Skip to comments.The Genetic Bonds Between Kurds and Jews
Posted on 05/04/2006 7:03:48 AM PDT by white trash redneck
"The Genetic Bonds Between Kurds and Jews"
by Kevin Alan Brook
Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews
In 2001, a team of Israeli, German, and Indian scientists discovered that the majority of Jews around the world are closely related to the Kurdish people -- more closely than they are to the Semitic-speaking Arabs or any other population that was tested. The researchers sampled a total of 526 Y-chromosomes from 6 populations (Kurdish Jews, Kurdish Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazic Jews, and Bedouin from southern Israel) and added extra data on 1321 persons from 12 populations (including Russians, Belarusians, Poles, Berbers, Portuguese, Spaniards, Arabs, Armenians, and Anatolian Turks). Most of the 95 Kurdish Muslim test subjects came from northern Iraq. Ashkenazic Jews have ancestors who lived in central and eastern Europe, while Sephardic Jews have ancestors from southwestern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews were found to be very close to each other. Both of these Jewish populations differed somewhat from Ashkenazic Jews, who mixed with European peoples during their diaspora. The researchers suggested that the approximately 12.7 percent of Ashkenazic Jews who have the Eu 19 chromosomes -- which are found among between 54 and 60 percent of Eastern European Christians -- descend paternally from eastern Europeans (such as Slavs) or Khazars. But the majority of Ashkenazic Jews, who possess Eu 9 and other chromosomes, descend paternally from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago. In the article in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University of Israel wrote that this new study revealed that Jews have a closer genetic relationship to populations in the northern Mediterranean (Kurds, Anatolian Turks, and Armenians) than to populations in the southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouins).
A previous study by Ariella Oppenheim and her colleagues, published in Human Genetics in December 2000, showed that about 70 percent of Jewish paternal ancestries and about 82 percent of Palestinian Arabs share the same chromosomal pool. The geneticists asserted that this might support the claim that Palestinian Arabs descend in part from Judeans who converted to Islam. With their closer relationship to Jews, the Palestinian Arabs are distinctive from other Arab groups, such as Syrians, Lebanese, Saudis, and Iraqis, who have less of a connection to Jews.
A study by Michael Hammer et al., published in PNAS in June 2000, had identified a genetic connection between Arabs (especially Syrians and Palestinians) and Jews, but had not tested Kurds, so it was less complete.
Many Kurds have the "Jewish" Cohen Modal Haplotype
In the 1990s, a team of scientists (including the geneticist Michael Hammer, the nephrologist Karl Skorecki, and their colleagues in England) discovered the existence of a haplotype which they termed the "Cohen modal haplotype" (abbreviated as CMH). Cohen is the Hebrew word for "priest", and designates descendants of Judean priests from two thousand years ago. Initial research indicated that while only about 3 percent of general Jews have this haplotype, 45 percent of Ashkenazic Cohens have it, while 56 percent of Sephardic Cohens have it. David Goldstein, an evolutionary geneticist at Oxford University, said: "It looks like this chromosomal type was a constituent of the ancestral Hebrew population." Some Jewish rabbis used the Cohen study to argue that all Cohens with the CMH had descended from Aaron, a High Priest who lived about 3500 years ago, as the Torah claimed. Shortly after, it was determined that 53 percent of the Buba clan of the Lemba people of southern Africa have the CMH, compared to 9 percent of non-Buba Lembas. The Lembas claim descent from ancient Israelites, and they follow certain Jewish practices such as circumcision and refraining from eating pork, and for many geneticists and historians the genetic evidence seemed to verify their claim.
However, it soon became apparent that the CMH is not specific to Jews or descendants of Jews. In a 1998 article in Science News, Dr. Skorecki indicated (in an interview) that some non-Jews also possess the Cohen markers, and that the markers are therefore not "unique or special". The CMH is very common among Iraqi Kurds, according to a 1999 study by C. Brinkmann et al. And in her 2001 article, Oppenheim wrote: "The dominant haplotype of the Muslim Kurds (haplotype 114) was only one microsatellite-mutation step apart from the CMH..." (Oppenheim 2001, page 1100). Furthermore, the CMH is also found among some Armenians, according to Dr. Levon Yepiskoposyan (Head of the Institute of Man in Yerevan, Armenia), who has studied genetics for many years. Dr. Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin wrote: "The suggestion that the 'Cohen modal haplotype' is a signature haplotype for the ancient Hebrew population is also not supported by data from other populations." (Zoossmann-Diskin 2000, page 156).
