The Myth of the Jewish Race: A Biologist's Point of View

The Myth of the Jewish Race: A Biologist's Point of View

The Myth of the Jewish Race: A Biologist's Point of View

The Myth of the Jewish Race: A Biologist's Point of View


More than sixty years after the death of Hitler, the defeat of Nazism, and the horrors of the Holocaust, the concept of a Jewish race is still alive and well in the minds of too many. This book is an attempt to destroy such a concept from both a biological and historical point of view. To be a race Jews would have to have been isolated from other populations. However, they never avoided crossbreeding and converted many non-Jews. In other words, from Day One Jews have married non-Jews, and therefore there is no way to genetically characterize them as a race. Nevertheless, many people find it difficult to accept the ideas that Judaism is not hereditary, but a religion, and that Jews who abandon the Jewish faith, whether they adopt another religion or none at all, are no longer Jews.


I write to seek understanding …

—John Howard Griffin

I CAME TO WRITE THIS BOOK FOR PERSONAL AND SCIENTIFIC REASONS. I was born in France where I spent most of my youth. I was fourteen years old when World War II broke out, and less than a year later France capitulated. My parents, my brother, and I lived first under the fascist Vichy regime and then under the Italian– German occupation. In March 1944, my brother and I escaped from occupied France through Spain and joined the Allied Forces in North Africa. Months later we were sent to the United States for training as air force flying personnel, an odyssey described in my book, The Little Yellow Train.

The Vichy government was not only fascist but also the most virulently anti-Semitic regime that ever ruled France. In its efforts to “cleanse the Jewish dirt” from French society, Vichy devised a broader definition of a Jew than that of the German Nazis. According to the latter, a Jew was one who currently or formerly practiced the Jewish religion or a person who had more than two Jewish grandparents. A person with two Jewish grandparents, not affiliated with the Jewish religious community, and not married to a Jew was classified as a non-Jew.

In contrast, Vichy classified a person with two Jewish grandparents as Jewish, which meant that children of a Jew and nonJew could face deportation to a death camp. This definition applied to my family because some of my ancestors had practiced the Jewish faith. Even though we were not part of the Jewish community, according to Vichy we were Jews. Soon after its establishment Vichy required all persons who fit the definition to register as Jews. My parents’ wisdom and courage in refusing to register undoubtedly saved us from death.

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