Afghanistan and Israel

Are the Afghans and Pathans descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel? Are they descended from Esau? What do the sources really say? Are they pro-Jewish or anti-Semitic? Do they have Jewish customs?

Replies to Queries


 and Answers 


1. Are the Lost Ten Tribes in Afghanistan? If not, are at least some of the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan of Israelite descent?
2. Ken Blady Interviewed; Afghan Nazi Involvement in WW2.

1. Question: Are the Lost Ten Tribes in Afghanistan? If not, are at least some of the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan of Israelite descent?
Answer: The Lost Ten Tribes are not in Afghanistan.
The Afghans are in effect the same as the Pathans who are also known as Pashtu or Pashtuns or Pakhtoons.
The Afghans do not fulfil the historical qualifications nor the Ephraim Criteria in general.
Our impression is that the Afghans adopted to themselves the traditions of Israelite groups who had been in the area prior to themselves and moved out before them.
In addition the Afghans assimilated Jews (from Judah) and Gentiles who had adopted Jewish customs but were later forced to become Muslims and become part of the Afghan people.
The ethnic groups of the area have an ages-old and very widespread practice of adopting the traditions and ethnic appellations of peoples they conquer and/or otherwise replace. It is also part of an inter-ethnic come-uppance for each group to claim more elevated orgins than the other.
Numerous claims have been made concerning the alleged Israelite Origins of the Afghans and Pathans of Afghanistan.
Bellew p.193: "Afghan accounts say that they dwelt in the  mountains of GHOR and FIROZAH, where they were called by the neighboring people Afghan and Bani Israel, which countries they had conquered and held as their dominion from the time of the expulsion of the Israelites from Sham by Buktannasar [i.e. Nebuchadnessar] until the tine of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni; when they began to issue from  their native mountains and established settlements on the Suleiman range.."

Bukhtanasar is Nebuchadnessar who took Jerusalem ca.604 or -586 BCE.
Ghor in the region of Murghab River equals Margiana by Herat. Ghazni was the capital of Zabulistan. The previous inhabitants of Margiana (between time of Israelite exile in ca. 720 BCE and Nebochadnazzar ca.580 BCE) were the Amargian Scyths or Myringas. The Afghans received the names Beni Israel because of the people who had dwelt in the area before them i.e. because of the Scythians who included Israelite Tribes amongst them.

Bellew p.195:"At this time ( time the of the Arab moslem attack on Sind [Pakistan] in which Afghan tribesman fought beside the Arabs; The Arab conquest of the Afghan area was in ca. 70 CE) they (the Afghans), had been settled in Ghor for a period of thirteen hundred oars, ((i.e. from ca. 600 BCE)), and  were called, as their accounts explicitly state, by their neighbouring peoples, Afghan and Bani Israel. But that these were names by which they designated themselves is nowhere explicitly stated in their accounts".

Bellew  p.195: " As the Kafir (Infidel)of the Sanskrit  Kambojia are said to be Koresh from a people of that name (Kuresh Perian and Keruch Rajput) known to have anciently inhabited these eastern districts of the Paropamisus of the Greeks, so the Afghan (Mountaineer) of Ghor may have been called Bnai Israil from a people anciently known to have inhabited those western districts of the Paropamisus..."
"...during; the time of the Greek dominion ((Alexander's invasion ca. 330 b.c.e)) in Afghanistan, the mountainous country of GHOR was inhabited by a tribe called Sur" i.e.Syrian,

Tartan from Canaan
Afghanistan Map showing the Ethnic Divisions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtun is another term for Pathan.

The Map was prepared by Estelle Schutte for our work "The Khazars. Tribe 13". This work, "The Khazars. Tribe 13" published by Brit-Am, the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel Movement, contains much additional material concerning the Afghans and proves that they are not of Israelite origin.

