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European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 961 times Debate No: 75924
Debate Rounds (4)
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Debate currently impossible to accept, anyone who is interested in arguing "Con" may so in the comments.

As Pro I will be arguing that European [Ashkenazi] Jews are not Semites but are almost entirely descended from the Khazars, a Turkic people that inhabited the land of Khazaria.


-First round acceptance *and* opening argument.

-Second round extension of argument[s].

-Third round rebuttals.

-Fourth round rebuttals and closing statements; *no* new arguments.

-10,000 character limit.

-Open voting with minimum 2000 ELO.

-Shared BoP.


1. Descended

a. To be related by genetic descent from an individual or individuals in a previous generation.


Hola, como esta? I am quite enjoyed by this theme and will debate the Con side as to "European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars", arguing against the statement. I will conduct this in an orderly and evidence based fashion, I will add assumptions as to general numbers though, but I will place these into the benefit of the Pro side. For Important statements that I rely on factual evidence I will provide quotations and references. Kind regards, WAM.

General Statement: "European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars", such Jews being defined as Ashkenazi, as well as the definition of Descend are clear to me. Furthermore I acknowledge that there evidently are Khazar based Jews but I will argue the "Almost Entirely" in the statement strongly.

Opening Statement:

1.) The Kingdom of Khazaria (Khazars) was a Khaganate of the mid to late first millennium CE (650-1048CE) which ultimately found its demise by the Kievan Rus'. Under the many Religions that were prominent Christianity, Islam, Buddhism but also Judaism were found. It is reported, that it was not uncommon for Khazars to be converted to Judaism, but archaeological proof of Conversion to Judaism is not apparent. However, as Judaism is a Religion older than the Kingdom of Khazar, Jewish communities existed in Europe before the founding of Khazar and still do today. The Term "Ashkenazi" though, from the Biblical "Ashkenaz" was used to describe a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates (Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 2006 pp.148, 149 n.57.). This area might be close to the area called the Kingdom of Khazaria, but historically the Cimmerians disappearing from history a mere 1200 years before the birth of Khazaria means there is no historical connection between the term Ashkenazi and Khazaria, up until the early 20th century when Theologian Samuel Krauss identified the Biblical location of Ashkenaz as Khazaria.
This concludes Part 1 of my opening statement in arguing that the Term Ashkenazi has no sole connection with the kingdom of Khazaria, other than Location and not people.

2.) The number of Jewish followers that are defined as "Ashkenazi Jews" currently make up about 74% of the followers of Judaism. This number is estimated to be of around 10-11 million followers. But as 'recent' as 11th century CE only 3% of Jewish followers were defined as Ashkenazi, the rest as Sephardic, following to the 17th century with 2 out of 5 followers being defined as Ashkenazi, the other three as Sephardic, in the late 18th century Ashkenazi being 3 out of 5 and finally in the 1930 Ashkenazi making up 92% of the Jewish populous. Just a quick Mathematical calculation:
Late 1700, 1 Million Jews, 600 Thousand are Ashkenazi.
1930's, 13 Million Jews, Nearly 12 Million being Ashkenazi
This is an increase of 20 times the amount of followers over about 250 years.
Just as a comparison, Christianity had an increase of merely 6.5, and Europe an population increase of an even smaller 4 times in the same time span.
Not even looking at the impressive 20 times, or 13 times, if all Jewish followers are counted, which in my opinion might be possible for a small religious group such as Judaism, there is an issue from a minority of 3% becoming a majority of 92% while the previous majority diminishes, as well as the question as to if all these people came from Khazaria, a 'country' with a mere population of an assumed 1.4 million, with no Jewish majority. This being said that Ashkenazi are Jews living in the greater European Region. And here comes the problem: "Sometime in the early medieval period, the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term ( Paul Kriwaczek, Yiddish Civilisation, Hachette 2011 p. 173 n. 9.)" ,regardless of origin, especially as there was a large number of followers in the European region, this definition would have increased the number of Ashkenazi drastically, even though they did not differ from other Semites, other than they were called by the general area in which they lived. There was a Jewish population present in Europe before the rise of the Khazar Kingdom and this population outnumbered the Jewish population of Khazar. In fact, German church historian Adolf von Harnack estimates a number of around 4 million Jewish followers during the 1st century CE and while this number may be excessive this is still more than twice as big of a basis as Khazar's population, with an estimated 1.5 million Jews in places other than the majority communities such as Egypt, Syria and Judea.
This concludes Part 2 of my Opening Statement, arguing that the mere number of Jewish followers in Khazar had no or a mere impact on the current Jewish population of Europe.

3.) As to the third and final point, "Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region.", (as stated by Behar, Doron M.; Metspalu, Mait; Baran, Yael; Kopelman, Naama M.; Yunusbayev, Bayazit; Gladstein, Ariella; Tzur, Shay; Sahakyan, Havhannes; Bahmanimehr, Ardeshir; Yepiskoposyan, Levon; Tambets, Kristiina; Khusnutdinova, Elza K.; Kusniarevich, Aljona; Balanovsky, Oleg; Balanovsky, Elena; Kovacevic, Lejla; Marjanovic, Damir; Mihailov, Evelin; Kouvatsi, Anastasia; Traintaphyllidis, Costas; King, Roy J.; Semino, Ornella; Torroni, Antonio; Hammer, Michael F.; Metspalu, Ene; Skorecki, Karl; Rosset, Saharon; Halperin, Eran; Villems, Richard; and Rosenberg, Noah A., "No Evidence from Genome-Wide Data of a Khazar Origin for the Ashkenazi Jews" (2013). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. Paper 41) concluding the study of the here debated topic, notably saying that DNA from Ashkenazi was compared to DNA from the Khazar Khaganate by 30 geneticists, from 13 universities and academy's and 9 different countries, and there was no proof of the statement that European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars, or in fact significantly at all.
Conclusion for part 3, recent Genetics testing provides the evidence that there is no substantial link between the Khazar and the Ashkenazi Jews.

