I've been trying to write a post about "What is a Jew?" for a few days now.
I've read two articles about the "genetic proof" of Jewishness.
Both articles are dubious at best, being published in Ha'aretz
and the Telegraph
, but they show a disturbing trend.
I do not believe genes hold the proof of identity. Genes provide information regarding ancestral history, they can tell us where we come from on the geographic level, they can tell us what we have in common with other organisms... they can even tell us how we're going die.
They cannot tell us why we are, who we are.
Biology does not superimpose culture in humans. That isn't how we work. It was never how we worked.
The search for the "Jewish gene" is ultimately as Antisemitic as searching for the "homosexual gene" is homophobic.
Why is proof that some of ancestors inbred, of any or more importance, than if my ancestors mixed with other people in their surroundings? How is "proving" a tribe in Zimbabwe is Jewish
of any significance?
Being Jewish is being a part of a tribe. Tribes are human groups that create and put together traditions that hold a historical memory, members of tribes are generally not requires to be familiarly related, but related by blood rite
(i.e. circumcision, tattoos, piercings, scarification and other body mods).
Jews became Jewish by blood because of science being used to prove racial divides.
Race cannot be biologically proven. Ethnicity is a bunch of cultural markers shared by a bunch of people, with a shared history!
I'm Jewish, because I was raised Jewish. Because I have a history of the written language, of interpreting words, of being persecuted and of being a separatist and isolationist - is it any wonder that there is a common ancestor to many a far flung people?!
That ancestor means exactly that. A commonality of genetic markers. Because Jews preferred to marry amongst themselves there are a few diseases that can be found at a higher degree within certain population, with a certain geographical history.
Let us also remember that a great portion of European Jews were wiped out and along with them a great portion of genetic multiplicity.
What does it mean, pray, that beyond the fact that my peachy white ass has a lot in common with my classmate who has as ass of chocolate brown, I have just as much in common with my classmate who has a peachy white ass and wears a hijab?
I do not find these kinds of scientific discoveries to enlightening, because their meaning is completely forced upon by parties of interest who believe that there are different kinds
of human. As I said, race cannot be biologically proven. The fact that certain ethnicities, who come from certain geographical areas, share a bunch of genes tells us absolutely nothing about what it means to be
My body is Jewish because the history of my people is ingrained into my mind, just as much as my body is Queer and my body is that of a cis Woman.
The only thing "natural" that I can say about my body is that it is able to carry a human offspring to term within a ready made container.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not in the opinion that genes hold no significance to understanding the human condition, we've changed a lot over the past centuries, especially the past two hundred years, but more than anything we've seen that genes hold a lot of potential and not so much the secrets to our existence.
This may come as a surprise to a lot of you, but I'm not a scientist (shocking, I'm sure), I'm positive many of my scientifically inclined readers can (possibly will) tell me that genes hold a whole lot more than potential, that with them humanity can achieve a great many things - eradicate a whole slew of diseases and defects that cause suffering.
That's not what I'm talking about.
Genes cannot tell us who we are. Who we are is dictated by a great number of things that cannot be quantified, or qualified. Mainly, they are made by us and our minds, because we don't actually know how much our human-manipulated environment affects our biology - because I tell you what, we certainly don't know how much our severely manipulated biological bodies affects our minds.
And so, for fuck's sake, stop trying to reassert to good ole' social Darwinism! It doesn't work when all we have to work with is made by humanity! Everything is artificial, including that dichotomy of "nature" and "culture". We don't actually know where one starts and the other begins. Trying to prove Jewish identity by way of the fact that I share my great-great-great grandmother with my Yemeni, Ethiopian, Iraqi, Irani and Palestinian classmate is bullshit
And that's what I have to say about me having "Jewish genes".