, or their state, before their enemies do.

zkharya said...

'Through the nineteenth century many people thought that the Native Americans were descendants of the ten lost tribes

Your point?'

My point?

What's your point? Such a belief did not lead to the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Native Americans, others did.

My point is that even in the USSR, in the late 20th century, where most European Jews lived, Jews were regarded as an ethno-national group for ancient historical reasons, and similarly discriminated against, as a people who did not really have a right to be.

For the most part, all such Jews had, as part of their identity, was a cultural memory of who they were, and where they came from, necessarily deeply imbued with a religious tradition, conscious or otherwise. It may not be strictly historical (although, telescoped over time, the tradition is not so inaccurate). It is no less historical.

Jerry Haber said...

Z -

"The Romans left the Jews relatively alone until the 4th century"

Barukh ha-Shem, you finally admit that the myth of the exile following the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kohkhba revolt is just that -- a myth, first found in later Christian sources, an echo of the exile following the destruction of the first temple.

You also admit that the majority of Jews lived outside of Palestine during the second temple period, so the myth that most of the Jews were involuntarily carried into exile is just that -- a myth.

Now you move the goal posts and say that you are not writing about an "exile" but about a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing in later centures, for which you bring no evidence. Conversion, even forced conversion, is hardly "ethnic cleansing."

Obviously, at a certain time there was a Jewish majority in Palestine and Jewish limited autonomy, and *centuries later* there were few Jews. Nobody disputes that. I also grant you that Christians persecuted the Jews and made life difficult for them in Palestine. But considering conversion and voluntary emigration to be the same as "being carried off the Romans into exile after the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kokhbah revolt" is a stretch.

That's what I was talking about.

By the way, agreeing with this is Prof. Anita Shapiro, in her robust critique of Sand, which I am sure you have read. She calls the myth of the exile a "scarecrow", and indeed it is.

"It is absurd to say that the killing of 100s of 1000s of Judean (and other) Jews does not constitute ethnic cleansing."

Ah, so what America did in WWII was ethnic cleansing? Thanks for clearing that up.

Ethnic cleansing has to be part of a deliberate policy. Please show me historical evidence where the Romans deliberately tried to empty Palestine of Jews in order to change its ethnic makeup (you know, like the Israelis did in 1948) Show me the discussions in the Roman historians (or other contemporary historians) that view ethnic cleansing to be part of that policy.

By the way, even if the Jews were exiled from Palestine two thousand years ago, that would give them as much rights to their sovereignty in Palestine as it does to their sovereignty in Spain, France, England, and Germany -- all places where Jews were exiled -- and that's no myth!

Actually, the Italian government has a greater claim to Palestine, because of the defeat of Rome.

Isn't it remarkable, though, that after a century of Zionism, not a single government, not to mention the UN, has accepted the claim of the historical rights of the Jews to Palestine -- more governments are on record supporting Iraq's claim to Kuwait.

Once again, you seem to confuse me with Sand. Do I look like him?

Jerry Haber said...

"The Romans left the Jews relatively alone until the 4th century"

Barukh ha-Shem, you finally admit that the myth of the exile following the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kohkhba revolt is just that -- a myth, first found in later Christian sources, an echo of the exile following the destruction of the first temple.

You also admit that the majority of Jews lived outside of Palestine during the second temple period, so the myth that most of the Jews were involuntarily carried into exile is just that -- a myth.

Now you move the goal posts and say that you are not writing about an "exile" but about a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing in later centures, for which you bring no evidence. Conversion, even forced conversion, is hardly "ethnic cleansing."

Obviously, at a certain time there was a Jewish majority in Palestine and Jewish limited autonomy, and *centuries later* there were few Jews. Nobody disputes that. I also grant you that Christians persecuted the Jews and made life difficult for them in Palestine. But considering conversion and voluntary emigration to be the same as "being carried off the Romans into exile after the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kokhbah revolt" is a stretch.

That's what I was talking about.

By the way, agreeing with this is Prof. Anita Shapiro, in her robust critique of Sand, which I am sure you have read. She calls the myth of the exile a "scarecrow", and indeed it is.

Jerry Haber said...

