Brit-Am versus British Israel
by Yair Dividiy
Yair Davidiy is an Orthodox Jew, who lives in Israel. He helps direct the Brit-Am Movement of the Ten Tribes of Israel and has authored several books and hundreds of articles, many of which have been well-received.
Brit-Am is often referred to as a “British Israelitish” Movement. Brit-Am is not British Israel and is not a British Israel movement in the negative sense that this term is often applied. Brit-Am is its own entity and believes that descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes are primarily to be found amongst Western Peoples. Such beliefs were known in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands long, long before “British Israel” ever existed. “British-Israel”, as projected by those linking us with it, bears an image of anti-Semitism and nineteenth century-type Christian mythology. This is NOT us!
British-Israel was ONCE a serious organization that encouraged original research and was mildly pro-Zionist and philio-Semitic. It changed to be almost the opposite… British Israel was always a mixture of people and opinions, but the “bad eggs” became influential. Many of its adherents, however, retained positive sentiments pertaining to British Israel as it ONCE was. Just recently there was a change in the administration of BIWF that may well presage a positive return to British Israel…What we are saying in the article below is that Brit-Am (with its pro-Jewish up-to-date academic attitude) as an organization is more true to the original British Israel positions than the BIWF later became.
We are against the association of Brit-Am with British Israel when the intention of those making the association is to besmirch Brit-Am, and by implication impute to us negative opinions that we do not hold. British Israel is only one of numerous organizations that believe the Lost Ten Tribes are in the west. Most of these organizations are actually pro-Jewish and pro-Zionist. Some are not, and they receive much of the publicity possibly because it’s convenient for “liberal’ intellectuals to deal with “Brit-Am” beliefs by unjustly besmirching them.
British-Israel is a belief though the name is also applied to a movement and organization. British-Israel is now claimed to be represented by the British-Israel World Federation (BIWF). It is also referred to as “Anglo-Israel”. British-Israel through the BIWF is popularly considered to represent the belief that the British and related peoples are descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. In practice the BIWF stands for other things, and it is Brit-Am that promotes British-Israel beliefs as understood by the public consciousness.
Belief that inhabitants of the British Isles were a part of the Hebrew descent has probably always existed…Brit-Am has shown this belief to factual, justified. The Romans and Ancient Arabs (as described in our work “Ephraim, the Gentile Children of Israel”) recognized in their own way the kinship between the Jews and the people of Britain. Gildas, the earliest historian of the Celtic British, and Bede, the Chronicler of the earliest Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England, both recognized the Hebraic Choseness of their own peoples. These phenomena were noted by foremost Jewish historian, Leon Poliakov:
“The British had four great mythologies with which to construct their own myth of origin — the Greco-Roman, the Celtic, the Germanic and the Hebrew. In the writings of Gildas the Celts became the real Israel” (“Aryan Myth”, 1974).
Traditional British identification with Israel has also been remarked upon by Martin Bernal (“Black Athena”) and several other historians.
The following EXTRACTs from an essay on British-Israel continue the thread: http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/britisrael.html
Note these are EXTRACTS from a Wikipedia article on British-Israel. They do not represent Brit-Am Beliefs nor do they necessarily reflect real British Israel ones but rather a popular conception of British Israel as it has been projected in recent years.
Wikpedia Article Extracts: British-Israelism/Anglo-Israelism
“British-Israelism is not the name of an organization, but the name of an historical movement that has organizational manifestation in the U.S. and Europe today. The key idea of British-Israelism, also referred to as Anglo-Israelism, is that Great Britain is the geographical home of the lost tribes of Israel. The immediate implication of this belief is that it identifies the present day Anglo-Saxon people as God’s Chosen People.
“Scholars differ in their placement of British-Israelism’s origin. Some scholars attribute the beginnings of British-Israelite beliefs to the Puritans of the 1600s, for the Puritans claimed to be the spiritual descendants of the ancient Israelites. Others assert that the idea precipitated from a Dr. Abade of Amsterdam when he allegedly wrote in 1723, “Unless the ten tribes have flown into the air…they must be sought for in the north and west, and in the British Isles” ( Orr ).
“Historians find one of the first declarations of an actual European descent from the Israelites in the writings of Richard Brothers in the 1790s. British-Israelites view John Wilson as the true “Father of the Rediscovery of Israel,” … In his work Lectures on Our Israelitish Origin of 1840, Wilson attempted to provide empirical information that supported British- Israelism. His arguments suggested that similarities to English ways in certain elements in Hebrew language and social institutions were not merely coincidental (Barkun: 7). British-Israel organizations formed during the 1870s on account of slow, but growing acceptance of Wilson’s teachings. Upon the death of Wilson in 1871, a new leader of the British-Israelism movement emerged in Edward Hine… One of his most important teachings was pyramidism–1928 marks a key point in the history of British-Israelism. In this year, Howard B. Rand became the National Commissioner of the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, and his significance rests on his anti-Semitic teachings. For the first time in the movement’s history, exclusionary hatred earned legitimacy.” (Kossy)
“Some scholars argue that British-Israelism entered the American Adventist movement — from which the Worldwide Church of God developed. In 1927, American Adventist Herbert W. Armstrong became keenly interested in British-Israelism. By 1933, Armstrong had established the independent Eugene congregation in Oregon, which “became the parent of the Worldwide Church of God” (Orr ). Along with other unorthodox doctrines, Armstrong and his congregation embraced British-Israelism. The Worldwide Church of God did not endorse anti-Semitism, nor racism. Following the death of its founder, The Worldwide Church of God dropped British- Israelism and other unorthodox beliefs in 1995.”