Jewish Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

Part 1: Jewish Populations

Last Update: August 20, 2009

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This page collects Y-DNA and mtDNA data and analysis related to traditionally Rabbinical Jewish populations of the world, including: Ashkenazim (Jews of Northern and Eastern Europe) • Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews) • Mizrakhim (Middle Eastern Jews) • Caucasian Mountain Jews (Dagestani and Azerbaijani Jews) • Georgian Jews • Indian Jews • North African Jews • Yemenite Jews • Ethiopian Jews

University College London study, 2002

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich. "Dad was out and about, while Mom stayed home." Jerusalem Post (June 16, 2002): 9. Excerpts:
"Data on the Y chromosome indicates that the males originated in the Middle East, while the mothers' mitochondrial DNA seems to indicate a local Diaspora origin in the female community founders.... [Karl Skorecki described the study as] 'very exciting' [and] 'very important'...."

Nicholas Wade. "In DNA, New Clues to Jewish Roots." The New York Times (May 14, 2002): F1 (col. 1). Excerpts:

"The emerging genetic picture is based largely on two studies, one published two years ago and the other this month, that together show that the men and women who founded the Jewish communities had surprisingly different genetic histories.... A new study now shows that the women in nine Jewish communities from Georgia, the former Soviet republic, to Morocco have vastly different genetic histories from the men.... The women's identities, however, are a mystery, because, unlike the case with the men, their genetic signatures are not related to one another or to those of present-day Middle Eastern populations.... The new study, by Dr. David Goldstein, Dr. Mark Thomas and Dr. Neil Bradman of University College in London and other colleagues, appears in The American Journal of Human Genetics this month.... His [Goldstein's] own speculation, he said, is that most Jewish communities were formed by unions between Jewish men and local women, though he notes that the women's origins cannot be genetically determined.... Like the other Jewish communities in the study, the Ashkenazic community of Northern and Central Europe, from which most American Jews are descended, shows less diversity than expected in its mitochondrial DNA, perhaps reflecting the maternal definition of Jewishness. But unlike the other Jewish populations, it does not show signs of having had very few female founders. It is possible, Dr. Goldstein said, that the Ashkenazic community is a mosaic of separate populations formed the same way as the others.... 'The authors are correct in saying the historical origins of most Jewish communities are unknown,' Dr. [Shaye] Cohen [of Harvard University] said. 'Not only the little ones like in India, but even the mainstream Ashkenazic culture from which most American Jews descend.'.... If the founding mothers of most Jewish communities were local, that could explain why Jews in each country tend to resemble their host community physically while the origins of their Jewish founding fathers may explain the aspects the communities have in common, Dr. Cohen said.... The Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA's in today's Jewish communities reflect the ancestry of their male and female founders but say little about the rest of the genome... Noting that the Y chromosome points to a Middle Eastern origin of Jewish communities and the mitochondrial DNA to a possibly local origin, Dr. Goldstein said that the composition of ordinary chromosomes, which carry most of the genes, was impossible to assess. 'My guess,' Dr. Goldstein said, 'is that the rest of the genome will be a mixture of both.'"

Mark G. Thomas, Michael E. Weale, Abigail L. Jones, Martin Richards, Alice Smith, Nicola Redhead, Antonio Torroni, Rosaria Scozzari, Fiona Gratrix, Ayele Tarekegn, James F. Wilson, Cristian Capelli, Neil Bradman, and David B. Goldstein. "Founding Mothers of Jewish Communities: Geographically Separated Jewish Groups Were Independently Founded by Very Few Female Ancestors." The American Journal of Human Genetics 70:6 (June 2002): 1411-1420. The study collected mtDNA from about 600 Jews and non-Jews from around the world, including 78 Ashkenazic Jews and Georgians, Uzbeks, Germans, Berbers, Ethiopians, Arabs, etc. 17.9% of sampled Iraqi Jews have an mtDNA pattern known as U3, compared to 2.6% of Ashkenazic Jews, 0.9% of Moroccan Jews, 1.7% of ethnic Berbers, 1.1% of ethnic Germans, 0.0% of Iranian Jews, 0.0% of Georgian Jews, 0.0% of Bukharian Jews, 0.0% of Yemenite Jews, 0.0% of Ethiopian Jews, 0.0% of Indian Jews, 0.0% of Syrian Arabs, 0.0% of Georgians, 0.0% of Uzbeks, 0.0% of Yemeni Arabs, 0.0% of Ethiopians, 0.0% of Asian Indians, 0.0% of Israeli Arabs. (According to Vincent Macaulay, U3 is found also among some Turks, Iraqis, Caucasus tribes, Alpine Europeans, North Central Europeans, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Eastern Mediterranean Europeans, Central Mediterranean Europeans, Western Mediterranean Europeans, and southeastern Europeans.) Another pattern, called Haplotype I, was found among 12.1% of Bukharan Jews, 2.6% of Ashkenazic Jews, 1.8% of Iraqi Jews, 1.3% of Iranian Jews, 1.1% of ethnic Germans, and 2.4% of ethnic Asian Indians, and none of the other groups among individuals tested. (According to Vincent Macaulay, Haplotype I is found also among some Northeastern Europeans, North Central Europeans, Caucasus tribes, Northwestern Europeans, and Scandinavians.) Yet another pattern, called Haplotype J1, was found among 12.5% of Iraqi Jews, 2.7% of Iranian Jews, 9.2% of Yemenite Jews, and 1.7% of Israeli Arabs, and none of the other groups among individuals tested. (According to Vincent Macaulay, Haplotype J1 is found also among some Iraqi Arabs, Bedouins, Palestinian Arabs, and Azerbaijanis.) To compare with Vincent Macaulay's research on mtDNA, visit Supplementary data from Richards et al. (2000). Abstract:

"We have analyzed the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA from each of nine geographically separated Jewish groups, eight non-Jewish host populations, and an Israeli Arab/Palestinian population, and we have compared the differences found in Jews and non-Jews with those found using Y-chromosome data that were obtained, in most cases, from the same population samples. The results suggest that most Jewish communities were founded by relatively few women, that the founding process was independent in different geographic areas, and that subsequent genetic input from surrounding populations was limited on the female side. In sharp contrast to this, the paternally inherited Y chromosome shows diversity similar to that of neighboring populations and shows no evidence of founder effects. These sex-specific differences demonstrate an important role for culture in shaping patterns of genetic variation and are likely to have significant epidemiological implications for studies involving these populations. We illustrate this by presenting data from a panel of X-chromosome microsatellites, which indicates that, in the case of the Georgian Jews, the female-specific founder event appears to have resulted in elevated levels of linkage disequilibrium."
"Unfortunately, in many cases, it is not possible to infer the geographic origin of the founding mtDNAs within the different Jewish groups with any confidence.... || In two cases, however, comparison [of Jewish mtDNA] with the published data does provide some indication of the possible geographic origins of the modal types. The modal type in the Bene Israel is a one-step mutational neighbor of a haplotype present in the Indian sample, as well as being a one-step neighbor of a type previously identified in India (Kivisild et al. 1999a, 1999b). Similarly, the commmonest type in the Ethiopian Jewish sample is also present in the non-Jewish Ethiopian sample and occurs in the worldwide mtDNA database only in Somalia (Watson et al. 1997). Other high-frequency haplotypes in the Ethiopian Jewish sample are also found almost entirely in Africa (data not shown). The lack of an indication of a Middle Eastern origin for these haplotypes, on the basis of the Richards database, makes local recruitment a more reasonable explanation in these two cases." (pp. 1415, 1417)

Martin Richards. "Beware the gene genies." The Guardian (February 21, 2003). Excerpts:

"Studies of human genetic diversity have barely begun. Yet the fashion for genetic ancestry testing is booming.... Buoyed by the hype, the private sector has been moving in. Other groups, such as Jews, are now being targeted. This despite the fact that Jewish communities have little in common on their mitochondrial side - the maternal line down which Judaism is traditionally inherited. It's the male side that shows common ancestry between different Jewish communities - so, of course, that's what the geneticists focus on."

Ariella Oppenheim's study, 2001

Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Bernd Brinkmann, Partha P. Majumder, Marina Faerman, and Ariella Oppenheim. "The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East." The American Journal of Human Genetics 69:5 (November 2001): 1095-1112. Abstract:
"A sample of 526 Y chromosomes representing six Middle Eastern populations (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish Jews from Israel; Muslim Kurds; Muslim Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian Authority Area; and Bedouin from the Negev) was analyzed for 13 binary polymorphisms and six microsatellite loci. The investigation of the genetic relationship among three Jewish communities revealed that Kurdish and Sephardic Jews were indistinguishable from one another, whereas both differed slightly, yet significantly, from Ashkenazi Jews. The differences among Ashkenazim may be a result of low-level gene flow from European populations and/or genetic drift during isolation. Admixture between Kurdish Jews and their former Muslim host population in Kurdistan appeared to be negligible. In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors. The two haplogroups Eu 9 and Eu 10 constitute a major part of the Y chromosome pool in the analyzed sample. Our data suggest that Eu 9 originated in the northern part, and Eu 10 in the southern part of the Fertile Crescent... Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin differed from the other Middle Eastern populations studied here, mainly in specific high-frequency Eu 10 haplotypes not found in the non-Arab groups. These chromosomes might have been introduced through migrations from the Arabian Peninsula during the last two millennia..." (Mirror)
"The most-frequent haplotype in all three Jewish groups (the CMH [haplotype 159 in the Appendix]) segregated on a Eu 10 background, together with the three modal haplotypes in Palestinians and Bedouin (haplotypes 144, 151, and 166). The dominant haplotype of the Muslim Kurds (haplotype 114) was only one microsatellite-mutation step apart from the CMH and the modal haplotype of the Bedouin, but it belonged to haplogroup Eu 9. .... Previous studies of Y chromosome polymorphisms reported a small European contribution to the Ashkenazi paternal gene pool (Santachiara-Benerecetti et al. 1993; Hammer et al. 2000). In our sample, this low-level gene flow may be reflected in the Eu 19 chromosomes, which are found at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews and which are very frequent in Eastern Europeans (54%-60%) (Semino et al. 2000). Alternatively, it is attractive to hypothesize that Ashkenazim with Eu 19 chromosomes represent descendants of the Khazars, originally a Turkic tribe from Central Asia, who settled in southern Russia and eastern Ukraine and converted en masse to Judaism in the ninth century of the present era, as described by Yehuda Ha-Levi in 1140 A.D. (Dunlop 1954)."

Page 1104: "It is worth mentioning that, on the basis of protein polymorphisms [which are not to be confused with Y chromosome polymorphisms], most Jewish populations cluster very closely with Iraqis (Livshits et al. 1991) that the latter, in turn, cluster very closely with Kurds (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994)."

In the article "The DNA revolution in population genetics" by Luca L. Cavalli-Sforza, Trends Genet. 14, No. 2: 60-65, we learn that protein polymorphisms were studied in the previous generation of population genetic analysis, hence the term "classical polymorphsisms" is often applied to them, but today the new technologies test Y DNA and mtDNA instead.

At Table 1: Y Chromosome Haplogroup Distribution, it is indicated that 11.6 percent of Muslim Kurds and 9.4 percent of Bedouins also have Eu 19 chromosomes; hence, genetic drift rather than admixture with East Europeans may theoretically explain Eu 19's presence among Ashkenazi Jews. On the other hand, the origin of Eu 19 (now known as R1a1) is from eastern Europe thousands of years ago, perhaps the kurgan culture, and is found in much higher quantities among Slavs (like Sorbs, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Poles) than any Middle Eastern tribe. For further data consult figure 1 in Ornella Semino, et al., "The genetic legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in extant Europeans: a Y chromosome perspective," Science 290(5494) (Nov. 10, 2000): 1155-1159, as well as the 2003 Levite study referenced here.

In Figure 3 of Nebel et al.'s 2001 paper, it can be seen that while some Muslim Kurds possess the Cohen Modal Haplotype (at a frequency of 0.011), and even some Palestinian Arabs do (at a frequency of 0.021), more Muslim Kurds (0.095) have a haplotype that is a different Y DNA lineage, with a different allele number in one of the six microsatellite locis. Figure 3 is also interesting since it shows that 0.021 of Palestinian Arabs have the Cohen Modal Haplotype.