Closing Statement of the Opening Argument:
As seen in part 1, I provided Historical evidence as to a lacking historical link between the word "Ashkenazi Jew" and the Khazar people as in the usage of the explanation and origin of the Term Ashkenazi, as well as the non correspondence of age specific Links between the Ashkenazi Judaism and the Khazar Kingdom.
In part 2. I provided the mathematical evidence, summarized as population of the followers of Judaism at the time of the Kingdom of Khazar, not to forget the mathematical explanation as for the number of Ashkenazi and the rise of it, statistically decreasing the connection between the Khazar and the Ashkenazi people highly.
Finally, in part 3, I provided quotes as to scientific evidence of the missing scientific evidence towards a substantial link, as expressed in "Almost Entirely", between Ashkenazi Jews and the Khazar Region, made by 30 geneticists and, as stated above, showing no connection.

I conclusion I would state that the statement "European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars" is incorrect, as there is no substantial link to justify a "Almost Entirely", nor a simple but strict "Descended", but a "somewhat" would be acceptable.

Muchas gracias!

Thank you for reading, kind regards, looking forward to your argument, WAM

Just for anyone interested, here is a link to the scientific study that I quoted, as well as links to the publishers other work in the Genetics field, some of which is quite interesting.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to WAM for accepting this debate and for placing much effort into his first argument[s].

Opening Argument:

The land of Khazaria was located in the region of Eastern Europe from 650-1048CE, in specifically what is now known as Southern Russia. The kingdom itself was considerably vast and was in fact the largest country at the time. The inhabitants of Khazaria were known to be a mixture of people from various Turkic and Persian tribes, who started out as Pagans. The Khazar Kingdom was one of the most advanced and successful of its time, and many of the Khazars become well-known for being merchants and traders.

The primary basis for my argument is that during the 8th century C.E, the Jewish population of Khazaria had increased by massive amounts. Now significant Jewish communities were known Eastern Europe or Central Asia prior the large community of Jews that appeared directly after the Khazars had converted to Judaism, and rather more precisely, a form of Judaism that was based on the Babylonian Talmud.

The theory of Eastern European and Ashkenazi Jews being largely descended from the Khazars who converted was first popularized in Abraham Eliyahu Harkavi in 1869, since then a number of European Jews have come forward to substantiate the theory; most notably Arthur Koestler and Shlomo Sand who have each published books on the subject matter, which has subsequently led to further inquiry into the possibility of European Ashkenazim being directly related to and descended from the Khazars. Scientists and researchers have additionally published evidence regarding Khazar and Ashkenazi relation, in particular Israeli geneticist Eran Elhaik who has spoken extensively on the topic and has stated on his findings:

"Strong evidence for the Khazarian hypothesis is the clustering of European Jews with the populations that reside on opposite ends of ancient Khazaria: Armenians, Georgians, and Azerbaijani Jews. Because Caucasus populations remained relatively isolated in the Caucasus region and because there are no records of Caucasus populations mass-migrating to Eastern and Central Europe prior to the fall of Khazaria (Balanovsky et al. 2011), these findings imply a shared origin for European Jews and Caucasus populations."

Elhaik also noted that the language of the Ashkenazim, Yiddish, actually has its origins in ancient Slavic languages that would have been a part of the Khazar Kingdom:

“Yiddish, the language of Central and Eastern European Jews, began as a Slavic language."

It was only after the language came into practice that Hebrew began to spoken and combined with it.

Though the theory did not become widespread until the 20th century, other notable people who existed in and around the time of the Khazars observed that there most certainly was a large conversion--of practically all of the Khazars had assigned to the religion of Judaism and the Khazaria Kingdom became an official Jewish State. King Bulan was in fact the first Khazar to convert.

The French historian and writer Ernest Renan [who was considered an expert on the Middle East] stated 1883 that:

"This conversion of the kingdom of the Khazars has a considerable importance regarding the origin of those Jews who dwell in the countries of the Danube and southern Russia. These regions enclose great masses of Jewish populations which have in all probability nothing or almost nothing that is anthropologically Jewish in them."

The Americana Encyclopaedia published in 1985, states on the Khazars:

"Khazar, an ancient Turkic speaking people who ruled a large and powerful state in the steppes North of the Caucasus Mountains from the 7th century to their demise in the mid 11th century A.D... In the 8th Century it's political and religious head... as well as the greater part of the Khazar nobility, abandoned paganism and converted to Judaism... (The Khazars are believed to be the ancestors of most Russian and Eastern European Jews)."

So viable is the notion that Ashkenazi Jews are almost entirely descended from the Khazars is that even Jewish Encyclopaedia have accepted it as a valid explanation for the origins of Eastern European Ashkenazim:

"Khazars, a non-Semitic, Asiatic, Mongolian tribal nation who emigrated into Eastern Europe about the first century, who were converted as an entire nation to Judaism in the seventh century by the expanding Russian nation which absorbed the entire Khazar population, and who account for the presence in Eastern Europe of the great numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Galatia, Besserabia and Rumania."

With the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia [published in 1972] also mentioning:

"The primary meaning of Ashkenaz and Ashkenazim in Hebrew is Germany and Germans. This may be due to the fact that the home of the ancient ancestors of the Germans is Media, which is the Biblical Ashkenaz... Krauss is of the opinion that in the early medieval ages the Khazars were sometimes referred to as Ashkenazim... About 92 percent of all Jews or approximately 14,500,000 are Ashkenazim."

