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Thread: Who are the Palestinian Arabs, and how "indigenous" are they to Israel/Palestine?

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    Who are the Palestinian Arabs, and how "indigenous" are they to Israel/Palestine?

    I was wondering if anyone could answer the following questions with actual data, simulations, etc.

    People on the Israel side of the Israel/Palestine debate often claim that Palestinians are descended not from Levantines nor even the original Arab invaders, but from Arabs from Egypt, Syria, Arabia, etc. who migrated there for economic opportunities in the last 200 years.

    People on the Palestinian side of the debate argue that Palestinians are descended from indigenous inhabitants (Jewish, Canaanite, etc) who absorbed some Arab ancestry and became Arabized, as is typical for any conquered people.

    Others claim that Palestinians are descended from the original Arab invaders.

    I think there is likely truth to all three.

    So the question is, how much of Palestinian Arab ancestry comes from:

    1. Jews/Phoenicians/Canaanites indigenous to the area,
    2. The original Arab settlers,
    3. Arab migrants in recent times in the last 200-300 years?

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    Neither of the sides are right. There were some migrations during Ottoman-era Palestine from other Muslims regions but not to the extent of remplacing the populations. The pro-Palestinian side is closer to the truth but there is some nuances.

    Palestinians Christians could be pretty much local. Their first Gedmatch matches are Lebanese Christians and Samaritans.

    Palestinian Muslims are not that homogenous. Nor are most Syrians either who are very diverse. Some Palestinians are much like the Christians , some have 20% foreign admixture, and some have as high as 30% (West African + Arabian) foreign admixture.


    Palestinian Druzes are quite northern-shifted, like other Druzes and came from Syrian Golan/Lebanon.
    Last edited by DMXX; 12-02-2018 at 11:59 PM. Reason: political comments removed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Govan View Post
    Neither of the sides are right. There were some migrations during Ottoman-era Palestine from other Muslims regions but not to the extent of remplacing the populations. The pro-Palestinian side is closer to the truth but there is some nuances.

    Palestinians Christians could be pretty much local. Their first Gedmatch matches are Lebanese Christians and Samaritans.

    Palestinian Muslims are not that homogenous. Nor are most Syrians either who are very diverse. Some Palestinians are much like the Christians , some have 20% foreign admixture, and some have as high as 30% (West African + Arabian) foreign admixture.


    Palestinian Druzes are quite northern-shifted, like other Druzes and came from Syrian Golan/Lebanon.
    Yes. Obviously there's still a pretty considerably time gap in sampling (we don't know how much change happened between the Middle Bronze Age and the Arab conquest), but the more indigenist perspective seems to be stronger than it was a few years ago, now that we know Bronze Age Canaanites didn't look like Cypriots.
    Last edited by DMXX; 12-02-2018 at 11:59 PM. Reason: political comments removed

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    It's quite obvious Muslim Palestinians are mainly Levantine, but have considerable Arab and even SSA and North African (most likely via Egyptians) admixture. I've seen some Palestinians plotting as far away from Lebanese, Druze and Samaritans as Non-Ashkenazi Jews plot from the later.

    Christian Palestinians, ~5% of modern day Palestinians, cluster with Samaritans and Lebanese.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post

    Christian Palestinians, ~5% of modern day Palestinians, cluster with Samaritans and Lebanese.
    I don't recall too many Christian Palestinian gedmatch results but from what I remember, they seem to cluster more with the Druze than Samaritans. I think oddly as well, a Palestinian Christian I saw seemed not as close to the Samaritan as a Lebanese Christian, ie less Southern/early bronze age Levantine shifted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    It's quite obvious Muslim Palestinians are mainly Levantine, but have considerable Arab and even SSA and North African (most likely via Egyptians) admixture. I've seen some Palestinians plotting as far away from Lebanese, Druze and Samaritans as Non-Ashkenazi Jews plot from the later.

