- If a common heritage conferred peace, then perhaps the
long history of conflict in the Middle East would have been resolved years
ago. For, according to a new scientific study, Jews are the genetic brothers
of Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, and they all share a common genetic
lineage that stretches back thousands of years.
- "Jews and Arabs are all really children of Abraham,"
says Harry Ostrer, M.D., Director of the Human Genetics Program at New
York University School of Medicine, an author of the new study by an international
team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Israel. "And
all have preserved their Middle Eastern genetic roots over 4,000 years,"
- The researchers analyzed the Y chromosome, which is usually
passed unchanged from father to son, of more than 1,000 men worldwide.
Throughout human history, alterations have occurred in the sequence of
chemical bases that make up the DNA in this so-called male chromosome,
leaving variations that can be pinpointed with modern genetic techniques.
Related populations carry the same specific variations. In this way, scientists
can track descendants of large populations and determine their common ancestors.
- Specific regions of the Y chromosome were analyzed in
1,371 men from 29 worldwide populations, including Jews and non-Jews from
the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe.
- The study, published in the May 9 issue of 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, and these signatures diverged significantly
from non-Jewish men outside of this region. Consequently, Jews and Arabs
share a common ancestor and are more closely related to one another than
to non-Jews from other areas of the world.
- The study also revealed that despite the complex history
of Jewish migration in the Diaspora (the time since 556 B.C. when Jews
migrated out of Palestine), Jewish communities have generally not intermixed
with non-Jewish populations. If they had, then Jewish men from different
regions of the world would not share the same genetic signatures in their
- "Because ancient Jewish law states that Jewish religious
affiliation is assigned maternally, our study afforded the opportunity
to assess the contribution of non-Jewish men to present-day Jewish genetic
diversity," says Michael Hammer, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona,
Tucson, who is the lead author of the new study. "It was surprising
to see how significant the Middle Eastern genetic signal was in Jewish
men from different communities in the Diaspora," he says.
- The authors of this study are: Dr. Ostrer from NYU School
of Medicine; Michael F. Hammer, Alan J. Redd, Elizabeth T. Wood, M. Roxane
Bonner, Hamdi Jarjanazil, and Tanya Karafet from the University of Arizona,
Tucson; Silvana Santachlara-Benerecetti, University of Pavia, Italy; Ariella
Oppenheim, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Mark A. Jobling, University
of Leicester, England; Trefor Jenkins, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,
South Africa; and Batsheva Bonne-Tamar, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
- Note: This story has been adapted from a news release
issued by New York University Medical Center And School Of Medicine for
journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote from
any part of this story, please credit New York University Medical Center
And School Of Medicine as the original source. You may also wish to include
the following link in any citation: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000509003653.htm
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