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Thread: Why do most DNA testing companies label Jews as "European"?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverman View Post
    Ashkenazi Jews form their own ethnicity, genetically speaking. Roma are their own ethnicity too, but they are much more diverse. They get to know more about their recent admixture than Ashkenazi Jews do, because some are actually more European, while others are not.
    Indeed - I actually said so myself in the same post you quoted me from:

    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86
    I do understand that genetically speaking, two Ashkenazim are much more tightly related than two Roma individuals - and in fact so close that Ashkenazi Jews can be considered their own ethnicity. But considering we know Ashkenazi Jews overlap with other Western Jews and also share uniparental subclades with them - I do believe it'll do us all much favor if they'll introduce a category called "Western Jews".
    Considering the fact that Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Italki, Romaniote, Syrian Jews and to a larger extension - North African Jews - seem to cluster tightly together and also share uniparentals, I do believe a "meta group" called "Western Jews" should be conceived, and within that group, if possible, a further designation (such as "Ashkenazi" or "Sephardi" etc.).


    Quote Originally Posted by Riverman View Post
    In the G25 Roma samples, only the Roma from Barcelona are more than 50 percent of European descent.
    I was specifically not referring to G25 at all, since the question here was about commercial DNA testing companies such as 23andMe, FTDNA, MH and the like. I merely searched over on Reddit-> 23andMe to see the results of self-claiming full Gypsies/Roma and referred to those results, not academic samples gathered by Davidski and processed into the G25.

    Since Davidski doesn't designate Ashkenazi, Sephardi etc. as "European Jews" in his data sheet, I don't see a reason why it's relevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverman View Post
    Compare with this yDNA study which makes the regional differences fairly obvious:
    If we're going by yDNA per se, then all "European Jews" should be labeled as Levantine/Near East in those companies.
    Last edited by Erikl86; 07-27-2020 at 01:51 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aiden View Post
    Living DNA seems to me to be the most accurate when it comes to Jews. On Living DNA Ashkenazi Jews usually score about half European (south italy) and half Near East, which makes way more sense (genetically and historically) than strictly "European" imo. Sephardic Jews also score about half European (iberia) and half Near East. I think these other companies label Jews as "Europeans" for political and cultural reasons rather than genetics.
    If you have a dichotomy of "European vs. Near Eastern", calling them European is minimum as justified as the opposite. The only clean and neutral label is "Jewish Diaspora" or something like that, similar to what FTDNA did. To call the Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and like Erik said the Italian Jews and others, European Jews in this context would be fully justified and is the usual approach. But the paramount label is best "Jewish Diaspora". To break the ancestry up without pointing to the Jewish origin is misleading.
    Like I said in another thread, I think the best would be if all companies do a "recent ethnic" and "(pre-)historic ancient" ancestral composition. If you mix these things up, you never get it right and most people are interested in both aspects of their ancestry. The recent ethnic and regional heritage, as well as the old, ancient relations. At some point all companies will offer this anyway, its just that we don't have enough ancient references yet in my opinion. Its hard enough with moderns, but with ancients there are still even more gaps.

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    Because they label according to where they've lived historically. If they will ever be able to create a solid Roma/Gypsy component, then that will also be shown in Europe, even if at the lower level they are a mix of European, Middle Eastern and South Asian.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seabass View Post
    The bizaree thing is I'd say majority of Sephardic Jews from Turkey cannot actually prove with hard evidence a genealogical link going back to Spain.
    True, but then again they shouldn't receive much Sephardic in a commercial DNA test then, unless the references sampled by that company are all screwed up.

    For all I know perhaps the same can be said for maybe some remote Yiddish speaking Eastern Ashkenazi communities who cannot trace themselves back to Germany.
    In fact, most Ashkenazim probably cannot trace their ancestors to Germany because the biggest demographic increase happened in Central and East Europe. This is why, in many commercial DNA companies, on a map, they'll usually show the region of the Pale of Settlement - where most Ashkenazi Jews' ancestors originated in the last 500 years or so.

    So why are people quite eager to readily link Jews to a country in which their ethnogenesis took place, but not Israel?
    1. Because those companies usually say they go back 500 years - and most Ashkenazi ancestors lived in Central-Eastern Europe at that time and Sephardic Jews ancestors in Iberia.
    2. Because Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews' final stages of ethnogenesis didn't occur in Israel - Ladino is a Romance language and Yiddish is a Germanic language, and they attest to where the differentiation between these two groups finally took place. One might say, considering the genetic kinship between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, that before that they were one single group most likely.

    A Sephardic Jew and a Ashkenazi Jew are genetically closer to a Palestinian than either a Spaniard or German. This is why I rather avoid this whole 'Middle Eastern' or 'European' assignment to Jews altogether, as it just creates a big headache more than anything.
    Correct, but if we go there - they are even closer to European people such as Cretan Greeks or Maltese or Sicilians (although uniparentally on the paternal side we fit right in the Levant).
    Again, this is why I think the best category would be just "Western Jews".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    Indeed - I actually said so myself in the same post you quoted me from:
    I didn't disagree with all you wrote.

