Sunday, December 31, 2006

Are the Pathans Descended from the Tribe of Ephraim?

A new study suggestsa genetic link exists between the Pathans and the Jews, a connection rumored for many years.
According to Aafreedi's study, which was published as an e-book, about 650 out of the 1,500 members of the Afridi Pathan clan in Malihabad, India, may possess genetic material shared by nearly 40 percent of Jews worldwide. If confirmed, the findings would support the clan's connection to the tribe of Ephraim, Aafreedi said. A related Indian Pathan group numbering some 800 people was not tested for the project.

Although he performed the research for his doctoral studies at Lucknow University, the main motivation for Aafreedi's research was personal.

"My uncle told me when I was a child about our connection to the Israelites," he said.

He has been deeply interested in his ancestry ever since, especially in "the fact that the tribe is identified with Israel."

..."Historically, there were Persian writers who wrote about the connection between the Pathans and the people of Israel," said [Michael] Freund. "When the British arrived in the area there were missionaries who wrote about it as well. There is quite a good deal of historical evidence to support this assertion."

Even former president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi addressed the connection. In his book, The Exile and Redeemed, he quoted an Afghani Jew as saying, "According to the tradition current among the [Afghan] Afridis, they are indeed descendants of the Israelites, more particularly the sons of Ephraim." There are an estimated 40 to 50 million Pathans, mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Years ago, during the time of the communists, my sister spent some time in Afghanistan and Pakistan and heard this rumor.

Of course, these days, there has been a lot of talibanisation among the Pathans; but, as is well known, it is not a movement that is native to them. It's rather a cultural import.

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