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Jews are the genetic brothers of Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese

If a common heritage conferred peace, then perhaps the long history of conflict in the Middle East would have been resolved years ago. For, according to a new scientific study, Jews are the genetic brothers of Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, and they all share a common genetic lineage that stretches back thousands of years.

"Jews and Arabs are all really children of Abraham," says Harry Ostrer, M.D., Director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University School of Medicine, an author of the new study by an international team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Israel. "And all have preserved their Middle Eastern genetic roots over 4,000 years," he says.

The researchers analyzed the Y chromosome, which is usually passed unchanged from father to son, of more than 1,000 men worldwide. Throughout human history, alterations have occurred in the sequence of chemical bases that make up the DNA in this so-called male chromosome, leaving variations that can be pinpointed with modern genetic techniques. Related populations carry the same specific variations. In this way, scientists can track descendants of large populations and determine their common ancestors.

Specific regions of the Y chromosome were analyzed in 1,371 men from 29 worldwide populations, including Jews and non-Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe.

The study, published in the May 9 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Jewish men shared a common set of genetic signatures with non-Jews from the Middle East, including Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese, and these signatures diverged significantly from non-Jewish men outside of this region. Consequently, Jews and Arabs share a common ancestor and are more closely related to one another than to non-Jews from other areas of the world.

The study also revealed that despite the complex history of Jewish migration in the Diaspora (
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Contact: Lynn Odell
Lynn.Odell@med.nyu.edu
212-263-5800
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
7-May-2000


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