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Pashtun Pride, Israel Denied

Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Ari Greenspan

We had heard a lot about the Pashtun tribe, and how some of their customs point to ancient Israelite roots. But when we came face-to-face with what might be a remnant of the Ten Lost Tribes, we found proud Muslims who are not interested in joining the Jewish People nor seeking a connection with the Holy Land.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In recent years you may have seen sensationalist headlines proclaiming that the Taliban (and by extension bin Laden) are descended from the Jewish People. Well, bin Laden was actually an ethnic Yemenite from Saudi Arabia; and the Taliban? It’s not them per se, but the tribe they come from, that some researchers have put under the microscope in a quest to resolve the historical mystery of linkage to the Ten Lost Tribes. Do the Pashtuns, or Pathans — mostly living in an Islamic world — really have ancient Israelite roots as they claim? Although most of the Pathans live in Afghanistan and Pakistan, regions where even we are not currently willing to venture into, a small subset of them have lived in India for the last several hundred years. And thus, we think, they’re worthy of a visit, especially since many of them hang onto a tradition that they are “Bani Israel,” descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. One of the most public researchers in this field is himself a Pathan,Dr.NavrasJaatAafreedi, an assistant professor in India who did postdoctoral research on the subject at Tel Aviv University. He has published several impressive studies on the Pathans and was extremely helpful as we planned our visit to northern India. Although unable to personally join us on our excursion, he put us in touch with several other Pathans and requested that they guide and translate for us, which they generously did.

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