The earliest instances of forced Jewish migration occurred in their relocation at the hands of some of the most recognized empires in history. Jewish migration patterns began with the capture of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. However, some experts insist that the Diaspora began with the migration of the Jews subsequent to the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Persian king Cyrus liberated Jews temporarily, but there would be more empires to govern Jews to come.
During the Hellenistic Age, the kingdom of Judea was absorbed by the Alexandrian Empire, but even those members of the Jewish diaspora were profoundly influenced by Greek culture, and many voluntarily left Judea to reside in the empire’s boundaries. With the advances of the Roman Empire, on the other hand, the primary motivation for Jewish migration patterns was not personal desire or volition, but fear.
A number of Jews sought to fight against the brutal rule of the Romans, but upon the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the city’s capture, Jews were sent out of Judea in large numbers and otherwise sold as slaves. In the centuries to come, migration patterns would persist across Europe, especially in Western Europe. It would be until after World War IIPalestine. Still, the history of the migration of the Jews is reflected in the use of the word diaspora even today. Anyone Jew living outside of modern Israel is part of the diaspora.
Synopses of diaspora are reliant on the historical perspective one takes. With forerunners of the latest stage in human evolution and those early humans alike, a diaspora of sorts took place in the migration of these beings from Africa outward to the other continents about 150,000 years ago.
These individual diasporic movements took place at various intervals before the advent of writing, and culminated with the arrival of man in the Americas as early as 20,000 or 30,000 years ago. Even as individual peoples began to unite and forge empires, these migrations persisted, and groups from the Vikings moved between Scandinavia and other territories.
However, some maintain that diasporas should involve some element of refugeeism. Owing to its Greek and Hebrew etymologies, the main use of Diaspora when capitalized is specific to large-scale displacements of Jews over a number of centuries. Even so, the word has been used to describe things much different from the Jewish diaspora, such as the Great Irish Famine
The Jewish Diaspora definitely captures the spirit of a diaspora, as it reflects the fact they have had to move time and time again, and have suffered persecution every step of the way. The exact start of the Diaspora is debated, as historians might argue with regard to whether or not it was the capture of Jerusalem by the Assyrians or its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians two centuries later that kicked off the Diaspora. On the contrary, what is undebatable is that Jewish territories have fallen under the dominion of larger entities throughout history, and Jewish migration has spiked in response.
Two of the more significant imperial relationships that diasporic Jews became entangled with were the reign of Alexander the Great and the tyrannical rule of the Roman Empire. While the first one brought Hellenistic influences to the Jews and emigrations of Jews from the land of Judah/Judea, the other brought slavery and oppression to the Jews, and forced them to leave under duress. The terms “Jewish Diaspora” and “diaspora” persist until this day, and partially reflect the recent founding of the modern state of Israel
The Jewish and African diasporas are analogous, but aside from the obvious difference in the groups involved, only forced international migrations are considered. Perhaps this is too limiting. Granted, the African diaspora, as it is traditionally known, is impossible to conceive of in any way other than forced international migration. Africans were a key cog in the slave trade that sent goods, ships and slaves between Africa, Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
Yet much internal migration has occurred within Africa as a result of widespread decolonization and subsequent civil wars/other conflicts between groups, which may be envisioned as a type of diaspora in itself, especially noting the rampant refugeeism.
Nonetheless, this should not denigrate the cause of the displaced Tibetan population, especially noting their adherence to religious piety and peaceful opposition to China’s occupation of the region. The main thrust of the modern Tibetan refugee moment resides in the invasions of eastern and central Tibet and the violent repudiation of Tibet’s claims for its own independence in the 1950’s that almost resulted in the Dalai Lama’s capture. Yet with continued repression of Tibetan expression of religion, language, economy, and politics, the diaspora has continued to bring Tibetan migrations to Nepal and, most notably, the Indian village of Dharamsala.
In recent decades, the international response on behalf of the displaced persons of Tibet has been particularly strong, with the continued involvement of the Dalai Lama in international affairs from his position of exile and numerous “Free Tibet” organizations and charity events being orchestrated by concerned parties.
The way in which to define the term “diaspora” depends on the depth of the historical perspective from which the migration of humans across the face of the Earth is approached. Diasporas – intentional relocation of a group of people united by similar physical characteristic or a common country of origin – have been occurring since before the dawn of written history.
Even prior to the genesis of the modern human species, evolutionary predecessors traveled large distances to colonize the corners of the globe. It is not as if ancient humans all independently came into being on the landmasses on which people reside today. Rather, noting how the continents have spread out over millions of years, it is believed individual diasporas took the earliest members of the Homo sapiens family-group off of Africa some 150,000 years ago.
The diaspora to the Americas is much newer. Depending one’s school of thought, migrations to the New World may have been as recent as 20,000 years ago. Still after these prehistoric mass migrations, diasporas would continue, including the proliferation of early peoples like the Vikings.
Nonetheless, more commonly, a diaspora is seen as narrower in scope than a migration. Diasporas are generally considered different from migrations in that diasporas are usually a forced relocation at the hands of another; this is why the above periods of travel from continent to continent are usually referred to as migrations.