Are Ashkenazi Jews descended from Khazars and does it matter? An article by Arthur Koestler many years ago speculated that Ashkenazy Jews are descended from the Khazars, a Central Asian kingdom that converted to Judaism and eventually vanished. This claim has been used by anti-Zionists to argue that the Jews are not a nation, and that Ashkenazy Jews have no rights to Israel. The best evidence indicates that Jews dispersed throughout Europe from Rome. There were Jewish communities in France in the dark ages evidently. Other Ashkenazy Jews are descended from Spanish (Sephardic) Jews who were forced to leave Spain in 1492. Genetic evidence indicates that European Jews are probably closer to Palestinian and Syrian Arabs than to central Asians who are partly descended from the Khazars; see articles here and here for example. In any case, the claims of a people to nationhood are almost never based on genetics or "race." Nobody claims that all the French are descended from ancient Gauls, or that all the British are descended from the Celts and Picts. When Americans talk about "'our' forefathers," the 'our' doesn't usually exclude the generations of immigrants who came after the Mayflower settlers. Today's Palestinians are not all descended from ancient Canaanites and Philistines. Some are converted Jews. Some are descended from Arab families who arrived with various conquerors. Whatever the merits of the genetic arguments, claims that anyone has no right to a country because they are not racially "pure" are racist claims, and identify the people making those claims as racists.