"It is absurd to say that the killing of 100s of 1000s of Judean (and other) Jews does not constitute ethnic cleansing."

Ah, so what America did in WWII was ethnic cleansing? Thanks for clearing that up.

Ethnic cleansing has to be part of a deliberate policy. Please show me historical evidence where the Romans deliberately tried to empty Palestine of Jews in order to change its ethnic makeup (you know, like the Israelis did in 1948) Show me the discussions in the Roman historians (or other contemporary historians) that view ethnic cleansing to be part of that policy.

By the way, even if the Jews were exiled from Palestine two thousand years ago, that would give them as much rights to their sovereignty in Palestine as it does to their sovereignty in Spain, France, England, and Germany -- all places where Jews were exiled -- and that's no myth!

Actually, the Italian government has a greater claim to Palestine, because of the defeat of Rome.

Isn't it remarkable, though, that after a century of Zionism, not a single government, not to mention the UN, has accepted the claim of the historical rights of the Jews to Palestine -- more governments are on record supporting Iraq's claim to Kuwait.

Once again, you seem to confuse me with Sand. Do I look like him?

zkharya said...

The Romans tried to alienate the Jews from the land forever: they did this by killing 100s of 1000s, destroying Jerusalem, forbidding its Jewish restoration, renaming the province, discriminating against Jews in the land, in favour of largely Greco-Roman Christians, it turned out, marginalizing the remaining Jews still further, a policy continued by Arab and other Muslims.

Actually, there are accounts which purport to describe Titus' deliberations to destroy the Temple, and end Judaism, and thus Jews, forever.

By your criteria, because the record of imperial deliberations is imperfect, Romans never committed ethnic cleansing, despite my fellow classicists ( I have two degrees in Greek and Latin) usually thinking that is precisely what occurred in Dacia, as well as Judea. Or are you saying that Roman killing of even 10s, never mind 100s, of 1000s would have merely occurred because of the pursuit of strictly military matters?

Ethnic cleansing is rarely 'perfect', as is genocide. By some modern criteria, Roman suppression of the second revolt would qualify as both.

I have further news for you: the Romans became Christians. Christians were in large part Romans to begin with. Justin Martyr, a citizen of the Greco-Roman colonia of Flavia Neapolis, and perhaps the first person in history to define (rather than merely translate) his origin as Palestine, writes to emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century that it is his duty to (continue to) keep Jews from the land of Israel.

Rather as many say Zionist Jews do/have done to Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians. Isn't that usually defined by Israel's detractors as part and parcel of ethnic cleansing, too?

Did Israeli Jews empty Palestine of Arab Muslims or Christians?

The Balfour Declaration, League of Nations and UN mandate assumed some kind of Jewish right of return, as of justice and need, based on the notion of historical dispossession.

So what of what the rest of the world claims to think? Is that why Jews have been Jews for the last 2000 years, or more?

Contained within that notion of historical dispossession is that of dispossession from just about everywhere else since (a bit like Mahmoud Al-Zahar's recent statements).

So what? What's your point? My point is that the land is the traditional origen, and the only place that attracted Jews in sufficient numbers to make anything like a sovereign entity that could defend and preserve itself, for all kinds of reasons.

'Actually, the Italian government has a greater claim to Palestine, because of the defeat of Rome'

That is an extraordinary statement (assuming you do not mean by 'Palestine' 'Judea', perhaps, though perhaps even if you do). Yours is very odd Zionism.

zkharya said...

'Ah, so what America did in WWII was ethnic cleansing? Thanks for clearing that up.'

Didn't the US expel Germans from occupied territory?

By your criteria, though, Zionist Jews killing 16 000 Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians (a maximum figure) in 48-49 constitutes ethnic cleansing, Romans killing rather more Judeans, then pursuing a subsequent policy whereby no Jewish Jerusalem, or a Judea, rises ever again, does not.

zkharya said...

An extremely common reconstruction sees the second revolt breaking out precisely at the prospect of Jerusalem being founded as a gentile pagan colony. In what way could you interpret the ensuing suppression except as ethnic cleansing, never mind one that kills 100s of 1000s? It is executed to ensure nothing like a Jewish city-state arises again. And Christian Roman continues the policy.

zkharya said...

