I remember reading a pamphlet quite a few years ago which was published by the Amishav institute (Now known as Shavei Israel) called The Lost Tribes of Assyria. In it, the author, Rabbi Eliyahu Avihail seeks to prove that the Pashtun (Pathan) tribesmen of Afghanistan and Kashmir are descended of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. Their Hebrew sounding names and Israelite-like customs convinced Avihail of the veracity of the claim. (Read an excerpt from the book ).
Several years ago, a Canadian Jewish filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici reached the same conclusion. In a video documentary called Quest for the Lost Tribes he travels halfway around the world interviewing Indo-Chinese and Bucharian Jews-among others untill he arrives in Afghanistan, then as now a war-torn region. There, he meets with several Pashtun tribesman who relate to him a tradition of Jewish origin. That and their “unmistakeably Semitic faces” leaves Jacobovici with the belief and certainty that he stumbled upon the real thing.
I must confess, that I too strongly belived in this and eagerly awaited for science to dispel any lingering doubts. Well, science has now spoken and I’m afraid that I (as well as many others) was wrong.
While the scientific DNA study was not 100 percent conclusive, there are very strong indications that the bulk of the Pashtuns are in fact not of Hebrew or Semitic descent.
“Two populations, the Kashmiris and the Pathans also lay claim to a possible Jewish origin. Jewish populations commonly have a moderate frequency of haplogroup 21(20%) and a high frequency of haplogroup 9(36%). The frequencies of both of these haplogroups are low in both the Pathans and Kashmiris so no support of Jewish origin is found, although again this conclusion is limited both by the small sample size available from Kashmir and by the assumption that the modern samples are representative of ancient populations”.
Click here to read more of the University of Chicago study.