Friday, July 10, 2009

Fighting Windmills

Why should we bother to challenge the accepted historical beliefs if it only means that we in turn become the target of those offended that we 'dared' to confront the established truths? Why is it that in order to protect the established historical beliefs, threats and prejudice are perfectly acceptable? Is it that accepted history is built on so fragile a platform that those dedicated to preserving it know that at any given moment it could crumble to dust?
Those familiar with my writing, blogs and books know that I am classified as an alternative historian. It doesn't mean that my material is any less factual, it only indicates that I'm constantly challenging the norm. And why not? I'm the one in possession of the facts,the dates, the material that demonstrates what they classify as alternative history is in most probability actual history and that which is being taught in many respects is the glorified hype of those that held the reigns of power to make their version the standard. It happens every day. In Japan, you will never hear of the atrocities committed by their army in World War II, though you can read of what occurred on my friend Patrick's blogspot to read of some ot these horrible deeds. In Germany one year my friend Hans Hildebrand gave me a completely different version of the holocaust in much of it was laid at the feet of the Poles as their doing, and even now as I speak, the Arab world and Russia are busily rewriting their national histories in order "educate" their populations in the truth. It's common practice. History is a political tool and always has been.
So when I write from a Karaite perspective of events in Jewish history, I expect to feel the backlash. A minority within a minority has no real authority at all. In fact,how little it registers was made perfectly clear in a conversation with an Israeli girl that I had yesterday. She was down here in New Zealand marketing a product and was surprised when I began to speak a little Hebrew to her. It was the limit of my vocabulary so even describing it as a little Hebrew may be too generous It was the first she heard from anyone in this country and wanted to know where I had picked it up. When I explained that I was Karaim, her eyes lit up and she told me how she once dated an Egyptian Jew. In her mind, all Egyptian Jews were Karaites and that was the definition of the word. And then she commented that I didn't look Egyptian.
I could have taken the time to explain that the roots of the Karaim were in Mesopotamia. That the Egyptian population was only one little segment. I could have explaiined the migration history of how we were slowly pushed further and further from centres like Baghdad and Mahoza after Anan ibn David established the tenents of Karaite Judaism in 769 and how in 940 we were attacked and driven from our homes by Saadiah Gaon to the North West to take up residence in the lands around the Black Sea. I even could have spoken of how the Crimean Peninsula became one of the larger population centres of Karaites to be seconded by Bessarabia and Romania. I even could have spoken of how the Rabbinate forbade marriages between rabbinate Jews and Karaite Jews unless the latter abandoned its beliefs and declared them to be false. During World War II, there were recorded findings by the Nazis as they invaded Romania of their enounter with the Karaite population and a request from Berlin to send orders as to whether they should be treated no differently from the rabbinate Jewish populations. You see, the Karaites presented a problem. As the Nazi's were ingrained with their stereotypical version of what Jews should look like, they were not prepared to find a subpopulation that were six feet tall, some with blonde hair and more eastern features. Berlin's final decision was to not include them in it's persecution as it had determined they were actually Tartars and not Jews at all. How ironic that Hitler's final solution would never have been final at all. As Karaites we would have survived.
But, there wasn't the time to try and explain this, and considering that her entire exposure to Karaite history was that she had an Egyptian Jewish boyfriend and that was the only defining point made me realize that even in Israel there is a failure to provide the 'alternative history'. There is no intention to highlight the differences; the goal being that you melt and blend everyone and everything into a singualar pot.
So in answer to my initial questions of why do we do it? Why do we challenge the windmills only to know that we will be beaten back again and again? We do it because it is right or should I say 'write'. Even Don Quixote had his moments of victory.

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