|"Study: North African,
Iraqi Jewry nearly genetic twins "
Fouad (Ben Eliezer) est plus notre frere que nous le
"Study: North African, Iraqi Jewry nearly genetic twins
Sephardic North African Jews are genetic twins of their Iraq brethren, says a study by
researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
This, despite being separated for more than a millennium.
Sephardic Jews also show a very close genetic match to Kurdistani Jews, showing only
slight differences between these two groups and Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, according to
the results of the study, led by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim of The Hebrew University and
Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem.
Dr. Almut Nebel, a Hebrew University Ph.D. student from
Germany and Dr. Marina Faerman of the Hebrew University, Dr. Dvora Filon of Hadassah
University Hospital, and other colleagues from Germany and India took part in the
research, according to a statement issued by the university.
The researchers examined the Y chromosomes of three groups of Jews - Ashkenazi, Sephardi
and Kurdish Jews - and compared them to various Arab groups (Palestinians, Bedouins,
Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese) as well as to non-Arab populations from Transcaucasia
(Turks, Armenians and Muslim Kurds), the statement said.
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.
These findings are consistent with known cultural links that existed among populations in
the Fertile Crescent in early history and indicate that the Jews are direct descendants of
the early Middle Eastern core populations - populations which later divided into distinct
ethnic groups speaking different languages.
Previous investigations by the Hebrew University researchers suggested a common origin for
Jewish and non-Jewish populations living in the Middle East.
The current study refines and delineates that connection.
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
An additional 30% of the Muslim Arab chromosomes belong to a very closely related lineage.
This high degree of overlap is attributed to the particular history of Muslim Palestinian
Arabs, according to which 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.
The researchers say that a genetic analysis of the chromosomes of Jews from various
countries show that there was practically no genetic intermixing between them and the host
populations among which they were scattered during their dispersion - whether in Eastern
Europe, Spain, Portugal or North Africa.
A particularly interesting case illustrating this is that of the Kurdish Jews, said to be
the descendants of the Ten Tribes of Israel who were exiled in 723 B.C.E. to the area
known today as Kurdistan, located in Northern Iraq, Iran and Eastern Turkey.
They continued to live there as a separate entity until their immigration to Israel in the
The Kurdish Jews of today show a much greater affinity to their fellow Jews elsewhere than
to the Kurdish Muslims."
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