An article on claiming that the Afghans are Israelites was recently posted to us.
It is taken from the web-site:
Israel in Exile, Margiana,otc.
The article in part is quoted below and answers to claims made in article are given.
Extracts from the article are in white on black

The Ten Lost Tribes: Afghanistan

The Bible mentions the city of Medes as one of the locations of the Assyrian exile of the Ten Tribes of Israel. Most explain and understand this area to be the region in Northwest Persia called Kurdistan. It is an accepted tradition that the people of this area are from the Assyrian exile.
When one considers the possibility of the people of this exile wandering north and east, then this would apply to the Tribes of Israel living in the Caucasian Mountains between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea which includes the areas of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaidzhan, and Daghistan (areas of Khazar in old days). An eastern expansion beyond the Caspian sea includes the areas Uzbekistan, Bukhara, and Turkemistan. From these areas it is very easy to move south to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan as well as to get to China.

Brit-Am Replies:
This is true as far as it goes. There is a tradition amongst some of the Jews from Kurdistan that they are descended from the Ten Tribes and Kurdistan along with Armenia and Azerbaijan is within the general region of Ancient Media. It would seem however that this case is similar to that of the Jews of Bukharia (in Central Asia) who have one tradition that they descend from the Lost Ten tribes and another that they are Jews from Judah who passed through Babylon and Persia. An examination of the customs etc of the Jews of Bukhara leads to the conclusion that they came from Iran. It would seem that upon their arrival from Babylon and Persia the Jews of Bukhara encountered a tradition that the Lost Ten Tribes had been in that area. Over time they adopted this tradition in part, and in an uncertain manner, to their own case. The same phenomenon occurred all over this area.
The Lost Ten Tribes did penetrate the Khazar region and the Khazars did descend from them. The Khazars were a Scythian people and all the areas mentioned above were Scythian areas whence the Scythians moved westward in to Europe.

If one travels from the area of Medes or Hamadan to farther east, crossing the Khayber Mountains or the Khayber Pass, he comes into the frontier of Afghanistan today. There I personally found an amazing sight. There are so many of a tribe with names that had Yusuf in the name as Yusufzai, Yusufuzi, Yusufzad, etc., who claimed origin from the Lost Tribes and I personally believe it.

Yusuf means Joseph and Yusufzai means children of Joseph. The Tribes of Joseph are the Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who are a part of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They also call themselves Bani-Israel meaning children of Israel. Their tradition is that they were carried away from their ancient homeland. Formerly they were shepherds in search of pasture but they gave up their nomadic life and settled into village communities.

Brit-Am replies:
The statements above are incorrect.
In our work "The Tribes" we go further than most others and state that not only did a portion of the Lost Ten Tribes move into Afghanistan after being exiled by the Assyrians but the Assyrians took them there in the first place!
Hara was one of the places of Exile (1-Chronicles 5:26).
"The Tribes":
"Hara" was much further to the east in the region straddling the borders of present day Iran and Afghanistan. "Hara" encompassed places named Aria, Ariana, and Arachosia, by the Greeks10. "Hara" was called "Haraiva" and "Hare" by the Persians11, and known under its correct name "Hara" to the Medes12, just as it is still called "Hara" by the locals today13. It is crossed by the Hari Rud or "River of Hara" and contains the city of Harat.
The Assyrians ruled the Hara area and all of the surrounding region and settled a portion of the Israelite tribes there in, specifically part of those tribes from east of the Jordan: Rueben, Gad, and half Manasseh, since only concerning their exile is the name "Hara" mentioned:

(1-Chronicles 5;26).

Assyrian control of the Hara area is proven by inscribed claims of Assyrian monarchs to have received tribute from Magan and Meluhha which nations (in neo-Assyrian nomenclature) were either by the Indus delta or to the east of it14. Hara adjoined Bactria and Roman and other accounts related that the Assyrian Semiramis (wife or widow of "Pul"-[i]): had conquered Bactria to the north of Hara as well as parts of India to its east15. The Assyrians sent frequent expeditions to Mount "Bikni" meaning the "Mount of Lapis Lazuli" and most (if not all) the lapis lazuli of Assyria came from Badakhshan to the northeast of "Hara"16. According to Greek and Iranian sources the Assyrians had planted colonies in the region of Kabul and Gandhara to the east of Hara17. Indian scripts also recall the "Asurya" with their god "Asura" (meaning the Assyrians with their deity "Ashur") who had colonies in Hara and Sakastan18. Assyrian cultural influences in this area and cultural influences from this area on Assyria confirm the Assyrian presence in this region19.

