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Palestinians Are Jewish

Claims eccentric Israeli entrepreneur

Ari M. Brostoff
August 14, 2009

Since the establishment of the state of Israel, groups of self-identifying Jews have emerged—often seeking to make aliyah under the Law of Return—from Ethiopia to Colombia. But, Israeli computer entrepreneur Tzvi Misinai told the newspaper Arutz Sheva last week, “In our search for the lost Ten Tribes in India and Afghanistan, we seem to have forgotten to look for their descendants in our very own backyard.”

Crypto-Jewish Palestinians! It may sound like something Michael Chabon dreamed up, but Misinai has spent half a million shekels so far on a quest “to search out the roots of Israel’s Arab enemies—and to inform them of their Judaic roots.” His arguments, though perhaps a bit geopolitically naïve, actually contain some important insights, as Paul Kujawsky at points out: not only does DNA and historical evidence suggest that many present-day Palestinians are the descendants of Jews who converted to Islam over the course of the past millennium, but Misinai has also collected fascinating testimony from Palestinians who say their mothers lit Shabbat candles or who own a menorah that’s been passed down through the generations.

Kujawsky’s deadpan conclusion: Israel might not be too thrilled if “after years of rejecting a Palestinian ‘right of return’” the Palestinians “come in under Israel’s Law of Return anyway”—but then again, “If the Palestinians renounced Islam and sincerely adopted Judaism en masse, the ‘two-state solution’ versus ‘one-state solution’ argument would become moot. The Palestinian war against the Jews would end with the Palestinians joining and enriching the eternal quarrels of the Jews among themselves.”

Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.