Sunday, April 28, 2013

America, Land of the Free and Home of the Individual. By Walter Russell Mead.

America, Land of the Free and Home of the Individual. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 28, 2013.

The Liberaltarian Democrats. By Ross Douthat. New York Times, April 23, 2013.

Liberaltarians. By Brink Lindsey. The New Republic, December 11, 2006. Also find it here.

Would Justin Amash Really “Tear Down the Left-Right Paradigm”? By Scott Galupo. The American Conservative, April 22, 2013.

Jobs of the Future: Princesses for Hire. By Walter Russell Mead.

Jobs of the Future: Princesses for Hire. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 27, 2013.

Julia, Meet Carina. By Abe Greenwald.

Julia, Meet Carina. By Abe Greenwald. Commentary, April 24, 2013.

Denmark Rethinks Its Much Too Generous Welfare State. By Donald Douglas. American Power, April 23, 2013.

Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault. By Suzanne Daley. New York Times, April 20, 2013.

Elsa Walsh’s Journey to Marriage and Motherhood. By Peter Wehner.

Elsa Walsh’s Journey to Marriage and Motherhood. By Peter Wehner. Commentary, April 22, 2013.

Why women should embrace a “good enough” life. By Elsa Walsh. Washington Post, April 18, 2013.

Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry.

Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry. ScienceDaily, June 4, 2010.

Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity. By Nicholas Wade. New York Times, June 9, 2010.

Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry. By Gil Atzmon et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 86, No. 6 (June 2010). Also find it here.


For more than a century, Jews and non-Jews alike have tried to define the relatedness of contemporary Jewish people. Previous genetic studies of blood group and serum markers suggested that Jewish groups had Middle Eastern origin with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations. However, these and successor studies of monoallelic Y chromosomal and mitochondrial genetic markers did not resolve the issues of within and between-group Jewish genetic identity. Here, genome-wide analysis of seven Jewish groups (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Ashkenazi) and comparison with non-Jewish groups demonstrated distinctive Jewish population clusters, each with shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations, and variable degrees of European and North African admixture. Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry. Rapid decay of IBD in Ashkenazi Jewish genomes was consistent with a severe bottleneck followed by large expansion, such as occurred with the so-called demographic miracle of population expansion from 50,000 people at the beginning of the 15th century to 5,000,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, this study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads.


Jews originated as a national and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE and have maintained continuous genetic, cultural, and religious traditions since that time, despite a series of Diasporas. Middle Eastern (Iranian and Iraqi) Jews date from communities that were formed in the Babylon and Persian Empires in the fourth to sixth centuries BCE. Jewish communities in the Balkans, Italy, North Africa, and Syria were formed during classical antiquity and then admixed with Sephardic Jews who migrated after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century. Ashkenazi Jews are thought to have settled in the Rhine Valley during the first millennium of the Common Era, then to have migrated into Eastern Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries, although alternative theories involving descent from Sorbs (Slavic speakers in Germany) and Khazars have also been proposed. Admixture with surrounding populations had an early role in shaping world Jewry, but, during the past 2000 years, may have been limited by religious law as Judaism evolved from a proselytizing to an inward-looking religion.

Earlier genetic studies on blood groups and serum markers suggested that Jewish Diaspora populations had Middle Eastern origin, with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations than with non-Jewish populations. These studies differed in their interpretation of the degree of admixture with local populations. Recent studies of Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes have pointed to founder effects of both Middle Eastern and local origin, yet the issue of how to characterize Jewish people as mere coreligionists or as genetic isolates that may be closely or loosely related remains unresolved. To improve the understanding about the relatedness of contemporary Jewish groups, genome-wide analysis and comparison with neighboring populations was performed for representatives of three major groups of the Jewish Diaspora: Eastern European Ashkenazim; Italian, Greek, and Turkish Sephardim; and Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian Mizrahim (Middle Easterners).

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Genomes Reveals Diversity, History. By Quinn Eastman. ScienceDaily, August 27, 2010.

Signatures of founder effects, admixture and selection in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. By Steven M. Bray et al. PNAS, Vol. 107, No. 37 (September 14, 2010). PDF. Also find it here.