Even more explicitly, the New Grolier Encyclopedia writes:

"Khazars {kah'z-ars} The Khazars, a Turkic people, created a commercial and political empire that dominated substantial parts of South Russia during much of the 7th through 10th centuries. During the 8th century the Khazar aristocracy and the kagan (king) were converted to Judaism. The Khazars established their capital at Itil (or Atil), in the Volga delta, and for four centuries thereafter this Jewish empire held the balance of power between the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Muslim Caliphate. The fortified Khazar city of Sarkil on the lower Don River was built with Byzantine help and served as a crossroads to central Asia. The Khazars controlled many of the trade routes to the Orient; some of the Radhanites (Jewish merchants from Gaul), for example, were accustomed to crossing the Khazar empire while traveling to and from China and India. During the late 10th and early 11th centuries an alliance of Byzantines and Russians broke the power of the Khazars in the Crimea. In 965, Svyatoslav I, duke of Kiev, decisively defeated the Khazar army. Further to the east new waves of Turkic invaders overran the remains of the Khazar state."

So once again, there is substantial indication that Ashkenazim and even more specifically, Eastern European Ashkenazim, do in fact trace their origins to their Khazars. On the contrary to there being an en masse migration to Eastern Europe from Hebrew or Israelite Jews, the only plausible answer for the high presence of Jews within Eastern Europe is that it was genuinely their homeland and the place derive from. After the Khazars had been defeated and had lost their kingdom, they expanded further throughout Eastern Europe and built prominent Jewish communities in countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania, and of course, many later migrated throughout Russia. Alluding further to the language of Yiddish, significant similarities have been found with it and the ancient Turkic dialects the Khazars would have spoke.

Considerably older historical indication can be found in the works of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who documented that by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70, as many as 6 million Jews were living in the Roman Empire, but mainly in Italy and Southern Europe. This would account for the majority Jewish population at the time, and to assume that these existing Jews suddenly migrated to Eastern Europe in significantly high numbers and essentially double their number--and create their own new language and dialect, as well as differing cultural and religious practices, would defy basic logic.






Thank you for your time as well as the effort you put into your opening statement. I know that Round 2 was designated for new Arguments, though my opening Statement was very well organised and the addition of new arguments as such would not benefit the debate. As such and with Emilrose's mutual agreement I will move on to make some rebuttals, as well as adding new evidence used to defend my Claims.

Rebuttal of Emilrose's opening Argument:

Your definition of the Khazar kingdom is correct, though just to add the Khazar kingdom was not particularly known for trade or being rather advanced, but rather for its tax collection due to its geographical location, making it an important strategic point in the trade routes that was beneficial for any nation to control, due to vast income through tax collection. Pending on your definition of country, the Khazar Kingdom in fact was not the largest country of its time, though large as compromising 2.01% of the World area in 850 and as such being number 70 of the largest empires, the largest empire at the time was the Abbasid Caliphate with an area of 7.45% of the earths area, ranking at number 9. In fact the Abbasid Caliphate was right next to the Khazar Khaganate and being Islamic, explanation following below, was partly at fault for the increase of followers of Judaism in Khazar Khaganate.

As I had already stated in my opening Argument, Jewish population was already present as the historical first Ashkenazi Jew 1200 years prior to the Khazar kingdom in the same location. I will not argue against conversion to Judaism by the Royalty of Khazaria, but do question the sudden increase of Jewish population. It is clear that Jewish followers migrated in great numbers, the reason being that they would flee when being persecuted, a simple human actions to avoid being killed. If we take this into account and look at the time span in which this increase in Jewish population happened (just to clarify, I have not seen any evidence of extreme Increase in Jewish population as there are no Records properly stating this to my knowledge, but logically do think that it happened) it becomes very clear. The 800's were a time in which Islam had gained massive power and in fact had conquered a major part, from Spain, the northern part of Africa, the whole Arabian peninsula, to parts of modern India, the entire middle east, in fact right to the Khazar Kingdoms doorstep.
( expansion from 622CE-750CE) This shows us something very important. Jewish population would have indeed increased heavily during 800CE in Khazaria, not due to conversion though, for which there is no archaeological evidence present, but due to Jews fleeing from Muslim persecution to the nearest Countries where they could practice their faith in peace. These places were the Kingdom of Khazaria, accepting Jews, unconfirmed records even state the King at the time having a Jewish wife, as well as Constantinople, as the Byzantine empire was known as a stronghold of Jewish Religion due to no persecution occurring, unlike in the Modern Middle East by Muslims as well as by Christians in Europe. The Jewish Population in Khazaria as such would have been originating from the Levant area and would have moved through the Khazar area to the rest of the world, but not originated there. This also easily explains and dismisses the claim made by Eran Elhaik as to why Jewish population clustered around the Khazar empire up to its fall in 1048CE as then it was no longer a save haven for its Jewish population that subsequently moved again.

Further more I would like to question the scientific as well as historic authority of Eran Elhaik, as I can myself dismiss the claim that Yiddish is a Slavic language. Yiddish, to speak generally, is a mix of German with the Hebrew language. The Germanic Language has no or little connection with the Slavic Language. In fact, my Grand-grandmother lived in a part of 'Slavic Germany' (Sudeten Germany), modern day Czechoslovakia until she was expelled during the Second World War. The reason why I mentioned her in this is because she spoke a type of German extremely similar to Yiddish. In fact, I have been in Slavic countries and can most surely say that I do not understand a single word of their language, yet, speaking fluent German can easily understand grand parts of the Yiddish language. Also having Turkish friends, I can say that I do not understand Turkish and that it has no connection with Yiddish, whether linguistic nor historically. If anyone has any evidence suggesting this is incorrect I would more than welcome it.

Ernest Renan can also be proven incorrect to his statement of "Jewish populations which have in all probability nothing or almost nothing that is anthropologically Jewish in them.", as with the extensive DNA research I had shown in my opening statement, though i will not criticize him as he used the word 'probability', thus not claiming scientific fact.

