Apartness in Israel/Palestine: the Genetic Problem

A Palestinian public health official, speaking at the Palestine Center, discussed problems with Palestinian genetic diseases.

Consanguinity-we have this marriage between relatives, the first cousins. Consanguinity is a major problem because it produces children who are affected and who have genetic diseases. We have done a lot of work on this. For example, in consanguinity there is a disease called thalassemia. Now no one can marry in our country without having a test for thalassemia. We are pioneers in this. You have to have a certificate that says at least that you are not a carrier of this disease; otherwise you cannot marry. Some of these [affected] people will go to other countries and marry there; unfortunately, we cannot prevent this. It is bad for them but it is a good example to show people that yes, this is important.

I can’t help remarking that there are also Jewish diseases that inmarriage only creates greater risk for, like Tay-Sachs and Gaucher. When issues of 30-foot walls and Bantustans and demographic purity are in the air, maybe people should talk about hybrid stuff, too. Wouldn’t everyone in Israel/Palestine be better off in the end with a little less separation?