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History’s Powderkeg: The Story of the Khazarian Empire

ARTHUR Koestler is a name that has been uttered in anti-Zionist circles for almost four decades, but how many people have actually taken the time to read The Thirteenth Tribe? The book itself, originally published in 1976, is a controversial account of the Khazars and their fascinating, scarcely-known history.

We, the opponents of Zionism, are all-too-familiar with the horrors of the Israeli regime and its globalist allies, but most of the emphasis has been placed upon the effects of Zionism, rather than on what actually lies at its core. We have at our disposal a powerful source of evidence with which to undermine the very nature and validity of World Jewry, but Koestler’s work has been woefully neglected.

Accounting for the precise reason why Koestler’s ground-breaking work has not been more widely utilised by anti-Zionists is somewhat difficult, particularly as it deals with the fact that modern Ashkenazi Jews, most of whom originate on the eastern frontier between Europe and Asia, are chiefly descended from the Khazars themselves and, therefore, have no valid claim to Palestinian soil. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle‘s colour magazine on June 9th, 1978, Koestler – himself an Ashkenazi Jew who came to regret his former allegiance with Zionism – had this to say about his new historical revelations:

Should this turn out to be the case, then the term anti-semitism would become void of meaning […] The story of the Khazar empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most cruel hoax which history has ever perpetrated. (p.15)

An article by Nicholas Soteri, meanwhile, which appeared in the April 1995 edition of History Today magazine (pp.10-12), is possibly one of the only serious examinations of this mysterious kingdom in recent times. However, Soteri himself tries to imply that if the Jews of eastern Europe really are of southern Russian descent, then they are of the same racial stock as their wider European neighbours. Taken at face value, this claim appears to bring into question the entire issue of long-term European resistance to Jews as a separate, troublesome entity. However, this is a false assumption and the Khazars, as it will soon be revealed, were of mixed racial origin. No wonder, therefore, that Soteri is adjudged to be a ‘specialist’ in relation to what he perceives as the “Eurocentrism” of international relations.

When Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the West, the eastern confines of Europe between the Caucasus and the Volga were ruled by a Jewish state known as the Khazar Empire. At the peak of its power, between the seventh and tenth centuries, it played a very significant part in shaping the destinies of medieval and, consequently, modern Europe and the world. The Byzantine emperor, Constantine Porphyrogenitus (913-950), was well aware of this when he recorded in his treatise on court protocol that letters addressed to the Pope in Rome – and, similarly, those sent to the Emperor of the West – had a gold seal worth two solidi attached to them. Messages to the King of the Khazars, on the other hand, contained a seal worth three solidi. This was not mere flattery, but recognition of the strategic importance of the Khazars themselves.

The Khazars were a people of semi-Turkic stock and occupied a key position at the vital gateway between the Black and Caspian seas. This was the region where many of the great eastern powers of the day confronted one another and it acted as a geographical buffer protecting Byzantium against barbarian tribes from the northern steppes, particularly the Bulgars Pechenegs, Magyars and, somewhat later on, the Vikings (Rus). This strategic point played an important role in the development of European history and, by blocking the steady Arab advance in its worst stages, the Khazar armies inadvertently prevented the Muslim conquest of their eastern flank.

In 732, the Khazars enjoyed a tremendous victory over their Arab counterparts and the future Constantine V married a Khazarian princess. Their son became Emperor Leo IV, known at the time as Leo the Khazar. Several years later, around 740, the King of the Khazars, his court and the military ruling class rejected their “primitive” shamanism and decided to embrace the Jewish faith, with Judaism subsequently being declared as the new state religion.

At this time the world was divided between the conflicting powers of Christianity and Islam, and the new religion of the Khazars represented a third theocratic force. However, the so-called “conversion” of the Khazars was decidedly more political than spiritual, as the Empire could only retain its autonomy if it rejected the advances of its twin enemies. In other words, to embrace Christianity would have meant subservience to Rome, whilst the adoption of Islam would have seen the Khazars dominated by the ruling Caliph of Baghdad.

The Khazars were determined to remain the most powerful militaristic force in the region and, by choosing an alternative to the two religious superpowers of the day, were able to maintain healthy links with both camps. Indeed, there was some degree of inter-marriage between the Khazars and their neighbours, which, in the case of the Arabs, accounted for their vaguely “Semitic” appearance.

The Khazars had been acquainted with Jewish refugees for many years, as they had been flooding in from Byzantium after incurring the wrath of their hosts. Jews also arrived from various countries in Asia Minor which had been conquered by the Arabs, so Khazaria became a natural safe haven for these bothersome historical misfits. Before long, the Jews saw Khazaria as a national homeland and began to settle there permanently.

The Jewish exiles brought with them the full extent of their cultural baggage and newly-acquired wealth, and the Khazars were so impressed by their learned friends that they were easily persuaded to adopt their zealous creed. Even the alphabet used by the Khazars had its roots in the Hebrew language, a point illustrated by the Fihirist of Ibn Nadim, written around 987.

