Friday, June 12, 2009

The Crypto-Jews of Palestine

I just read the strangest article (in print, in Hebrew, no online link).

What is even stranger was that when I mentioned it to Jameel, he already knew about it, and of course had even more details.

The Jewish community is familiar with Crypto-Jews, such as those from Spain, also known as Marranos or Conversos. These are Jews who were forced to hide their religion, but continue to practice it (or parts of it) in secret, passing down bits and pieces to their descendents.

But it seems their might very well be Crypto-Jews living in the Land of Israel – looking and acting like Muslim-Arabs!

The article describes an Arab Hamula (clan) which lives near Hebron and who claim to be Jewish.

It all began years ago when a local Jewish resident saw an old Arab on the road that looked exactly like a well-known Sephardic rabbi.

He approached the Arab and asked him who he was, and that old Arab guy started to tell him his family's story.

He claimed to be descendants of Moroccan Jews who arrived in Israel in the 1600s. Their original family name was Amsallem.

After nearly the entire family was wiped out by Arab raiders, the survivors adopted the external appearance of Muslim Arabs to save their lives. They have certain Jewish traditions/rituals they follow in secret, and of course they pass down the knowledge they are Jews to their children.

True or not true? Who knows.

But the stories gets even weirder.

In 1948, 35 Jews were massacred in Gush Etzion. They become known as the “Lamed-Hey”. They were killed by Arabs from the town of Tzurif.

What is interesting is that Arabs from this town apparently have a tradition that they are descended from Jews going back to the Second Temple period, and at some point they were forced to convert to Islam.

Supposedly in their homes they have various unusual customs that point to remnants of Judaism (such as a pseudo mezuzah, and brit mila at 8 days).

And more interesting is that supposedly other Arabs also consider them to be descendants of Jews.

Apparently the legend of Jewish descent is linked to some of the most violent, terrorist laden, religiously strict clans in the Gush Etzion/Hebron region.

And the alleged reason why they are so extreme in their religion and violence?

To prove to their fellow Muslim Arabs that they really aren’t Jews.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

8 comments:

Neshama said...

This theory of being fierce, "And the alleged reason why they are so extreme in their religion and violence?"
This is what I think about the (Jewish) Pashtuns of Afghanistan. If you look into those blue eyes, many with red hair (Dovid HaMelech), customs, etc., it is amazing. Afghanistan may be part of GogMagog and the war there now, I believe, is to wake up the Jewish neshomas that have been there since biblical times. They could be the large group coming from far off that comes on horses to help protect Israel. For more interesting info, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Afghanistan.html

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Portuguese Jews! In 'Americanism' you say Spanish Inquisition but that is so wrong! Actually crypto-Judaism is more of a Portuguese thing than Spaniard. In Spain Jews were forced to leave or die. In Portugal they were forced to stay and mass baptized. So... it seems that JEWS and THEIR DESCENDENTS in Portugal would only get help when all the Klal get this straight! But my question is just: WHEN? Do you want to start? Be my guest!

Neshama said...

another source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/122084

KACH 613 said...

WOW that snake is so cool!!!

Ashan said...

Right you are, Neshama. some years ago, Canadian-Jewish filmmaker/historian Simcha Jacobovici made a series tracing the lost tribes. His film of the Muslims of Herat, Afghanistan, was particularly enlightening. He showed a madrassa set up precisely like an old-fashioned heder, with boys sitting on benches around a long table and swaying back and forth (shuckeling). The boys all wore an Afghani woven "kippa" and "talit", replete with fringes and blue threads. Blew my mind.

Ashan said...

Oops - my point is that these Muslim crypto-Jews of Herat are among the fiercest tribes in Afghanistan. Allied troops have pretty much steered clear of them.

Jewish Odysseus said...

There's a few people on YouTube who are pushing that "Pashtuns are really Joooooos" video as an argument AGAINST the Pashtuns. [search "Jews and Pashtuns" on YT for it]

You gotta be a little cautious, tho, this roof-of-the-world tribal politics can be amazingly complex, petty, and paranoid...

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I recall almost 30 years ago Aharon Bier z'l and Haim Mageni describing several clans in the Southern Hevron Mtns. (Drom Har Hevron) who had maintained curiously Jewish customs for generations. The bottom line, of course, was that nothing could be proven about their origins; but it sure did fuel speculation.

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