I have no problem with the The Americana Encyclopaedia publishment, as I myself have said that Khazar nobility converted to Judaism, thus creating a save place for followers to practice their faith and the Jews that had migrated into the Khazar kingdom may well be the ancestors of Eastern Jewish population, originating although from Levant and not from Khazaria, thus not providing evidence as to the descend.

The The Americana Encyclopaedia is also correct to state that "The primary meaning of Ashkenaz and Ashkenazim in Hebrew is Germany and Germans.", this meaning however, as to my opening statement was created "Sometime in the early medieval period, the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term ( Paul Kriwaczek, Yiddish Civilisation, Hachette 2011 p. 173 n. 9.)".

I do however have grand Issue with the statement made by the Jewish Encyclopaedia in stating that "who were converted as an entire nation to Judaism in the seventh century by the expanding Russian nation which absorbed the entire Khazar population". This is historically incorrect. The Russian nation did in fact neither convert the Khazar population, implying that the Russian Nation was actively converting in the name of Judaism, absolute ridicule as the Kievan Rus' in fact was of Slavic Paganism as well as Orthodox Christianity, nor did the Russian nation described here (I will assume the Kievan Rus', the Russian nation that had destroyed the Khazar Kingdom) even exist in the 7th century CE, being established in the late 9th Century, a mere 200 years later than claimed. If a source is this factually incorrect I would dub it hearsay, as there seemingly is no scientific accuracy, as well as claiming the non existent link between Yiddish, Khazar Turkish or Slavic Languages in stating " absorbed the entire Khazar population, and who account for the presence in Eastern Europe of the great numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Galatia, Besserabia and Rumania.". Just to elaborate this a bit further, Yiddish, actually being a connection of Jew and Tiutsch (Deutsch/German), seemingly being a Turkic language and not denying its obvious similarities (from where could they be, no one seems to know ;) ) to German, would imply that whenever I am speaking German I am actually speaking an ancient form of Turkish. Absolute nonsense. How about we explain the Jewish Yiddish speaking people in eastern Europe to the fact of Jews fleeing from persecution in Germany and western Europe, not just during the Holocaust but during the several hundreds of years before that. I think that makes more sense than to just make something up.

The statement by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia is correct, as I have explained in my Opening Statement, though not contributing to the claim of European Jews having Khazar ancestry.

The New Grolier Encyclopedia is also correct, especially stating in the fact that Khazar nobility converted to Judaism, although not creating a majority based Jewish state, but negates to provide any evidence or even mention that the Ashkenazi are descend of the Khazar.

As I have already stated in my Opening statement, there is no evidence as to Ashkenazi Judaism originating from the Kingdom of Khazaria. Jewish communities in Europe already existed and were numerous as to before the Khazar Kingdom even existed, as stated by Emilrose herself. As to Emilrose's argument of the defying of basic logic that the number of Ashkenazi doubled, lets calculate this:
5 Dogs, they bark (Germanic Jews now called Ashkenazi)
5 Cats, they meow (Slavic Jews/Eastern European Ashkenazi)
Now I define (medieval definition of the term Ashkenazi, changing the original meaning) that all Cats are now Dogs, thus getting a number of 10 Dogs, a 100% increase. The Cats still meow (Eastern European Ashkenazi have their own customs) but they are now considered to be Dogs. This seems to be logical to me.

As i have stated throughout this Debate, there is no apparent connection in descend between the Ashkenazi Jews and the people of Khazar. Further more Emilrose was not able to bring forward statements that were scientifically sound or approving of the apparent link between European Judaism and the Kingdom of Khazaria.

Kind regards, I'm looking forward to your reply!
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you once again WAM, specifically for the further effort you've placed in your rebuttals and for the research you have done on the topic.


Firstly, it should be stated that the Khazar Kingdom for its time was rather advanced; especially in comparison to its neighboring counterparts. The prominence of tax collection, and more specifically trade, was naturally a part of that advancement. The geographical location and the fact it was such a good strategic point for trade routes was indeed very beneficial to the kingdom. Khazaria was in fact known for its religious tolerance as well--which in itself can easily be viewed as a form of advancement.

Con states that there was a Jewish presence in the same area prior to Khazaria Kingdom, but yet doesn't provide any source[s] or evidence for this claim. Ashkenazim Jews did not surface until after the dismantlement of the Khazar Khagnate, namely because Ashkenazim Judaism didn't establish itself until then. Regarding Cons suggestion that Sefardic and Middle Eastern Jews could have [and did] migrate to the location of Khazaria is also not supported. There may have been some Jews in Europe but these were mainly in places such as Italy, Spain and Greece. Sefardic Jews did generally not settle in places such as Khazaria primarily for the basic fact it did not correspond with the culture and was an entirely different environment, which is hence why many Sefardic Jews migrated to Italy and further west to places like France after their expulsion from Spain.

Con wholly places emphasis on the Jewish population only being present in Khazaria from forced migration due to Muslim persecution in other lands where they were settled, however, once again there isn't really any evidence to verify this assertion and the Jews that did come from Khazria were indeed a very different type to Sefardic, North African, and Middle Eastern Jews. Both in terms of language, culture, religious practice and in many cases appearance. If Cons argument was the case, naturally that change in culture--among other things-- would've took place so quickly. Such Jews would also not have changed their previous dialects [Sefardic Jews spoke a form of Spanish and Hebrew, Ladino] so quickly. To assume that the Jews present in Easter Europe were largely Jews of all Hebrew descent [I.E Sefardic, Middle Eastern] would again be to assume that they all changed in a very short period of time.

As referenced in my opening argument, prominent Jewish people at the time even noted that there was a large-scale conversion to Judaism from the Khazars. The Spanish-Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Yehuda Halevi alluded to this in his work "the Kuzari".