According to local tradition the eastern part of Hara ("Ghor"), where the Hari River rises, was once settled by a people referred to as "Assakan" and "Bnei Yisral" or Children of Israel20. "Assakan" was shortened to "Sak" or "Sok" and local Muslim lore equated the term with the name "Isaac", father of Israel21. A dialectical variation of "Assakan" is Afghan22 and the names "Bnei Yisral" and "Afghan" were applied later to a group from Armenia who settled in the area after the original "Bnei Yisral" and "Assakan" had moved out23. The newcomers eventually moved further east into modern Afghanistan. They did not apply the names "Afghan" and "Bnei Yisral" unto themselves until fairly recently and then only within a few literary circles24. Some Israelite and/or Jewish elements may have been absorbed amongst one or two of the various "Afghan" groups and these in turn influenced the whole. The Royal family, for instance, had a tradition that they descended from the Tribe of Benjamin25. Even so, most Afghans never seem to have identified themselves as Israelites and are antipathetic to the very idea. They are the first to admit that the names "Afghan" and "Bnei Yisral" were first applied to them by foreigners26. By their own admission they received these names from other peoples. They themselves say that they received the names due to the original holders of these names having moved out of the area that they came to occupy. The existence of these names is evidence that a section of the Israelite nation had once been in that area. The original dwellers are apparently to be identified with the historical "Sok" or "Sakae" (meaning Scythians) who were in the Hara region at least from around 600 BCE 27 or earlier. They had been settled there by the Assyrians, and had a tradition that King Solomon of Israel had once ruled over them28. From the Saka descend the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain.

The above extract from "The Tribes" more or less sums up most the case. The Lost Ten Tribes had been in the area. The Afghans and company moved in afterwards and took over a tradition they heard from their neighbors regarding the former residents of that area. They also took over Tribal names.
In addition to the above,
Much later there was a Judaizing movement in the area possibly connected with the Nestorian Christains that lead to the adoption of Jewish customs prior to the region becoming Muslim.
Well after that (relatively recently, only a few centuries ago) a group of Jewish townspeople in Afghanistan were forced to become Muslims. These Jews kept many of their customs and traditions while merging into the existing Tribal structure so that their own practices became part of the common cultural heritage. Such phenomenon are endemic to the area with different groups merging together or protection etc while synthesizing their customs and traditions.

Concerning the Tribe of Joseph:
Extract from "The Tribes" ch.7
In Scythia Ptolemy placed the ASPASSI Scythae to the north of the Iatii and Augali and the Chorasmii to their southeast. ...The Massagetae (according to Ptolemy) had two sections, one in Margiana and another further east in the Sacae domain beyond the Jaxartes River. As for the Aspassi, they historically were to be connected with the Parthians who were also known as "Ashakens" and similar denominations.  A similarly named people were to the east of Hara, in the region of the Kophen (Kabul in present-day Afghanistan) where the "Assakenoi" or "Assaka" were to be found. These were a part of the Sacae and were named after Isaac.
            The Assakenoi were either identical with, or close neighbors of the "Aspioi" or "Aspaganoi" whose name was also to be rendered as "Isap" and "Ysuf-zi" meaning "Tribe of Joseph".  In other words in both Kabul (Afghanistan) and in North Scythia were neighboring peoples who bore names with the roots Ask and Asep.  Scythian peoples bearing names with the root Asc, Asek, Sak, etc. are fairly common and appear to be so called since they had once belonged to the "House of Isaac". Likewise, the Yasubi, Yasubgalli, Aspaganoi, Aspassi, Aspacarae, Suefs, Suobeni, all appear to have belonged to Scythian peoples, and all have names somehow connected to the same word root and probably received their appellations since they belonged to the tribe of JOSEPH.

