Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (23 August 2017, 1 Elul, 5777)
Is there any genetic evidence that Palestinians are descended from Jews?
Studies claiming that Jews and Palestinians have similar DNA are outdated.
They also may have reflected a certain degree of wishful thinking and been promoted in order to advance ideological and political agendas.
The more recent reports say that Kurds, Armenians, and inhabitants of Turkey, are much more similar to Jews than the Palestinians are.
All peoples of the region show some similarity.
This is due more to having shared a similar environment in a DNA formative stage rather than consanguinity.
Following the original draft of this answer we received requests for sources etc.
For most of what we said sources may be found in a careful reading of the Wikipedia article on the subject.
Genetic studies on Jews
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In a study of Israeli and Palestinian Muslim Arabs, more than 70% of the Jewish men and 82% of the Arab men whose DNA was studied, had inherited their Y chromosomes from the same paternal ancestors, who lived in the region within the last few thousand years. "Our recent study of high-resolution microsatellite haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Jews (70%) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82%) belonged to the same chromosome pool." In relation to the region of the Fertile Crescent, the same study noted; "In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be much more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors."
In addition, the authors have found that the "Jewish cluster was interspersed with the Palestinian and Syrian populations, whereas the other Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations (Saudi Arabians, Lebanese, and Druze) closely surrounded it. Of the Jewish populations in this cluster, the Ashkenazim were closest to South European populations (specifically the Greeks) and also to the Turks." The study estimated that Ashkenazi Jews are descended on their paternal side from a core population of approximately 20,000 Jews that migrated from Italy into the rest of Europe over the course of the first millennium, and that "All European Jews seem connected on the order of fourth or fifth cousins."
Two studies by Nebel et al. in 2001 and 2005, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, suggested that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe (defined in the using Eastern European, German, and French Rhine Valley populations). Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish Jews were all very closely related to the populations of the Fertile Crescent, even closer than to Arabs.
Investigations made by Nebel et al. on the genetic relationships among Ashkenazi Jews, Kurdish and Sephardi (North Africa, Turkey, Iberian Peninsula, Iraq and Syria) indicate that Jews are more genetically similar to groups in northern Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks and Armenians) than to Arabs. Considering the timing of this origin, the study found that "the common genetic Middle Eastern background (of Jewish populations ) predates the ethnogenesis in the region and concludes that the Y chromosome pool of Jews is an integral part of the genetic landscape of Middle East.
(2) Female MtDNA
The female mtDNA of Ashkenazic Jew has similarities to that of North African Jews but is now considered most similar to that of North Italian (Tuscan) Gentiles BUT this too may have had a Middle Eastern origin.
It is also admitted that mt DNA may be influenced by the environment.
At all events there is no similarity to Palestinian DNA here.
(3) Comparing DNA: 2 Aspects.
The Comparing of DNA seems to concentrate on two disparate features:
(a) Relative occurrences of Different Types.
Ashkenazic Jews have male YDNA with ca. 13% R1b, 4% I, 20% E1b1b, ca. 40% J (J1 but mostly J2), 10% G, i.e. total: 87 %. The different types are said represent different male ancestry.
Sepharic Jews are similar. It varies from community to community. On the whole Sephardic Jews have higher rates of J2 (mainly J2), and also of E1b1b and about 12% of R1b.
Palestinian Muslims have male YDNA with ca. n n 20% E1b1b, ca. 38% J1, T 6%.
Palestinian Christians have male YDNA with ca. n n 32% E1b1b, ca. 9% J1, 11% G2.
In other words there are some similarities between Ashkenazic Y DNA and Palestinian DNA but there are also disparities.
All other things being equal the similarities could more easily be explained by common environmental influences in the past rather common ancestry.
For a study of the interaction between YDNA and environment see:
Hum Biol. 2014 May;86(2):113-30.
Human paternal lineages, languages, and environment in the caucasus.
Tarkhnishvili D1, Gavashelishvili A1, Murtskhvaladze M1, Gabelaia M1, Tevzadze G2.
Paternal lineages and languages in the Caucasus
(b) Comparing DNA phenomenon of nonsex specific DNA characteristics.
This involves comparing the appearance of DNA related phenomena such as genetically transmitted diseases, etc.