Regarding Yiddish, there has been much recent recognition of the fact that Yiddish does in fact have Slavic origin, particularly as Eastern Europe is the place where many Jews who later migrated to Germany came from. This particular language happens to be spoken by a large number of Eastern European Jews [and has been since it's existence], this wouldn't exactly be the case if it was predominantly German and has its origins purely in Germany. As Eastern European Jews that had absolutely no connection to the country still spoke it and used it as a main language.

As for Ernest Renan, while he was not exactly claiming "scientific fact", he wasn't certainly accurately referring to historic fact; and that was that there was a large conversion of the kingdom of the Khazars to Judaism, not just in relation to the Khazar nobility but also the general population. To the wide extent that many historians consider Khazaria to actually be an "ancient Jewish" kingdom, not particularly because of any *small* minority of Hebrews that would've migrated there but because of the conversion to Judaism that took place. Con also attempts to discredit Eran Elhaik, but note that this a geneticist who has heavily researched the area of Jewish genetics.



I would like to thank you too for the research you have conducted and will most happily conduct the final rebuttal of your statements.

Final Rebuttal:

In fact, if we consider Emilrose's opinion that religious tolerance is connected to advance, Khazaria could surely be called an advanced Kingdom. This however does not make any impact as to the question of descend that we are debating here and as such I will not go into Emilrose's first point.

As for her second point as to me not providing sources as to the Jewish population in the general Khazar Region I would like to refer to my opening statement in which I provided the following:
"The Term "Ashkenazi" though, from the Biblical "Ashkenaz" was used to describe a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates (Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 2006 pp.148, 149 n.57.)."
Note that this regional reference is correspondent with the area of Khazaria. To further elaborate, the historical name 'Ashkenaz' was likely a derivation of the Assyrian name A"k$3;za, notably the Assyrians being Semitic descendants of the Akkadian, an ancient Semitic kingdom in the Mesopotamian are at about 2000 BCE. At the height of the Assyrian empire, it had the area from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Persia and from what is now Armenia to the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. Most notably here being Armenia, the area already described in my opening statement. As to Russell E. Gmirkin, (Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 2006 pp.148, 149 n.57.) , in the book 'History of Armenia', written in the 10th Century CE by Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi, a historian of the time, the term 'Ashkenaz' was associated with Armenia as well as being in Jewish use and associated with Armenia until the definition of the term changed, as I have also described. To note as well in my Opening Statement, "Theologian Samuel Krauss identified the Biblical location of Ashkenaz as Khazaria.". This however binds only the location of Ashkenaz to Armenia and Khazaria, however if you remember that the Assyrian empire, existing from about 2500 BCE to the 7th century CE, an astonishing 3000 years, being Semitic, undoubtedly binds Jewish people to the region of Ashkenaz to the Khazar region well before the latter was founded. The term of the 'Ashkenazi Jew', and I agree with this, did not establish until the fall of the Khazar Kingdom, but as to be taken logically with what I have stated above, Jews from the Ashkenaz (region) did exist. Furthermore the term Ashkenazi Jew does not have any connection with the descend of the Ashkenazi, otherwise they'd be originating from Germany.

I would not support that Sephardi Jews traveled to the Khazar Kingdom, as they experienced relative religious freedom in Spain up until the 15th century CE, a time way after the fall of the Khazar Kingdom and as such making Sephardic Jews irrelevant to the Kingdom of Khazar. I do however dispute Emilrose's claim as to Middle Eastern Jews majorly migrating to Europe and no migration to Khazaria being supported I would like to state this:
Bat Ye'or (1985), p. 45, stating that "Jews under Islamic rule were given the status of dhimmi, along with certain other pre-Islamic religious groups.", meaning that they had rights, as 'people of the book'. I will not dispute that under Christian persecution many Jews found refuge in Islamic countries, most notably the Ottoman empire, as I have stated in my first Rebuttal above, but that in the year 641CE prophet Muhammad's successor, Caliph 'Umar, established that all Jews and Christians should be removed from Arabia stating the decree of Prophet Muhammad as for 'No two Religions in Arabia', as well as Jewish tribes being expelled or exterminated after allegedly breaking Muslim treaties. Even though there was partly a tolerance in many Muslim countries, there was still a lot of persecution. Looking at this, as well as what I have stated above it would be only logical for followers of Judaism to migrate to both the lands of Khazaria as well as Constantinople under the prospect of religious freedom. Considering travel in the 7th Century it would have been vastly impossible for people to travel to Europe from the modern middle east, as this was not a travel of hours as today, but an affair of months. It thus would be logical, as well as evident that Jewish population migrated to the kingdom of Khazar, being rather close. As such the majority of migrants to Khazar and Constantinople was not, as Pro has tried to suggest, Sephardic, as I have stated above they had no reason to migrate at that time, but majorly middle eastern.

Just to scratch on Pro's opinion as to the difference of Ashkenazi Jews coming from Khazaria to the middle eastern ones, this is not established as the term 'Ashkenazi Jew' was first used to describe Jews from the German area, not the Khazar area and as such obviously creating differences in language, culture as well as possible appearance. Also to the alleged change over short time, the time frame was about 300 years, about 9 generations in the Khazar Kingdom. Also she seems to argue the difference as to the modern definition of Ashkenazi, for this debate though we need to look at the old one thus rendering her paragraph on this unrelated to the original debate topic.

As to conversion, as I have stated there is no archaeological evidence, nor literal of 'full scale conversion'. An important aspect that should also be noted is that the here quoted 'Kuzari' is a poetic philosophical work on the Jewish thought in the medieval age, based on a fictional dialogue between a Rabbi and a pagan and does not hold any factional evidence, though surely being a famous piece of work due to its ideas, linguistically and philosophically, not factually.