Judy Siegel. "Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe." Jerusalem Post (November 20, 2001). Excerpts:

"Despite being separated for over 1,000 years, Sephardi Jews of North African origin are genetically indistinguishable from their brethren from Iraq, according to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They also proved that Sephardi Jews are very close genetically to the Jews of Kurdistan, and only slight differences exist between these two groups and Ashkenazi Jews from Europe. These conclusions are reached in an article published recently in the American Journal of Human Genetics and written by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University (HU) and Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem. Others involved are German doctoral student Almut Nebel, Dr. Marina Faerman of HU, Dr. Dvora Filon of Hadassah-University Hospital, and other colleagues from Germany and India. The researchers conducted blood tests of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Kurdish Jews and examined their Y chromosomes, which are carried only by males. They then compared them with those of various Arab groups - Palestinians, Beduins, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese - as well as to non-Arab populations from Transcaucasia - Turks, Armenians and Moslem Kurds. The study is based on 526 Y chromosomes typed by the Israeli team and additional data on 1,321 individuals from 12 populations... Surprisingly, the study shows a closer genetic affinity by Jews to the non-Jewish, non-Arab populations in the northern part of the Middle East than to Arabs."

"Study: North African, Iraqi Jewry nearly genetic twins." Jerusalem Post (November 19, 2001). Excerpts:

"Sephardic North African Jews are genetic twins of their Iraq brethren, says a study by researchers [Nebel, Faerman, et al.] at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.... Although the genetic affinity of Jews to the ancient, Middle Eastern non-Arab populations is greater than to Arabs (as shown in the present study), a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Jews (70%) and Palestinian Muslim Arabs (50%) belong to the same chromosome pool. An additional 30% of the Muslim Arab chromosomes belong to a very closely related lineage... [because] part - or perhaps the majority - of Muslim Arabs in the Land of Israel descended from local inhabitants, mainly Christians and Jews, who had converted after the Islamic conquest of the 7th century A.D."

Tamara Traubman. "Study finds close genetic connection between Jews, Kurds." Ha'aretz (November 21, 2001). Excerpts:

"The people closest to the Jews from a genetic point of view may be the Kurds, according to results of a new study at the Hebrew University. Scientists who participated in the research said the findings seem to indicate both peoples had common ancestors who lived in the northern half of the fertile crescent, where northern Iraq and Turkey are today. Some of them, it is assumed, wandered south in pre-historic times and settled on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Professor Ariella Oppenheim and Dr. Marina Feirman [sic: Faerman], who carried out the research at the Hebrew University, said they were surprised to find a closer genetic connection between the Jews and the populations of the fertile crescent than between the Jews and their Arab neighbors... The present study, however, involved more detailed and thorough examinations than previous research. In addition, this was the first comparison of the DNA of Jews and Kurds... The study's findings are published in the current issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics. The researchers used the DNA of 1,847 Jewish men of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Kurdish descent; Muslims and Christians of Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian descent; various Arab populations; and Russians, Poles and residents of Belarus."

"The Jewish World: This Week in Israel." Global Jewish Agenda (Jewish Agency for Israel, November 22, 2001). Excerpts:

"A new study by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem reveals: the Kurds are the people closest to the Jews genetically. Scientists who carried out the study, including Prof. Ariella Friedman [sic: Oppenheim] and Dr. Marina Fireman [sic: Faerman], say that according to the findings, the Jews and the Kurds share common ancient forefathers, who lived in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent (a part of contemporary Iraq and Syria). Some moved southward in pre-historic times and settled along the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. The researchers say that they were surprised to find that the Jews were closer genetically to the Kurds (and to the Turks) than to their Arab neighbors. The findings of the study, which for the first time included a comparison between DNA samples from Jews and DNA samples from Muslim Kurds, also surprised historians such as Prof. Bezalel Bar-Kochba of Tel-Aviv University and Dr. Gunner Lehman of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, who said: "`It is difficult to explain the findings within the context of the knowledge we have about material and historic culture.'"

"Evrei i kurdi - brat'ya po genam." (Media International Group)

Max Gross. "'A Certain People': Study Confirms Deep Similarities Among Jews." Forward (August 16, 2002): B11. Excerpts:

"Professor Ariella Oppenheim of Hebrew University, a geneticist of mixed Ashkenazic and Sephardic descent and one of six scientists who authored the study, called the results surprising. 'I expected a few more admixtures,' Oppenheim told the Forward. Almost all the researchers expected to see a greater link between Ashkenazic Jews and non-Jewish Eastern Europeans. They thought they would see in the bloodlines the results of Eastern European pogroms, when many Jewish women were raped, producing offspring whose biological fathers were not Jewish.... 'It had an effect,' Oppenheim said, but it didn't significantly alter the gene pool. Ashkenazic Jews are still closer, genetically, to Sephardic and Kurdish Jews than to any other population.... 'Part of [the study] was financed by [the government of] India,' Oppenheim said.... The scientists looked at Y-chromosomes, which come from the male, 'Mostly because [they] give us a bit of a simpler picture,' Oppenheim said. Oppenheim said that a more thorough study, involving mitochondrial DNA, which comes from the female, will soon get under way."

Ariella Oppenheim's study, 2000

Almut Nebel, Ariella Oppenheim, Dvora Filon, Mark G. Thomas, D. A. Weiss, M. Weale, Marina Faerman. "High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews." Human Genetics 107(6) (December 2000): 630-641. Abstract excerpts:
High-resolution Y chromosome haplotype analysis was performed in 143 paternally unrelated Israeli and Palestinian Moslem Arabs (I&P Arabs) by screening for 11 binary polymorphisms and six microsatellite loci. At the haplogroup level, defined by the binary polymorphisms only, the Y chromosome distribution in Arabs and Jews was similar but not identical. At the haplotype level, determined by both binary and microsatellite markers, a more detailed pattern was observed. Single-step micro-satellite networks of Arabs and Jewish haplotypes revealed a common pool for a large portion of Y chromosomes, suggesting a relatively recent common ancestry. The two modal haplotypes in the I&P Arabs were closely related to the most frequent haplotype of Jews (the Cohen modal haplotype). However, the I&P Arab clade that includes the two Arab modal haplotypes (and makes up 32% of Arab chromosomes) is found at only very low frequency among Jews, reflecting divergence and/or admixture from other populations. (Mirror)

"Jews and Arabs Share Recent Ancestry." Science Now (American Academy for the Advancement of Science, October 30, 2000). In the last sentence, it is admitted that European Jews mixed with groups residing in Europe. Excerpts:

"More than 70% of Jewish men and half of the Arab men whose DNA was studied inherited their Y chromosomes from the same paternal ancestors who lived in the region within the last few thousand years. The results match historical accounts that some Moslem Arabs are descended from Christians and Jews who lived in the southern Levant, a region that includes Israel and the Sinai... Intrigued by the genetic similarities between the two populations, geneticist Ariella Oppenheim of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who collaborated on the earlier study, focused on Arab and Jewish men. Her team examined the Y chromosomes of 119 Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and 143 Israeli and Palestinian Arabs. The Y chromosomes of many of the men had key segments of DNA that were so similar that they clustered into just three of many groups known as haplogroups. Other short segments of DNA called microsatellites were similar enough to reveal that the men must have had common ancestors within the past several thousand years. The study, reported here at a Human Origins and Disease conference, will appear in an upcoming issue of Human Genetics. Hammer praises the new study for 'focusing in detail on the Jewish and Palestinian populations.' Oppenheim's team found, for example, that Jews have mixed more with European populations, which makes sense because some of them lived in Europe during the last millennium."

Judy Siegel. "Experts find genetic Jewish-Arab link." Jerusalem Post (November 6, 2000). Despite its merits, this study uses a small sample size and an improbable set of test subjects. It is puzzling that the Northern Welsh were tested, because it's obvious that they are farther away from European Jews than Arabs. Why were they tested instead of the Serbs, Romanians, Italians, or Austrians - groups which, unlike the Welsh, had significant contact with Jews over the centuries? The selection of groups influences the results of any genetics study. Notice, however, that even according to this test, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the Jews do NOT have paternal-line ancestry from Israel. Excerpts:

"DNA research carried out at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and University College in London has shown that many Jews and Arabs are closely related. Over seven out of 10 Jewish men and half of Arab men whose DNA was studied inherited their Y chromosomes from the same paternal ancestors - who lived in the Middle East in the Neolithic period in prehistoric times. The research, to be published soon in the journal Human Genetics... was carried out by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim, a senior geneticist in the Hebrew University's hematology department. Dr. Marina Faerman, Dr. Dvora Filon of the Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem, HU doctoral student Almut Nebel, and Mark Thomas and others at the British university assisted. The work was also reported last week in the journal Science. Oppenheim and her colleagues tested blood from 143 Israeli and Palestinian Moslem Arabs whose great-grandfathers were not related. Chromosome set data were compared with that of 119 Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, and to that of non-Jewish residents of northern Wales. The researchers found that the Arabs are more closely related to Jews than they are to the Welsh, indicating a more recent common ancestry. Arabs and Jews had about 18 percent of all their chromosomes in common... 'Our findings are in good agreement with historical evidence and suggest genetic continuity in both populations despite their long separation and the wide geographic dispersal of Jews,' Oppenheim wrote."

Nicholas Wade. "Scientists Rough Out Humanity's 50,000-Year-Old Story." The New York Times (November 14, 2000). Excerpts:

"Analysis of the Y chromosome has already yielded interesting results. Dr. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said she had found considerable similarity between Jews and Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, as if the Y chromosomes of both groups had been drawn from a common population that began to expand 7,800 years ago."

Tamara Traubman. "A new study shows that the genetic makeup of Jews and Arabs is almost identical, and that both groups share common prehistoric ancestors." Ha'aretz (2000). Excerpts:

"About two-thirds of Israeli Arabs and Arabs in the territories and a similar proportion of Israeli Jews are the descendents of at least three common prehistoric ancestors who lived in the Middle East in the Neolithic period, about 8,000 years ago. This is the finding of a new study conducted by an international team of scholars headed by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim, a senior geneticist in the Hebrew University's hematology department and at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. In the study, soon to be published in the scientific journal 'Human Genetics,' the researchers probed the history of Jewish and Arab men by analyzing the genetic changes in the Y chromosome... The study was conducted by doctoral student Almut Nebel, with the participation of Dr. Dvora Filon and Dr. Marina Faerman of the Hebrew University and Dr. Mark Thomas of the University College of London. The results of the study, says Prof. Oppenheim, 'support the historical documentation according to which the Arabs are descendents of an ancient population of the country and that a large proportion of them were Jews who converted to Islam after Islam reached Eretz Israel in the seventh century CE.'... They examined 134 Palestinians from Israel and the Palestinian Authority and 119 Ashkenazi and Sepharadi Jews. Unlike the previous study, they also traced changes in DNA that occur more frequently, at a rate of about once in 1,000 generations. In this way, they discovered that Jews and Arabs have common prehistoric ancestors who lived here until just the last few thousand years.... In view of the small geographical area of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the researchers were surprised to discover that some Palestinians on the West Bank have a unique genetic trait that is reflected in a relatively high frequency of certain genetic signs. This fact indicates that they are the descendents of people who have lived here for a few hundred years at least. The unique genetic feature of the Palestinians from the West Bank became even more explicit when the researchers studied a genetic defect that may cause a blood disease known as thalassemia. There are many genetic defects that can cause thalassemia, but 50 percent of the mountain dwellers examined carried the identical defect, compared to only 10 percent of Galilee dwellers and 15 percent of Gaza residents. Dr. Filon says that the unique genetic trait is characteristic of a population that has lived in the same place for many generations."

