What’s in a name? Depends on who’s doing the naming.
Khazaria: A Turkic empire that ruled Southern Russia and Central Asia during the early Middle Ages
Khazaria: A quasi-mythical kingdom of barbarian Jews, which was featured in Yehuda HaLevi’s philosophical work the Kuzari. An interesting, but fictional legend.
Khazaria: Considered by many contemporary anti-Semites as the source of European Jewry, and therefore, proof that Zionism is racism and that today’s Jews have no right to any part of Palestine.
Kevin Alan Brook has decided to look behind the various views of the Khazars and produce a non-ideological work that examines the little-known but critical moment in world history. In a deadpan voice that one could attribute to a scholarly Joe Friday, Brook provides us with the facts, only the facts. And, it’s a good thing, because the facts are fascinating.
The Khazars did build a multi-ethnic society dominated by a Turkic warrior aristocracy. They were the military and economic force that stopped the Arab Caliphate from conquering Russia and Europe from the east. And, in the 9th century CE, their kings, nobility and a good percentage of their people did convert to Rabbinic Judaism. For another hundred years, rulers with the unlikely names of King Obadiah and King Hanukkah inspired the persecuted Jews of Germany and the dhimmy Jews of Spain with tales of a land of fighting Israelites. It is also highly unlikely that the Khazars make up anything but a tiny percentage of the people we call Jews today. Brook’s efforts are dry, but careful and thorough — the exact antidote to the microwaved rhetoric with which this topic is usually handled.