Conspiracy theories are constantly popular online and are the perfect weapon in information warfare. Recently, on the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic, a real flood of various more or less unlikely hypotheses regarding, for example, the origin of the virus causing the disease, could be observed.
It is also known that false information about the causes of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 was, among others, produced by Russian troll factories. On March 6, 2022 two Facebook profiles – namely Młodzi Patrioci (Young Patriots) and Ogólnopolski Kanał Informacyjny (Polish Information Channel) (the post on the latter is no longer available) – shared posts including a video about a project called “Heavenly Jerusalem”, which is an alleged plan to relocate Israel on the territory of Ukraine.
The original recording of the “Heavenly Jerusalem” project was published on December 14, 2018 on the PL1.TV YouTube channel and it had almost 460 thousand views. The PL1.TV online television publishes mainly anti-systemic materials, and during the pandemic it spread anti-vaccine content.
Multiple similar contents can be found online, including articles on the relocation of Israel to new territories or building a Jewish state i.a. in Poland. The aftermath of this type of narrative is the material in the ”Gazeta Warszawska” online service, which states that the presence of a Jewish field hospital in war-torn Ukraine is the beginning of building a Jewish state in that country and that similar activities are to take place in Poland. Even in recent weeks, some Internet creators are returning to the broadly understood concept of building “Heavenly Jerusalem”.
Did Henry Kissinger predict the end of Israel within 10 years?
In the above-mentioned video published on the YouTube PL1.TV channel, Leszek Pietrzak, a historian, former employee of the Institute of National Remembrance, the Office for State Protection and the National Security Bureau (BBN), featured as an expert. Currently, he runs his YouTube channel “Zakazane Historie” (“Forbidden Stories”) and cooperates with “Warszawska Gazeta” – a controversial weekly, which references, among others, to anti-Semitism and promotes anti-vaccine content.
In the aforementioned material, originally published on YouTube, Pietrzak puts forward a thesis, allegedly extremely popular among analysts and experts dealing with geopolitical issues, that “in 10 years there will be no Israel”. In his opinion, these words were to be spoken by Henry Kissinger – former secretary of state during the presidency of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
After some research, it turns out Kissinger said nothing of the sort. The first person that probably attributed these words to the American diplomat, and even – colloquially speaking – put them in his mouth, was Cindy Adams, the head of the gossip column in the New York Post. There are also many indications that the opinion attributed to Kissinger became “popular” after it appeared in the aforementioned American tabloid. As a result, Tara Butzbaugh – an employee of Kissinger’s office – denied this on September 25, 2012 in The Times of Israel.
Ihor Berkut and the “Heavenly Jerusalem” project
Ihor Berkut (also known as Harry Berkut or Igor Gekko) is to be responsible for the “Heavenly Jerusalem” project. This “rather mysterious figure of Ukrainian politics” is the leader of the openly pro-Russian party Велика Україна (Greater Ukraine). The politician was against Ukraine’s membership in international alliances and agreements such as the North Atlantic Treaty or the European Union. He also supported pro-Russian separatism in Ukraine. His party has not been actively involved in the political life of Ukraine for many years, although – as one Ukrainian fact-checking website points out – it is still registered as active.
At the time of writing this article, the website of the said political organization is down. It also turns out that it was active until 2014, and the last entries on it were posted in 2013. In 2020, an Ukrainian portal Texty reported that Berkut and two other pro-Russian activists had been arrested and charged with, inter alia, calls for a change in the constitutional system and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Is Israel planning to move to south-eastern Ukraine?
Due to the threat posed by Arab states, Israel would move to south-eastern Ukraine. According to the video published on YouTube, “Heavenly Jerusalem” would be built within the boundaries of today’s Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa oblasts. In this fake material, the narrator states that the region was chosen because it was part of the Khazarian state in which Judaism was to be the dominant religion in the Middle Ages.
Khazars were a semi-nomadic people of Turkish origin who, after conflicts with the Arabs, in 737 moved their capital to Itil – a city near the mouth of the Volga. In the following years, they began their expansion to the west and in the 8th century they reached the peak of their power. The Khazarian state then stretched from the northern coast of the Black Sea (namely the lower Volga and the Caspian Sea) in the east to the Dnieper River in the west. Some written sources that can be dated to the 9th and 10th centuries state that in the 8th century the Khazars were to adopt Judaism as their religion. In the scientific world, this hypothesis raises a lot of controversy and is the subject of many heated discussions and disputes.
