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What do you think about a DNA test? Would it be able to indicate if my paternal grandparents were Jewish?
I have been reading some of the information you have on your website concerning the Palestinians and their relationship to Israel. For several months I have been researching my grandparent's heritage and thought you might be able to provide a unique perspective, if you are so inclined.
Quick background- I'm American and my mother is of mostly British (some Dutch, some French, some Scottish, etc) descent and her ancestors have lived in the US for hundreds of years. So according to your research would be part of the lost 10 tribes. My father's parents are from Palestine. They are Greek Orthodox Christians who moved to Honduras in 1947 and the US about 10 years later. Their families have lived outside of Bethlehem for hundreds of years. They consider themselves Arabs, yet they do not believe there were ever any Muslims in their family tree. Their village has remained Christian through the centuries.
I wanted to learn more about their background for several reasons. One- I'm a born again believer who wants to know the truth about how my ancestors fit into the land of Israel and God's promises. Two- I hope by learning more I can use it as a tool to witness to my elderly grandparents (they are faithful attenders to their church, but do not have a saving relationship ...). Three- I never felt my grandparents looked "Arab", and wanted to learn more about the meaning of the term. My grandmother is very fair and could easily pass for French, Northern Italian, etc. My grandfather has green eyes, light hair, and looks more Jewish. Most Americans I know, don't believe me when I tell them my father's side of the family is "Arab"! They also are starting to forget the problems they had with the Muslims when they were young and are now siding with them for the land. It would be nice to explain to them from a biblical standpoint, where they fit into the situation in their homeland.
We decided to delve into the history of their town and then back it up with DNA testing. I have been told they the families have lived in an isolated village (Beit Sahour) since the 1600s, only intermarrying within their group. Before this, we believe my grandfather's family came from Syria (left because of the intolerance of the Turk's & the Ottoman empire) and my grandmother's family from Jordan. We have been told that there is a Ghassanid Christian connection and these people intermarried the Greeks, Romans, and Jewish converts to Christianity living in the area, and later on possible Crusaders, other Europeans, and Arabs. This would make them a very "mixed" group of people that became "Arabized" with the Muslim conquest when Arabic became the language and the culture. Thus, they associate with being Arab in culture, but genetically, could be very little of actual Arab.
DNA testing showed a European base for my grandmother's mtDNA with matches predominantly in England. This was very surprising to us! Her father's side for the Y-dna was "Levantine Semite", as was my grandfather's. His mother's side was J2- northern fertile crescent. The matches for the Y-dna came back mostly Jewish. One of the closest for my grandfather was actually a Rabbi, much to his dismay. The closest matches with more markers came back to show my grandfather & great-uncle were only off by a few markers, which would back up the theory of the intermarrying within the group. I've been told by one of the Jewish scholars behind the site that they were probably Jewish originally and then were forced to convert to Christianity to stay on the land.
What happened to the first Christians? Could they have truly been converted (and not forced) and where did these Jewish Christians go? As time went on and they intermarried other Christians, is it possible they forgot their Jewish roots?
Who was living in Israel before the 1600s? I wonder if my ancestors who were living in nearby areas chose to move there because it was originally their homeland? Of course, I would love to know that I was descended from the first, original Christians, but the truth is what matters most. Seems very unlikely that a group of people could remain Christian through the ages and not be converted to Islam. It's a shame that their faith now is mostly superficial and tradition.
As you know, Christians are a very small minority in Palestine. After reading the above, I would appreciate any insight you have to offer.
Thank you so much for your time,
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