The principal sources which concern the conversion of the Empire form part of the so-called ‘Khazar Correspondence’, an exchange of letters (in Hebrew) written around 958 between Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, the Jewish chief minister of the Caliph of Cordoba in Moorish Spain, and Joseph, King of the Khazars. According to Hasdai, he first heard about the existence of an independent Jewish kingdom from Persian merchant traders, although he himself did not believe the rumours. Eventually, Hasdai questioned the members of a Byzantine diplomatic mission to Cordoba and was forced to change his mind. Hasdai became so intrigued by the notion of an autonomous state that he sent a courier to King Joseph of Khazaria.

Hasdai’s letter contained a series of questions about the Khazar state, its militaristic strengths and weaknesses, its people and their customs. In addition, Hasdai was keen to find out to which of the legendary twelve tribes Joseph himself belonged. However, Hadai was wrong to suppose that the Khazars were descended from the lost tribes of Palestine like those Jews in Moorish Spain, and Joseph wrote back to explain that the genealogy of his people was of an entirely different nature.

King Joseph’s narrative is the key to the Jewish enigma of the modern age and begins with an account of his ancestor, King Bulan. According to Joseph, Bulan was a wise conqueror “who drove out the sorcerers and idolaters from his land.” An angel had appeared to King Bulan in a dream, urging him to worship the “true god” and promising to

bless and multiply Butan’s offspring, and deliver his enemies into his hands, and make his kingdom last to the end of the world.

This story is taken from the biblical account of the Covenant in the Book of Genesis and suggests that the Khazars also claimed to be a chosen people which had made its Covenant with God, despite the fact that they were not of Abraham’s seed. The angel also instructed Bulan to lead an army into Dariela and Ardabil in Armenia, where many treasures were awaiting him. This tale is certainly consistent with Arab sources which reveal that the Khazars controlled gold and silver mines in the Caucasus.

Bulan undertook his task and returned with the spoils, using them to erect

a Holy Tabernacle equipped with a sacred coffer [Ark of the Covenant], a candelabrum, an altar and holy implements which have been preserved to this day and are still in my possession.

Up to this point, King Joseph’s letter deals with the period before the great conversion of his people to Judaism. However, Joseph soon begins to describe how things began to develop towards a neutral religious option:

After these feats of arms [the invasion of Armenia] King Bulan’s fame spread to all countries. The King of the Edom [Byzantium] and the King of the Ishmaelim [Muslims] heard the news and sent to him envoys with precious gifts and money and learned men to convert him to their beliefs; but the King was wise and sent for a Jew with much knowledge and acumen and put all three together to discuss their doctrines.

After a series of long ad futile discussions, the King of the Khazars decided to question each of his spiritual visitors individually. He asked the Christian which of the other two religions was nearer the truth. The Christian answered “the Jews.” The King then asked the Muslim representative the same question and got the same reply. For Bulan, this was the determining factor in his conversion to Judaism.

Joseph’s letter also includes a genealogy of his people. Although the King was proud of his allegiance to Judaism, he was honest about the fact that neither he nor his people had Semitic origins. He traced his ancestry not to Shem, but to Noah’s third son, Japheth; or, more precisely, to Japheth’s grandson, Togarma, the ancestor of all Turkish tribes.

According to Joseph,

we have found in the family registers of our fathers that Togarma had ten sons, and the names of their offspring are as follows: Uigar, Dursu, Avars, Huns, Basilii, Tarniakh, Khazar, Zagora, Bulgars and Sabir. We are the sons of Khazar, the seventh […]

The identity of these tribes is rather dubious, to say the least, but the characteristic feature in this genealogical account is the mixture of Genesis with Turkish tribal tradition.

Joseph then explains how Bulan’s conversion went from strength to strength:

From this day onwards, the Lord gave him strength and aided him; he had himself and his followers circumcised and sent for Jewish sages who taught him the Law and explained the Commandments […] After these events, one of his grandsons became King; his name was Obadiah, he was a brave and venerated man who reformed the Rule, fortified the Law according to tradition and usage, built synagogues and schools, assembled a multitude of Israel’s sages, gave them lavish gifts of gold and silver, and made them interpret the twenty-four books of [the Bible], the Mishna and the Talmud, and the order in which liturgies are to be said.

The latter goes on to speak of military encounters with “the Rus”, or Vikings, and describes the Empire’s important strategic position at the mouth of the Volga river. These ongoing conflicts with the Vikings, however, were soon to spell the end of the Khazarian people and their kingdom. Relations between the Khazars and their Byzantine and Muslim neighbours was fairly healthy, but the new threat from the north began to escalate during the middle of the ninth century.

The Khazars requested help from the East Roman Emperor, Theophilus, who sent a fleet of architects and craftsmen across the Black Sea to assist with the construction of a fortress on the Don. This episode is recounted by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, although there is also some additional archaeological evidence relating to the fortress itself, which was excavated by the Soviets in the twentieth century.