In short, the CMH is a genetic marker from the northern Middle East which is not unique to Jews. However, its existence among many Kurds and Armenians, as well as some Italians and Hungarians, would seem to support the overall contention that Kurds and Armenians are the close relatives of modern Jews and that the majority of today's Jews have paternal ancestry from the northeastern Mediterranean region.
The Jewish Kingdom of Adiabene in Ancient Kurdistan
In ancient times, the royal house of Adiabene and some of the common people of Adiabene converted to Judaism. The capital city of Adiabene was Arbela (known today by Arabs as Irbil and by Kurds as Hawler). King Izates became closely attached to his new faith, and sent his sons to study Hebrew and Jewish customs in Jerusalem. His successor to the throne was his brother Monobazos II, who also adopted Judaism. In her 2001 study, Oppenheim references the kingdom of Adiabene, but suggests that while Adiabene's conversion to Judaism "resulted in the assimilation of non-Jews into the community... This recorded conversion does not appear to have had a considerable effect on the Y chromosome pool of the Kurdish Jews." (Oppenheim 2001, page 1103). Some of the Jewish Adiabenians may have eventually converted to Christianity.
Research has just begun into the ancient ties between Kurds and Jews. It would be interesting to see if the various Jewish groups have as strong a family tie to Kurds in the maternal lineages as they do in the paternal lineages. Preliminary studies indicate that Jewish populations in eastern Europe and Yemen have maternal origins that contain much more non-Israelite ancestry than their paternal origins. Despite this admixture with other groups, the Jewish Judean people ultimately began their existence in an area within or nearby Kurdistan, prior to migrating southwest to Israel. This exciting research showing that Kurds and Jews may have shared common fathers several millennia ago should, hopefully, encourage both Kurds and Jews to explore each others' cultures and to maintain the friendship that Kurds and Jews enjoyed in northern Iraq in recent times (as chronicled in Michael Rubin's recent article "The Other Iraq"). As Rubin indicates, the Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani once visited Israel and met with Israeli government officials. Rubin refers to the Iraqi Kurds' "special affinity for Israel" and writes that "In the safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Jews and Israel are remembered fondly, if increasingly vaguely." Let us hope that this relationship can be renewed and strengthened.
Brinkmann, C., et al. "Human Y-chromosomal STR haplotypes in a Kurdish population sample." International Journal of Legal Medicine 112 (1999): 181-183.
Brook, Kevin A. The Jews of Khazaria. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999.
Hammer, Michael F., et al. "Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests." Nature 385 (January 2, 1997): 32.
Hammer, Michael F., et al. "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish Populations Share a Common Pool of Y-chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS) 97:12 (June 6, 2000): 6769-6774.
Oppenheim, Ariella, et al. "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.
Oppenheim, Ariella, et al. "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.
Rubin, Michael. "The Other Iraq." Jerusalem Report (December 31, 2001).
Siegel, Judy. "Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe." Jerusalem Post (November 20, 2001).
Thomas, Mark G., et al. "Y Chromosomes Traveling South: the Cohen Modal Haplotype and the Origins of the Lemba -- the 'Black Jews of Southern Africa'." American Journal of Human Genetics 66:2 (February 2000): 674-686.
Traubman, Tamara. "Study finds close genetic connection between Jews, Kurds." Ha'aretz (November 21, 2001).
Travis, J. "The Priests' Chromosome? DNA analysis supports the biblical story of the Jewish priesthood." Science News 154:14 (October 3, 1998): 218.
Zoossmann-Diskin, Avshalom. "Are today's Jewish priests descended from the old ones?" HOMO: Journal of Comparative Human Biology 51:2-3 (2000): 156-162.
