‘semite’ Misnomer, Israelites Were Mixed Race, Says Savant
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‘semite’ Misnomer, Israelites Were Mixed Race, Says Savant

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Stanley A. Cook, Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge University, writing in today’s Times says that the word Semite as used by anti-Semites or “pro-Aryans,” first used about 150 years ago, was taken from Genesis, chapter x., where Shem is the ancestor of what is neither an ethnographical nor a linguistic group. But although the term is one applied by Orientalists, for convenience, to a clearly defined group of languages (including the ancient Babylonian and the modern Arabic), the lands in question are culturally of mixed origin, and were in closest contact with Negroes, Egyptians, Sumerians, Indo-Europeans, and others.

There is no doubt, Professor Cook declares, that the Israelites, or Jews who lived in the “meeting-place of continents,” were of at least two physical types, one of them apparently of Philistine or, rather, Aegian connection; and that there was intermarriage with Canaanites, Amorites, Edomites, and the rest is beyond dispute. Moreover, the descendants of the old population of Palestine are to be found, not only among the scattered Jews, but also among the present population, which, naturally, is not entirely due to the Arab conquests, which changed the cultural history of the ancient land.


“Indeed, if we regard the link between the Jews and Palestine as one essentially religious, those enthusiastic Zionists whose interests are more economic than religious do not necessarily consider their ancestral religion to constitute their strongest tie with the land of their fathers,” he said. And, if on the other hand, the emphasis is to be laid upon the religious history of Israel, there is no doubt whatever that the essential features of the religion of the Bible are due as much to the earlier Canaanites, Amorites and other peoples of Palestine as to invasions from the desert, of which the entrance of the Israelites was only one.


“From the anthropological point of view such is the antiquity of man, even in the ancient Near East, and such are the known typical vicissitudes, that it is really unscientific and mere waste of time to enlarge upon theories of borrowing or of reciprocal influences where real historical evidence is lacking. And from every point of view one cannot but deplore the injury done to the cause of humanism when today such terms as Aryan and Semite are used with ignorance and bias in a country whose great contributions to knowledge have—hitherto at least—been freely and gratefully acknowledged.

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