The Norsemen came from parts of Norway, Denmark and eastern Sweden and were the most fierce warriors of their day. Not content with raiding western Europe, the Vikings soon looked east, crossing the Baltic and the Gulf of Finland and then sailing up the river Volkhov into Lake Ilmen, just south of St. Petersburg. Once they had travelled into the heart of the east, they constructed as settlement which became known in the Icelandic Sagas as as Holmgard. This settlement grew into the city of Novgorod, a launching pad from which these pillaging warriors could organise sporadic raids into Byzantium across the Volga, Caspian, Dnieper and Black Sea.

Meanwhile, the Khazars were able to control their castle stronghold at Sarkel (the “Khazarian Way”) and levy a 10% tax on all cargoes passing through on their way to Byzantium and the Muslim lands. However, it was not long before the Khazars themselves became embroiled in a battle for their own survival. The Khazars sent their Magyar vassals to halt the Viking advance to the west of the Don, but they were forced to retreat into Hungary. The Viking prince of Kiev also ordered all Slavonic tribes to “pay nothing to the Khazars.”

This loss of Khazarian strength was accentuated by the advance of the Vikings from the east. In addition, the Norsemen had overcome the Muslim lands of Azerbaijan, Jilan, Shirwan, Tabaristan and Jurjan, and were beginning to advance from the south. In 913, there was an armed confrontation which ended in an important victory for Prince Svyatoslav and his Viking invaders.

According to a Russian chronicler:

Svyatoslav went to the Oka and the Volga, and on coming into contact with the Vyatichians he inquired of them to whom they paid tribute. They made answer that they paid a silver piece per plough-share to the Khazars. When they [the Khazars] heard of his approach, they went out to meet him with their Prince, the Kagan, and the armies came to blows. When the battle thus took place, Svyatoslav defeated the Khazars and took their city of Biela Viezha.

Biela Viezha – or the White Castle – was the Slavonic name for Sarkel, the famous Khazarian fortress. Whilst the destruction of Sarkel in 965 led to the end of the Khazarian Empire, it did not bring an end to the Khazar state. Their lands between the Caucasus, Don and Volga remained intact. Indeed, this fact is validated by the account of Ibrahim Ibn Jakub, the Spanish ambassador to Otto the Great, who, in 973, made note of the fact that the Khazars were still flourishing in his day. They are also mentioned in the Russian Chronicle of 986.

Cedrenus, a Byzantine scribe, tells us that in the eleventh century the Khazars fought a battle against the combined armies of Byzantium and the Norsemen (who, by this time, had been converted to Christianity). Once again, the Khazars managed to survive. In 1030, a Khazar army defeated a Kurdish invasion and killed 10,000 men. The final mention of the Khazars in the Russian Chronicle appears in 1106, alluding to a Polovtsi raid into Zaretsk which was vigorously resisted by Ivan the Khazar.

In 1245, Pope Innocent IV sent a mission to Batu Khan, ruler of the western part of the Mongol Empire. It was led by Joannes de Plano Carpini, a Franciscan friar, and was an unsuccessful attempt to pacify and convert the Mongol hordes to Christianity. When Carpini returned to Europe, his Historica Mongolorum made note of “Khazars observing the Jewish religion” and living in the Caucasus. This remains the last historical entry concerning this mysterious and enigmatic people.

Mongol expansionism eventually overran the Khazarian Empire and absorbed most of its population. However, some Khazar tribes had joined the Magyars and migrated to Hungary. The Hungarian duke, Taksony, had also invited many Khazars to settle in his land during the tenth century. Although one or two Khazarian enclaves survive to this day in parts of the Crimea, the Casucasus, Poland and Lithuania, faced with the historical evidence which Arthur Koestler uncovered during years of painstaking work, it is an incontrovertible fact that almost all European “Jews” – and, therefore, around 90% of World Jewry – are descended from the Khazars and are definitely not of Semitic origin. As remarkable as it may seem, this renders the term “anti-Semitism” completely obsolete and we must publicise this fact in as many ways as we possibly can.

Consider this: If most of today’s “Jews” are not Jews at all, then perhaps it is time we started referring to them as “Khazars”? In addition, the Zionist occupation of Palestine could be solved once and for all by calling for these so-called “Jews” to return to the lands in and around the present-day republics of Chechyna, Ingush, Adygeya, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Dagestan and Kalmykia.

This must not be a coercive process, however, but a peaceful attempt to restore balance and order in the Middle East. Another option, of course, is the total rejection of the so-called “two-state solution” and the promotion of tribal and cultural separatism within Palestine itself. The “Jews” – or at least those who are not Sephardic – do not belong in Palestine at all, but in light of what has occurred over the last few decades this is clearly a more realistic and workable proposition. The same can be said for separatism in Europe and North America.


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