New Study Sheds Light On the Origin of the European Jewish Population. ScienceDaily, January 16, 2013.

The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses. By Eran Elhaik. Genome Biology and Evolution, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2013). PDF. Also find it here.


The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a “population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the “Khazarian hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco–Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo–Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo–Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazars’ contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Near Eastern-Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe a major difference among Caucasus populations explained by the early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications for the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and for medical studies.

Highlight: Out of Khazaria—Evidence for “Jewish Genome” Lacking. By Danielle Venton. Genome Biology and Evolution, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2013). PDF. Also find it here.

The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people. By Doron M. Behar et al. Nature, Vol. 466, July 8, 2010.

Nearly Half Of Ashkenazi Jews Descended From Four “Founding Mothers.” ScienceDaily, January 17, 2006.

New Light on the Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe. By Nicholas Wade. New York Times, January 14, 2006. Also here.

The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event. By Doron M. Behar et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 78, No. 3 (March 2006).

Founding Mothers of Jewish Communities: Geographically Separated Jewish Groups Were Independently Founded by Very Few Female Ancestors. By Mark G. Thomas et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 70, No. 6 (June 2002).

Jewish Priesthood Has Multiple Lineages, New Genetic Research Indicates. ScienceDaily, September 25, 2009.

Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood. By Michael F. Hammer et al. Human Genetics, Vol. 126, No. 5 (November 2009).

Origins of Old Testament Priests. By Mark G. Thomas et al. Nature, Vol. 394, July 9, 1998. Also find it here.

Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests. By Karl Skorecki et al. Nature, Vol. 385, January 2, 1997.

Y-chromosomal Aaron. Wikipedia. With links to some journal article sources.

Israelites. Wikipedia.

The Origin of Palestinians and Their Genetic Relatedness With Other Mediterranean Populations. By Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al. Human Immunology, Vol. 62, No. 9 (September 2001). Also here and here.

High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews. By Almut Nebel et al. Human Genetics, Vol. 107, No. 6 (December 2000).

The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East. By Almut Nebel et al. American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 69, No. 5 (November 2001).

Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians. By Robin McKie. The Observer., November 25, 2001.

Politicizing Science: The Genetic Code of Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Muslims. By Pamela Geller. Atlas Shrugs, February 26, 2010.

Illegal knowledge: Palestinians and Jews are relatives. By Benno Hansen. Newsvine, September 3, 2006.

The Cana’anite Factor: (Un) Defining Religious Identities in Palestine and Israel. By Basem L. Ra’ad. Palestine-Israel Journal, Vols. 8/9, Nos. 4/1 (2002). Also here.

Ancient DNA Reveals Europe’s Dynamic Genetic History.

Ancient DNA Reveals Europe’s Dynamic Genetic History. ScienceDaily, April 23, 2013. Also find it here.

Neolithic mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans. By Paul Brotherton et al. Nature Communications Vol. 4, April 23, 2013.

The Bush Legacy. By Charles Krauthammer.

The Bush Legacy. By Charles Krauthammer. National Review Online, April 25, 2013. Also at the Washington Post.

He left behind an inconclusive war, but he made ultimate victory possible.


Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”

Not quite right. He did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.

That homage was paid, wordlessly, by Barack Obama, who vilified Bush’s anti-terror policies as a candidate, then continued them as president: indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo, which Obama so ostentatiously denounced — until he found it indispensable.

Quite a list. Which is why there was not one successful terror bombing on U.S. soil from 9/11 until last week. The Boston Marathon attack was an obvious security failure, but there is a difference between 3,000 dead and three. And on the other side of the ledger are the innumerable plots broken up since 9/11.

Moreover, Bush’s achievement was not just infrastructure. It was war. The Afghan campaign overthrew the Taliban, decimated al-Qaeda, and expelled it from its haven. Yet that success is today derogated with the cheap and lazy catchphrase — “He got us into two wars” — intended to spread to Afghanistan the opprobrium associated with Iraq.