Michael Hammer's study, 2000

Rachel Fléaux. "Chercher ses racines par l'ADN: En quête d'identité." Sciences et Avenir No. 650 (April 2001). Excerpts:
"La diaspora juive est l'autre communauté directement intéressée par les technologies ADN. Family Tree DNA en a fait son point fort. Il est vrai que cette compagnie texane, qui se flatte d'" offrir les tests du chromosome Y les plus précis de toute l'industrie ", est associée au généticien Mike Hammer de l'université d'Arizona, dont c'est précisément la spécialité. Le chercheur a ainsi publié il y a quatre ans, dans la revue Nature, une étude portant sur les Cohanim ou Cohen, ces grands prêtres juifs qui se transmettent leur titre de père en fils depuis 3300 ans, selon la tradition biblique. Analysant le chromosome Y des derniers Cohanim, Mike Hammer a montré que l'on pouvait bel et bien remonter leur lignée paternelle jusqu'à un ancêtre mâle, peut-être cet Aaron décrit dans la Bible comme le premier des grands prêtres. Finalement, tant chez les Séfarades que chez les Ashkénazes, les Cohen portent la même signature chromosomique, très distincte des autres. Le généticien d'Arizona a également élucidé le mystère des Khazars (lire p. 123), démontant la théorie selon laquelle cette tribu d'Europe centrale pourrait être à l'origine des Ashkénazes. Sourd aux critiques d'une fraction de la communauté juive, qui redoute un fichage génétique, Mike Hammer a lancé en collaboration avec le Dr Harry Ostrer, de l'Ecole de médecine de l'université de New York, le projet " Jewish Genetic Origins ". Son ambition est de suivre la diaspora à la trace, de permettre à chacun de ses membres de retisser, depuis le XVIIIe siècle au moins, l'histoire et l'origine d'une famille éclatée. Huit cents hommes et femmes ont déjà fait don de leur ADN accompagné de l'arbre détaillé de leur famille (2)."

Nadine Epstein. "Family Matters: Funny, We Don't Look Jewish." Hadassah Magazine 82:5 (January 2001). Excerpts:

"...As the fair-haired, blue-eyed daughter of a woman who looks more Nordic than Jewish, I always wondered if I was really Semitic. My siblings and I didn't look much like most other Jews - Ashkenazic or Sefardic... As a child, I blamed our looks on Cossack rapes. When I read Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe, I bought his theory that Ashkenazim were descended from the Khazars, a Caucasian people who had converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages. The search for genetic knowledge strikes a deep chord among Jews. Last year, through my local genealogy society, I met Dr. Harry Ostrer, head of the Human Genetics Program at the New York University School of Medicine... The study of evolutionary and genetic history through DNA analysis is transforming what we know about ourselves... In 1997, Karl Skorecki in Haifa, Michael Hammer in Tucson and several London researchers surprised everyone by finding evidence of the Jewish priestly line of males, the Kohanim. Half of Ashkenazic men and slightly more than half of Sefardic men who claimed to be Kohanim were found to have a distinctive set of genetic markers on their Y chromosome, making it highly possible that they are descendants of a single male or group of related males who lived between 1180 and 650 B.C.E., about the time of Moses and Aaron. The Kohen marker is but a fragment of the information gleaned from DNA analysis... A study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science looked at the Y chromosomes of 1,371 males from seven Jewish population groups and came up with a profile of Jewish genes. They found 13 major Y-chromosome patterns or signatures, called haplotypes. 'The haplotypes of all but Ethiopian Jews shared a similar pattern,' says Ostrer, a member of the study team led by Hammer and Batsheva Bonne-Tamir of Tel-Aviv University. 'This means we are not descended from one person or 12 tribes but 13 founder males.' The same 13 haplotypes, by the way, are common among Middle Eastern Arabs including Palestinians and Syrians. They also show up in Greeks and other ancient Mediterranean lines, who may date from the time before Jews emerged as a people... 'We are definitely Jews,' says Ostrer. 'We share Jewish haplotype patterns.' Ostrer estimates the European admixture over 80 generations is an extremely low 0.5 percent. The study also found that male Jews of Russian and Polish ancestry do not have a chromosome profile similar to Russian and Polish non-Jews. Haplotypes have also helped the identity seekers to retrace the path of the wandering Ashkenazic Jew. We who hail from East Europe most likely migrated there from Alsace and Rhineland, says Ostrer, as confirmed by Yiddish, a form of low German. Based on his study of Roman Jews, Ostrer concludes that Ashkenazim lived in Italy for a thousand years before they migrated into Alsace and Rhineland. 'There's no genetic difference between Ashkenazic and Roman Jews, who say they have lived in Italy for 2,000 years,' he observes. Ostrer and Hammer are now conducting the largest study of Jewish genetics so far, trying to determine how we are all related, and tracing the migrations that formed communities during the 2,000 years of diaspora... 'Being Jewish is a spiritual, metaphysical state and DNA is a physical characteristic, like nose size,' said Skorecki in an interview in The Jerusalem Report. 'But we wouldn't dare go around saying we're going to determine who is Jewish by the length of their nose. Similarly we're not going to determine who is Jewish by the sequence of their DNA.'... And so for me, the positives of Y-chromosome analysis far outweigh the possible negatives. We are an ancient group of clans descended from 13 polygamous men, and our genetic history is part of the redefinition of humanity... 'Blonde genes occur in Middle Eastern groups as well,' he [Ostrer] explains. 'There is no evidence that white skin and blue eyes originated in northern Europe. That is a Nordic myth. Semitic people had the whole range.'... Researchers have only begun to study the mitochondria of Jewish women... Mitochondria will likely reveal different data: Women were more likely than men to relocate and convert due to marriage... My father and brother are descendants of the clan known as Haplotype Four, the second largest group of Ashkenazim, and common among Middle Eastern and southern European populations. My son is descended from a clan that is part of Haplotype One, which has a Y-chromosome pattern common in central and western Asian populations... 'These clans were formed a long time ago,' says Ostrer. 'They all ended up in the Middle East and landed in Ur where Abraham lived. He convinced some of them to adopt [the God of Israel] and when they did, they brought their Y chromosomes with them. Their next-door neighbors waited for Allah. They brought their chromosomes with them, too.'"

The assertion of Ostrer that Yiddish comes from Alsace and Rhineland has been debunked by solid research showing that Yiddish derives from Bavaria. Yiddish is clearly a form of High German, too, and not Low German. Epstein's article demonstrates a lack of linguistic knowledge.

Christopher Hitchens. "The Part-Jewish Question: Double the Pleasure or Twice the Pain? Of 'Semi-Semites' and Those Who Fear Them." Forward (January 26, 2001). Excerpts:

"Recent advances in DNA testing have either simplified or complicated the claims of holy books and founding texts. A riveting recent essay in Commentary described the results of a match-up between the genetic database of the Kohanim - those whose Jewish ancestry is supposedly the strongest and best-attested - and that of a "lost tribe" in Namibia that has long claimed Jewish descent. The fit was amazingly close. So it is with other groups in the Asian diaspora, many of whose folk stories had been thought to be merely legendary. It also turns out that there is a close DNA affinity between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs... How long before we can codify Khazar DNA and find out if Koestler was right or if the Ashkenazim have any genetic claim to Gaza? (The learned author of the Commentary article, eventually concluded that enough was enough already, and that better uses could be found for the research money than the infinite theoretical expansion of the prolific seed of Abraham.)"

Hillel Halkin. "Wandering Jews -- and Their Genes." Commentary 110:2 (September 2000): 54-61. Excerpts:

"Finally, published in last June's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science were the results of a study conducted by an international team of scientists led by Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona and Batsheva Bonné-Tamir of Tel Aviv University... Based on genetic samples from 1,371 males... its main conclusions are: 1. With the exception of Ethiopian Jews, all Jewish samples show a high genetic correlation... 3. In descending order after these Middle Easterners, Ashkenazi Jews correlate best with Greeks and Turks; then with Italians; then with Spaniards; then with Germans; then with Austrians; and least of all with Russians... And on the other hand again: whereas the traditional explanation of East European Jewish origins was that most Ashkenazi Jews reached Poland and Russia from... the Rhineland; Rhineland from northern France... this version has come under increasing challenge in recent years on both demographic and linguistic grounds. Most Jews, the challengers maintain, must have arrived in Eastern Europe not from the west and southwest but from the south and east - that is, via northern Italy and the Balkans; Asia Minor and the Greek Byzantine empire; the Volga kingdom of the Khazars...; or a combination of all three. Now comes the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science report, which appears to bear out the newer version of events. Ashkenazi Jews, it informs us, have a more significant admixture of Italian, Greek, and Turkish genes than of Spanish, German, or even Austrian ones. Of course, things are not so simple. Even without questioning the study's highly technical procedures, different interpretations could be put on them. It could be argued, for example, that the resemblance of Jewish to Greek and Italian Y chromosomes is traceable to proselytization in the Mediterranean world during the period of the Roman Empire... What must also be remembered is that Y chromosomes tell us only about males. But we know that in most societies, women are more likely to convert to their husband's religion than vice-versa... If true, this might also explain a number of differences between the Hammer/Bonné-Tamir study and earlier research on the geographical distribution of specific Jewish diseases, blood types, enzymes, and mitochondrial DNA... a predominance of female converts might provide the answer. It might also explain opposed findings on Jews from Yemen, who in earlier tests matched poorly with other Jews. This particular result was understood to support the theory that Yemenite Jewry originated in the widespread conversion of non-Jews under the Himyarite kings of southern Arabia in the first centuries of the Common Era. But now the Hammer/Bonné-Tamir report shows that the Y chromosomes of Yemenite Jews have typically Jewish haplotypes. The contradiction could be resolved by positing that Jewish men... reached Yemen... married local women..."
Multiple letters in response to Hillel Halkin's article were published in Commentary's December 2000 issue.

Michael F. Hammer, Alan J. Redd, Elizabeth T. Wood, M. R. Bonner, Hamdi Jarjanazi, Tanya Karafet, Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, Ariella Oppenheim, Mark A. Jobling, Trefor Jenkins, Harry Ostrer, and Batsheva Bonné-Tamir. "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish Populations Share a Common Pool of Y-chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes.", PNAS 97:12 (June 6, 2000): 6769-6774. Summary:

This study alleges that Jews around the world, both Sephardic and Ashkenazic, are more closely related to one another than to non-Jews tested in the study, and that converts and intermarriages played little role in Jewish population history. But the study does not test peoples who are at all related to the Khazars, so the genetic distance between European Jews and Khazars was left untested, and the focus is on paternal rather than on maternal lines.

According to Mark Jobling, "Jews are the genetic brothers of Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians".

Some revealing comments from the study's geneticists: Dina Kraft's May 9, 2000 article in the Associated Press quotes Hebrew University geneticist Howard Cedar who "said even though Y chromosomes are considered the best tool for tracing genetic heritage, researchers still don't know what the history is behind the variations. As a result, it is difficult to draw conclusions about genetic affinity.." The article also quotes Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, a Tel Aviv University geneticist, who "cautioned that the techniques were new and that until the human genome is mapped, it will be difficult to be certain about the conclusions."

"To say that Jews are somehow homogeneous across the entire diaspora is completely fallacious," says Ken Jacobs of the University of Montreal. "There is so much incredible genetic heterogeneity within the Jewish community -- any Jewish community." Jewish people simply don't exhibit the genetic homogeneity that [Kevin] MacDonald ascribes to them, Jacobs says. According to an Jacobs' views as summarized in an article in the New Times Los Angeles Online (April 20-26, 2000), "Witness For The Persecution" by Tony Ortega: "The only Jewish subgroup that does show some homogeneity -- descendants of the Cohanim, or priestly class -- makes up only about 2 percent of the Jewish population. Even within the Cohanim, and certainly within the rest of the Jewish people, there's a vast amount of genetic variation that simply contradicts MacDonald's most basic assertion that Jewish genetic sameness is a sign that Judaism is an evolutionary group strategy." In H-ANTISEMITISM, Ken Jacobs added: "Hammer's Jewish samples are heavily skewed towards the Kohanim... This is bound to reduce within-population variance in the Jewish sample... I pointed out solely that the data reported for the Jewish samples in the recent PNAS were remarkably similar to those published previously in studies of which Hammer was a co-author, the focus of which was the Kohanim... There is an ahistorical aspect to this work, as well as a serious conflation of genes, ethnicity, and religious belief. For example, as used in Hammer's study, the distinction between 'Syrian' and 'Palestinian' is based on fairly recent geo-political constructs that have little or no bearing on the patterns of gene flow in the region prior to 1000 CE.... In the original Lemba study, the complex of Y-chromosome genes was found in 45% of Kohanim among Ashkenazim, the percentage was 56% of Kohanim among the Sepharad, and 53% among the Buba clan of the Lemba. Among non-Kohanim the average Jewish % for this gene complex is less than 5%. One does not have to understand the lingo to see that there was inbreeding in one part of the dispersed Jewish communities and a certain level of outbreeding in the rest."