Some scholars have claimed that some of these names derive from the Iranian "aspa" meaning horse but Irma HAYNMAN, ("The Syncretic Creed of Hellenized Jews From Tanais (Northern Black Sea Region)", Jerusalem 1994) has proven that the use of this root-name in ethnic connotations preceded the Iranian era and was of Semitic origin and cognate with the Hebrew name JOSEPH.
The work of Haynman indicates that in the Scythian-and Parthian regions eponymous names derived from Asap were consciously equated with the Biblical Joseph!
In "The Tribes" we mentioned the presence in the past in Central Asia and Afghanistan of quite a few groups (or offshoots of groups) that were later to move westward, e.g.
"in both the Aspassi-and-Augalli region and by Gandhara were the THATAGYDES (Sattaguda) believed to be a combination of Thata and Goths".

In fact if the proponents of the Afghanistan Theory were really serious and wanted to produce some real information of historical value instead of constantly repeating each other they would be advised to consult "The Tribes". We do not deny that portions of the Lost Ten Tribes at one stage were in Afghanistan and the neighboring regions but we affirm that they moved out, going elsewhere. For all we know remnants in individual families or clans may have remained here as they did elsewhere. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere in our researches we are obliged to concentrate on majority large-scale movements and qualitative significance.

Extract from "The Tribes", Ch.25.
Later, in the eastern Iranian area close to the Indus were the people of "Asapioi" who were also to be called "Isapoi" and "Ysufzi" meaning JOSEPH4. These names (like all those of Afghanistan see Bellew) were later to be applied to other different peoples. The root "ASAP" in the Hebrew Scriptures is related to the birth of Joseph: "And she [i.e. Rachel] conceived, and bare a son; and said God hath taken away [in Hebrew: "ASAPH"] my reproach: And she called his name Joseph", Genesis 30:23-24). The name Joseph in the Iranian-Afghan region was renderable as "Jo-asaph"5 and at all events "ASAP" is a derivative in Semitic regions of Joseph6. Other Scythian peoples such as the Aspassi in Chorasmia and the Aspacarae (whose names bear the "ASP" root) in Serica were also descended from Joseph. The Aspacarae of Serica were identical to the Eastern-Sienbi or Suebi and in western Europe are sometimes referred to as SWEAF and represented by the eponymous figure of Svipdag. The Sweaf-Sienbi participated in the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain.

Israeli Tradition in Afghan Royal Family

Not only the Pathans, but also the Afghan Royal Family has a very well known tradition placing its origin in ancient Israel, they came from the Tribe of Benjamin.

This tradition was first published in 1635 in a book called Mahsan-I-Afghani and has often been mentioned in the research literature. According to this tradition, King Saul had a son called Jeremiah who had a son called Afghana. Jeremiah died at about the time of King Saul's death and Afghana was raised by King David and remained in the royal court during King Solomon's reign.

About 400 years later in the time of disorder of Israel, the Afghana family fled to a land called Gur which is in central Afghanistan. They settled and traded with the people of the area and in the year 662, with the arrival of Islam, the sons of Israel in Gur converted to the prophet with 7 representatives of the Afghan. The leader of the sons of Israel was Kish like the name of Saul's father.

According to this tradition Muhammed rewarded them and Kish's Hebrew name was changed to Arab-A-Rashid by Muhammad and was given the task of spreading Islam among his people. This is the roots of Afghan Royal Family.

So Afghan Royal Family has the tradition of ancient Israel - Benjamin Tribe of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Afghanistan The Royal Family may have had a tradition that they descend from Benjamin but this does not make it genuine and also does not apply to the rest of the population. During the Second World War the reigning monarch of Afghanistan along with other members of the elite adopted Nazi ideaology. They attacked the local Jewish population and had to be deposed by the British who at that time ruled over the adjoining regions.
The article goes on to describe Afghan customs that are similar to Israelite or Jewish ones.