    Considering the fact that Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Italki, Romaniote, Syrian Jews and to a larger extension - North African Jews - seem to cluster tightly together and also share uniparentals, I do believe a "meta group" called "Western Jews" should be conceived, and within that group, if possible, a further designation (such as "Ashkenazi" or "Sephardi" etc.).
    Completely agree. I think FTDNA did it right with "Jewish Diaspora", which describes the situation and reality the best.

    I was specifically not referring to G25 at all, since the question here was about commercial DNA testing companies such as 23andMe, FTDNA, MH and the like. I merely searched over on Reddit-> 23andMe to see the results of self-claiming full Gypsies/Roma and referred to those results, not academic samples gathered by Davidski and processed into the G25.
    The problem with such examples is they are sometimes like self-labelled "Native Americans" or "African Americans" doing a test. That doesn't tell you anything about the real admixture proportions in the majority of actual Roma from Europe and its not verifiable what their genealogy is or how real the results are anyway. It does contradict anything we know from actual studies done on Roma people.

    Since Davidski doesn't designate Ashkenazi, Sephardi etc. as "European Jews" in his data sheet, I don't see a reason why it's relevant.
    You are right, it is not. But he doesn't do next level groupings in general, since these are just regional and ethnic samples. Like he has no "Eastern European" or "Balkan" category neither. But many calculators and the testing companies need to have those.

    I don't think we disagree a lot, I just thought your comparison with the Roma is not correct, with single individuals reporting odd results telling us nothing. If someone gathered more results, I would like to see and judge them by myself, I'm actually quite interested. Real Roma score like this on 23andme:
    https://you.23andme.com/published/re...a9b15d41c5189/

    She was 16 percent European (Balkan), with the rest being South Asian and West Asian. Found it here:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/23andme/com..._gypsy_people/

    There are no real Roma which are predominantely Northern and Eastern European. Actually, if I do the same runs with Ashkenazi Jews, they are much more Northern and Eastern European than any Roma are, if breaking the components up.

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    Because for the most part they are:


    Not very different from southern Europeans. Also lived there for more than almost two thousand years.
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    I found this on reddit lol this person is wondering the same thing https://www.reddit.com/r/23andme/com..._the_european/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aha View Post
    Because for the most part they are:


    Not very different from southern Europeans. Also lived there for more than almost two thousand years.
    From what I've seen, Ashkenazi Jews may be as 'germanic' or non-Southern European as Northern Italians, but they are no doubt more West Asian and North African combined than all southern Italians.

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    Indigeneity to a particular place is clearly relative. Considering how transformative the modern era (1500s to present) has been for world demography, the pre/post-Columbian distinction is the gold standard for me in how I like to think about this.

    Whenever I color-code a modern group in my copy of the G25, I ask myself, "did this ethnic group exist in pre-Columbian times?" If the answer is yes, then I ask, "where did they live?" If the answer is Europe, I color them blue. If West Asia, I color them green. If North Africa, they get gold. I do distinguish the Ciscaucasians from the rest of Europe (and color them teal), but that's really the only exception I make. I hold no essentialist views of continental classification; geography is just a nice way to display the data in a digestible format without making things too complicated. If the group is a result of post-Columbian migration (like Afrikaaners), I just classify them however I feel is most appropriate. I don't have a strong opinion right now about modern era diasporan groups. They're tricky.

    But the pre-Columbian whereabouts distinction is a really convenient place to draw the line for groups with origins predating the modern period. Pontic Greeks (from Trabzon, not talking about North Pontics) might live in Europe now, but only recently (within the past 500 years). So I consider them West Asian Greeks. Many Polish Jews might live in Israel now, but they only got there recently. Sephardic Jewish diaspora into Africa and Asia happened just before the transformative shifts of the post-Columbian era; I treat them as MENA consequently (i.e., Sephardic Syrian Jews formed in the Levant before the modern era so they're West Asian in my book). Europe's Roma are European; their ancestors settled in Europe before the 1500s, creating distinctive local communities.

    Some meta-groups are plainly transcontinental. If you want to apply a continental label to Sephardim, for instance, I would reserve that for specific subgroups. I treat Greeks and Turks the same way. I have all the Sephardim colored European blue in my G25 copy only because I don't know which ones are Turkish Jews and which are from Balkan countries. The Romaniotes used to be transcontinental but only the community in Greece survived so all Romaniotes are European Jews these days by happenstance. But Greeks, Turks, and Western Jews are transcontinental groups at the meta-ethnic level.
    Last edited by Michalis Moriopoulos; 07-27-2020 at 03:28 PM.
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    The concept of European/Asian/African is relative mainly because every human population follows and has always followed a cline. That is my humble opinion.

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