    Christian Palestinians, ~5% of modern day Palestinians, cluster with Samaritans and Lebanese.
    I tried modelling Palestinians with the G25 one time as a mix of Levant_BA_North, Bedouin B, Egyptian and Yoruba - to my surprise it selected Egyptian at around 35% with roughly 1-2% Yoruba and no Bedouin like admixture. I then replaced Bedouin with Saudi and still they selected Egyptian which was strange to me considering I always believed their invasive admixture to be Arab-proper. I am certainly no expert on the matter though and do try to stay away from less than innocent threads like these, far too political for my taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sikeliot View Post
    People on the Israel side of the Israel/Palestine debate often claim that Palestinians are descended not from Levantines nor even the original Arab invaders, but from Arabs from Egypt, Syria, Arabia, etc. who migrated there for economic opportunities in the last 200 years.

    People on the Palestinian side of the debate argue that Palestinians are descended from indigenous inhabitants (Jewish, Canaanite, etc) who absorbed some Arab ancestry and became Arabized, as is typical for any conquered people.

    Others claim that Palestinians are descended from the original Arab invaders.
    I think you framed this the wrong way. This isn't as simple as "Israeli vs Palestinian", if you took the time to read about the genesis of Palestinian Arab identity what you'd notice is that initially the Palestinian Arabs rejected the notion that they were not of pristinely Arab descent, what few people also realise is that prior to the 1960s "Palestinian" was practically synonymous with "Jewish", Syrian was the preferred endonym and Sūriyā al Janūbiyya (Southern Syria) was used instead of Filasṭīn (Palestine). This was made clear when Awni Abd Al Hadi, one of the most prominent Palestinian Arab nationalists starting from the 1920s, testified to the Peel Commission:

    “There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.

    There's much more that could be said, but to keep things short, Palestinian Arab identity arose in a pan-Arab context and thus put the emphasis on the Palestinian Arabs' "Arabness" (for lack of a better word). It is only in reaction to the Jewish claim that Palestinian Arabs started to claim descent from the Canaanites, though what arguably is more important is that this narrative (which is the official PLO narrative) also claims that the Canaanites were essentially Arabs. This claim of descent from the "Arab Canaanites" is often derided by the proponents of Islamic supremacism, you also need to keep in mind that several Palestinian political figures put the emphasis on Arab descent when it suits their needs (Saeb Erekat, the PLO's perpetual diplomat, claims that he is Natufian, Canaanite or Bedouin depending on the audience he's facing).

    On the other hand, the vast majority of the early Zionist political figures claimed that the Palestinian Arabs and Bedouins were descended from the region's original Jewish inhabitants, this included Yitzhak Ben Zvi (2nd Israeli president), David Ben Gurion (1st Israeli prime minister) and many others. In fact there was an intellectual movement that arose on the far-right in the 1930s, "Canaanism" (founded by Yonatan Ratosh), which openly claimed that the Arabs of the Levant were of Canaanite origin and encouraged Israeli irredentism, despite being numerically insignificant Canaanism's eclectic intellectual makeup allowed it have a profound influence from the far-right to the far-left. The late Uri Avnery was influenced by this movement for example, and to this day people such as Zvi Misinai repeat the claim that Palestinian Arabs are Jews who should "return to the fold".

    So as you can see, we're not dealing with a simple Israeli-Palestinian dichotomy.

    To answer your question, it is pretty clear going off the ancient DNA record that Palestinian Arabs owe the vast majority of their ancestry to the Levant's Bronze Age inhabitants, in all likeliness via the region's Jewish and Samaritan populations, on the other hand the Palestinian Muslims also have a substantial amount of Arabian ancestry which can clearly be seen just by looking at their uniparental markers. Some other, more trivial demographic events also might've had an impact (to this day, many Palestinian Muslims have recent North African, Bosnian, Kurdish, Chechen and Turkish Cypriot origins). Palestinian Christians might also have incorporated coreligionists from neighbouring Syria, Lebanon and Iraq over time provided that they were from the same church.
    Last edited by Agamemnon; 12-02-2018 at 02:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTG View Post
    I tried modelling Palestinians with the G25 one time as a mix of Levant_BA_North, Bedouin B, Egyptian and Yoruba - to my surprise it selected Egyptian at around 35% with roughly 1-2% Yoruba and no Bedouin like admixture. I then replaced Bedouin with Saudi and still they selected Egyptian which was strange to me considering I always believed their invasive admixture to be Arab-proper. I am certainly no expert on the matter though and do try to stay away from less than innocent threads like these, far too political for my taste.
    An yDNA difference between Palestinians is that Palestinian Christians are often highly into EM34 and J2 while Palestinian Muslims have this very high rate of J1 some of which branches have clear Arabian origin.

