Palestine: Ethnicity


Figure 1.--Palestinuan Muslims and Christians are culturally, but not ethically Arab. They share a common ethnicity with pre-Zionidt Jews. The ethnically most destinctive group in Palestine are the Bedouine who share a common etnicity with the tribes of the Arabian peninsula, but not the Bedouine of North Africa. Here we see a Bedouin boy wearing cartridge belts. It is undated, but we would guess was taken about 1910. Source: American Colony (Jerusalem).

The question of ethnicity is a very sensative one in Palestine. The relationship of the modern population to the historical one has been matipulated by a range of partisan voices. The history of the region is fairly well known, but populations movement were not well documented. Modern DNA studies are invreasingly suggesting that a majority of the Palestine Muslims (including Israeli Palestinians) are descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants of the southern Levant. These people share a common genteic core dating back to pre-historic times. A recent study of high-resolution haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Israeli Jews (70 percent) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82 percent) belonged to the same genetic pool. [Gibbons] This means that Palestinian Arabs and Jews share a very similar, but not identical ethnicity. We are not sure just what portion of the population of Palestine was killed or deported by the Romans (1st century AD). The Arabs conquired the Levant including Palestine as well as Egypt (7th century AD). The population at the time was Christian and Jewish. Islamic religious conversions have meant a largely Sunni Muslim affiliation. A substanntial Christian Palistinian minority still existed at the time of the World War I. It has been substantially reduced by Islamic fundamentalists in recent years. There is also a Druze and small Samaritan community. The genetic make up of these non-Muslim minorities is believed to be similar if not identical to the Muslim majority, but are not yet well studied. The most genetically destictive ethnic groups is the Bedouins. They share a greater ethnic afinity with the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula that the Palistinian population. Palistinian Christians generally identified ethnically with the Palestinian Muslims. This was not the case with pre-Zionist Palestinian Jews. Acculturation resulted in Palestinians becoming linguistically and culturally Arab. [Dowty, p. 221.] This was a process largely independent fron conversion to Islam. The Palestinian population including Muslims, Christians, and Jews spoke the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. Another question is the ethnicity of Palesistian Jews.

DNA Studies

The question of ethnicity is a very sensative one in Palestine. The relationship of the modern population to the historical one has been matipulated by a range of partisan voices. The history of the region is fairly well known, but populations movement were not well documented. Different sources speculared about etnicity. Thanks to DNA sience we now have hard evidence.

Palistunian Muslims

Modern DNA studies are invreasingly suggesting that a majority of the Palestine Muslims (including Israeli Palestinians) are descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants of the southern Levant. These people share a common genteic core dating back to pre-historic times. A recent study of high-resolution haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Israeli Jews (70 percent) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82 percent) belonged to the same genetic pool. [Gibbons] This means that Palestinian Arabs and Jews share a very similar, but not identical ethnicity. We are not sure just what portion of the population of Palestine was killed or deported by the Romans (1st century AD). The Arabs conquired the Levant including Palestine as well as Egypt (7th century AD). The population at the time was mostly Christian with a small Jewish minority. Islamic religious conversions have meant a largely Sunni Muslim affiliation. Some Israeli sources indicate that large numbers of Arabs from surrounding Arab states emigrated into Palestine during the Mandatre era because of the improving economic conditions as a result of British administration and the arrival of European Jews. This of course woukld have affected the ethnic mix. We can not yet confirm the validity of this assessment. Palistiian Arabs deny it.

Palestinian Christians

A substanntial Christian Palistinian minority still existed at the time of the World War I. It has been substantially reduced by Islamic fundamentalists in recent years. Palistinian Christians generally identified ethnically with the Palestinian Muslims. This was not the case with pre-Zionist Palestinian Jews. Acculturation resulted in Palestinians becoming linguistically and culturally Arab. [Dowty, p. 221.] This was a process largely independent fron conversion to Islam. The Palestinian population including Muslims, Christians, and Jews spoke the Palestinian dialect of Arabic.

Bedouins

The most genetically destictive ethnic groups is the Bedouins. They share a greater ethnic afinity with the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula that the Palistinian population.

Other Groups

There is also a Druze and small Samaritan community. The genetic make up of these non-Muslim minorities is believed to be similar if not identical to the Muslim majority, but are not yet well studied.

Jews

Another question is the ethnicity of Palesistian Jews. There seems to have been a population of some 50,000 Jews in Palestimne during the late-Ottoman era. We suspect that the ethnicity of these Jews was similar to that of the Palistinian Arabs, but we do not know of any definitive study. We are not sure about their ethnicity. They could be related the Roman era Jewish population or they could be related to Jews that manged ti return after the Diaspora. Small numbers of Zionists arrived in the late-19th anbd early-20th century. They were almost entirely European. This was also the case of the more suibstantial number of Jews who migrated to Palestine during the mandare period (1918-48). This chabnged with the creation if Israel (1948). Large numbers of Middle Eastern Jews began arriving in Israel--the Mizrahim. Arab countries began expelling their Jewish populations, kin many cases violently. In almnost all cases confiscating virtually verything but the clothes on their back. A subsrantual number also arrived from Iran, but ghe Government there was not as violent or confiscatory. This influx of Middle-Eastern Jews significantly affected the ethnic mix of Israel. As a result, the population of Israel today has a majority of Middle Eastern, not European Jews.

Sources

Dowty, Alan. Israel/Palestine. (London, UK: Polity, 2008).

Gibbons, Ann. "Jews and Arabs share recent ancestry," ScienceNOW (October 30, 2000). American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Studies cited by Gibbons included: M. F. Hammer, et al. "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes". Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (2000), Vol. 97 (12), pp. 676974. and Almut Nebel et al. "High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews," Human Genetics (200) 107 (6): 63041.






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Created: 7:04 AM 10/6/2012
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