I will acknowledge that in fact, modern Eastern Yiddish is based on Slavic languages. However, the original term Yiddish was used to describe the language of the Ashkenazi Jews, being defined as the Jews of Germany, and being based on an extensive amount of German vocabulary, as such rendering the statement of Yiddish being based on Slavic language as incorrect. As for the repeated assumption as to eastern European Jews who speak Yiddish having no connection to Germany, I will establish the same, this time extended explanation as before. For centuries Germany was the Holy Roman Empire, in fact being larger, especially to the east where modern eastern Europe is established. This meant that there were plenty of German speaking people in those places, as I had stated from my own family history, Czechoslovakia for example, and as such would also contain Yiddish, being the original kind, speaking Jews. Now, if we take into consideration Germany's, as well as Christianities history with Jewish persecution we suddenly get a good image. Note that, although the third Reich, Germany in WW2, controlled parts of modern eastern Europe, they did not control the majority. Now also note that many Jews in Germany fled prior to the Holocaust. A great part of them fled towards the east, simply staying there after the war had ended and forming communities, thus being Yiddish speaking Jews in eastern Europe. (note that this map shows German advance towards the east, this territory was not held though effectively longer than a few months with the Soviets winter counter offensive in 1941 being the point as of which Germany lost grounds and effectively lost the war due to this.)

As for Emilrose's last point, in fact there is no literal nor archaeological evidence as to the general population of Khazars being converted to Judaism.

In fact, the quoting of Ernest Renan in a debate with a Semitic background seems extremely controversial, as Renan was criticized as to claims of Aryan superiority over Semites, as well as believing that Semites were an incomplete race, as well as stating claims as to a 'race of workers, the Chinese race'. In my opinion an anti-Semite can not be trusted on the subject, even though Renan was known for claiming Ashkenazi were not Semites and starting this hypothesis of descend most likely due to Zionism, as this issue emerged during the same time as his claim. I do not consider him an historian, as his book 'History of Israel' was based on his study of the Old Testament, which is by no means historically accurate, nor a book in any kind of way concerned with the Khazar issue. In fact, the Old Testament was written well before the Kingdom of Khazaria existed, together with Renan's antisemitic views and non conclusive nor logic make him by no means a historian for me, nor credible. In fact even when he brought forward his claim he was ridiculed, Leroy-Beaulieu, a critic of anti-Semitism, queried whether or not thousands of Polish and Russian Jews might have their origins traced back to the "old nomads of the steppes."

Lastly, as to the discredit of Eran Elhaik, I accept him as a figure of Gene research, but his assumptions are incorrect.
As far as recent gene research goes, as stated in my opening statement it stands:
Behar, Doron M.; Metspalu, Mait; Baran, Yael; Kopelman, Naama M.; Yunusbayev, Bayazit; Gladstein, Ariella; Tzur, Shay; Sahakyan, Havhannes; Bahmanimehr, Ardeshir; Yepiskoposyan, Levon; Tambets, Kristiina; Khusnutdinova, Elza K.; Kusniarevich, Aljona; Balanovsky, Oleg; Balanovsky, Elena; Kovacevic, Lejla; Marjanovic, Damir; Mihailov, Evelin; Kouvatsi, Anastasia; Traintaphyllidis, Costas; King, Roy J.; Semino, Ornella; Torroni, Antonio; Hammer, Michael F.; Metspalu, Ene; Skorecki, Karl; Rosset, Saharon; Halperin, Eran; Villems, Richard; and Rosenberg, Noah A, being all genetic researchers
Eran Elhaik

30 vs 1.

This concludes my 3rd and final rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks Con. Likewise I will now proceed with rebuttals.

Firstly, it should be noted that the Khazaria Kingdom allowing religious freedom does strongly suggest a form of advancement--particularly as other countries in Europe and additionally the Middle East at that time had huge restrictions on religion . Because the Khazaras were originally Pagan, there was obviously a neutrality there. As noted in round one, it isn't just this that made Khazaria advanced but the fact that economically it had success [which again classifies as advancement] and had an ideal geographical location as a point for trades.

As for the origins of the term "Ashkenazim", this is something that Con has placed emphasis but is not overly relevant when determining actually if the Ashkenazim or more specifically Eastern European Jews do actually come from what used to be Khazaria. "Ashkenazim" is simply a term which means "German" in Hebrew, and later became used to describe Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe. The reason why a term like "Ashkenazim" was used was because a number of Eastern European Jews later settled in German [thus becoming known as "German Jews"] and other Jews that did remain in Eastern Europe maintained a cultural link to their German counter-parts. The main point of this term is that it used to describe European Jews, not necessarily Jews that have strong ethnic ties to the Middle East or the area in which they are supposed to have originated directly from. Once again, as Pro I'm not connecting the term to Khazaria as such, but more arguing that its peoples later became known as Ashkenazi Jews as Eastern European and German Jewish communities were established. From this point, Ashkenazim culture considerably differed to both Sefardic and Mizrahi cultures and had its own very unique system. One would naturally ask why the Ashkenazim didn't practice the same, or even slightly similar, forms of Judaism like their other two primary Jewish groups and why their culture differed to the extent that it did. Sefardi Jews were technically in Europe while living in Spain and Italy, yet they still retained the close connection to Middle Eastern Jews and kept the original Middle Eastern practices as part of their religion; as well as not really introducing anything new like the Ashkenazim, Rather, this heritage was kept.

Con further argues that Middle Eastern Jews did very likely migrate to Eastern Europe but again provides little evidence to conclusively support this. It's correct that a number of Middle Eastern Jews were expelled from Muslim lands, but there is nothing to really suggest that these Jews migrated to Khazaria or would've settled in Eastern Europe. This is again where culture and geographical setting comes in, Khazaria was an area entirely different to the Middle East [or countries in which these Semitic Jews would have came from] and thus would not have attracted such large numbers of these expelled Jews. On the contrary to moving directly into Eastern Europe, they migrated to surrounding areas in the Mediterranean where the culture could thrive more and where they would have a similar setting to what they were used to. As also stated in my previous arguments, places like Greece, Italy and Spain became home to many Jews and there has in fact always been a Jewish presence in the Middle East.