'Ethnic cleansing has to be part of a deliberate policy.'

As in the policy to ensure the Jews of Judea never constitute an imperial problem again?

zachary esterson said...

'Now you move the goal posts and say that you are not writing about an "exile" but about a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing in later centures, for which you bring no evidence. Conversion, even forced conversion, is hardly "ethnic cleansing."'

Because of the recent YIISA closure, and correspondence with a British professor of Jewish history who was there, I have been moved to revisit your blog, Jeremiah, and thus review this old thread. I just noticed this accusation which you then leveled at me.

I have never 'moved the goalposts'. My position has always been that, since Jews have been regard, for most of (Palestinian) Christian and Islamic history, by themselves and others, as a people exiled and dispossessed, whatever the precise history of the matter (and, as I said, telescoped, over time, over centuries 'dispossessed of the land' is not so inaccurate), that is in no small part who they were.

The tradition may not be history by strictest standards. But it has been believed to be historical, for so much of the intervening history, including, if not especially, by Palestinian Christians and Muslims, as itself to constitute a kind of history.

With all due respect, as an orthodox Jew, the notion of tradition as history should not be so hard to understand or appreciate.

Jerry Haber said...

Zach,
the tradition isn't history by any standards. But I grant to you that for most of the last two thousand years, Jews, Christians, and Muslims believed that Jews were driven into exile by God as punishment for their sins, the Romans being God's interest. For most of the last two thousand years, the Bible was considered to be history by Jews and Christians, and the various peoples of the earth to be the descendants of peoples mentioned in the Bible.

Josh Weiner said...

Excellent piece. Much thanks to Adam Black for recommending your blog.

Marrian Stinson said...

Wow! Let's look at this argument carefully. All of the Israelites during every war they lost from the Assyrians who took over the Kingdom of Israel did not take all. Babylonians destroyed Judah both time did not take all the people. Then the Romans who finalize the destruction of Jerusalem and the second Temple did not take all the people. So who did the nations take is very simple the nobles, princes, rabbis and other important people. But the farmers, poor people were left without leaders. With all of this fuss you both have made it would have been simplified just to say who was taken. What I would like to erase is the myth on who the ancient Hebrew associated with which were black people. The Zionists today are not the original Jews that are why they call themselves Ashkenazi. They are mainly from a German people who thousands of years follow YAHWEH like the original Hebrews. When they migrated to Europe they had the faith like the disperse Jews. DNA has shown they are not the original Hebrews from Palestine. They are racist and have down play Jews and Israel descendants who were place all over the world by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persian, Greeks and Roman. Act 2:8-11 During the Holocaust most of the ancient Jews die off and now the blood of the European or German people are the heavy trace within the DNA. This brings true what Noah prophesied thousands of years ago. Gen 9:27 Discuss this and stop all this foolishness about did the Roman exile all the Jewish people. No they did not!

Marrian Stinson said...
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Marrian Stinson said...
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Unknown said...

Wow, Jerry. This is the one post that keeps resonating. You hit a chord. Maybe a few of them at once.

Geoff Short said...

I'm not altogether sure what this debate has to do with the Jewish right of return. The all-important fact (from a Zionist point of view) is that there was, prior to the Roman invasion, a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine whose moral legitimacy was not questioned. That state was destroyed as a result of invasion and it is that fact alone that provides the moral basis for a Jewish right of return.

igor mandenberg said...

Jerry hits nothing! Pure propaganda victim! Take Josef Flavius he wrote about Titus going out of Judea, I do not accept and like word Palestine, that was in ruins and stopped in Damascus where local population complainst on the Jews asking him to take them away. The emperor responds that he could not do that because their country in ruins and they could not live there. Whatever happened Jews had to go after Bar Kohba defeat. Arabs - Christians are most likely the descendants of those Jews who were defeated and they stayed there somehow converting to the widespread chtistianity. Second, people's memory is still alive. My, now, late grandfather was captured during the Russian civil war by white officers, he was red, of course, and the offciers saw him and his friend being Jews called them Palestinians and let them go. They were harder with ethnic Russians. Anyway, Israel's locaiton is legitimate. Amricans are always fail in international issues because of lack of understanding and experience and being not critical to propaganda.