An Indian geneticist is conducting serious scholarship over whether the ethnic group that makes up the Taliban descends from the ancient Israeli tribe of Ephraim—serious enough that Israel has given him a generous scholarship to study the matter further with Israeli scientists in Haifa. Under the theory, the Pashtun people, who live in eastern and southern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan, are Jews twice removed. How? Most in the area accept that the Pashtuns descend from the Afridi Pathans; and the Afridi Pathans, in turn, have been thought for over a millennium to derive from a group of Israelites who migrated east as early as 2700 B.C.E. If it turns out that Mullah Omar is your cousin, expect Mullah Omar to feel at least as uneasy about it as you do.
Are Taliban Descendants of Israelites? [JPost]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.