Even if Cons assertion was correct, it still doesn't answer why these Jews changed their culture so significantly and how they essentially became a different people. Middle Eastern Jews have always made it a priority to maintain the authenticity of their beliefs and cultural/ethnic background, without ever compromising them. I'll reiterate that Ashkenazim and Eastern European Jews do practice a different form of Judaism and do have non-Middle Eastern cultural practices, as well as general outlook which again just isn't attributed to being in Europe for some time. If Middle Eastern Jews did go to Khazaria in large numbers they would have invariably been the same as they were when they settled there, this is something that we cannot say about Ashkenazim Jews on a general basis. When more religious freedom was exercised in the Middle Eastern, they would also have quite possibly returned to their homelands or [like I've alluded to] more culturally accommodating countries.

These factors alone can account for why Ashkenazim Jews originating from Khazaria is indeed very plausible.

Con also admits to the fact that Yiddish did begin as a Slavic language, and that Eastern European Jews speak their own type of Slavic-based Yiddish. Cons additional arguments on the matter don't exactly bare a lot of relevance to the debate and resolution itself. Though I will argue it would have been remarkably difficult for German Jews to flee to Eastern Europe during this time period; for obvious reasons of being captured. Once more, Jews in Eastern Europe already spoke a form of Yiddish and did thus not begin speaking it after WW2--which is practically what Con alleges. Yiddish was and is the language of the entire Ashkenazim, from all of Eastern Europe to Germany.

Even if Cons assertion was correct, it still doesn't answer why these Jews changed their culture so significantly and how they essentially became a different people. Middle Eastern Jews have always tried their upmost to maintain the authenticity of their beliefs and cultural/ethnic background, without ever compromising them. I'll reiterate that Ashkenazim and Eastern European Jews do practice a different form of Judaism and do have non-Middle Eastern cultural practices, as well as general outlook which again just isn't attributed to being in Europe for some time. If Middle Eastern Jews did go to Khazaria in large numbers they would have invariably been the same as they were when they settled there, this is something that we cannot say about Ashkenazi Jews on a general basis. When more religious freedom was exercised in the Middle Eastern, they would also have quite possibly returned to their homelands or [like I've alluded to] more culturally accommodating countries.

Con then disputes that there is no direct evidence for Ashkenazi Jews largely originating from Khazaria, however, there are historical references and there is no other viable answer that can account for the large numbers of "Jews" that suddenly appeared and expanded within the area after the Khazars were defeated. Basically, entire new Jewish communities were founded--and ones that were again very different to the Sefardi and Mizrahi communities.

Regarding Cons argument on Ernest Renan, this is more speculation than anything else. Ernest Renan was a historian who specifically studied the Middle East. Con make claims as to Renan being anti-Semitic without really including any specific evidence to support this.


Thank you for this great debate.
In this paragraph I will conduct my Summary, as well as necessary last rebuttals.

Summary and last Rebuttals:

As for the Debate Topic "European Jews are Descended Almost Entirely from the Khazars" I can, after several rounds of debate and many hours spent researching this Topic only come to the conclusion that the statement made by the topic is factually in all accounts incorrect. Pro has brought forward many good arguments, but in the end these do not create a logical explanation as to the outstanding question, as well as when cross examined by historical as well as scientific evidence do not conclude as factually correct.

I will summarize what can be concluded from the debate below:

The Khazar theory, as to the descend of the Ashkenazi Jews was created in 1887 as a part of the book 'History of Israel' by Ernest Renan, after writing his book 'Origins of Christianity'. Renan was an Anti-Semite, while I have included antisemitic quotes by him I did not provide any evidence as to their origin. I will thus, as a bonus provide more antisemitic quotes made by this man and then conclude what connection this has to the topic. In the book that made him most famous during his life, 'Life of Jesus', Renan states that "Jesus was transformed from a Jew into a Christian, and that Christianity emerged purified of any Jewish influences", or in general claiming that Jesus was able to purify himself of Jewish traits and that Jesus became an Aryan. (Susannah Heschel (2008). The Aryan Jesus: christian theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 34". ISBN 978-0-691-12531-2. Retrieved 31 May 2013)
If I connect that with his statement "I am therefore the first to recognize that the Semitic race, compared to the Indo-European race, truly represents an inferior combination of human nature." (Arvidsson, Stefan (2006). Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, p. 107) he even prides himself in being an anti-Semite. Now, to analyse why he would have made that claim around this time, as in my opinion it would not have taken nearly 900 years for something like the Khazar theory to be stated if it was true, someone would have noted this down in history way before 1887. So lets look at the late 19th century. A new idea was created. The idea of Zionism. Now, I would argue that a pro-Semite can be anti-Zionism, but an anti-Semite has no reason to be pro-Zionism, he would be anti-Zionism. And what easier way to dispel Zionism than to just claim that the Jews are actually not Jews, and as such have no right to Zionism. This makes perfect sense, though Renan never stated that this was his reason. But just to be honest, no fraud will admit he is lying. So the Khazar theory was most likely based on a anti-Zionist lie by an anti-Semite to dispel the right of Zionism. Quite logical.

