A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Al Jazeera English on the Samaritans

The Samaritans are one of the Middle East's easily forgotten surviving minorities; numbered today in the hundreds, some at Holon in Israel and some on Mount Gerizim above Nablus in the West Bank, two out of three of my previous posts on them related to the death of the former High Priest and the installation of the new one back in 2010. 

(The Samaritans retain a High Priesthood claiming descent from Aaron, and which indeed preserves the so-called "Cohen gene.")

This Al Jazeera English report emphasizes another genetic issue: the problem of birth defects due to inbreeding in such a small breeding population, and the decision made by the Samaritans to encourage exogamy in order to preserve the fragile community:


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