Christian Zionist Organisation Backs Iberians Converting to Judaism

James M. Hutchens’ Christian Zionist “Jerusalem Connection” has sent out another e-newsletter, this time promoting an article by Michael Freund, founder of  Shavei Israel. According to Freund:

More than five centuries after the expulsion and forced conversion of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry, the results of a new genetic study might just spur a return of historic proportions to Israel and the Jewish people. In a paper published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, a team of biologists dropped a DNA bombshell, declaring that 20% of the population of Iberia has Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

…The finding that 20% of the population of Iberia is descended from Jews will likely take Spain and Portugal by storm…Imagine if just 5% or even 10% of Spanish and Portuguese descendants of Jews were to return to Judaism. It would mean an additional 500,000 to 1 million Jews in the world.

I can see why Freund would enthuse over this, but it’s less clear why a conservative evangelical like Hutchens would want to promote the idea of “500,000 to 1 million” Portuguese and Spaniards embracing a religion other than Christianity. Such are the mysteries of Christian Zionism.

Meanwhile, if Freund is keen to find more recruits for his DNA-and-soil nationalism, he could look closer to home; as Israeli (anti-Zionist) historian Shlomo Sand recently argued in Le Monde:

Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.

Of course, that doesn’t preclude the possiblity of some dispersion in the centuries after 70 CE, for various reasons. For instance, as I discussed just a few days ago, there was some adverse climate change between 100 and 700 CE.

(PS: I should add that while I think this is of historical interest, I believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved by focusing on human rights rather than poring over ancient history)