Thanks to the miracles of scientific advancements, we can now pinpoint almost exactly how human beings developed. But what if our DNA can’t be used to serve the political ideologies of reactionaries? What will we do then?
This week an article circulated showing that most Ashkenazi Jews in America are descended from Europeans. The study, in Nature Communications, found that DNA samples of just over 100 Ashkenazim linked them to about 300 common ancestors in Europe.
Wait, hold up. European Jews are European? Stop the press, cancel the occupation. This changes absolutely everything.
As many in the Twitter commentariat and on my Facebook feed were eager to point out, this finally proves that Jews aren’t entitled to be in Israel. After all, that was the main claim Zionists were making. I think we can all remember Herzl’s famous “My DNA definitely comes from Jerusalem” speech. That fateful declaration by Ben Gurion, on the founding of Israel in 1948, that “my genes finally match my nationality” is at last refuted.
With these facts established, there’s no longer any doubt about where we come from, so all the Ashkenazim are just going to have to head back to Poland where they belong. After all, science said so.
Ha’aretz hit back: its research shows that around 75% of Jews can trace their ancestry to the Middle East. Not that surprising either, given that Ha’aretz’s writer defines the Middle East as everywhere in North Africa from Morocco to all of West Asia as far as Pakistan. Hardly surprising either when you consider that more than half of Jews in Israel come from other states in that broadly-defined region like Iraq, Turkey and Yemen.
So there we go. Ha’aretz has reassured us. Now we can sleep soundly knowing that we are, after all, the ethnically pure nation-group we’ve always we imagined we were. Now we can rule over Israel just fine and if you disagree then you’re disagreeing with genetics which is how we make all important moral and political decisions in the 21st Century.
I’m particularly bothered by the results of this research because my dad had his DNA tested. It turns out he’s Neanderthal. But we already knew that. Now finally he can justify his claim to governing over pre-human Siberia. Which is just as well, because that’s become more than a hobby for him. But I wouldn’t want to make aliyah to the Ice Age. It’s cold and they don’t have WiFi or rudimentary farming tools.
Shlomo Sand, who isn’t Jewish any more because his DNA says he wasn’t really davening in the ancient temple of Solomon, says it matters because it shows the whole idea of Jewish nationhood was invented. Of course, this is only true for Jews. Nobody else’s idea of national identity is in question. The USA has always been American ever since Jesus came over 2014 years ago and declared it a white, Christian country. Britain was always British until 1910 when the bloody immigrants came and ruined it for them. Test any proper pure Briton today and you’ll find they’re all 100% descended from King Arthur on both sides.
Of course, there are some dangerous smolinim who go round opposing arguments based on genetics. Not because it’s a really messed up way of thinking about the world with fascistic consequences. Just because it might turn out to be scientifically inaccurate. And that would be embarrassing for everybody.
In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. I have to point that out for our American readers. Irony just isn’t in their DNA.
Seriously, though, what do the authors of these reports hope to prove? Moreover, why does anyone think this stuff is relevant? All these studies actually show is that immigration has been around since time immemorial. Ethiopian Jews – supposedly a very closed ethnic group – can trace their origins to Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Italy. Which means that Ethiopian Jews have ancestry in Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Italy. Nothing more than that.
Every national identity was invented. Believe it or not, Indians aren’t really all one homogeneous ethnic group. Palestinians include people who trace their lineage back to French Christian Crusaders and people who are descendants of Genghis Khan.
That doesn’t mean Palestinians aren’t real. It doesn’t mean Indians aren’t real. It doesn’t mean Jews aren’t real. The fact that national identities are constructed doesn’t take anything away from the fact that they’re meaningful to people. Our nationalities also include our values, our traditions, the stories we tell about ourselves, our music, our art, our shared sense of common purpose. Well, screw those things. Let’s abolish all culture because some scientists have shown you can’t find them on your fingerprints.
Nobody can claim the right to govern somewhere based on their genes, and nobody can claim the right to displace people based on that either. But that isn’t enough. Racists, of all kinds, need to believe that everybody fits into convenient boxes that fit neatly with their prejudices.
Here’s a thought. Why don’t we all just go back where we came from a few generations back when everything was simple and the racists didn’t have the troubles of overlapping identities to deal with. For my part, I guess I’ll just have to go back to Lima, Berlin, Lisbon and Glasgow.
Just kidding. Nobody should have to live in Glasgow. It’s cold and they don’t have WiFi or rudimentary farming tools.