The Dangerous Myth of the Southern Sephardim, Pt. I

Part I: The Sephardic Jews

The discussion of the Jewish Question has always been a tender spot in the South. It was Grant, not one of our own heroes, who expelled the “Israelites” from Tennessee. Charleston, a crown jewel of the Golden Circle, had the largest Jewish population in the Americas by 1816, and Baltimore and Savannah saw secondary populations. Our Confederacy was a shining star of religious tolerance: some 3,000 Jews, most of them Sephardim, fought in the Grey. Abraham Myers was the Quartermaster General of the Confederacy and, far more famously, Judah Benjamin, whose ancestors were among the most prominent merchants in Castile prior to their expulsion in 1492, served as Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State, respectively.

What could account for this huge population of loyal Jews, if indeed the Jewish population represents a threat to our people? Surely, there must be something different—and, indeed, there is something that sets Southern Jews apart from the internationalist organizers of B’nai B’rith and Bilderberg Group. Southern Jews were not among the Ashkenazim of Eastern Europe, the ancestors of Theodor Herzl, Abraham Foxman, and Woody Allen. Rather, they were an older, far more well-established, more Westernized and cooperative body of Jews, the Sephardim. These Jews, our Jews, are different. They work with us, they desire a fair shake and no more, they work for and with our people—so the growing mythology holds it.

This mythology belongs to a unique class of philosemitism that holds the mirror to Central and Eastern European anti-Semitism that spread into Europe after the Bolshevik Revolution. It views the Jews fleeing from Russia, overrunning the civilized West, repugnant to native Jew and Gentile alike—those hated Ashkenazim—as people whose tribalism and backwardness brought Hitler down on the head of the whole European Jewish community, and then began leeching historic diasporic communities to fuel the growth of their hateful project disenfranchising Arabs in the Middle East. It allows liberal-minded Judeoskeptics to espouse anti-Semitic positions while providing them with plausible deniability against charges of anti-Semitism.

It remains, however, fiction, fuelled by ignorance of the European Jewish community before the 19th century. The Sephardim themselves have a much longer, and far darker, history than the Ashkenazi Jews of Russia and the East—while the latter have been engaged in adjusting, and potentially undermining, Western Civilization for just over 150 years, the former had already made for themselves a reputation for parasitism, betrayal, and revanchism against Christian civilization by the 11th century.

The Origins in Betrayal: Annas, Caiaphas, & Josephus

The beginning of this story is with the last Jewish High Priest of the Hebrews, Yosep bar Kayafa (or “Kuppai” in the Yevomot, part of the Babylonian Talmud), better known in Scripture by the Greek form of his surname, Caiaphas. After the crucifixion of Christ which he and his father-in-law, Anan bar Sethi (Annas – also his predecessor as High Priest) had designed, Kayafa emerges as a leading figure of the Sadducean Party in the resistance to Jewry accepting the risen Messiah. He accomplishes two things among the Jews immediately after the Crucifixion. First, he is the arch-nemesis of the nascent Christian community, the High Priest who handed over the Christ to be murdered, and is therefore very appealing to the status-quo Jews who disliked Jesus as a potential disruption and created risks for their relationship with Rome. Perhaps the best way to describe this group is to call them the “Herodian Jews”. On the other hand, his actions towards the Zealot party before and after the crucifixion made him a sworn enemy of every Jew seeking liberation from the Romans. Caiaphas disappears shortly after his failure to imprison Ss. Peter and John after they had performed miracles in Jerusalem, suggesting that his hands-off approach to the Christians and Zealots led to his fall. Whatever the case, Caiaphas was already a pariah among the growing Pharisaic party by the time of the Jewish Revolt in AD 70. We know that in AD 68, leading up to the Jewish revolt, his brother-in-law Anan bar Anan was the High Priest and was assassinated by the Zealots. The family of Annas has been remembered in the Pharisaic Talmud as notorious—greedy, hypocritical, and power-hungry.

The vacuum left by the failure of the High Priests had to be filled—and it could not be filled by the radical Zealots, whose rebellion failed as much because of Roman power as because of Jewish ambivalence. The Pharisees, led largely by Joseph ben Matityahu (Josephus) and Saul of Tarsus, had always preferred to leave the Zealots be and focus instead on the Christian menace—with the Zealots destroyed, this led most of Jewry into their arms. The localized nature of Pharisaic religiosity, however, meant that they did not require a single or even a council of leadership, but could depend on hundreds—even thousands—of individual rabbis and synagogues to hold their ethnic communities together. Quietly, they dispersed throughout the Empire and embedded themselves in local life, finding, as Josephus had done, appointments in local government to protect themselves and their communities, and spurring on Roman authorities to crush their primary adversaries, the Christian Church.

