Genetic testing service says a large portion of so-called “Jews” may be descended from the non-Jewish Khazar tribe
23andMe, which offer direct-to-consumer genome testing services, distributed an email last week to customers, announcing updates to the genetic reports corresponding to different haplotypes (genetic groups defined by certain DNA variations). The email promised that “a major update” of the company’s genetic history reports would help its customers “gain insights into fascinating and unusual details about your genome, details that set your story apart.”
One of the details revealed was that a large portion of supposed “Jews" may actually be descended from the Khazars, a semi-nomadic tribe in the Caucasus—and not from the Israelites from several thousand years ago.
“The origin of the Ashkenazi Jews has been traced back to a population of Jewish people living between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea before the Roman exile,” the report on the 23andMe report stated.
The scientists at 23andMe further stated, “However, research suggests that Ashkenazi Jews who belong to your haplogroup may descend from a single male who…may have been a member of the Khazars, an enigmatic Turkic tribe that lived in Central Asia, and that converted to Judaism in the 8th century AD.”
23andMe does not try to isolate a “Jewish” gene — just Ashkenazic genes. 23andMe lists “Ashkenazi Jewish” as a reference population within the larger European population. Ancestry.com calls Jewish genes “European Jewish.”
"Sephardic Jews" are not considered a distinct population by either company, or by researchers — their genetic make-up is not sufficiently different from surrounding North African and Palestinian populations.
In response to furious lobbying by so-called “Jews,” 23andMe has retracted their statement under pressure, and is now begging forgiveness — saying the inclusion of the Khazars in the company’s latest genetic report for some Ashkenazi Jews, was “an error.”
“We apologize for this material not being struck from the reports before they were released to customers, which should’ve happened in the editing process,” Andy Kill, a spokesman for 23andMe, wrote in an email. “We do not endorse ‘Khazar theory,’ and are removing any language referencing the theory from the product today.” The company had not yet determined if it would issue a public apology or press release about the retraction.
The company also did not release the number of people who received the report. The haplogroup in question — called variously R-M512 and R1a — is present in about 50% of so-called “Jews” who imagine they descend from the tribe of Levi.
The Khazar genetics which undermine the pose of impostors who “say they are Jews and are not” (Rev. 3:9), has most recently been championed by Eran Elhaik, an Israeli-American genetics researcher. Elhaik’s analyses drew from the genetic data of 367 self-reported Ashkenazi Jews.
Dr. Elhaik, and Prof. Paul Wexler, a linguist, also assert that Yiddish, a language widely understood to be a composite of Hebrew, German and Slavic languages, has its origins in eastern Turkey and not in Germany.
Many historians concede that at the very least, the aristocracy of the Khazar empire (often named Kagan or having Kagan as a prefix), did in fact convert to Judaism in the 7th century A.D.
The most prominent promotion of the Khazar concept was by Arthur Koestler in his book The Thirteenth Tribe, (which Dr. Elhaik cites as having inspired his research), followed by Shlomo Sand, an Israeli historian, in his work, The Invention of the Jewish People.