As if Afghanistan was some unilateral Bush adventure foisted on the American people. As if Obama himself did not call it a “war of necessity”; and Joe Biden, the most just war since World War II.

The dilemma in Afghanistan was what to do after the brilliant, nine-week victory? There was no good answer. Even with the benefit of seven years’ grinding experience under his predecessor, Obama got it wrong. His Afghan “surge” cost hundreds of American lives without having changed the country’s prospects.

It turned out to be a land too primitive to democratize, too fractured to unify. The final withdrawal will come after Obama’s own six years of futility.

Iraq was, of course, far more problematic. Critics conveniently forget that the invasion had broad support from the public and Congress, including from those who became the highest foreign-policy figures in the Obama administration — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and Biden.

And they forget the context — crumbling sanctions that would in short order have restored Saddam Hussein to full economic and regional power, well positioning him, post-sanctions, to again threaten his neighbors and restart his WMD program.

Was the war worth it? Inconclusive wars never yield a good answer. Was Korea worth it? It ended with a restoration of the status quo ante. Now 60 years later, we face nuclear threats from the same regime that was not defeated in a war that cost ten times as many American lives as Iraq.

The Iraq War had three parts. The initial toppling of the regime was a remarkable success — like Afghanistan, rapid and with relatively few U.S. casualties.

The occupation was a disaster, rooted in the fundamental contradiction between means and ends, between the “light footprint” chosen by General George Casey and the grand reformation attempted by Paul Bremer, who tried to change everything down to the coinage.

Finally, the surge, a courageous Bush decision taken against near-universal opposition, that produced the greatest U.S. military turnaround since the Inchon landing. And inflicted the single most significant defeat for al-Qaeda (save Afghanistan) — a humiliating rout at the hands of Iraqi Sunnis fighting side by side with the American infidel.

As with Lincoln, it took Bush years of agonizing bloody stalemate before he finally found his general and his strategy. Yet, for all the terrible cost, Bush bequeathed to Obama a strategically won war. Obama had one task: Conclude a status-of-forces agreement and thus secure Iraq as a major regional ally. He failed utterly. Iraq today is more fragile, sectarian, and Iranian-influenced than it was when Bush left office — and than it had to be.

Like Bush, Harry Truman left office widely scorned, largely because of the inconclusive war he left behind. In time, however, Korea came to be seen as but one battle in a much larger Cold War that Truman was instrumental in winning. He established the institutional and policy infrastructure (CIA, NATO, Truman Doctrine, etc.) that made possible ultimate victory almost a half-century later. I suspect history will similarly see Bush as the man who, by trial and error but also with prescience and principle, established the structures that will take us through another long twilight struggle, and enable us to prevail.

Looking for Our Prehistoric Mother. By Meg Bortin.

Looking for Our Prehistoric Mother. By Meg Bortin. New York Times, April 25, 2013.

Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation. By Jun Z. Li et al. Science, Vol. 319, February 22, 2008. Also find it here.

The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East. By Liran I. Shlush et al. PLoS ONE, Vol. 3 No. 5 (May 2008).

Genetics Confirm Oral Traditions of Druze in Israel. ScienceDaily, May 12, 2008.

The Awlaki/Tsarnaev Connection. By Daniel Klaidman.

The Awlaki/Tsarnaev Connection. By Daniel Klaidman. The Daily Beast, April 26, 2013.

Grieving Mother or Islamic Militant. By Margery Eagan. The Boston Herald, April 27, 2013.

In Defense of Henry Kissinger. By Robert Kaplan.

In Defense of Henry Kissinger. By Robert Kaplan. The Atlantic, May 2013. Also find it here.

The Morality of Kissinger’s Realism. By Robert W. Merry. The National Interest, April 25, 2013.

The Trial of Robert D. Kaplan. The Atlantic’s absurd defense of Henry Kissinger. By Isaac Chotiner. The New Republic, April 25, 2013.

Red Dates, Blue Dates. By Naomi Schaefer Riley.

Red dates, blue dates. By Naomi Schaefer Riley. USA Today, April 25, 2013.

We’re more likely to date and marry outside our faiths than our political parties.