Jews, Like Palestinians, Are ‘Indigenous’ to the Middle East

“According to a 2016 summary by genetic researchers Ariella Gladstein and Michael F. Hammer, however, “Ashkenazi Jews are not closely related to modern populations that best represent the Khazars.” Rather, they “appear equally close to both Middle Eastern and European populations,” and they “likely arose from a genetically diverse population in the Middle East.”

Notably, Abbas did not address Mizrahim, Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin, who account for about 45 percent of Israel’s Jewish population, compared to 32 percent for Ashkenazim. Overall, a 2000 study found, “a substantial portion” of Jewish and Arab Y chromosomes (70 percent and 82 percent, respectively) belonged to the same chromosome pool, results that were consistent with “previous studies that suggested a common origin for Jewish and non-Jewish populations living in the Middle East.””

“While genetic research belies the notion that Jews are newcomers to the Middle East, it gets you only so far. In particular, it does not address conflicting land claims based on much more recent developments.”

“Israel’s founding in 1948, which most Jews celebrate but most Palestinians remember as the Nakba (catastrophe), involved a mixture of prior land purchases, arbitrary line drawing by the United Nations, and a war in which the nascent state was attacked by the combined armies of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Some of the 700,000 or so Palestinians who fled their homes planned to return after the anticipated Arab victory, while others were forcibly expelled.
Israel’s defenders have long argued that it could rightly claim land won in defensive wars—in 1967 as well as 1948. They have noted that Israel absorbed Jewish refugees from Arab states and wondered why Arab states could not likewise absorb Palestinian refugees.”

The Politics of DNA

“”Luck,” E.B. White once said, “is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” They worked hard, no doubt, to get where they are. But they also benefited enormously from good fortune, not just in life but in life’s building blocks. A fortunate combination of thousands of slight genetic differences boosted their intelligence, motivation, openness to experience, task perseverance, executive function, and interpersonal skills.

“Like being born to a rich or poor family, being born with a certain set of genetic variants is the outcome of a lottery of birth,” the behavioral geneticist Kathryn Paige Harden argues in The Genetic Lottery. “And, like social class, the outcome of the genetic lottery is a systemic force that matters for who gets more, and who gets less, of nearly everything we care about in society.””