Guardian’s Andrew Brown ponders the connection between camels & Zionism

A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as “humps” on its back – according at least to Wikipedia.


Andrew Brown is a homo sapiens, and, more importantly, a Guardian journalist, a subspecies known for its strange obsession with roughly 8,000 square miles of land in the Middle East – according at least to practically everyone in the world who reads the UK paper.

Andrew Brown

The connection between these two species will become apparent shortly.

But, first, let us briefly note that Brown is the paper’s religion blogger, and once suggested (evidently with a straight face) that Buddhism was the world’s most violent faith. And, so, though the wild claim made in his most recent post was not at all surprising, it still left us scratching our collective Zionist heads as it is evidently a serious piece yet reads like a parody found at The Onion.

Here’s the headline:


Here are the relevant passages:

There are 21 references to camels in the first books of the Bible, and now we know they are all made up.

 Two Israeli archaeozoologists have sifted through a site just north of modern Eilat looking for camel bones, which can be dated by radio carbon.

None of the domesticated camel bones they found date from earlier than around 930 BC – about 1,500 years after the stories of the patriarchs in Genesis are supposed to have taken place

All these considerations make it clear that camels were not domesticated anywhere in the region before 1000 BC.

Obviously it has upset fundamentalists. Everyone else has known for decades that there is even less evidence for the historical truth of the Old Testament than there is for that of the Qur’an. But the peculiarly mealy-mouthed nature of the quotes they gave the New York Times (which is not much concerned with the feelings of Christian fundamentalists) shows where the real problem is.

Now, the kicker:

The history recounted in the Bible is a huge part of the mythology of modern Zionism. The idea of a promised land is based on narratives that assert with complete confidence stories that never actually happened. There are of course other ways to argue for the Zionist project, and still further arguments about the right of Israelis to live within secure boundaries now that the country exists. But although those stand logically independent of the histories invented – as far as we can tell – in Babylonian captivity during the sixth century BC, they make little emotional sense without the history. And it is emotions that drive politics.

Brown’s leap is remarkable, and goes something like this:

  1. Archeological evidence suggests that camels may not have been domesticated until 1,500 years after the stories of the patriarchs in Genesis are supposed to have taken place.
  2. There are 21 references to camels in the Five Books of Moses.
  3. If there were no camels, then the entire Hebrew Bible is arguably a fraud.
  4. Ergo, the justification for Zionism – based as it is on Biblical history (including camels) – is fatally undermined.

Oh, where to begin?

First, the 21 (putatively erroneous) references to camels in the Five Books of Moses of course don’t undermine the text’s remaining 79,826 words.

Second, Zionism is based not on the literal truth of every word in every Jewish text, but largely on the more than 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.  

Further, modern Zionism was largely a secular movement.

Finally, though Brown’s assault on Israel’s legitimacy is arguably among the strangest we’ve ever encountered at this blog, we decided to humor him and set out our ‘crack team of researchers’ on a very peculiar mission to see if we were hasty in mocking the Guardian “journalist”.

However, as hard as “they” tried (using the most ‘sophisticated’ research tools), they quite curiously couldn’t find even one single reference to “camels” in Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State, the transcripts from the first to twelfth  Zionist CongressesIsrael’s Declaration of Independence, or Israel’s Basic Law.

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