Most of the claims are not substantiated. They do not describe the situation at present and it is doubtful if they ever did. What Hebraic practices that did once exist may be ascribed to cultural osmosis or a mutual borrowing that the Afghans and neighboring peoples delight in.
Other Claimants to being the Lost Ten Tribes in Afghanistan and the Region

See also:
Brit-Am Answers to Queries Concerning Other Claims to being the Lost Ten Tribes
Baluchis from Syria?
The Baluchis do not claim to be descended from Israel but rather from Syrians which is in the area of Ancient Israel.
Many Balochistan in Pakistan claim that they are descendents of Aleppo in Syria.
Balochistan (Pakistan),_Pakistan
Today, many Balochis believe that their origins are Semitic and not Iranian contrary to linguistic and historical evidence. Balochi tradition holds that they left their Aleppo homeland in Syria at some point during the 1st millennium CE and moved to Balochistan, but it appears more likely that the Balochis are an Iranian group who have absorbed some Arab ancestry and cultural traits instead. Balochistan subsequently was dominated by empires based in Iran and Afghanistan as well as the Mughal empire based in India.

Alternate Origins for the Afghans and Company
Josephus (Antiquities) says that inhabitants of the area of Afghanistan descend from Joctan of the family of Shem but NOT from Israel:
Now Joctan, one of the sons of Heber, had these sons, Elmodad, Saleph, Asermoth, Jera, Adoram, Aizel, Decla, Ebal, Abimael, Sabeus, Ophir, Euilat, and Jobab. These inhabited from Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Asia adjoining to it. And this shall suffice concerning the sons of Shem.

Afghanis apparently received from Jewish sources the concept that Esau (Edom) was the ancestor of Rome and of the Rulers of the Byzantine Empire. This in their eyes was a glorious acheivement. They therefore claimed that they too were descended from Esau and were blood-brothers to the Byzantine Romans.

They claimed descent from the soldiers of Alexander the Great.

They claimed descent from the soldiers of Cyrus the Great of Persia.

de Gobineau traced the Pathans to remnants of the Parthians whpo once controlled Persia and the Middle East. The Parthians werre overthrown by the Sassanians and de Gobineau suggests that groups of Parthian nobles fled to Afghanistan. As one of his proofs de Gobineau cites the presence of Jewish customs amongsts the Pathans. Many Parthians had taken an interest in both Judaism (some converted) and in Nestorian Christinaity that used many Jewish customs.

North Africa
Godbey quotes a source saying that the Afghans were originally a Berber group from North Africa transferred by Nebuchadnessar to Afghanistan.
Bani-Israelite Theory of Paktoons Ethnic Origin


In consonance with political hostility between Mughals and Pakhtoons, there also existed a deep cultural bias between the two rivals. The two sides didn't spare any opportunity of letting each other down, so more true of Mughals. The story goes, and it also has been recorded in "Makhzan-i-Afghani", that one day Khan Jehan Lodhi was attending the court of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, when an Iranian emissary passed a very derogatory remark about the origin of Pakhtoons to appease Jehangir. Hurt by the remark, Khan Jehan was prompted to have Pakhtoon history compiled by his subordinates, Haibat Khan Kakar, Hamza Khan Tokhi, Zarif Khan Yousafzai, and Nematullah Harvi. As Mughals, the rivals of Pakhtoons, were claiming racial supremacy through descend from "Yafs" son of "Noah", the compilers of Makhzan strove to prove Pakhtoons Israelites for ethnic superiority over Mughals and so came up with Makhzan-i-Afghani. Later Pakhtoon historiographers quoted heavily from Makhzan-i-Afghani because of its being the only written source about the origin of Pakhtoons.

