Monday, October 19, 2009
Written by Jose V. Malcioln
Even the sound of the term “Jewishness” is obnoxious. It has patronizing as well as obsequious connotations. In this particular case, it is euphemistic and much more pseudolinguistic than “Semitic,” another meaningless word. How does one authenticate Jewishness? How does one recognize a Jewish Semite? One might say the authenticity of Hebrews, Jews, or Gentiles can only be determined through religious practices. The difference or degree of “Jewishness” calculable among Hebrews and Edomites, Jews and Goyim, is merely one of individual responsibility. An Edomite may claim to be Jewish while he eats bacon, pork sausages, cheats in business, and worships money instead of Hashem (God).
The same Germanic or Russianic descendant of converts will often be the claimant of godly authority to authenticate other people who usually respect the laws, and worship God more faithfully and honestly than he. Nevertheless, his material and political power, and his added military might, afford him the authority to force defenseless people suffering starvation and other hardships to succumb to the survival of his dictates. After all, survival is of primary importance in these times when power is the only reality, and spirituality and religiousness are actually losing ground to materiality, and constantly reinforced with modern technology.
The authenticity of Falashas through “Jewishness” cannot be truthfully, honestly discussed without an overall introduction to the Jews, their origin, definition of Jewishness, and an accurate analysis of their definition related to ethnicity and identity.
The same demand should be made concerning authenticated “Semiticness.” Who is a Semite? Are the Palestinians Semites? Are the Ethiopians, Arabs, Lebanese, Libyans, and other people of that area Semites? This term is pseudolinguistic. It could well be a term adopted by certain people for political, economic and even religious advantages. The term as an ethnic stamp is so vague that even its origin is unrelated to it. The etymological root shows the term evolving from the Latin semita to Spanish semita meaning footpath. This term now legitimized advantageously is really a “footpath” toward special considerations, pity and empathy while enmasking expansionism through violence; acts which disturb many Jews even more than some Gentiles.
Prof. Jose V. Malcioln was born in Panama of a Moroccan-Hebrew mother. He taught in the New York school system for many years. He also taught in Mexico, Spain, Amherst, Brooklyn, Boricua and Malcolm-King Colleges. He is a graduate of the City College of New York, Baruch College, Columbia University and obtained his Ph.D. at the Institute Ibero Americano, Madrid, Spain. His wife's name is Benedicta. Prof. Malcioln is the author of the now out-of-print classic The African Origins of Modern Judaism: From Hebrews to Jews.