John Tooby, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is quoted in an article for Slate's "Culturebox" by Judith Shulevitz as saying: "The notion that Jews are a genetically distinct group doesn't make it on the basis of modern population genetics."

Chris Garifo. "U of A researcher heads breakthrough genetic study." Jewish News of Greater Phoenix 52:37 (May 19, 2000). Excerpts:

"'Our work definitely refutes a lot of that discussion of alternate origins for Jewish populations,' Hammer says. 'It shows that we really are a single ethnic group coming from the Middle East. Even if you look like another European with blue eyes and light skin, your genes are telling that you're from the Middle East.'.... Hammer says one reason he began the research was his curiosity about his own Jewish roots."

Ivan Oransky. "Tracing Mideast Roots Back to Isaac and Ishmael: Study of Y Chromosome Suggests a Common Ancestry for Jews and Arabs." The Forward (May 19, 2000). Excerpts:

"The study also found the degree of intermarriage by the Askenazi Jewish population over the past 2000 years to be remarkably small. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by University of Arizona geneticist Michael Hammer and colleagues from Italy, Israel, England and America, refutes some earlier studies which suggested that modern Jews were mainly descendants of converts -- paticularly the Turkish Khazars -- with high rates of intermarriage.... The director of the human genetics program at the New York University School of Medicine and a co-author of the paper, Harry Ostrer, told The Forward that... the story provides a useful allegory for the roots of Jews and Arabs. `We're the children of a discrete number of founders who lived in the Middle East, where these Y chromosomes originated and became concentrated.', Dr. Ostrer said.... Dr. [Arno] Motulsky, who was not involved with the study, said that the results suggest that genes from non-Jewish males have not entered the Jewish population to any great extent.... The study could raise important questions about who is a Jew. For example, the results suggest that Ethiopian Jews, thought to be long separated from other Jewish groups, may be more closely related to North African non-Jews than to other Jews. Follow-up studies are already being planned. Dr. Ostrer is hoping to collect genetic information from 1000 Askenazi Jews to study migrational patterns across Europe. Dr. Hammer said he will study the DNA for mitrochondria... This will shed light onto the rate than which women intermarried into Jewish communities, since these genes are strictly passed by the mother."

Hillary Mayell. "Genetic Link Established Between Jews and Arabs." National Geographic News (May 10, 2000).

"Jews and Arabs are 'genetic brothers'." BBC News (May 10, 2000). Excerpts:

"...The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Jewish men shared a common set of genetic signatures with non-Jews from the Middle East, including Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. These signatures were significantly different from non-Jewish men outside of the Middle East. This means Jews and Arabs have more in common with each other, genetically speaking, than they do with any of the wider communities in which they might live. Dr Mark Jobling of Leicester University, UK, one of the authors of the new study, told the BBC: 'The kind of DNA we have used to analyse this question is the human Y chromosome. This represents only 2% of our genetic material and it is passed down from father to son... The fact that we don't see it [signals of genetic mixture between Jews and non-Jews] suggests that after the Diaspora these populations really have managed to maintain their Jewish heritage."

Nicholas Wade. "Y Chromosome Bears Witness to Story of the Jewish Diaspora." The New York Times (May 9, 2000): F4 (col. 1). Excerpts:

"The analysis provides genetic witness that these communities have, to a remarkable extent, retained their biological identity separate from their host populations, evidence of relatively little intermarriage or conversion into Judaism over the centuries.... The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism.... But present-day Ethiopian Jews lack some of the other lineages found in Jewish communities, and overall are more like non-Jewish Ethiopians than other Jewish populations, at least in terms of their Y chromosome lineage pattern.... Roman Jews have a pattern quite similar to that of Ashkenazis, the Jewish community of Eastern Europe. Dr. Hammer said the finding accorded with the hypothesis that Roman Jews were the ancestors of the Ashkenazis. Despite the Ashkenazi Jews' long residence in Europe, their Y signature has remained distinct from that of non-Jewish Europeans."

Norton Godoy. "Judeus e árabes: irmãos." IstoÉ (2000).

R. Highfield. "Jews, Arabs share ancestral link, study says." Calgary Herald (May 9, 2000): A19.

Marilynn Larkin. "Jewish-Arab affinities are gene-deep." The Lancet 355 (2000): 1699.

Maggie Fox. "Middle Eastern Roots: Shared Y Chromosome Illustrates Genetic Map of the Past." Reuters (May 9, 2000).

Joel J. Elias. "The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East." Assyrian Health Network (July 20, 2000). Excerpts:

"Based on earlier studies using classical genetic methods7, Cavalli-Sforza et al. came to the conclusion 'that Jews have maintained considerable genetic similarity among themselves and with people from the Middle East, with whom they have common origins.' Evidence for the latter concept was very convincingly made and extended by an international team of scientists [Hammer et al.] in a very recent research article8, widely reported in the press, in which the genetics of different Middle Eastern populations were studied using a completely different method than the classical methods that form the great majority of papers in the Cavalli-Sforza et al book. The research involved direct DNA analysis of the Y chromosome, which is found only in males and is passed down from father to son. Seven different Jewish groups from communities in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East were compared to various non-Jewish populations from those areas. The results showed, first of all, that 'Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level.' Furthermore, the genetic characteristics of Jews were shown to be distinctly different from (non-Jewish) Europeans, suggesting that very little admixture occurred between Jews and Europeans, even after about 80 generations of Jews in Europe.... In fact, the Palestinians and Syrians were so close to the Jews in genetic characteristics that they 'mapped within the central cluster of Jewish populations.'"
7. Carmelli, D. and Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. The genetic origin of the Jews: A multi-variate approach. Hum. Biol., 51:41-61. 1979.
8. Hammer, M.F. et al. [12 authors]. Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes. Proceedings National Academy Sciences USA...

Doron Behar's study, 2008

Doron M. Behar, Ene Metspalu, Toomas Kivisild, Saharon Rosset, Shay Tzur, Yarin Hadid, Guennady Yudkovsky, Dror Rosengarten, Luisa Pereira, Antonio Amorim, Ildus Kutuev, David Gurwitz, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, Richard Villems, and Karl Skorecki. "Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora." PLoS ONE 3:4 (April 30, 2008): e2062. (mirror) 1142 mtDNA samples were gathered from Jews of non-Ashkenazi origin (including Georgian Jews, Indian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Tunisian Jews, Bulgarian Jews, and others) plus 253 samples from Near Eastern non-Jews. These data were compared with data from 583 Ashkenazi Jews. Abstract:
The history of the Jewish Diaspora dates back to the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests in the Levant, followed by complex demographic and migratory trajectories over the ensuing millennia which pose a serious challenge to unraveling population genetic patterns. Here we ask whether phylogenetic analysis, based on highly resolved mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) phylogenies can discern among maternal ancestries of the Diaspora. Accordingly, 1,142 samples from 14 different non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities were analyzed. A list of complete mtDNA sequences was established for all variants present at high frequency in the communities studied, along with high-resolution genotyping of all samples. Unlike the previously reported pattern observed among Ashkenazi Jews, the numerically major portion of the non-Ashkenazi Jews, currently estimated at 5 million people and comprised of the Moroccan, Iraqi, Iranian and Iberian Exile Jewish communities showed no evidence for a narrow founder effect, which did however characterize the smaller and more remote Belmonte, Indian and the two Caucasus communities. The Indian and Ethiopian Jewish sample sets suggested local female introgression, while mtDNAs in all other communities studied belong to a well-characterized West Eurasian pool of maternal lineages. Absence of sub-Saharan African mtDNA lineages among the North African Jewish communities suggests negligible or low level of admixture with females of the host populations among whom the African haplogroup (Hg) L0-L3 sub-clades variants are common. In contrast, the North African and Iberian Exile Jewish communities show influence of putative Iberian admixture as documented by mtDNA Hg HV0 variants. These findings highlight striking differences in the demographic history of the widespread Jewish Diaspora.
"It is now possible to address the question of the matrilineal origin of these [non-Ashkenazi] communities using phylogenetic resolution at maximum depth, and also to extend phylogeographic comparisons with a much wider range of reference populations. ... The Jewish community of the Caucasus also known as Mountain Jews is believed to have been established during the 8th century C.E. in the region corresponding to Dagestan and the current state of Azerbaijan as a result of a movement of Jews from Iran. Indeed, this community shows a striking maternal founding event, with 58.6% of their total mtDNA genetic variation tracing back to only one woman carrying an mtDNA lineage within Hg J2b. ... The Georgian Jewish community, considered to have been established in the 6th century C.E., similarly shows a founding event with 58.1% of its total mtDNA variation tracing back to one woman. ... Multiple theories exist regarding the establishment of the Ethiopian Beta Israel community... The four most frequent lineages belonged to Hgs R0a1b, L3h1a2a1, L5a1a and M1a1c (Table 2) all frequent in the region [10] suggesting East Africa and not the Levant as their likely geographic origin. The Indian Jewish community of Mumbai (known as B'nei Israel) oral history claim to have descended from Jews who reached the shores of India in the 2nd century C.E. MtDNA analysis for this community shows a strong maternal founding event, with 41.2% of its total mtDNA genetic variation tracing back to one woman and 67.6% tracking back to four women (Table 2). The Indian Jewish community of Cochin myth claims the community to have emanated in the times of King Solomon and has had no documented contact with the B'nei Israel of Mumbai. This community also shows a strong maternal founding event, with 44.4% of its total mtDNA genetic variation tracing back to two women (Table 2). In both Indian Jewish communities, their mtDNA gene pool is dominated by Hg M sub-branches specific for the subcontinent [11], and therefore appears to be of clearly local origin. It is important to note that in agreement with an oral tradition of the two independent founding events for the respective communities, the prevailing sub-branches among B'nei Israel Hg M samples belong to Hgs M39a1 and M30c1a1, while the Cochin Hg M sub-branches belong to Hgs M5a1 and M50 (Table 2). ... The Libyan and Tunisian Jewish communities share, as their two most frequent mtDNA variants, lineages in Hgs X2e1a1a and H30 (Table S4). It is important to note that the Hg H30 is split by the coding region information into 2 sub-lineages, one restricted to Libyan Jews and one primarily to Tunisian Jews. ... The Yemenite Jewish community is thought to have been established in the second century CE. Here we found that 42.0% of the mtDNA variation in this community can be attributed to 5 women carrying mtDNAs that belong to sub-branches of Hgs R0a1c, R2a, HV1b, L3x1a and U1a2. While these Hgs, except L3x1a, can be considered as a part of the general West Asian mtDNA genetic pool, they have higher frequencies in East Africa and Yemen [10]. ... The Libyan and Tunisian Jewish communities shared among them an X2e1a1a lineage as the most frequent. We examined the two Libyan-Tunisian Jewish lineage-specific coding region mutations 9380 and 13789... Position 13789 appears uninformative, while 9380 was shared among Hg X samples from the Near East and Africa, but not from Europe, suggesting Near Eastern/ North African origin of the particular founder lineage. ... The Iranian Jewish mtDNA is particularly rich in Hg H (30.5%, see Tables S1 and Table S3)-the variant of maternal lineages that constitutes on average more than 40% of the mtDNA variation in Europe. Hg H is also well represented in the Iraqi Jewish community with an overall frequency of 11.8% (Tables S1 and Table S3). Meanwhile, Hg H frequency in Ashkenazi Jews of recent European ancestry is 20.4% [4]. This raises an interesting question regarding the possible source of Hg H lineages among the various Jewish communities. Recent progress in the understanding of mtDNA variation in East and West Europe [16]-[18], as well as in the Near East [12] fits with the inference that at least three quarters of Iranian and Iraqi Jewish Hg H genomes belong to sub-Hgs H6, H13 and H14, characteristic of the Near Eastern-Central Asian variants of Hg H. In view of the historical records claiming the establishment of the North African Jewish communities from the Near Eastern Jewish communities, it is noteworthy that the communities do not share their respective major founding lineages. ... African-specific Hgs-variants of largely sub-Saharan Hg L(xM,N)-as well as more northern and eastern Hgs M1 and U6, do occur within the gene pools of some, though not all non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities (Table S3). ...they were found in Ethiopian and Yemenite Jews (Tables S1 and Table S3), perhaps reflecting the mtDNA population structure of the host countries. In contrast, it is intriguing to find that the North African Jews (Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan) possess only a very small fraction of Hg L(xM,N) lineages (2.2%) and, even more unexpectadly, seem to lack typically North African Hg M1 and U6 mtDNAs (Tables S1 and Table S3). In striking contrast, sub-Saharan L lineages are prevalent in North African Arab and Berber populations at frequencies around 20-25% (25.5% in Moroccans, 24.9% in Tunisians, 30.2% in Libyans; our unpublished data), yielding a difference exceeding an order of magnitude. Curiously, the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool of recent European descent includes Hg L(xM,N) at a frequency comparable to that among North African Jewry [4], [5]. Hence, the lack of U6 and M1 chromosomes among the North African Jews and the low frequency of Hg L(xM,N) lineages, renders the possibilty of significant admixture between the local Arab and Berber populations with Jews unlikely, consistent with social restrictions imposed by religious restrictions. ... The second [case study] example highlighted the Georgian Jewish HV1a1a1 haplotype (Table 4, Figure 2b) and showed that it existed only in Georgian Jews. While it is clear that the ancestry of this lineage can be traced to the broad geographic swathe encompassing the Near and Middle East as well as the Caucasus region, even the level of resolution generated from the complete mtDNA analysis could not provide greater phylogeographic specificity, since equidistant ancestral lineages could be found in each of the three geographic locations. The third case study addresses the shared Libyan-Tunisian X2e1a1a haplotype. Again, it became clear that the ancestry of this lineage can be similarly attributed to the broad geographic region encompassing the Near and Middle East and the Caucasus region (Table 5, Figure 2c), but unlike the Georgian case study, the particular haplotype was shared with non-Jewish Tunisians, encompassing 0.8% to the overall Tunisian mtDNA pool. In addition, no HVS-I variation was observed in non-Jewish Tunisians, while such variation was clearly observed in Jews, suggesting the possibility of gene flow into the host population from Jews."

