August 12, 2009

Semitic Musings...

My previous post got me thinking about this Semitism business.

I will try and simplify my thoughts with basic examples.

There is a historical consensus that Arabs are Semites - a Semitic people. By Arabs, I mean the inhabitants of not only the Arabian peninsula, but also those who were referred to in contemporary history as "Levantins" - Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians and some included Egyptians too.

The Arabic, the Syriac/Chaldean, the Hebrew are all off shoots from the mother language which is Aramaic. Some historians argue that even during Babylonian times, the Arabic language existed apart or in parallel to Aramaic. One American archaeologist I met, said to me that his team excavated a Torah in Arabic that predates the Hebrew one. Anyway, this is a matter for historical debate which is not what this post is all about.

Interestingly, colloquial Iraqi Arabic - in particular the accent is terribly close to Hebrew and Syriac. For instance when I listen to Hebrew in particular Hebrew spoken by Arab Jews and when I listen to Syriac/Chaldean, I have a feeling that I understand everything that is being said, even though I don't master any of these branch languages. There are of course many common words, pronounced differently, but the core phonetics are identical.

However when I listen to Persian, Kurdish (which is really a mix of Turkish and Persian),or the Turkish language, the core phonetics are different. There are many common Arabic words there too, but somehow the structure of the language is different.

This difference in the language structure is most probably due to the fact that these languages are not Semitic languages. They do belong to what is called the Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan Language family.

Farsee is Indo-Aryan so is Kurdish. I am not sure if Turkish can also be considered as an Aryan language or just Turkic. I am no linguist.

This difference in language structure gave birth to the different race concept, in my opinion.

For example, an Iranian would tell you I am not an Arab,which is correct. He is not a Semite, nor is his language a Semitic language. He would also add - I am an Aryan. which is also generally historically correct. Even though, many current days Iranians have Arabic roots through past intermarriages.

An Iraqi Kurd would tell you the same thing . I am not an Arab, I am a Kurd. He is correct. He is not a Semite, he is an Aryan/Turkic, and so is his language. Even though, many Iraqi Kurds have Arabic roots through intermarriages.

You need to understand that not so many years ago, there were no borders between these Middle Eastern countries. Hence one cannot really speak of a purity of race, nor can one speak of a purity of language since for instance over 50% of Turkish, Farsee and Kurdish is made of Arabic i.e of Semitic words.

Notice well, that I have not mentioned religion so far, not even once.

So bearing the above in mind , how does one define for example a Kurdish Jew or a Persian Jew or even an Indian Jew

Would they be called Aryan Semites by virtue of them belonging to the Judaic religion ?

Extend that to an Eastern European Jew from Poland or Russia for example. Would they be considered a Caucasian Semite just because they are affiliated with the Jewish religion ?

If this is the case - and this is one of the basic kernels of Zionism and the idea of a Jewish nation - then by logical extrapolation since the Islamic message was revealed in the Arabic language - any Muslim in any corner of the world should be considered a Semite too.

So if I want to push the concept of Jewishness to its absurd limits and engage in some deductive reasoning, I would extrapolate and come with the conclusion that a Chinese or Indonesian Muslim is also a Semite since he is affiliated to a religion which is originally in Arabic.

Yet this hypothesis will sound ludicrous to you. A Chinese or Indonesian or Pakistani is not a Semite. Correct - he is not.

Yet in your minds, a Russian or American Caucasian Jew, is.

This is of course a theoretical, historical, scientific fallacy.

Hence, logically speaking - if you use deductive thinking, there is no such thing as a Jewish people. There are different races who adopted the Jewish faith - just like there are different races who adopted the Islamic or Christian faith. Would that make a Christian guy from Arkansas a Semite just because he choose to study the bible in Aramaic/Syriac instead of English ? Of course not.

So if Race and Religion do not form the basis of identity and affiliation what does?

We go back to square 1 - Language.

And since linguistically speaking both Hebrew and Syriac are considered "dead languages" and most linguists would agree that Arabic is the only true surviving language of the Semites - what does that tell you about who the real Semites are, and by correlation who the real Anti-Semites are ?

Think about it until we meet again.