Tag: Whiteness

Are Jews white?

By Razib Khan | July 21, 2012 10:03 pm

A little over two years ago I put up some posts on Jewish genetics due to the publication of some really exciting research. Looking at the referrals I noticed two trends which together were relatively bizarre. People would look at the same PCA plot and conclude that:

  • Ashkenazi Jews are white
  • Ashkenazi Jews are non-white

First, some context. Most of these referrals were from websites with white nationalist or quasi-white nationalist sympathies. The non-Jews of this set tended toward the position that Jews were non-white, while the Jews felt that the genetic results vindicated the whiteness of Jews. In some cases the links were from Jews who were not necessarily white nationalists, but were also keen on making it clear that European Jews were not “schwartza”.

To me the whole issue was bizarre, and it entailed that I monitor the comments of those posts pretty strictly. But I believe that a much milder version of the question crops up whenever people ask if European Jews are more European or Middle Eastern. The main conundrum in the whole framing of the question is that both European and Middle Eastern are highly heterogeneous constructions, and there isn’t a very good demarcation of which populations are which on the liminal margin. In contrast, the difference between East Asians or Sub-Saharan Africans and West Eurasians is more clear and distinct. “In-between” populations such as Uyghurs and Ethiopians seem to be relatively recent admixtures, suggesting that these three geographical races have had very low gene flow for long periods of time. Not so between Europeans and Middle Easterners.

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