Miscellaneous studies

Michael F. Seldin, Russell Shigeta, Pablo Villoslada, Carlo Selmi, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Gabriel Silva, John W. Belmont, Lars Klareskog, and Peter K. Gregersen. "European Population Substructure: Clustering of Northern and Southern Populations." Public Library of Science Genetics (PLoS Genetics) 2(9) (September 2006). Abstract:
Using a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel, we observed population structure in a diverse group of Europeans and European Americans. Under a variety of conditions and tests, there is a consistent and reproducible distinction between "northern" and "southern" European population groups: most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek) have >85% membership in the "southern" population; and most northern, western, eastern, and central Europeans have >90% in the "northern" population group. Ashkenazi Jewish as well as Sephardic Jewish origin also showed >85% membership in the "southern" population, consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups.

Talia Bloch. "One Big, Happy Family: Litvaks and Galitzianers, Lay Down Your Arms; Science Finds Unity in the Jewish Gene Pool." Forward (August 22, 2007). Excerpts:

"... A year ago, Michael Seldin, a geneticist at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and his research team made a remarkable discovery: Studying how Europeans grouped genetically, they found that Ashkenazic Jews formed their own distinct subgroup. Northern and Southern Europeans fell into two clearly separable genetic cohorts, and although the Ashkenazic Jews had more in common with the Southern Europeans, they formed a recognizable, relatively homogenous group of their own. ... Through a series of collaborations with labs around the world, Seldin and his lab began exploring something called 'ancestry informative markers,' specific areas of a person's genetic code that reveal which part of the globe most of his ancestors came from. The study on those of European ancestry, which looked at both Europeans and European Americans, was also an international collaboration. In September 2006, it was published in the Public Library of Science Genetics journal. Since then, Seldin said, he has pursued a second study of an even larger sample of the genetic code, and his original findings for Ashkenazic Jews have only been confirmed. Seldin's work is emblematic of a rapidly expanding phenomenon within genetics: research of the genetic roots of diseases that end up revealing something about the history of a particular population."

Anna C. Need, Dalia Kasperavic^iute, Elizabeth T. Cirulli, and David B. Goldstein. "A genome-wide genetic signature of Jewish ancestry perfectly separates individuals with and without full Jewish ancestry in a large random sample of European Americans." Genome Biology 10(1) (2009): R7 (electronically published on January 22, 2009). Excerpts:

"We also included Palestinian (n = 46), Druze (n = 42) and Bedouin (n = 45) samples as groups that might be similar to ancestral Jewish 'source' populations [10]. We found that the Middle Eastern populations clustered separately from the European and European-American populations, as expected, and the subjects with four Jewish grandparents clustered close to (but separate from) the Adygei and lay between the Middle Eastern and the European and European-American populations (Figure 3). This is an important finding for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Jewish subjects remain in a separate cluster when mixed with both European and Middle Eastern populations... Secondly, the Jewish cluster lies approximately midway between the European and the Middle Eastern clusters, implying that the Ashkenazi Jews may contain mixed ancestry from these two regions. This is consistent with the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA genetic evidence that has been interpreted by some to suggest a stronger paternal genetic heritage of Jewish populations from the Middle East and stronger maternal genetic heritage from the host populations of the Diaspora [10]. Finally, the proximity of the Jewish cluster to the Adygei is of interest, but the small sample size of the Adygei and sparse availability of Central Asian populations makes interpretation of this proximity difficult."

Doron M. Behar, Ene Metspalu, Toomas Kivisild, Alessandro Achilli, Yarin Hadid, Shay Tzur, Luisa Pereira, Antonio Amorim, Lluís Quintana-Murci, Kari Majamaa, Corinna Herrnstadt, Neil Howell, Oleg Balanovsky, Ildus Kutuev, Andrey Pshenichnov, David Gurwitz, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, Antonio Torroni, Richard Villems, and Karl Skorecki. "The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event." American Journal of Human Genetics 78 (2006): 487-497. Abstract:

"Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only 4 women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium."

Judy Siegel. "40% Ashkenazim come from matriarchs." Jerusalem Post (January 13, 2006). Excerpts:

"...four Jewish "founding mothers" who lived in Europe 1,000 years ago have been credited with being the ancestors of nearly half of all Ashkenazi Jews... ...40 percent of Ashkenazi Jews currently alive - are descended from these matriarchs, who were among a small group, probably after migrating from the Middle East, according to the Israeli researchers, who also provide evidence of shared maternal ancestry between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi (Sephardi and Oriental) Jews. The studies that led to these findings were performed by Dr. Doron Behar as part of his doctoral thesis, and were done under the supervision of Prof. Karl Skorecki of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. ... Researchers from universities in Italy, Estonia, Portugal, France, the US and Russia contributed to the important study, which was published on-line by the prestigious American Journal of Human Genetics on Thursday and will appear in print in the March. ... The researchers' conclusions are based on detailed comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) region of the human genome. ... Non-Ashkenazi Jews also carry low frequencies of these distinct mtDNA types, thus providing evidence of shared maternal ancestry of Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews. This is consistent with previous findings based on studies of the Y-chromosome, pointing to a similar pattern of shared paternal ancestry of global Jewish populations, originating in the Middle East. The researchers concluded that the four founding mtDNA - likely of Middle Eastern origin - underwent a major overall expansion in Europe during the last millennium."

Nicholas Wade. "New Light on Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe." The New York Times (January 14, 2006): A12. Excerpts:

"Until now, it had been widely assumed by geneticists that the Ashkenazi communities of Northern and Central Europe were founded by men who came from the Middle East, perhaps as traders, and by the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism. But the new study, published online this week in The American Journal of Human Genetics, suggests that the men and their wives migrated to Europe together. The researchers, Doron Behar and Karl Skorecki of the Technion and Ramban Medical Center in Haifa, and colleagues elsewhere, report that just four women, who may have lived 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, are the ancestors of 40 percent of Ashkenazis alive today. The Technion team's analysis was based on mitochondrial DNA... inherited only through the female line. ... Looking at other populations, the Technion team found that some people in Egypt, Arabia and the Levant also carried the set of mutations that defines one of the four women. They argue that all four probably lived originally in the Middle East. ... David Goldstein, now of Duke University, reported in 2002 that the mitochondrial DNA of women in Jewish communities around the world did not seem to be Middle Eastern, and indeed each community had its own genetic pattern. But in some cases the mitochondrial DNA was closely related to that of the host community. Dr. Goldstein and his colleagues suggested that the genesis of each Jewish community, including the Ashkenazis, was that Jewish men had arrived from the Middle East, taken wives from the host population and converted them to Judaism, after which there was no further intermarriage with non-Jews. The Technion team suggests a different origin for the Ashkenazi community: if the women too are Middle Eastern in origin, they would presumably have accompanied their husbands. ... Dr. Hammer said the new study "moves us forward in trying to understand Jewish population history." His own recent research, he said, suggests that the Ashkenazi population expanded through a series of bottlenecks - events that squeeze a population down to small numbers... But Dr. Goldstein said the new report did not alter his previous conclusion. The mitochondrial DNA's of a small, isolated population tend to change rapidly as some lineages fall extinct and others become more common, a process known as genetic drift. In his view, the Technion team has confirmed that genetic drift has played a major role in shaping Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA. But the linkage with Middle Eastern populations is not statistically significant, he said. Because of genetic drift, Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA's have developed their own pattern, which makes it very hard to tell their source. This differs from the patrilineal case, Dr. Goldstein said, where there is no question of a Middle Eastern origin."

Malcolm Ritter. "Study: Most Ashkenazi Jews from four women." Associated Press (January 12, 2006). Excerpts:

"...about 40% of the total Ashkenazi population — are descended from just four women, a genetic study indicates. Those women apparently lived somewhere in Europe within the last 2,000 years, but not necessarily in the same place or even the same century, said lead author Dr. Doron Behar of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. ... Each woman left a genetic signature that shows up in their descendants today, he and colleagues say in a report published online by the American Journal of Human Genetics. Together, their four signatures appear in about 40% of Ashkenazi Jews, while being virtually absent in non-Jews and found only rarely in Jews of non-Ashkenazi origin, the researchers said. Ashkenazi Jews are a group with mainly central and eastern European ancestry. Ultimately, though, they can be traced back to Jews who migrated from Israel to Italy in the first and second centuries, Behar said. Eventually this group moved to Eastern Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries and expanded greatly, reaching about 10 million just before World War II, he said. The study involved mitochondrial DNA, called mtDNA, which is passed only through the mother. ... Mike Hammer, who does similar research at the University of Arizona, said he found the work tracing back to just four ancestors "quite plausible... I think they've done a really good job of tackling this question." But he said it's not clear the women lived in Europe. "They may have existed in the Near East," Hammer said. "We don't know exactly where the four women were, but their descendants left a legacy in the population today, whereas ... other women's descendants did not." Behar said the four women he referred to did inherit their genetic signatures from female ancestors who lived in the Near East. But he said he preferred to focus on these later European descendants because they were at the root of the Ashkenazi population explosion."

Maggie Fox. "Study finds why Jewish mothers are so important." Reuters (January 13, 2006). Excerpts:

"Four Jewish mothers who lived 1,000 years ago in Europe are the ancestors of 40 percent of all Ashkenazi Jews alive Friday, an international team of researchers reported Friday. The genetic study of DNA paints a vivid picture of human evolution and survival, and correlates with the well-established written and oral histories of Jewish migrations, said Dr. Doron Behar of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who worked on the study. ... For their study, Behar and geneticist Karl Skorecki, with collaborators in Finland, France, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Russia and the United States sampled DNA from 11,452 people from 67 populations. ... "I think there was some kind of genetic pool that was in the Near East," Behar said in a telephone interview. "Among this genetic pool there were four maternal lineages, four real women, that carried the exact specific mitochondrial DNA markers that we can find in mitochondrial DNA today." They, or their direct descendants, moved into Europe. "Then at a certain period, most probably in the 13th century, simply by demographic matters, they started to expand dramatically," Behar said. "Maybe it was because of Jewish tradition, the structure of the family that might have been characterized by a high number of children." But these four families gave rise to much of the population of European Jews - which exploded from 30,000 people in the 13th century to "something like 9 million just prior to World War II," Behar said. ... Behar said as they sampled people from Ashkenazi communities around the world, the same mitochondrial genetic markers kept popping up. They did not find the markers in most of the non-Jewish people they sampled, and only a very few were shared with Jews of other origin."

Donald Macintyre. "3.5 million Ashkenazi Jews 'traced to four female ancestors'." The Independent (January 14, 2006).