Shaul Stampfer, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been dealing with this topic for many years, and his research was concluded with an article published in the Jewish Social Studies in 2013. The scholar claims that the texts he analysed are pseudepigraphs (works whose authorship is attributed to a specific person, but were in fact written by someone else), and that no credible texts mention anything about the alleged conversion of the Khazars to Judaism. Moreover, there is no archaeological evidence of the alleged change in their religion. In 2015, Shaul Stampfer also gave his opinion on this subject in a lecture prepared for the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in which he explained that the sources about the conversion of the nomadic people to Judaism are contradictory, illogical, contain factual errors and therefore should be considered fake.
There is currently no convincing evidence that the Khazars converted to Judaism. Therefore, this thesis should be considered unconfirmed.
Secret agreement between Israel and Ukraine
Later in the video published by PL1.TV, the aforementioned Leszek Pietrzak informs that the governments of Israel and Ukraine concluded a secret agreement regarding the settlement of Jews in south-eastern Ukraine. In many places on the web one can find fragments copied from one source saying that the Times of Israel was supposed to inform about the alleged conclusion of a secret agreement. This fragment appears in the context of the “Jewish Republic in Crimea” and the analysis of the geopolitical situation of Israel, conducted by Pietrzak for “Gazeta Finansowa”. It is worth recalling that Leszek Pietrzak recently returned to the topic of secret agreements between Kyiv and Jerusalem on his YouTube channel in the film ”The Future of Israel”, which was published on March 25, 2022.
Logically, if the agreements are secret, there is little chance that they would surface so easily, and only a handful of people involved in the diplomatic talks would know about them. An anonymous source from the environment of Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel, and machine pasting the above-mentioned fragment should also be seen as red flags.
It is impossible to verify from where the conspirators received this top-secret information, but it is not corroborated by any of Israel’s past or present actions.
The entire narrative, both in the case of attempts to build Israel in south-eastern Ukraine and in Poland, is based on sensation, secrecy and knowledge possessed by the few Internet experts who obviously have seen through the alleged conspiracy.
False assumptions are to be supported by the authority of experts and their academic degrees (in this case, Henry Kissinger and Dr Leszek Pietrzak). whereas Issues whose academic recognition is at least questionable are presented as historical truths.
Finally, it is worth noting that, according to the CyberPolicy NASK report, the so-called “New Khazaria” or “New Jerusalem” are one of many disinformation narratives used by Russia. In this context, it should come as no surprise that a film featuring a false narrative gained a second life just as Russia invaded Ukraine. The political activity of Ihor Berkut, his endorsement of “Heavenly Jerusalem” and his alleged detention by the Ukrainian services, should not be surprising either.
Article indicating that Cindy Adams posted an out-of-context quote from Henry Kissinger about Israel’s future: https://blogs.umb.edu/quoteunquote/2012/09/26/cindy-adams-breathlessly-and-casually-passes-on-an-elusive-kissinger-quote-about-israels-future/
Statement by Tara Butzbaugh in The Times of Israel, in which she denies reports of Henry Kissinger’s words about the future of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/kissinger-staffer-ex-secretary-of-state-didnt-make-no-israel-quote/
Article by the Ukrainian fact-checking website, which includes, inter alia, information about the inactivity of the Greater Ukraine party: https://voxukraine.org/fejk-ukrayintsiv-chekaye-utilizatsiya-ta-rozprodazh-ukrayini-polshhi/
Article by the Ukrainian website Texta about the arrest of Ihor Berkut by the Ukrainian services: https://texty.org.ua/fragments/101297/sbu-vykryla-kremlivskoho-kursanta-ta-redaktoriv-sajtiv-yaki-orhanizovuvaly-separatystski-akciyi-v-ukrayini/?fbclid=IwAR39BaGBgH65iXc9dYwRiwXROhsSI1n4ihk5Db5nlAz51aqbSF9Zi17nTAE
Summary of Shaul Stampfer’s article published in the Jewish Social Studies: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jewisocistud.19.3.1
Lecture by Shaul Stampfer for the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews: https://polin.pl/pl/wydarzenie/czy-zydzi-pochodza-od-chazarow