The victims of the two most notorious genocides of the 20th century (Jews and Armenians), and the two middle eastern minorities most intensely reviled by their muslim neighbors (Jews and Kurds) are genetically related.
Kurdistan is the one place in Iraq that is thriving. Just like Israel made a modern, western oasis in the desert, the Kurds are doing the same thing in the mountains.
Technically Arabs and Jews are also genetically related.
Shocking news to our BritAm FReepers!
Go back far enough and we all are. Some races seem to do a better job of picking their mates and advance. However, others are more concerned with keeping their women covered, which hand to wipe themselves, the physical distance between the holy book and a toilet, cartoons etc, and seem to pick mates which, to be kind, are not the pick of the litter.
Lie down with dogs and you get fleas. Lie down with mudslimes and you get what you deserve.
I believe they made up their alleged link to Ishmael. The Arabs werte the "Johnny Come Latelys" to the area. Identity theft for their own tome of falsehoods.
Shortly after, it was determined that 53 percent of the Buba clan of the Lemba people of southern Africa have the CMH, compared to 9 percent of non-Buba Lembas. The Lembas claim descent from ancient Israelites, and they follow certain Jewish practices such as circumcision and refraining from eating pork, and for many geneticists and historians the genetic evidence seemed to verify their claim.
aka the Bubba clan, he get's in everywhere.
It's interesting but you can also look at the data the other way - that the Jews are an amalgam of various splinters of the Hebraic peoples - some of whom became Israelites, while others went on to become Kurds, Armenians, etc.
This looks ideology-driven to me. The Palestinian Arabs are really the South Syrians. I would like to see data -- which I didn't find even alluded to in the article -- about how different the Palestinian Arabs are from the Syrians from a DNA-analysis perspective.
Very interesting indeed.
According to the Bible, Abraham was born in Ur, believed to be in Northern Iraq -- where the Kurds are -- and then moved to Harran, in eastern Turkey -- where the Kurds are.
It would be a surprise if the Jews were not ethnically related to the northern/eastern Mediterranean peoples and the Kurds.
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Hmmmm---I wonder if the "Muslim world" made most of its progress when the Kurds were in charge (Saladin) and ceased to do so when the Arabs took over. I haven't studied the history of the rise and stagnation of Islam enough to know.
I thought the Kurds were the descendants of the ancient Medes and therefore Indo-European. But since the Ten Lost Tribes were initially exiled by the Assyrians (northern Mesopotamia) then I suppose they left some genetic evidence behind. I'm not comfortable with the whole "lost tribes" ideology, however.
Now that you mention it, that is kinda odd.
Kurds seem to be, relative to the region of course, thriving as well.
Also, interesting sidenote:
The genetic populations that have the highest chance of red hair: Anglo-Saxons (last I heard, it was actually higher than celtic chance), celtic, Western Russians, Ashkenazic Jews and Swedes (but not Norwegians or Finns, particularly).
As far as the lost tribes go, Simha Jacobovici (local Toronto academic & filmaker) had an interesting take on the subject in a two hour documentary called Quest for the lost Tribes. Controversial, but certainly worth a look. Josh Bernstein (digging for the truth show) had a nice presentation in one episode on the Lembe - a bit lightweight, but worthwhile.
This genetic research is very interesting. There are still a lot of discoveries to be made, I think.
The assumption has always been that Jews and Arabs are semitic people, and of course the tradition is that Arabs descend from Ishmael, who is the rejected son of the Bible but the chosen son of the Qran. It's one of the important factual points on which the Qran cannot be reconciled with the Bible. Which is to say that, from both a Christian and a Jewish perspective, Islam is false and heretical.
Ishmael was a wanderer, and the Bedouin are wanderers. But I'll be curious to see the results of further research into these areas.
"In short, the CMH is a genetic marker from the northern Middle East which is not unique to Jews. However, its existence among many Kurds and Armenians, as well as some Italians and Hungarians, would seem to support the overall contention that Kurds and Armenians are the close relatives of modern Jews and that the majority of today's Jews have paternal ancestry from the northeastern Mediterranean region."