Thus the global Jewish diaspora as we now know it emerged. The Jews that managed to remain in the regions just outside of Judea eventually formed the basis of the Mizrahim, who largely congregated around Medina until the armies of Mohammed drove them hence. Some rabbis and their communities fled north, forming the basis of what would become the now-notorious Ashkenazi as well as the Russo-Turkic Karaites. The bulk, however, were dispersed into the Roman Empire, into Mauritania (Maghrebim) and Hispania (Sephardim). These bodies, through a tribal network, survived relatively unscathed when the Vandals and the Visigoths tore through these regions, destroying Christian churches and Roman infrastructure and establishing their short-lived semi-pagan Kingdoms.

The Undermining of Christianity in Africa and Spain

During this period, along with the diaspora, a new tactic of undermining the Christian community emerged, which would eventually come to be called marranos in Spain—false converts to Christianity. S. John Chrysostom would condemn these Judaizers, who were attempting to destroy the Christian community by confusing its theology with discarded Jewish legalism.  The earliest murder of Christian children by Jews—the ancestors of the Ashkenazim—around the Christian Holy Days occurred within the lifetime of S. Chrysostom, but even before this, a far more powerful and insidious force was at work among the Jews who had fled to Africa and Hispania, and might have destroyed the Church altogether if it were not for the tireless work of the early Fathers of the Church who combatted it.

Scholars dispute the origins of the priest Arius of Alexandria, who is supposed now to be of Berber descent, but for many centuries he was held by the Church to be of Jewish extraction in the region of Libya. His teachers, Donatus (a Hellenized Ethiopic Jew) and Meletius (an Egyptian Jew who may have ordained Arius), were both deposed and excommunicated for their strict legalism, a trait S. Chrysostom condemns as uniquely Jewish. Arius, though, went further than to merely deny forgiveness to Christians who had fallen away from the Church during the persecutions: he denied that Christ was in fact divine at all, except by special blessing, asserting a Jewish version of monotheism at odds with the revealed Truth of the Triune God. (Several centuries later, the influence of Reform Judaism on mainline Protestantism is attempting to spread essentially the same heresy.)

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Arius of Alexandria

His doctrine, condemned by the Council of Nicaea in 325, nevertheless spread like wildfire among the Germanic kingdoms—finding clandestine support among the Jewish communities in Mauritania, Carthage, Libya, and Hispania especially. The Church combated the doctrine endlessly—in addition to Nicaea, several local councils worked to enforce the canons of the Church in their own regions. In most of North Africa, the Carthaginian Church was successful in suppressing the heresy, but in Iberia it took no less than eighteen councils to address the various problems caused by the Jews, and may have taken more had it not been for the Moorish conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom. The Third Council is of especial significance, since in addition to addressing, and triumphing over, the heresy of Arianism, it also dealt with the abuses of Christians by the Jewish community, including forced circumcisions of Christian slaves and the marriage of Jewish men to Christian girls. The 14th canon in particular prevented Jews from having Christian wives, concubines, or slaves, and banned them from holding public positions that might involve the judgement of Christians—in short, Jews were only deprived of direct power over native Christians. In addition, the children of Christian women, even those married to Jews, were to be baptised—a point we draw attention to here because modern scholars falsely call this “forced baptism” of Jews, rather than keeping with the teaching of the Church that the children of all Catholic parents must be baptised Catholic. By insisting this is “forced baptism of Jews”, these scholars are insisting that the children of a mixed marriage are born Jews—but how many of them would agree that “Jew” is a racial, rather than religious, category?

Despite the significant allowances this still provided to the Jewish community, modern sources refer to the “flight” of Jews from the “oppression” of Toledo III. Wikipedia refers to a “wholesale flight of Jews from Visigothic Spain to Ceuta” in North Africa. However, this seems either an exaggeration, or such “wholesale flights” were quite common after ecclesiastic councils, since other sources date the “wholesale flight” to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Councils of Toledo as well (whose decrees came to focus more and more on the problem of Jews relapsing from Christian conversion).  On at least one thing, however, all these sources agree: the Jews in Spain and North Africa began working actively with Arab Moslems to overthrow the Visigothic Kingdom nearly as soon as the Caliph’s armies had finished slaughtering their way through the Kingdom of the Vandals. (Ashkenazi) Jewish professor Sidney Markman wrote in his Jewish Remnants in Spain that:

Without the help of the Jews, the Arab conquest probably could not have progressed nor succeeded as rapidly as it did. In those newly conquered towns with large Jewish populations, Arab military policy stationed garrisons of Jews under the command of a small Arab detachment while the bulk of the invading army advanced in its sweep across Spain…With the Moslem conquest of Spain, there began an epoch which for good reason historians have dubbed the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry.

The origins of Islam as an off-shoot of the same Arian sect (Mohammed’s primary teacher was an Arian monk named Baghira) that had just been crushed by the council of 589 is worth brief mention, if only because it deepens the treacherous involvement of the Jews in overthrowing Christianity in North Africa and Spain—where the Church thrived for hundreds of years—and thereby eradicating the distinctly European quality of culture there, replacing it with the Asiatic hordes (“there is nothing new under the sun”, as Solomon had it in Ecclesiastes). The significant thing here is what Markman openly admits—the Jews, deprived of the ability to exercise power over Christians, conspired to betray the Visigothic Kingdom to the Moslem hordes, even though no edict of expulsion was issued, neither were Jews taxed more heavily, neither were they deprived of any property except Christian slaves, whom they were abusing through forced conversion to Talmudism. In return, the supposedly anti-Jewish Moslems (after all, did not Mohammed “genocide” the Jews of Medina?) ushered in a Golden Age for Spanish Jewry—in which they could do what they wished with Gothic Christian women, accumulate as many Gothic Christian slaves as they wished, and were granted complete domination of Andalusian schools, forming the core of the intellectual class of the Caliphate, and later Emirate, of Cordoba (see the Ecclesiastes quote above).

