Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Challenges to that study on Askenazic genetics

RESPONSE: Prominent scholars blast theory tracing Ashkenazi Jews to Turkey (Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA).
In an interview with JTA, Sergio DellaPergola, a prominent demographer of the Jewish people from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called the study, which was widely reported in mainstream media, “one of the big canards of the 21st century,” citing what he regarded as an exceedingly small study population and the absence of genetic analysis of Sephardic Jews, which he said would have undermined the findings.

Shaul Stampfer, a professor of Soviet and East European Jewry at the Hebrew University, in an email to JTA said of Elhaik’s research: “It is basically nonsense.”

DellaPergola said that “serious research would have factored in the glaring genetic similarity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, which mean Polish Jews are more genetically similar to Iraqi Jews than to a non-Jewish Pole.”

He noted the “great genetic similarity” between Ashkenazim and the Jews of Rome, who came from the Land of Israel and later from the Mediterranean. “In no way the explanation that Elhaik gives of the origins of the Jews in Europe can apply to the Jews of Rome. Therefore his explanation is wrong,” DellaPergola said.
I thought something like this would be coming. As I said before, these genetic questions are outside my expertise, but the claims of this study didn't seem to correspond to other genetic studies I had heard about. As usual, this question will have to be decided in the specialist literature. Background here.