Thus the Israelitish theory of Pakhtoon origin not only was accentuated but also turned into a tradition. The theory was current till the beginning of the 20th century when it came under severe criticism from scholars for a number of reasons; mainly for its contradictions with Hebrew Scriptures, its historical inconsistencies, and the linguistic characteristics of Pashtu that classify it an Aryan Language instead of Semitic. The Bani-Israelite theory, and correspondingly Makhzan-i-Afghani, have degraded to a fairy-tale in their worth as a plausible interpretation of Pakhtoon origin as a result of the research of the 20th century. Makhzan-i-Afghani, however, has retained its significance as a good source of information about the genealogical and tribal constitution of Pakhtoon society.

Political Dimension of Bani-Israelite Theory:

Interestingly, in its own time, the authenticity of Makhzan-i-Afghani had been questioned by the people now projecting it as a propaganda tool because it gave Pakhtoons a superior status by declaring them as the descendents of prophets. Pakistani government helped propagate it to emphasize Pakhtoons as a people of faith and so to help strengthen Pakhtoons bond with Islamic ideology of Pakistan vis-a-vis the infidel India. Now that the Bani-Israelite theory about Pakhtoon origin has been scientifically proved untenable, people initially objecting to it have reverted to the opposite viewpoint of its being authentic for political motives to dub Pakhtoons a sort of foreigners in their historical land.

Inconsistencies of Bani-Israelite Theory rendered By Makhzan:

Makhzan traces Pakhtoon's origin from the super-Patriach Abraham down to one named King Talut or King Saul. The description of Makhzan to this point agrees to a certain degree to the testimony provided by Muslim sources or Hebrew Scriptures, which affirm the existence of King Saul around B.C. 1092 in Palestine. It is actually beyond this point that the authenticity of the description comes under serious doubt.

Makhzan-i-Afgani further maintains that Saul had a son Irmia(Jeremia) who again had a son called Afghana raised by King David upon the death of King Saul and later promoted to the chief command of the Army during the reign of King Solomon. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no evidence to the existence of characters like Irmia or Afghana in Herbew Scriptures or to the events associated with these characters.

The description then makes a sudden jump to 6th century B.C. when Bakhtunnasar or Nebuchadnezzar king of Babul attacked Judah and exiled Bani-Israel, the progeny of Afghana, to Ghor in Afghanistan. Here arises a great contradiction with what the Herbew Scriptures state. According to Scriptures, Nebuchadnezzar brought Jews in captivity to Babul where they remained till Cyrus, the King of Persia from B.C. 550 to B.C. 529, attacked Babul, freed Jews of captivity, and allowed them to return to Jerusalem. Herbew Scriptures praise Cyrus greatly for this favor. So, Cyrus didn't send the Jews captives to Ghor but rather to Jeruslem.

There is one other inconsistency here and that is the failure of Makhzan-i-Afghani to differentiate between Judah and Bani-Israel. This inconsistency has crept in because Makhzan has copied the tale of Jewish captivity from Muslim sources and Muslim sources weren't well acquainted with Jewish history. In fact, after Solomon, around B.C. 900, Jewish Kingdom had split into two states, one Samara controlled by two tribes of Judah and the other Jeruslem ruled by ten tribes of Bani-Israel. Before the attack of Nebuchadnezzar on Judah, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser had raided the Bani-Israelites state in B.C. 721 and sent the ten Bani-Israelite tribes in exile to Media, the North-Western part of today's Iran. It is these ten tribes which the Herbew historians have mentioned to have been lost and not the two tribes of Judah exiled by Nebuchadnezzar to Babul around B.C. 580 but allowed by Cyrus to return to Jeruslem. The Persian Empire didn't exist at the time of first Jewish captivity(B.C. 721) and had been founded later by Cyrus in B.C. 550. Plausibly the ten exiled tribes mingled with the local population of Media or dispersed over to Russia and Eastern Europe. Whatever, these contradictions cost serious doubts on the Makhzan account of Jewish captivity and so undermines its authenticity.