The Sephardim in Al-Andalus

Christian Spaniards did not forget this betrayal, usurpation, and enslavement—the Reconquista became a great Crusade against both Islam and Judaism in Spain. The Jews who centuries before had fled into France and England, similarly engaged in undermining the Christian societies there, were expelled and fled mostly to Iberia and Eastern Europe. In fact, following the fall of Spain, it was almost universally acknowledged that the Jews constituted an existential threat to the survival of Christianity in Europe, since they punished converts to Christianity and sought to take wives from among the native European peoples, corrupting the children of such unions with the false Talmudist religion. Elsewhere in Europe, Jews—particularly the Ashkenazim—were notorious for the kidnapping of Christian children (the practice of human sacrifice mentioned above), but this was not definitively proven until 1475 with the discovery of the tortured body of a 3-year-old boy in the basement of a Jewish banker in the city of Trent. S. Simon of Trent was canonized in 1575, and later had his sainthood “revoked” by the Catholic church in 1969 with the issuance of Nostra Aetate, itself written by anti-Christian Jewish journalists (see de Poncins, Judaism and the Vatican). Throughout the Middle Ages, Jews found themselves expelled from the city of Mainz (1012), the Kingdoms of England (1290), France (1306), and Hungary (1340s), as well as Warsaw, Sicily, Lithuania, and Portugal (1483); in most cases, Western Jews fled into the Jewish-Moslem safe-haven of Al-Andalus, while Eastern Jews fled into Poland, Russia, and Muslim-controlled territories in the East.

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The Surrender Of Granada Painting by Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz

Things also took a turn for the Jews in Spain and Africa, where after playing a significant role in fracturing the already-weakened Umayyad Caliphate, the Moslem powers (now mostly Berbers from Maghreb) took a harsher stance towards the Jews. In the Taifa (small kingdoms), Jews enjoyed even greater direct control than they had had under the Caliphs and Emirs; but ordinary Moslems quickly realized what Jewish exploitation meant, and turned against their foreign masters. By the 1060s, the Jews of Spain had already begun to exploit Christian desires for re-conquest and appealed to the new Christian principalities as they had once appealed to the Ummayad Moslems. By the Almohad conquest of Iberia in 1172, Jews were actively allying with Christian armies to overthrow Moslem princes and protect their interests.

In return, the Catholic princes rewarded the Jews, and the ordinary Christians of Spain took a lighter view of Jews. The Roman Church, which had not forgotten what the Jews had done in the 8th century, was compelled to call new councils to reassert the old Visigothic laws regarding intermarriage and cohabitation of Jews and Christians under pain of excommunication.  The expulsions of Jews from England and France saw them move in large numbers into Christian Spain, attempting to ingratiate themselves further to the Spanish Catholic monarchs. However, the massive demographic shift, accompanied by the usual tribalism made the previously receptive Catholic commoners once again suspicious of the Jewish presence. Juderias, the Jewish neighbourhood, became a fixture of Spanish cities, and lower-class Catholics regarded it as a foreign state within their cities. Jews had separate mayors, separate judges, and formed a separate political body that lobbied as a unique interest before the Princes’ courts. This second golden age reached its zenith with the reign of Pedro the Cruel, a bigamist whose reign saw almost complete control of his court and his treasury (and therefore tax-collecting) by Jews. His reign also both a major civil war in Castile and a protracted war between Castile and Aragon, taking opposite sides in the Hundred Years’ War. Pedro, however, repaid his debt to his English allies poorly, and was eventually defeated, his brother bringing peace between Castile and Aragon as they turned to focus on reconquering Iberia from the Moors.

Welcome neither among Moslems nor Christians, the Jews began to make public “conversions” to either faith and maintain their Jewishness in secret. This was, however, much more difficult among the Moslems than among Christians, and the punishment for apostasy was notably less harsh for Christians. By the late 1400s, with the Reconquista drawing to a close, the full unification of Aragon and Castile, both of whom had troubles with conversos and marranos (false converts among the Jews) decided that the only true protection against Jewish corruption of the Faith was their removal from the Kingdom. Thus, allowing the Jews to take all of their moveable wealth (which made up most of their assets, being a mercantile people), Queen Isabela and King Ferdinand issued the Alhambra Decree, taking effect in July 1492—seven hundred eighty-one years to the month from the defeat of Roderick, the Last King of the Goths. So significant a choice of date could not have been accidental on the part of the King and Queen of the new Spanish Kingdom.

To be continued in Part II.

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