"'Four mothers' for Europe's Jews." BBC News (January 13, 2006). Excerpts:

"The Ashkenazis moved from the Mid-East to Italy and then to Eastern Europe, where their population exploded in the 13th Century, the scientists say. ... The four women are thought to have lived in the Middle East about 1,000 years ago but they may not have lived anywhere near [an]other, according to the study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. However, they bequeathed genetic signatures to their descendents, which do not appear in non-Jews and are rare in Jews not of Ashkenazi origin."

Hillel Halkin. "Jews and Their DNA." Commentary Magazine (September 2008). Excerpts:

"Early studies of mitochondrial DNA reported that Jewish women, unlike Jewish men, did not correlate well with one another globally. ...Jewish males with antecedents in such widely separated places as Yemen, Georgia, and Bukhara in Central Asia are far more likely to share similar Y-chromosome DNA with one another than with Yemenite, Georgian, or Bukharan non-Jews. Jewish females from the same backgrounds, on the other hand, yield opposite results: their mitochondrial DNA has markedly less resemblance to that of Jewish women from elsewhere than it does to that of non-Jewish women in the countries their families hailed from. ... In the absence of rabbis to perform conversions, they [Jewish immigrants to new lands] married local women who, while consenting to live as Jews, were not halakhically Jewish. ... In a class by itself is the mitochondrial DNA of Ashkenazi women. It does not correlate closely with the DNA of non-Jewish women in Western, Central, or Eastern Europe and it has a large Middle Eastern component. ...the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi Jews have more in common with those of Italians and Greeks than with those of West Europeans. ... An 11.5-percent incidence of R-M117 among Ashkenazi Jews in general is easily explainable: the mutation could have entered the Jewish gene pool slowly, in small increments in every generation, during the thousand years of Ashkenazi Jewry's existence. ... But the 52-percent rate among Levites is something else. Here we are dealing not with a gradual, long-term process (for no imaginable process could have produced such results), but with a one-time event of some sort. ... Both of our studies, therefore, raise the possibility that the original R-M117 Levites were Khazarian Jews who migrated westward upon the fall of the Khazar kingdom. ... Analyzing the data, the American-Israeli-British study concludes that the number of R-M117 Levites absorbed by Ashkenazi Jewry ranged from one to fifty individuals. ... Nor do we know the percentage of Khazars possessing M117, which is found in 12 or 13 percent of Russian and Ukrainian males today. If these were also its proportions among the Khazars, there would have been seven non-M117 Khazars joining or founding Ashkenazi Jewry for every Khazar who had the mutation. In sum, even if the R-M117 Levites are traceable to Khazaria, the total flow of Khazarians into the East European Jewish population could have been anywhere from a single person to many thousands. If it was the latter, the Khazar input was significant, as David Goldstein suspects it was; if the former, it was trivial, as Jon Entine believes. ... I myself have long suspected, starting far before I knew anything of historical genetics or Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe, that I have Khazar blood in me. One of my father's sisters had distinctly slanty eyes. In one of her daughters, these are even more pronounced. The daughter's daughter has features that could come straight from the steppes of Asia."

David B. Goldstein. "In Jewish Genetic History, the Known Unknowns." Forward (August 28, 2009). Excerpts:

"... We have learned that Jewish populations from around the world -- with a few exceptions -- have a remarkable degree of genetic connectedness with each other and with the Near East. ... But many unknowns about Jewish history remain, leaving geneticists with an interest in Jewish origins with plenty of sleuthing work to do. ... A recent study looking at hundreds of thousands of variable sites in the genome revealed a clear genetic signature for Jewish ancestry among randomly selected university students in America. When this Jewish signature was compared with the genetic makeup of other populations, it became clear that Ashkenazic Jews have a genetic makeup more similar to Near Eastern populations than do other Northern European populations. Yet despite sharing an origin point in the Near East, individual Jews today tend to look markedly different from one another in terms of their physical appearance, depending upon which part of the world their ancestors resided in during recent centuries. Clearly, this diversity of physical appearance is the result of a degree of intermingling with the populations among which Jews have lived. But we don't know precisely when or how this intermingling took place. Did large numbers of gentiles join the Jewish population through mass conversion in the ancient world? Was there a steady trickle of intermarriage? Was there some combination of these? ... One hint we do have is that research shows -- in multiple Jewish groups from Ashkenazic Jews to Georgian Jews -- more genetic continuity with Near Eastern populations on the paternal side (indicated by the Y chromosome) than on the maternal side (indicated by mitochondrial DNA). ... And findings by genetic researchers of significant Near Eastern ancestry among Ashkenazic Jews put to rest the notion that this population originated with or is predominantly descended from the Khazars. Be that as it may, there is one odd and tantalizing feature of Ashkenazic Jewish Y chromosomes that may lead us back to Khazaria. ... There is no Y chromosome link that unites Ashkenazic and Sephardic Levites. Among the Ashkenazic Levites, however, there is a particularly common Y chromosome type that is not often found in other Jewish groups. But it is found among people who now live where the Khazars once did. ... One way to answer this question might be to try to develop a fuller picture of the genetics of the Turkic-speaking peoples, particularly modern-day speakers of Chuvash, a Turkic language related to that spoken by the Khazars. Then we could compare their genes to the Ashkenazic genes we suspect may be of Khazar origin."

Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Marina Faerman, Himla Soodyall, and Ariella Oppenheim. "Y chromosome evidence for a founder effect in Ashkenazi Jews." European Journal of Human Genetics 13:3 (March 2005): 388-391. Preceded by advance electronic publication on November 3, 2004. This study focuses on one of the two main non-Mideastern Y-DNA lineages among Ashkenazic Jewish men: haplogroup R1a1 (the other is haplogroup Q). Abstract:

"Recent genetic studies, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe. However, Ashkenazim have an elevated frequency of R-M17, the dominant Y chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europeans, suggesting possible gene flow. In the present study of 495 Y chromosomes of Ashkenazim, 57 (11.5%) were found to belong to R-M17. Detailed analyses of haplotype structure, diversity and geographic distribution suggest a founder effect for this haplogroup, introduced at an early stage into the evolving Ashkenazi community in Europe. R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazim may represent vestiges of the mysterious Khazars."

Doron M. Behar, Daniel Garrigan, Matthew E. Kaplan, Zahra Mobasher, Dror Rosengarten, Tatiana M. Karafet, Lluis Quintana-Murci, Harry Ostrer, Karl Skorecki, and Michael F. Hammer. "Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome variation in Ashkenazi Jewish and host non-Jewish European populations." Human Genetics 114:4 (March 2004): 354-365. 442 Ashkenazi Jews were sampled for this study and differentiated according to geographic, religious, and ethno-historical subcategories like "Byelorussian Jews" and "Dutch Jews". In Table 2 on page 357 we see that the mutation lineage designation R-M17, corresponding to haplogroup R1a1 (most often found among Ashkenazi Levites), is found at a frequency of 0.075 among the Ashkenazi Jews as a whole in this study, and at a frequency of 0.264 among the Non-Jewish Europeans (French, Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians, and Russians) in the study. Excerpts:

"Haplogroups J and E were by far the most prevalent haplogroups in AJ populations. Haplogroup J was present at similar frequencies in western AJ (41.1%) and eastern AJ (37.0%) populations, whereas haplogroup E-M35 was present at lower frequencies in western AJ than in eastern AJ populations (7.1% versus 19.1%, respectively). .... This survey of variation at 32 binary (SNP) and 10 STR markers in a sample of 442 Ashkenazi males from 10 different western and eastern Europe communities represents the largest study of Ashkenazi paternal genetic variation to date. .... The best candidates for haplogroups that entered the AJ population recently via admixture include I-P19, R-P25, and R-M17. These haplogroups were thought to represent the major Paleolithic component of the European paternal gene pool... Because haplogroups R-M17 and R-P25 are present in non-Ashkenazi Jewish populations (e.g., at 4% and 10%, respectively) and in non-Jewish Near Eastern populations (e.g., at 7% and 11%, respectively; Hammer et al. 2000; Nebel et al. 2001), it is likely that they were also present at low frequency in the AJ founding population. The admixture analysis shown in Table 6 suggests that 5%-8% of the Ashkenazi gene pool is, indeed, comprised of Y chromosomes that may have introgressed from non-Jewish European populations. In particular, the Dutch AJ population appears to have experienced relatively high levels of European non-Jewish admixture. ... However, Dutch Jews do not appear to have increased levels of European mtDNA introgression (Behar et al. 2004), suggesting that admixture in this population is mainly the result of higher rates of intermarriage between Jewish woman [sic] and non-Jewish men."

Doron M. Behar, Michael F. Hammer, Daniel Garrigan, Richard Villems, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, Martin Richards, David Gurwitz, Dror Rosengarten, Matthew Kaplan, Sergio Della Pergola, Lluis Quintana-Murci, and Karl Skorecki. "MtDNA evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the early history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population." European Journal of Human Genetics 12:5 (May 2004): 355-364. (Advance online publication on January 14, 2004.) An observer who read the study indicates that the study shows that approximately 60 percent of European Jewish maternal roots come from European sources, with the other 40 percent from Middle Eastern or Asian roots. Abstract excerpt:

To test for the effects of a maternal bottleneck on the Ashkenazi Jewish population, we performed an extensive analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable segment 1 (HVS-1) sequence and restriction site polymorphisms in 565 Ashkenazi Jews from different parts of Europe. These patterns of variation were compared with those of five Near Eastern (n=327) and 10 host European (n=849) non-Jewish populations. Only four mtDNA haplogroups (Hgs) (defined on the basis of diagnostic coding region RFLPs and HVS-1 sequence variants) account for approximately 70% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation. While several Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA Hgs appear to derive from the Near East, there is also evidence for a low level of introgression from host European non-Jewish populations.

Dror Rosengarten. "Y Chromosome Haplotypes Among Members of the Caucasus Jewish Communities." Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Ancient DNA and Associated Biomolecules, July 21-25, 2002. Abstract excerpt:

"...buccal swab genomic DNA samples were collected from 51 unrelated males from the Mountain Jewish community and from 55 unrelated males from the Georgian Jewish community... Corresponding haplotype frequencies in other Jewish communities and among neighboring non-Jewish populations were derived from the literature. Based on a variety of genetic distance and admixture measures we found that majority of Kavkazi Jewish haplotypes were shared with other Jewish communities and were consistent with a Mediterranean origin. This result strengthens previous reports, which indicated a shared ancestral pool of genetic haplotypes for most contemporary Jewish communities. In the case of the Georgian Jewish samples, both Mediterranean and European haplotypes were found. This could indicate either a Mediterranean origin with a European genetic contribution or a European source with a Mediterranean contribution. Generally, Georgian Jews were found to be closer to European populations than to Mediterranean populations. Despite their geographic proximity, there was a significant genetic distance between the Mountain and Georgian Jewish communities, at least based on Y-haplotype analysis..."

Noah A. Rosenberg, Eilon Woolf, Jonathan K. Pritchard, Tamar Schaap, Dov Gefel, Isaac Shpirer, Uri Lavi, Batsheva Bonné-Tamir, Jossi Hillel, and Marcus W. Feldman. "Distinctive genetic signatures in the Libyan Jews." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS) 98:3 (January 30, 2001): 858-863. (Mirror) Excerpts:

"It is consistent with historical sources that the Libyan Jews should separate from and show strong differentiation from the other populations of our study. This population has a unique history among North African Jewish communities, including an early founding, a harsh bottleneck, possible admixture with local Berbers, limited contact with other Jewish communities, and small size in the recent past.... Ethiopian Jewish Y-chromosomal haplotypes are often present in Yemenite and other Jewish populations..., but analysis of Y-chromosomal haplotype frequencies does not indicate a close relationship between Ethiopian and other Jewish groups.... However, the evidence of an African contribution to the ancestry of Ethiopian Jews and the evidence of communication across the Red Sea suggest that gene flow between these populations would be a more plausible explanation for our clustering of some Yemenite Jews with some Ethiopian Jews. Recent studies suggest that the Lemba of southern Africa derive partly from Yemenite Jews or other Semitic peoples of this region (17), and that Ethiopians share a combination of African and Middle Eastern genotypes and languages.... Although gene flow between the Ethiopian and Yemenite Jewish populations is one explanation of our results, it is also possible that gene flow did not occur directly between these two populations, but rather took place between non-Jewish populations of Ethiopia and Arabia, between Ethiopian Jews and Ethiopian non-Jews, and also between Yemenite Jews and Yemenite non-Jews."

