Thursday, March 25, 2010

“A Plea for Justice: A Historical Analysis:” false beginnings, twisted thoughts- part 2

One of the more interesting books I have read this year is Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History by David B. Goldstein. He is "professor of molecular genetics and director of the Institute for Genome Science and Policy’s Center for Population Genomics and Pharmacogenetics, Duke University.”

Goldstein along with some of his peers has traced the history of several Jewish groups using genetics. All of the stories are amazing, engrossing and, well, scientific. And one story in particular is helpful to one of the subjects I will write about in this posting. It is the question, “are the Jewish immigrants to Israel linked in any way to ancient Israel?”

This is an important question and although it comes later in the paper entitled “
A Plea for Justice: A Historical Analysis, authored by Professors Nahida Gordon and Fredric W. Bush, it is a question which I believe sets the outcome for several arguments about Israel’s right to exist. And that is an existence questioned in the paper they offer to the 219th Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly.

Stating that the Israelis are claiming their right to the land due to their return after 3000 years, the authors of the paper write:

“The Israeli ‘narrative’ claims that they are uniquely the descendents of the Jews from Palestine. Scientific inquiry into this claim is complex with varying opinions on the amount of admixture of Jews from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East with gentile ancestors. Some research appears to indicate that they, along with the present day Palestinians of Christian and Muslim faiths, all share very similar genetic associations and represent the descendents of people of Palestine from 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. Other research supports the contention that there is more admixture with European gentile populations, particularly among the Ashkenazi Jews. Clearly to state that present day Israelis are returning after two or three millennia to their ancestral home in Palestine and that they uniquely are the descendants of the Jews of Palestine is not supported by scientific evidence.” (Emphasis the authors)

So what does this paragraph actually say? The authors are giving the reader a choice: choose to accept that Jewish European immigrants’ ethnic makeup is predominately European and hardly connected to ancient Israel or choose to accept that all of the Jewish immigrants from all continents share with all other ethnic groups of Palestine an equal or unique relationship to the ancient Jews or ancient Israel.

First of all I just have to ask, would any of the radical Muslims, like Hamas, accept an idea that they are related to the ancient Jewish people?

But to be serious, of course the Arabs and the Jews are cousins, their genetics have some similarities, but that does not mean that the Palestinians share in any kind of direct line to ancient Israel. But this is where some of the genetic work of Goldstein and his colleagues help. And this particular genetic link is simply amazing.

Although the temple no longer exists so there is seemingly no need for a priest to offer sacrifices, still there are male Jews who still claim that priesthood. As Goldstein puts it:

“Although the Jews have had no high priest for almost two thousand years, there are still individuals who consider themselves to be Cohanim, directly descended from one of the many priests who served in the temple in Jerusalem.”[1]

He goes on to ask the question:

“The presence of Cohanim today is a powerful testament to the enduring abilities of the Bible and oral tradition to shape the modern world. But how is it that nearly two thousand years after the Cohanim lost their jobs in Jerusalem, there are still priests around to perform ceremonial duties?”
[2] [Remember the Cohanim is an inherited position]

To follow the trail Goldstein and the other scientists take is too long for a blog posting but the outcome is important. Tracing the Cohanim’s genetic trail and the time periods for various mutations, the professors take the priestly line back almost 3,000 years. Goldstein writes:

“When the last figure had been entered, we were stunned into silence. ‘We are in the first Temple,’ I said eventually. We were both quiet again for a time. When we accounted for the ‘hidden’ mutations in the microsatellites, the figure we got is about three thousand years before the present, or right about the time that Solomon is thought to have been building the Temple in which the priests would serve.”[3]

Goldstein covers other research, including Jewish groupings found in India. And he tries to connect the Ashkenazi Levites with the ancient peoples of Kazaria but is unable to do so. But the point is the Jewish immigrants do have a unique connection to ancient Israel. But more than that, they are a nation now, a Jewish nation. And even better, they have the faithfulness of God whose gifts and calling are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28)

I will deal with authors Bush and Gordon’s views of the 1948 and 1967 wars in my next posting. I am putting a video below that is the beginning of a movie “The Forgotten Refugees.” Although I have put up most of the videos connected to the movie before I believe it is relevant to this subject and will lead into my next posting.

[1] David B. Goldstein, Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History, (New Haven: Yale University Press 2008) 22.
[2] Ibid., 23.
[3] Ibid., 37-38.


Pastor Bob said...

I think the genetic study is important but there is more information that is just as important. The Muslims from Morocco to Iran had no problem deciding who what Jewish and who was not. Neither did the Nazis. Clearly who is Jewish is no problem when a nation decides to kick out the Jews and keep their property or when killing them. The Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, both before and after the Shoa went to Israel seeking a safe place for Jews. Even the Palestinians have no problem deciding who is Jewish and who is not. So no matter who is purely genetically Jewish and who has non Jewish heritage along with Jewish heritage if one is persecuted for being Jewish there we find the Jew.

Viola Larson said...

Excellent Bob. I wish more Presbyterians understood that.