No Fake

J Street-backed Evangelical group says modern Israeli Jews not real Jews

March 23, 2012

A liberal Evangelical Christian leader close to J Street is pushing a borderline anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that modern Israelis are not descended from Biblical Jews.

Purveyors of that theory typically aim to promote the view that modern Israelis have no historical link to the land they live on, a claim that has been proven false.

In a speech before a mostly Jewish crowd at last year’s J Street conference, Serge Duss, Director of the New Century Evangelicals Project, decried what he claimed is the erroneous "belief that the modern state of Israel and modern Israelis are the extension of the Children of Israel of the Old Testament," according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Commentary’s Omri Ceren.

Duss—who will not be speaking again at this year’s J Street conference, which begins Saturday—asked attendees to help him dispel the idea that Israelis are related to ancient Jews.

"You, only you—I can’t, but only you can disabuse Evangelicals of that mythology. How many rabbis I’ve heard say in settings, ‘We are not the Hebrews, the Children of Israel of the Old Testament’?" Duss said. "And unless conservative Evangelicals particularly hear that message from Jews in America today and Israelis in Israel, minds will not be changed."

Ceren explained that Duss is pushing a classic anti-Semitic trope, raising questions about whether it’s appropriate for him to be speaking to a group of Jews at a purportedly "pro-Israel, pro-peace" conference.

"Denying the connection between ancient and modern Jews is, according to conspiracy theory expert Bob Blaskiewicz, ‘a precursor to the type of rationalization of Christian Identity theology, that the "Jews" are imposters claiming the Chosen People status properly owned by the white American Christian male,’" Ceren noted. "It’s a scientifically disproven canard that anti-Semites have used for centuries to disinherit Jews theologically and politically."

Ceren adds: "At its most explicit, the theory holds that contemporary Jews are descendants of non-Semitic Khazars who converted to Judaism. The Anti-Defamation League has an extended backgrounder on how the claim has played out in modern anti-Semitic movements. You can find it in the wild on Holocaust-denying WWII revisionist sites, in the forums of Protocols-obsessed David Icke, and on one of the Internet’s most notorious conspiracy theory cesspools. Note how quickly the writers transition from the theory itself into how it undermines the legitimacy of the Jewish State."

UPDATE: Asked if J Street agrees that Israelis are not linked to so-called ‘real’ Jews, J Street spokesperson Jessica Rosenblum offered a snide rejection of Duss’ remarks.

"It confounds common sense for you to even ask me this, but because you used to be a journalist, here's my answer:  J Street believes that Israelis are real Jews," Rosenblum said. "Our advocacy for a two-state solution is driven by our commitment to ensuring Israel's future as a democratic and Jewish homeland."

She added: ""Are you Adam Kredo looking to prove yourself as big a dumbass as Omri?"

An earlier version of this article erroneously said that Serge Duss would be speaking at this year's conference.