Aleza Goldsmith. Jews and Arabs share genes, Stanford research scientist says." Jewish Bulletin of Northern California (March 9, 2001). Excerpts:

"Peter Underhill, a senior research scientist in the department of genetics at Stanford University, has a reality check for the Middle East: 'No matter how you define yourself today -- whether Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian, Turkish -- Middle Easterners share much of the same gene pool.' Based on research on the Y chromosome, published by Underhill and Stanford colleagues in a recent issue of Nature Genetics.... Underhill, along with Stanford colleagues and geneticists in the United States, Europe, Israel and Africa, have been working with the paternally transmitted Y chromosomes of more than 1,000 men from 22 geographical areas...."

Peter A. Underhill, P. Shen, A. A. Lin, L. Jin, G. Passarino, W. H. Yang, E. Kauffman, Batsheva Bonné-Tamir, J. Bertranpetit, P. Francalacci, M. Ibrahim, T. Jenkins, J. R. Kidd, S. Q. Mehdi, M. T. Seielstad, R. S. Wells, A. Piazza, R. W. Davis, M. W. Feldman, Luca L. Cavalli-Sforza, and P. J. Oefner. "Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations." Nature Genetics 26 (2000): 358-361. Sequence information for the 167 Y chromosome markers.

Lea Winerman. "Is Being Jewish All in the Genes?" New Voices: National Jewish Student Magazine 9:3 (January 2001): 8-13. Excerpts:

"The studies of the past several years have provided fascinating insights into Jewish history, but they've hardly closed the book on the question of modern Jews' ancestry. Right now, two separate research groups are taking a more in-depth look at the origins and migration patterns of Eastern European Jews. Michael Hammer and Harry Ostrer are leading one study; Dr. Vivian Moses and Dr. Neil || Bradman are conducting the other at the Center for Genetic Anthropology at University College-London. Vivian Moses suggests that the results of his study might diverge somewhat from what Hammer and his colleagues presented last June. 'I think perhaps we are using more DNA markers than they did,' he says, 'and therefore the results might not be exactly the same. We already have some preliminary indications of a link between [Eastern European Jews and] Slavs.'"

Nathaniel Pearson. "My Blood Brother in Samarkand." Stanford Magazine (May/June 1999). Nathaniel Pearson, a scientist who has studied at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, conducted research on genetics as part of the Human Genome Project. He traveled to Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East collecting genetic data using blood samples and cheek swabs. Some of his test subjects were North Caucasians, Turks, and Sino-Tibetans. (However, it needs to be noted that the haplotype Pearson describes has also been found among Moroccan Jews, and thus not only among Jews, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Indians. So the origin of the haplotype remains mysterious.) Excerpts:

"As population geneticists, Spencer Wells and I were working with Stanford emeritus professor Luca Cavalli-Sforza and others to study DNA variation among different groups... Our expedition eventually took us through the forests, steppes and deserts between the Black Sea and Central Asia's Altai Mountains. We collected hundreds of samples from people whose ancestors included nomads, farmers, sultans and serfs and whose genetic makeup had been shaped for millennia by waves of conquest and trade in this region of the Silk Road... [O]ur expedition rolled into the old oasis city of Samarkand... Back at Stanford, my labmates and I had compared hundreds of DNA samples from men around the world, focusing on about a dozen sites along the Y chromosome... Out of curiosity, I submitted my own sample to the database -- and discovered that I matched with four other donors. One was a Turkic-speaking man in western Uzbekistan, two lived in New Delhi, and one was a Tajik living in Samarkand... Sharif's Tajiks are Persian-speakers who moved east to Samarkand well before the arrival of Islam there about 1,300 years ago and the heyday of overland trade. They mixed with people already there and, later, with Turkic immigrants and others. My recent ancestors were Ashkenazi Jews in Ukraine; that population likely moved by several routes from the Middle East to Eastern Europe over the past couple of thousand years, mixing with Indo-European and Turkic people along the way. The common influence of Indo-European, Semitic and Turkic ancestry is one clue to how we might share a recent ancestor. That both Jews and Tajiks plied the Silk Road about a thousand years ago is another."

Stephen Magagnini. "DNA helps unscramble the puzzles of ancestry." The Sacramento Bee (August 3, 2003). This article mentions several cases of individualized genetic testing by companies like Trace Genetics and Family Tree DNA. Of interest to us is the case of an Ashkenazi woman whose mtDNA bears the marker of the transversion at np16257, which may have originated among the Han Chinese people and travelled westward along the Silk Road into Uzbekistan. This marker is not likely to have been common among the Khazars. Excerpts:

"The brave new world of DNA roots-quests -- barely three years old -- sometimes produces surprising results. ... And a Jewish schoolteacher from Oakland learned at least one of her forebears came out of China. ... Alanya Snyder, a [Ashkenazi] Jewish middle school teacher in Oakland [with maternal-line ancestry from Moldova], had her [mt] DNA tested [by Trace Genetics of Davis, California] as a wedding present and discovered she matches people from central Asia [including some Uzbekistani Jews near Bukhara, plus some Han Chinese inhabitants of eastern China and some Mongolians]. The news thrilled Snyder's mother, Carel Bertram, a San Francisco State professor with a lifelong love of Turkic art and culture. Bertram suspects she and Snyder are descendants of the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking group that converted to Judaism about A.D. 750 and later was conquered by the Kiev Rus, or early Russians. 'Maybe there was this wonderful, Turkic-speaking Jewish woman,' she mused. 'It's so enriching, something added to my life that I had not expected.'"

Marc Perelman. "Palestinian Gene Study Breeds Scandal." Forward (November 30, 2001).

Robin McKie. "Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians." The Observer (November 25, 2001).

Lila Guterman. "Science Journal Retracts Paper That Veered Into Geopolitical Speculation." The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 16, 2001).

Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, Nagah Elaiwa, Carlos Silvera, Ahmed Rostom, Juan Moscoso, Eduardo Gómez-Casado, Luis Allende, Pilar Varela, and Jorge Martínez-Laso. "The Origin of Palestinians and Their Generic Relatedness With Other Mediterranean Populations." Human Immunology 62(9) (September 2001): 889-900. Published by Elsevier Science Inc. Recalled by editors after publication. Retraction in Human Immunology 62(10) (October 2001): 1063. Abstract excerpts:

"The genetic profile of Palestinians has, for the first time, been studied by using human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene variability and haplotypes. The comparison with other Mediterranean populations by using neighbor-joining dendrograms and correspondence analyses reveal that Palestinians are genetically very close to Jews and other Middle East populations, including Turks (Anatolians), Lebanese, Egyptians, Armenians and Iranians. Archaeologic and genetic data support that both Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites, who extensively mixed with Egyptians, Mesopotamian and Anatolian peoples in ancient times..."
"Both Jews and Palestinians share a very similar HLA genetic pool (Table 3, Figures 4, 5 and 6) that support a common ancient Canaanite origin.... Jews, Cretans, Egyptians, Iranians, Turks and Armenians are probably the closest relatives to Palestinians..." (p. 897)

Harry Ostrer. "A genetic profile of contemporary Jewish populations." Nature Reviews Genetics 2(11) (November 2001): 891-898. Excerpt:

"Studies of Y-chromosal markers have provided an opportunity to assess gene flow into Jewish populations from non-Jewish males. Contemporary Jews and Middle Eastern Arabs have 13 common Y-chromosomal haplotypes that are shared both within and across groups, indicating that the original Jews might have arisen from local peoples [Canaanites, Sumerians, etc.] and are not the offspring of a single patriarch [Abraham]. The most common Y-chromosomal haplotypes are thought to be of Middle Eastern and North African origin, and the less common haplotypes of Asian origin, indicating that gene flow had a role in the formation of the Jewish people."

Carole Oddoux, Encarnacion Guillen-Navarro, C. M. Clayton, H. Nelson, H. Peretz, U. Seligsohn, L. Luzzatto, M. Nardi, M. Karpatkin, C. DiTivoli, E. DiCave, Felicia Axelrod, and Harry Ostrer. "Genetic Evidence for a Common Origin among Roman Jews and Ashkenazi Jews." American Journal of Human Genetics 61:4 (1997): A207. Abstract excerpts:

"The present Ashkenazi Jewish population is believed to be derived from an initial group of 10,000 founders who moved to Eastern Europe 1000 years ago, possibly from Rome. In order to test the hypothesis that these two populations originated from a common founder population we collected samples from a group of 107 Roman Jews representing 176 unique chromosomes and analyzed them for specific mutations known to be prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews.... The FXI type III mutation has previously been observed exclusively among Ashkenazi Jewish populations suggesting a common origin for the Roman and the Ashkenazi Jews and dating the mutation to between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago."

"Genetic Road May Lead to Rome: Scientists Discover Ties Between Ashkenazim and Roman Jews." Forward (August 29, 1997): v. C1, p. 22.

Steve Sailer, "Q&A: Tracing Jewish history through genes." (UPI, May 15, 2003). Published in that day's edition of The Washington Times. Excerpts:

"From a historical perspective, however, this current era of Jews marrying gentiles is not unique, according to author Jon Entine. While other peoples have come and gone over the millennia, the world Jewish community has survived both through eras of horrific persecution and eras of high rates of intermarriage. ... Entine said: 'Biblical literalists have long contended that Jews are a 'race apart,' citing Deuteronomic Law: 'You shall not intermarry with them (non-Jews).' As a result, some Jewish populations, such as the Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe, are among the more genetically distinct in the world... Under the Roman Empire, the Jewish community in Italy was quite sizable for a time, with lots of flow in and out. During the early Christian period in the Roman Empire, Jewish males who had left the Mideast often took on Gentile wives. Their offspring probably became the core of Ashkenazi Jewry. However, some time around the fall of Rome is when the taboos on intermarriage (imposed by both Jews and Gentiles) became stringent. The real end to Ashkenazi Jewish out-marrying did not come until the Middle Ages as the economic and social position of Jews worsened considerably. This historical trend is reflected in the genetic data, which suggests that the genetic core of modern Ashkenazi Jewry was not formed until this period. The core consisted mostly of Jewish men with Middle Eastern roots marrying a high percentage of local Gentile women, then forming Jewish communities.'"

Gerard Lucotte and G. Mercier. "Y-chromosome DNA haplotypes in Jews: comparisons with Lebanese and Palestinians." Genetic Testing 7:1 (Spring 2003): 67-71. Abstract:

One Y-specific DNA polymorphism (p49/Taq I) was studied in 54 Lebanese and 69 Palestinian males, and compared with the results found in 693 Jews from three communities (Oriental, Sephardic, and Ashkenazic). Lebanese, Palestinian, and Sephardic Jews seem to be similar in their Y-haplotype patterns, both with regard to the haplotype distributions and the ancestral haplotype VIII frequencies. The haplotype distribution in Oriental Jews is characterized by a significantly higher frequency of haplotype VIII. These results confirm similarities in the Y-haplotype frequencies in Lebanese, Palestinian, and Sephardic Jewish men, three Near-Eastern populations sharing a common geographic origin.

Gerard Lucotte and Pierre Smets. "Origins of Falasha Jews studied by haplotypes of the Y chromosome." Human Biology 71:6 (December 1999): 989-993. (mirror) Abstract:

"DNA samples from Falasha Jews and Ethiopians were studied with the Y-chromosome-specific DNA probe p49a to screen for TaqI restriction polymorphisms and haplotypes. Two haplotypes (V and XI) are the most widespread in Falashas and Ethiopians, representing about 70% of the total number of haplotypes in Ethiopia. Because the Jewish haplotypes VII and VIII are not represented in the Falasha population, we conclude that the Falasha people descended from ancient inhabitants of Ethiopia who converted to Judaism."

A. Amar, O. J. Kwon, U. Motro, C. S. Witt, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, R. Gabison, and C. Brautbar. "Molecular analysis of HLA class II polymorphisms among different ethnic groups in Israel." Human Immunology 60(8) (August 1999): 723-730. This study failed to study Slavic populations, yet the study apparently showed that Israeli Arabs are closer to Sephardic Jews than either group is to Ashkenazi Jews. Excerpts:

"Genetic studies classify the Israeli Jewish population into two major groups: Ashkenazi from Central and Eastern Europe and Sephardic or non Ashkenazi, from the Mediterranean and North Africa... Ethiopian Jews were found to be closer to the Blacks than to any of the Israeli Jewish groups. We have shown that Jews share common features, a fact that points to a common ancestry. A certain degree of admixture with their pre-immigration neighbors exists despite the cultural and religious constraints against intermarriage."