There are numerous other inconsistencies in Makhzan. For example its account of the conversion of the Pakhtoons to Islam in entirety under the spiritual guidance of the mythical character Qais-Abdul-Rashid who, as Makhzan informs, paid pilgrimage to Madina, embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet(PBUH) himself and then returned to Ghor to have the whole of Pakhtoon people converted to Islam is neither testified by Islamic tradition nor history. Rather, historians have recorded the existence of infidel Pakhtoons at a period as later as 11th century A.D. Moreover, Makhzan states Khalid bin Walid to be a kinsman of Pakhtoons who sent Pakhtoons, in waiting for the new prophet to appear, about the advent of Islam. There is no reference to this fact in any source whether Islamic or Arab. Historians rather have stated Khalid bin Walid to be a respectable member of the Kuresh tribe.

2. Ken Blady Interviewed; Afghan Nazi Involvement in WW2.
Afghanistan Source:
"Jews in Afghanistan" by Aleza Goldsmith
/Jewish Bulletin of Northern California |

While most Taliban extremists have never even seen a Jew, Afghanistan was, not so long ago, home to a thriving Jewish community.

As recently as the beginning of the 20th century, more than 40,000 Jews actually lived there quite peacefully, says Ken Blady, a Jewish educator, writer and lecturer on the subject of Jews in remote areas of the world.

Yet today, says the Berkeley resident and author of Jewish Communities in Exotic Places, there is "not a single Jewish person left there that we know of." By the time the Taliban rose to power in the mid 1990s, the land of Afghanistan -- which once provided immunity for Jews from the Shiite Muslims of Persia -- was pretty much devoid of Jews.

When Genghis Khan invaded Afghanistan in the early 1200s and "totally demolished what was an advanced country with prestigious and liberal universities," he also wiped out a large percentage of the Jewish people there.

But they later began trickling back in, especially in the 1800s when the Shiites began to forcibly convert them.

"In Persia they had a choice between the sword or conversion to Islam," says Blady. "Afghanistan was not quite as intolerant. Jews...were not allowed to be forcibly converted."

Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, however, were to be constantly reminded of their inferiority. They were not allowed to build a synagogue that was higher than a mosque and they could not ride on horses, "which were reserved for higher castes."

Most Jews worked in crafts, dyeing carpets, or as peddlers, importers and exporters.

"They had a rigid place in society and were generally protected by the law. Just as you wouldn't kick your dog, you wouldn't kick a Jew."

With the Jews' early and long connection to Afghanistan, it is not wholly surprising that British colonists once pointed out "something unusually Jewish about Afghans," says Blady. "They wore earlocks and shawls, and it is even claimed that they lit candles on Friday nights."

But despite this amalgamation of Jewish tradition, Blady says the claim of some Muslim Afghan tribes that they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes is a false one.

The Pashtun people, of which the Taliban are a part, for instance, claim they were Jews who converted to Islam under the advice of another Jewish convert to Islam, a disciple of Muhammad, during the eighth century, he says. They claim that the city of Kabul "stands for Cain and Abel" and that the name Afghanistan is derived from the grandson of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, Afghana.

Blady calls this mythology. "They are Aryan, Kurdish, Iranian people, not Semitic at all," he says. They created this mythology about themselves in order to lord it over people -- to say, when all else was primitive and barbaric, they were already monotheistic."

Blady says this Aryan descent is partly why the Nazis tried to establish solidarity with the Afghans during World War II.

"They began dropping leaflets from the skies to establish hatred and tension towards the Jews." Many were killed in massacres. Others fled to Bombay, pre-state Israel, Italy, England and America with the help of various Jewish organizations.

The few hundreds of Jews remaining in Afghanistan after the war left when the Soviets invaded in 1979.

"By the time the Taliban came to power there was only one Jewish family left. Then, about two years ago, they also managed to leave."

See also:
Taliban-Who? Pathans are NOT Israelites!
Towel-Headed Oppressors of Womenfolk Not Hebrews!

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#3. Afghanistan: Questions

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