New Article: Sharkia et al, Changes in Marriage Patterns among the Arab Community in Israel over a 60-Year Period

Sharkia, Rajech, Muhammad Mahajnah, Esmael Athamny, Mohammad Khatib, Ahmad Sheikh-Muhammad, and Abdelnaser Zalan. “Changes in Marriage Patterns among the Arab Community in Israel over a 60-Year Period.” Journal of Biosocial Science (early view; online first).


The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and trends of various types of consanguineous marriage among the Arab community in Israel over a long time period (1948–2007) by religion and educational level. Data were collected by face-to-face interview of 3173 Arab couples living in Israel in 2007 and 2008. The trend in consanguineous marriages was found to decrease significantly over successive time periods, from 42.5% to 30.9% (p=0.001), and the prevalence of first-cousin and closer marriages decreased, from 23% to 12.7%. Consanguinity was found to be significantly related to religion (p=0.001) and wife’s level of education (p=0.028).


New Article: Na’amnih et al, Continuous Decrease of Consanguineous Marriages

Na’amnih, Wasef, Orly Romano-Zelekha, Ahmed Kabaha, Liza Pollack Rubin, Natalya Bilenko, Lutfi Jaber, Mira Honovich, and Tamy Shohat. “Continuous Decrease of Consanguineous Marriages among Arabs in Israel.” American Journal of Human Biology 27.1 (2015): 94-98.






To describe the trend in the rate of consanguineous marriages among the Israeli Arab population and to identify factors associated with this custom shift in recent years.


The study was conducted between November 2009 and January 2010 in Family Health Centers. A questionnaire was presented to parents during routine visits to the center with their children.


Information on 6,437 couples was collected. The rate of consanguineous marriages decreased from 35.8% among those married before 2000, to 28.2% among those married in 2000–2004, and to 24.0% among those married in 2005–2009 (P for trend <0.001). First cousin marriages were the most common type of consanguineous marriages in all the time periods. Consanguineous marriages were associated with consanguinity between the couples’ parents (both husband and wife), a high consanguinity rate in the place of residence and younger age at marriage (wife).


The rates of consanguineous marriages among Israeli Arabs are decreasing but still high. Because consanguineous marriages are widely acceptable, the role of public health professionals and primary care personnel is to provide comprehensive information about the potential genetic risks of consanguinity on offspring health and to increase the accessibility of premarital and preconception counseling services.

New Article: Shor, The Westermarck Hypothesis and the Israeli Kibbutzim

Shor, Eran. “The Westermarck Hypothesis and the Israeli Kibbutzim: Reconciling Contrasting Evidence.” Archives of Sexual Behavior (early view; online first).





The case of the communal education system in the Israeli kibbutzim is often considered to provide conclusive support for Westermarck’s (1891) assertion regarding the existence of evolutionary inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in humans. However, recent studies that have gone back to the kibbutzim seem to provide contrasting evidence and reopen the discussion regarding the case of the kibbutzim and inbreeding avoidance more generally (Lieberman & Lobel 2012; Shor & Simchai, 2009). In this article, I reassess the case of the kibbutzim, reevaluating the findings and conclusions of these recent research endeavors. I argue that the differences between recent research reports largely result from conceptual and methodological differences and that, in fact, these studies provide insights that are more similar than first meets the eye. I also suggest that we must reexamine the common assumption that the kibbutzim serve as an ideal natural experiment for examining the sources of incest avoidance and the incest taboo. Finally, I discuss the implications of these studies to the longstanding debate over the Westermarck hypothesis and call for a synthetic theoretical framework that produces more precise predictions and more rigorous empirical research designs.