Wired’s Disingenuous “23andMe Excludes Palestine” Piece Gets Even More Disingenuous

Remember how last week I posted about the Wired piece Mohammed is Palestinian. Why does 23andMe think he’s Egyptian?, which inexplicably focus on palestinian complaints that returned results did not include “Palestine”, even though the same could be said for Israel?

One of the things I noted at the time was one of those complaining had a Jewish-sounding surname:

“At the end of the day cities like Jerusalem, Jaffa,  Acre, Jericho and Hebron have had inhabitants for thousands of years,” says Amber-Rose Kedem, another 23andMe customer. When Kedem first took the test in 2019, her two largest percentages were Peninsular Arab (25 per cent) and Levantine (15 per cent). But when she decided to check her updated reports earlier in this year, Kedem was categorised as 37 per cent Peninsular Arab and only 0.8 per cent Levantine. “I see it as purposeful erasure,” she says.

I have to admit when I made my comment about it, I assumed she was an Arab identifying as “Palestinian”, given the entire gist of the article and the mention of her test results including “Peninsular Arab (25 per cent).” My comment about her Jewish-sounding surname was meant ironically.

It turns out she is Jewish, and she seems pro-Israel, or at least not someone who would identify as “Palestinian.” So the article did a bait-and-switch; they quoted her as a “Jewish” person for whom “Israel” did not appear in the results, while not explicitly stating this, instead making out like they were still referring to a “Palestine” Arab.

But it gets worse. They actually amended the article since my post, to remove her Jewish surname “Kedem”:

Screenshot from amended Wired article

Neither Palestine or Israel is listed as a possible country of ancestry in the company’s test results. “At the end of the day cities like Jerusalem, Jaffa,  Acre, Jericho and Hebron have had inhabitants for thousands of years,” says Amber Rose, another 23andMe customer. When Amber Rose first took the test in 2019, her two largest percentages were Peninsular Arab (25 per cent) and Levantine (15 per cent). But when she decided to check her updated reports earlier in this year, Amber Rose was categorised as 37 per cent Peninsular Arab and only 0.8 per cent Levantine. “I see it as purposeful erasure,” she says.

While it is theoretically possible they did this to protect her identity (which seems weird, since they did not do that at the outset), it certainly looks like they are deliberately trying to make out like she is another Arab person complaining about having her “Palestinian” identity erased.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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