Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East share many genes inherited from the ancestral Jewish population that lived in the Middle East some 3,000 years ago, even though each community also carries genes from other sources — usually the country in which it lives.
That is the conclusion of two new genetic surveys, the first to use genome-wide scanning devices to compare many Jewish communities around the world.
A major surprise from both surveys is the genetic closeness of the two Jewish communities of Europe, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. The Ashkenazim thrived in North and Eastern Europe until their devastation by the Hitler regime, and now live mostly in the United States and Israel. The Sephardim were exiled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497 and moved to the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and the Netherlands.
The two genome surveys extend earlier studies based just on the Y chromosome, the genetic element carried by all men. They refute the suggestion made last year by the historian Shlomo Sand in his book “The Invention of the Jewish People” that Jews have no common origin but are a miscellany of people in Europe and Central Asia who converted to Judaism at various times.
Of course, as I noted previously, the genetic evidence was already quite clear when Sand wrote his book. He’s aware of the evidence, but has so far chalked it up to a conspiracy of Zionist geneticists intent on obscuring the true Khazar origins of Ashkenazic Jews.
Sand’s book won a French journalism prize for the best non-fiction book of the year, which just does to show that in the anti-Zionist atmosphere of the European intelligentsia, no idea is too preposterous to embrace if it serves the cause. Nevertheless, if the French journalists have any integrity, they might reconsider whether this book was eligible for a nonfiction award.
UPDATE: I wrote previously:
I don’t think that Zionism, etc., depends on whether Jews really have common genetic origins or not, anymore than Palestinian identity is any more or less real depending on whether, as some claim, a large percentage of “Palestinian Arabs” had immigrated rather recently from other countries in the Middle East. But I do think that manipulating history for ideological purposes is bad...