A New Study Confirms Evidence of Jewish Ancestry among India’s Bene Israel

Of India’s three principal Jewish communities, the Bene Israel—who historically lived in the northwestern part of the country—have the most obscure origins. It was not until 1964 that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate accepted their status as Jews. According to their own legends, they are descended from fourteen shipwrecked Jewish travelers who landed on the coast of the Arabian Sea in ancient times. A recent genetic study sheds new light on the question, as Michele Chabin writes:

Using the latest tools in population genetics, a team of American and Israeli researchers were able to determine that the Bene Israel have significant Jewish ancestry that likely originated from a group of Jews from the Middle East. . . .

“Broadly speaking they looked similar to the non-Jewish Indian populations,” said Yedael Waldman, [one of the study’s co-authors]. “But when we looked deeper, we saw that they are different from other Indian populations and were significantly similar to other Jewish populations.”

Based on their findings, Waldman and his colleagues believe the Bene Israel’s descendants arrived in India anywhere from 600 to 1,000 years ago. . . . The Jewish immigrants “probably married local women” when they moved to India.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Bene Israel, Genetics, History & Ideas, Indian Jewry


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy