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Israeli scientists announce that Jews are a superior race

Are Jews born smart?

Ashkenazi Jews are genetically intellectually superior to everyone else. This is the conclusion of a recent "scientific" study entitled Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence that triggered several articles in popular publications such as New York Magazine, The New York Times and the Economist. In this study, Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending of the University Of Utah's anthropology department suggest a genetic explanation to account for this remarkable intellectual achievement.

They base their hypothesis on four observations. First, that Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average IQ of any ethnic grouping. Second, Ashkenazim have a very low inward gene flow (low intermarriage).

Third, historic restrictions on professions allowed to Jews, such as money-lending, banking and tax farming, in which higher intelligence strongly favored economic success, in turn led to increased reproductive success. Low intermarriage acted as a selective process genetically favoring these abilities.

Fourth, genetic mutations responsible for diseases commonly found in Ashkenazi Jews, such as Tay-Sachs, are responsible for improved intelligence.

My initial reaction to a theory like this is suspicion laced with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Undoubtedly Ashkenazim have made a disproportionate contribution to Western intellectual and cultural life - think Freud, Einstein, Mahler, or Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld, to name but a few. But saying that Ashkenazi genes are different calls into question the motivation behind the research.

SHOULD 'RACE' be dignified as a subject of scientific study? To refuse to investigate a subject, however objectionable, would in itself be unscientific. Yet the attention of the scientific community alone lends it credibility. This study is to be published in The Journal of Biosocial Science in 2006 by Cambridge University Press.

The paper drew considerable criticism for both its aims and methods from geneticists, historians, social scientists and other academics as "poor science" - condemning its polemical style and the lack of usual rigor and dispassion of scientific texts.

But what do we do with the conclusions of the thesis? Maybe file them with Jewish conspiracies such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Claiming we are a race genetically differentiated from the rest of humanity could provide excellent material for anti-Semites. It could share a shelf with other "scientific" works on race and intelligence such as those of Arthur Jensen or The Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein - which questioned affirmative action in the US, claiming that African-Americans are genetically inferior in intellectual abilities.

Is the Harpending and Cochran study any less odious for the fact that it portrays Jews in a positive light?

JUDAISM HAS never advocated Jewish racial superiority. Indeed, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 38a) explains that Adam, the biblical first man, was created singly as the common forebear of all mankind so that future families would not quarrel over claims of superiority in their respective ancestry.

If racial purity was important the Jewish people would not have accepted converts, or would maybe maybe reconsider the status of their offspring. Yet we have the biblical story of Ruth, a convert who is not only accepted into the Jewish people, but whose descendents include King David and, ultimately, the Messiah.

Down the centuries, reluctance to accept converts was based on concerns about the smooth transmission of family traditions, religious observances, history and culture, and not the watering-down of blood, diluting DNA, or contamination of the Jewish gene pool.


Jerusalem Post, "Are Jews born smart?", 29 November 2005.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 29 November 2005.

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Tags: Israel, Jews, superior, race, , conspiracy theories.

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