New studies in Nature magazine and the American Journal of Human Genetics have revived the debate on Jewish origins.
The New York Times, Newsweek, and UPI, reporting on these studies, have placed them in counterpoint to Sand’s argument. In his new afterword for the paperback edition of THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, Sand writes:
After exhausting all the historical arguments, several critics have seized on genetics. The same people who maintain that the Zionists never referred to a race conclude their argument by evoking a common Jewish gene. Their thinking can be summed up as follows: “We are not a pure race, but we are a race just the same.” In the 1950s there was research in Israel on characteristic Jewish fingerprints, and from the 1970s, biologists in their laboratories (sometimes also in the USA) have sought a genetic marker common to all Jews. I reviewed in my book their lack of data, the frequent slipperiness of their conclusions, and their ethno-nationalist ardor, which is unsupported by any serious scientific findings. This attempt to justify Zionism through genetics is reminiscent of the procedures of late nineteenth-century anthropologists who very scientifically set out to discover the specific characteristics of Europeans.
As of today, no study based on anonymous DNA samples has succeeded in identifying a genetic marker specific to Jews, and it is not likely that any study ever will. It is a bitter irony to see the descendants of Holocaust survivors set out to find a biological Jewish identity: Hitler would certainly have been very pleased! And it is all the more repulsive that this kind of research should be conducted in a state that has waged for years a declared policy of “Judaization of the country” in which even today a Jew is not allowed to marry a non-Jew.