The bible, and later migrations of people, can, together tell us why this is so (Kurds and Jews are closely related).
The Bible identifies the birthplace of Abram (Abraham) as Tell al-Muqayyar (ancient city called Ur). It lies near the city of Nasiriyah in the southwestern floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, 140 miles south of Babylon.
So, there are two possibilities.
One of those possibilities is that while Abraham went south out of the area (Iraq), the later building and destorying of various empires in the area, led his closest relatives that remained in Ur, to migrate north, into what is now the Kurdish area and Armenia.
The other possibility is that the ancestors of Abraham began in the Kurdish area and migrated down to Ur before he was born.
But, either way, what seems to have allowed the gene pool of Kurds, Jews and Armenians to retain the markers of their closely related ancestry is that all three groups have always, like Abraham's descendents, resisted total assimilation into those around them.
There may even be very ancient and common religious components as to why those three groups have resisted assimilation.
We have Abraham's version that he carried with him, but maybe in the deep recesses of Kurdish and Armenian folk-lore, some spiritual commonality with Abraham can also be found.
I guess that's another discussion.
"This looks ideology-driven to me. The Palestinian Arabs are really the South Syrians. I would like to see data -- which I didn't find even alluded to in the article -- about how different the Palestinian Arabs are from the Syrians from a DNA-analysis perspective."
If Ishmael was the son of Abraham, and Abraham was the prime paternal ancestor of the Hebrews, and most of Ishmael's descendents form are large part of the paternal gene pool of what are now called Arabs, then surely, the Y choromosome inherited from Abraham should be predominate in both Jews and Arabs.
There is every indication, both in and out of the Bible, that the status of Ishmael's maternity (the non-Hebrew servant of Abraham's wife) lent to a stigma among the Hebrews toward Ishmael and a stigma in Ishmael toward the Hebrews; due to the Hebrews relationship to Issac, Abraham's second son by his wife Sarah.
Although this is ancient history, it would appear that the mutual animosity continues between the descendents of Abraham's sons, Ishmael and Issac.
The only thing that I'm suspecting may be ideologically driven is the statement, not supported in the article, that the Jews' DNA is closer to that of the Palestinian Arabs than it is to the Syrians. This statement supports the ideology that the Palestinian Arabs are a separate people from the Syrians, and that there really is such a thing as an indigenous Palestinian Arab population.
Are you folks suggesting the people of the OT sat sending their Kurds a-whey?
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I can't wait until Google spiders that post.
I think YOU are putting too much politics into that distinction, not the writers of the article.
Given Abraham's migration path, his life leading to both Ishmael and Issac, followed centuries later by the empire of the Assyrians (indo-Europeans, closer to Greeks and Persians), north of Israel (souce of what became "Syria"), it is not politics or surprusing to me that people of Israel and Arabs in Palestine would be more closely related than Arabs in Palestine and Syrians.
The "Arab" identity in Syria does not occur, politically or in any other way until the expansion of the Islamic empires. Most of that was conquest and conversion by the sword, more than the Assyrian gene pool being eradicated and displaced by "Arabs".
In international politics the Syrian's like to play the "one great Arab nation card"; and they have been participating in that role since the Ottoman Empire started falling apart. Back home, they know the difference and they know they retain that "Assyrian" distinction that long preceeded Islam and the Arab conquest. They know that long before the Arabs came out of the desert and conquered the land, Damascus was already a city with more wordly renown than Mecca or Medina had ever known.
When people wonder why the true Arabs (Arabia) and the Iraqi's, Syrian's and Egyptians could never, politically put that "one great Arab nation" together, they are missing what all those groups know - they never were "one great 'Arab' nation"; and they know it better than anyone.
That makes a great deal of sense. Thank you for your insights.
The Kurds and the Ottoman Empire -- even if the Kurds and Turks don't get along.
I'm more and more convinced that the problem with Islam isn't Islam, but the Arabs.
Do you think the modern Palestinians realize this?
Bump for later. Looks interesting.
No, they are not it.
Uh yes they are. There are Y-Chromosomal links between Arabs and Jews, this has been known for awhile.
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
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