    I am sure Saudi are better proxy than Bedouin B. Now not sure for Levant BA. A better proxy would be Levant Iron Age, or very late Roman-era Levant. Using Lebanese Christians would be an enough good proxy too.

    Egyptian ancestry in Palestine is likely too.
    Last edited by Govan; 12-02-2018 at 03:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Govan View Post
    An yDNA difference between Palestinians is that Palestinian Christians are often highly into EM34 and J2 while Palestinian Muslims have this very high rate of J1 some of which branches have clear Arabian origin.

    I am sure Saudi are better proxy than Bedouin B. Now not sure for Levant BA. A better proxy would be Levant Iron Age, or very late Roman-era Levant Using Lebanese Christians would be good proxy too.

    Egyptian ancestry in Palestine is likely too.
    cf. Supplementary Figure 8 of Sebastian Lippold, Hongyang Xu, Albert Ko, et al. (2014), "Human paternal and maternal demographic histories: insights from high-resolution Y chromosome and mtDNA sequences":

    Supplementary Figure 8. Bayesian tree for sequences from NRY haplogroups F and G.
    Haplogroup F in the HGDP is found only in the Lahu population, as haplogroup F2. Haplogroup G
    has an estimated age of about 28 ky in our data, older than previous estimates of 9.5-17 ky based on
    STR data, but more in line with recent sequence-based studies. The origin of haplogroup G
    has been placed in the Caucasus or the Middle East, whereas the deepest divergences in our
    haplogroup G tree are in central Asia. There is a clade of 11 haplogroup G sequences that is specific
    to Palestinians (arrow) and has an age of about 2 ky, but diverged from other haplogroup G
    sequences (mostly from Europe, along with one native American Pima sequence that probably
    reflects recent European admixture) about 10 kya. The deep divergence and recent age for this clade
    suggests a possible bottleneck or founder event in the history of Palestinians.
    A great percentage of the HGDP sample of Palestinians belongs to a subclade of Y-DNA haplogroup G that shares a MRCA with another subclade of haplogroup G approximately 10,000 years before present. These eleven HGDP Palestinian individuals all share a common ancestor approximately 2,000 years before present. As you are most likely aware, this was a turbulent era in the history of Palestine/Judea/Israel.

    The clade with which the Palestinian clade coalesces ca. 10,000 ybp is comprised of the Y-DNA of a Tuscan, a Bergamasque, a Pima, a Sardinian, a Brahui, and a pair of Adyghes who appear to share a very recent patrilineal ancestor with each other. The Sardinian and the Brahui share a common patrilineal ancestor approximately 4,000 ybp. The Bergamasque and the Pima share a common patrilineal ancestor approximately 2,000 ybp. The Tuscan shares a common patrilineal ancestor with the common ancestor of the Bergamasque and the Pima approximately 5,000 ybp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    It's quite obvious Muslim Palestinians are mainly Levantine, but have considerable Arab and even SSA and North African (most likely via Egyptians) admixture. I've seen some Palestinians plotting as far away from Lebanese, Druze and Samaritans as Non-Ashkenazi Jews plot from the later.

    Christian Palestinians, ~5% of modern day Palestinians, cluster with Samaritans and Lebanese.
    Minor quibble, but that's ~5% of modern-day Palestinians in Palestine/Israel. In the global Palestinian diaspora, it's a much larger share.

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