As for the Term 'Ashkenaz', I was simply trying to prove that this terminology existed way before the Khazar Kingdom, in fact about 1200 years before the Khazars. Also, as pro states as well, the term 'Ashkenazi' was suddenly used to describe all Jews in Europe, and as such would increase the number of Ashkenazi as well as dispel the belief that the European Jews are descend of the Khazar, as there were Jewish communities in Europe way before the Khazar Kingdom even existed.
As for the Ashkenazi not containing their heritage of Judaism as well as their connection to the Levant, 25% of all Ashkenazi live in that area (2.8 million) while only about half as many live in Europe and Asia (Russia). About 50% live in the U.S. (5-6 million). Also stating that 92% of Jews (Ashkenazi make 92% of all followers of Judaism) are not practicing 'same, or even slightly similar, forms of Judaism' to the original form seems to be ridicule. The people who are called Ashkenazi today would have been called Sephardic (for example) 900 years ago. The definition changed.

As for pros argument of no proof that Jews expelled by Muslim countries would have settled in Khazar, lets look at current issues. Lets use the Syrian war, made extremely popular by media at the moment and lets think about the poor civilian refugees of war. They are in fact subject to the same phenomenon that the Jews would have been subject to 1200 years ago. The majority of refugees have fled to Turkey and Lebanon. Why? Because these countries are right next to Syria. People will not travel thousands of miles to Europe if the Kingdom of Khazar and the Byzantine Empire are right there and safe. This wasn't done 1200 years ago and is not done now. Especially not in 800 CE, where travel was significantly harder than nowadays and roads were dangerous. The distance from the Levant to Khazar is about 1500 km. To Constantinople about the same. The land route to Europe though, which would have been what people would have had to use, would have been double that much, about 3000 km. Now, which one would you choose?

As for the next statement, the difference of practice of Ashkenazi Jews. I will say it again. 92% of all Jews are considered Ashkenazi. Thus stating that they changed their culture would seem strange. If you consider the old meaning of Ashkenazi, the definition of German Jews, yes, they have a different culture. But as pro herself stated, Sephardi Jews speak their own language, thus negating the apparent difference as nothing special.

I however did not admit that Yiddish started as a Slavic language. I stated that 'modern Eastern Yiddish is based on Slavic languages'. The based on meaning containing words and phrases, which is logical. Also note the 'Eastern' in the statement. Yiddish is based on German as stated, meaning pro misrepresented my statement as I never stated that 'Yiddish did begin as a Slavic language'. I also like to refer to 'Yiddish FAQs - Department of Jewish Studies', stating that there are about 600 thousand Yiddish speakers today, meaning that a mere 5.5% of Ashkenazi can speak Yiddish, the majority in Israel and the US. Also I did not allege that 'Jews in Eastern Europe began speaking it after WW2', I stated 'Christianities history with Jewish persecution we suddenly get a good image'. Note here the alleged Host desecration depicted by this 15th Century woodcut, describing the killing of all Jews that did not convert. Jews fled Europe well before the 20th century and did migrate to the east and later to America. (
Thus again showing a statement taken out of context by pro.

As I have stated before, pro is not using the correct definition of 'Ashkenazi' and seems to change it whenever it fits. Once they are German Jews, once they are all European Jews. This is why I have placed such great emphasis on the definition. Pro though alleges 'cultural changes', but is not realizing she is describing different people over different times. As I have stated before, the definition changed dramatically. If in fact all Ashkenazi Jews originate from Khazar, 92% of Jews, 11 million people (after the holocaust with 6 million Ashkenazi victims) are descendants of 1.4 million, of whom not even many were Jewish. This is illogical. The majority of Ashkenazi lives in the US, while another 2.8 million live in Israel. I do not think many people would allege compromised believes within those 2.8 million, as pro does. I think they would be described as Jewish, just like any other follower of Judaism. There is no cultural difference, especially being the majority.

Pro states historical references, fails to reference these though. And of course new communities would be different to Sephardi Jews, being from the Iberian Peninsula as well as Mizrahi Jews, as this term was not even used prior to the state of Israel, but they defined themselves as Sephardi. Now, the Iberian Peninsula to Khazar is nearly 4000 km linear distance. Of course there will be a difference in culture in some sense. Also, there are no records as to an 'explosion' of followers following the fall of the Khazar Kingdom and there are no records of this to my knowledge. Once again, Pro does not provide evidence of this.


To conclude this summary I would once again like to look at the origins of the Khazar Theory, being made by an anti-Semite, most likely for anti-Zionist reason. Why would such claims be made 800 years later? I am sure somebody would have noticed this way before, if true. However there is no historical evidence supporting the Theory, nor does modern DNA research by 30 accredited Scientists from 13 different Universities, as stated already in Round 1, support the Theory in any way.

Pros main arguments were the historic study of the Old Testament, a non historic book, made by an anti-Semite, the
term 'Ashkenazi' together with differences from other Jews, while the definition has changed many times over the last 4000 years and as such not providing a lot of evidence, language that has no context to descend, migration that happened as well as one scientist proven wrong by 30.

Con has evidently shown that there is no link, whether historic nor scientific, as there is no evidence of descend of the majority of European Jews, namely Askenazi to the Kingdom of Khazar.


I would like to thank pro, as well as all voters for reading through this large Debate. I would like to applaud pro, though I have spent many hours researching this topic, as it seemingly was harder for her side to find arguments.

Kind regards for a great Debate, I hope we can Debate again.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Emilrose 2 years ago
Okay ;)
Posted by WAM 2 years ago
Sure, I will debate this as con. Looking forward to it. Oh also with imply I tried to express a word like refer just for clarity and not as a mean of suggesting without proof, sorry for that.
Posted by Emilrose 2 years ago
Yep, that one should be obvious. Additionally I'm not "trying" to imply anything; I've explicitly stated in the description that I'll be taking the standpoint that Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of the Khazars.

If you'd happily argue Con, I'll send you the debate.
Posted by WAM 2 years ago
If you are defining "Khazars" as members of the Khazar Khaganate from about 650 CE to about 1050 CE and are trying to imply the descendants of the Khazars as the Ashkenazi Jews I will more than happily debate this.
Posted by Zarroette 2 years ago
Way to sell out your own race, lol.
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