J. Martinez-Laso, E. Gazit, E. Gomez-Casado, P. Morales, N. Martinez-Quiles, M. Alvarez, J. M. Martin-Villa, V. Fernandez, and A. Arnaiz-Villena. "HLA DR and DQ polymorphism in Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews: comparison with other Mediterraneans." Tissue Antigens 47(1) (January 1996): 63-71. Excerpts:

"HLA-DR and DQ alleles have been detected by DNA typing in Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews from Israel. Allele frequencies, characteristic DR/DQ linkage disequilibria, population distances and their corresponding dendrogram by using the Neighbor-Joining method were used to study relatedness between Jewish and other Mediterranean and non Mediterranean populations. Closest relatedness is observed between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews, and, in decreasing order, also with Algerians, Spaniards (including Spanish-Basques), French and Italians. Also, particular characteristic Central European alleles are observed in Ashkenazi Jews and Mediterranean/African alleles in non-Ashkenazi Jews. This is consistent with historical data, Jews being an ancient Mediterranean population, who have had a certain degree of admixture with their 2000-3000 years old neighbors in spite of cultural and religious traditions which have preserved identity outside Israel."

Robert Pollack. "The Fallacy of Biological Judaism." Forward (March 7, 2003): Op-Ed section. Excerpt:

"Though there are many deleterious versions of genes shared within the Ashkenazic community, there are no DNA sequences common to all Jews and absent from all non-Jews. There is nothing in the human genome that makes or diagnoses a person as a Jew."

Leonard B. Glick. Abraham's Heirs: Jews and Christians in Medieval Europe. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999. Glick is a cultural anthropologist and historian. Excerpt:

"In the earliest period of Jewish settlement in Gaul... Jews were relatively well accepted, and Jewish men appear to have intermarried frequently enough with local non-Jewish women (probably all of whom converted) to create a Jewish population of decidedly mixed genetic origins. Modern physical anthropological studies of European Jews have demonstrated conclusively that the term 'Semitic' masks the large European component in the Jewish genetic pool." (excerpt from page xi)

Shmuel A. Cygielman. (Article about Jewish settlement in Poland in medieval times) in Medieval Jewish History: An Encyclopedia, ed. Norman Roth. Routledge, 2003. Excerpt:

"...the Jews... in Poland... employed local Slavic slaves who aided them in developing their enterprises. The Jews were mostly single men, from Jewish centers in western and southern Europe... As by Jewish law, after seven years they were required to free their slaves, often, the owner, when his female slave continued working with him after her release, proposed that she remain with him as his wife, and undertake the management of the household as an equal partner, all on condition that she convert to Judaism. This could also explain the Slavic cast which often manifests itself on the faces of Jews from this region."

Steve Jones. In the Blood: God, Genes, and Destiny. Flamingo, 1997. Excerpts:

"Ashkenazim are quite distinct from their Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern co-religionists in the incidence of the disease and in the mutations responsible... The genetic family tree of Jews from different parts of Europe shows that they are not a unique group, biologically distinct from other peoples around them. There is, though, evidence of common ancestry that gives Jews at least a partial identity of their own. In most places, there is overlap between the genes of the Jewish population and those of local non-Jews. There has been interchange; sometimes through recent marriage, but more often as a result of mating long ago.... The Y chromosomes of Jews are - unsurprisingly - not all the same; the idea of the sons of Abraham is a symbolic one. They do show that many males, some only distantly related to each other, have contributed to the genes of European Jewry. On the average, most Jewish populations contain more diversity for male lineages than for female (whose history is recorded in mitochondrial DNA). This means that there has been more invasion of the Jewish gene pool by the genes of non-Jewish men than of women. The Y chromosomes of Jewish men from the Balkans are rather unlike those of other European Jews, perhaps because there was more admixture in this unstable part of the world."

Judit Beres and C. R. Guglielmino. "Genetic Structure in relation to the history of the Hungarian ethnic group." Human Biology 68:3 (June 1996): 335-about 356. Summary:

Studies multiple nationalities: Magyars, Jews, Gypsies, Germans, Slovaks, Kuns, Romanians, etc. In this very large study, Hungarian Jews were found to be highly distinct from all other groups residing in Hungary.

U. Ritte, E. Neufeld, M. Broit, D. Shavit, and U. Motro. "The Differences Among Jewish Communities: Material and Paternal Contributions." Journal of Molecular Evolution 37:4 (October 1993): 435-440.

E. S. Poloni, Ornella Semino, G. Passarino, A. Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, I. Dupanloup, A. Langaney, and L. Excoffier. "Human Genetic Affinities for Y-Chromosome P49a,f/TaqI Haplotypes Show Strong Correspondence with Linguistics." American Journal of Human Genetics 61 (1997): 1015-1035. Excerpts:

"Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European samples differentiate along the second axis of the multivariate analysis. The Sephardim Jews, the Ashkenazim Jews, the Turks, and the Lebanese samples are genetically located at the intersection of these two linguistic groups, the Ashkenazim samples being somewhat closer to Indo-Europeans.... Although the overall pattern of population differentiation globally appears to be very similar for male- and female-transmitted markers (fig. 3), some populations clearly show different affinities for their maternal and paternal genetic components, as already noticed for Ethiopian Jews (Zoosmann-Diskin et al. 1991), Arab tribal groups in the Sinai Peninsula (Salem et al. 1996), Finns (Zerjal et al. 1997), and Basques (as discussed above)."

Graph of Y-chromosome clusters derived from this study (Leb = Lebanese, Ash = Ashkenazic Jews, NAS = North African Jews, NES = Near Eastern Jews, Sep = Sephardic Jews, SoS = South Sardinian, Tur = Anatolian Turkish, Ita = Italian)

A. Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, Ornella Semino, G. Passarino, A. Torroni, R. Brdicka, M. Fellous, G. Modiano. "The common, Near-Eastern origin of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews supported by Y-chromosome similarity." Annals of Human Genetics 57 (January 1993): 55-64 (part 1). Excerpts:

"About 80 Sephardim, 80 Ashkenazim and 100 Czechoslovaks were examined for the Y-specific RFLPs revealed by the probes p12f2 and p49a,f on TaqI DNA digests. The aim of the study was to investigate the origin of the Ashkenazi gene pool through the analysis of markers which, having an exclusively holoandric transmission, are useful to estimate paternal gene flow. The comparison of the two groups of Jews with each other and with Czechoslovaks (which have been taken as a representative source of foreign Y-chromosomes for Ashkenazim) shows a great similarity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim who are very different from Czechoslovaks. On the other hand both groups of Jews appear to be closely related to Lebanese. A preliminary evaluation suggests that the contribution of foreign males to the Ashkenazi gene pool has been very low (1% or less per generation)."

Jared Diamond. "Who Are the Jews?" Natural History 102:11 (November 1993): 12-19. Summary:

Diamond argues that Ashkenazic Jews are connected to "their ancient Arab and Egyptian neighbors." (p. 18). Yet he admits: "Although the Jews have been scattered for only a few thousand years, their faces often reflect their scattered homelands." (p. 12). Diamond's explanations are somewhat bizarre. While he is willing to consider Indian Jews, Yemenite Jews, and Ethiopian Jews descendants of converts and mixed marriages (p. 18), he seems to think Ashkenazic Jews are more purely Israelite than other Jewish groups. He suggests that natural selection, rather than intermarriage and conversion, explains how Jews resemble their non-Jewish neighbors (p. 16). In other words, Jews move to Europe, speed up the process of evolution that usually is slower among other human groups, and somehow magically start to look like Russians, Poles, Italians, and Germans, without any genetic contact with them. Skin color and ABO blood group studies contradict the notion that Jews are all homogeneous Middle Easterners (Diamond p. 14, 16) and "G6PD deficiency" genetics is common to Ashkenazim, Russians, and Germans (p. 16-17). But Diamond keeps insisting that this was not due to mixing. "In their fingerprints, Rhesus blood group frequencies, haptoglobins, and several enzyme markers, Ashkenazic Jews resemble Sephardic and Yemenite Jews and differ from Eastern European Gentiles. Furthermore, in these respects Jews resemble many Gentile peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, such as Samaritans, Armenians, Egyptian Cops, and Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian Arabs." (p. 16) "Thus, judging by neutral markers, the non-Jewish contribution to the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish gene pool has been low. These groups of Jews may really be transplanted Semites, not converted Khazars or products of massive intermarriage." (p. 18). But this does nothing to explain the magical way in which Jews come to resemble their neighbors. It is as if a Dutchman moving to South Africa would have descendants who would at least be beginning to look more like native Africans, or descendants of the Mayflower starting to adopt American Indian facial characteristics, or Englishmen in Australian turning Aboriginal. Are such things happening absent intermarriage? Obviously not. And how and why would a minority group drastically change its physical appearance (e.g. lightening skin) in order to blend in with the majority? Is this idle speculation? His article contains the typical Koestler-bashing, which shows that one of his intentions was to use genetics research to "disprove" any sort of connection between Khazars and Russian Jews. While he provided a valuable service in summarizing some scientific studies for the general public, his overall explanation is not credible. (In his book Guns, Germs, and Steel he indicated that he believes that geography determined historical patterns much more than human action.) UPDATE: In December 2005 it was revealed in a study by Keith C. Cheng that the light skin color of Europeans (particularly in northern Europe), a genetic suppression of the production of melanin, probably originated at one time, after the geographical separation of Africans and others. Most Africans and most Asians do not share this suppressing gene. Thus, the claim is debunked that European Jews underwent a separate (!) process of lightening their skin within a short amount of time (!!), absent intermarriage (!!!), a process which its proponents do not pretend to claim happened to other Jewish groups. In reality, European physical traits came from a certain degree of intermarriage with Europeans. Deal with reality, folks. They don't just "happen". There is no separate gene that brought about the same lightening process in Ashkenazic Jews. I do not believe Ashkenazic Jews are primarily Europeans, but by the same token we cannot deny that there was some substantial intermarriage with Europeans among Ashkenazim.

Batsheva Bonné-Tamir (editor). Genetic Diversity Among the Jews: Diseases and Markers at the DNA Level. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Batsheva Bonné-Tamir. Indian Anthropologist (1985). Claims that Yemenite Jews are descended from Arabic tribes that converted to Judaism.

Batsheva Bonné-Tamir, S. Ashbel, and S. Bar-Shani. "Ethnic communities in Israel: the genetic blood markers of the Moroccan Jews." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 49 (1978): 465-472. The authors state that different North African Jewish communities exhibit genetic differences and should not be lumped together into one group.

Avshalom Zoossmann-Disken, A. Ticher, I. Hakim, Z. Goldwitch, A. Rubinstein, and Batsheva Bonné-Tamir. "Genetic affinities of Ethiopian Jews.". Israel Journal of Medical Sciences 27:245 (1991). Ethiopian Jews are Ethiopian Africans who converted to Judaism.

L. L. Field, J. A. Lowden, and A. K. Ray. "Immunoglobulin (Gm) allotypes in a sample of Canadian Ashkenazic Jews." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 48(2) (February 1978): 159-164. This is an old study which may not be using current techniques. Abstract:

"Gm typing on the serum specimens of 507 Ashkenazic Jews (pre-dominantly of Polish-Russian ancestry) from Toronto, Canada has established the presence of haplotypes Gm3;5, Gm1;21, Gm1,2;21, and Gm1,17;5, and the absence of haplotypes Gm1;13,15,16, Gm1;5,6, and Gm1;5,6,24 which have been found in other Jewish peoples. It is suggested that Ashkenazic populations have lower frequencies of haplotype Gm1,17;5 than non-European Jewish populations, and that some eastern European Jewish populations have acquired the Gm1;13,15,16 haplotype through gene flow from Central Asia. Thus Jewish populations show differences in the Gm system; many of the differences may be in the direction of similarities to neighbouring non-Jewish populations."

For more information about the DNA of Jewish Cohens and Levites, see:
Studies of Cohens and Levites

For more information about Jewish genetic diseases, see:
Studies on Jewish genetic diseases

Jewish Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries - Index