Are old camel bones really a blow to Zionism?

By Simon Rocker
March 13, 2014

An investigation into ancient camel bones in Israel caused a good deal of excitement recently.

According to the Israeli archaeologists, the remains suggested that camels were domesticated only much later than the time of the patriarchs according to Jewish tradition. Hence the early Bible stories in which camels appear could not be true.

Among those who seized on the findings were Andrew Brown, editor of The Guardian’s online Belief section, who wrote a blog entitled “The Old Testament's made-up camels are a problem for Zionism”.

The strap continued: “The earliest camel bones have been dated at 1,500 years after Genesis – which undermines Zionists' promised land narrative.”

And Brown went on to write: “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.”

But does such research disprove the claims of Zionism? It is one thing to argue against biblical literalism, but another simply to treat the Bible as myth ( a kind of Jewish Odyssey or Aeneid).

According to Professor Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who the Wrote the Bible?, the archaeological record already reveals a wealth of evidence pointing to a continuous Israelite civilisation in the Land of Israel.

Here is the conclusion of a blog he wrote on the subject: “ We can (and do) have a million arguments about almost every aspect of the Bible. But what we cannot deny is the existence of the world that produced it. That fact is not true just because the Bible says so. It is true because practically everything says so.

“We don’t all agree on matters relating to the present politics of Israel and its neighbors. That’s OK. It’s even healthy. But let no one repeat this nonsense about Israel not having its historical roots there. One cannot understand the Jews or Israel if one displaces the first 1,000 years of their history.”



Thu, 03/13/2014 - 14:21

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this knockout-blow to the jewish narrative is in stark contrast to the achievement of modern palestinian scholarship which irrefutably shows that palestinians are descended from the canaanites and the *natufians (and not from the ishmaelites)

this breakthrough in the palestinian narrative, already familiar to all palestinians from their school history books, was announced to the west by veteran palestinian chief negotiator saeb erekat in a recent bbc hardtalk programme (at 09:25):
(if you missed it, available until 19/2/2015 at

"My narrative is that I'm the son of Jericho, I'm the proud son of Jericho: my home town this year is ten thousand years old.
The *Natufians built this town, I'm their ancestor [descendant], I'm their grandchild. I'm the grandchild of the Canaanites, it's my narrative, it's my story, it's my history, it's my religion.
I was here thousands of year before Joshua ben Nun came and burnt my home town town Jericho. So why should I say Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people?"

(* wikipedia: "The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 13,000 to 9,800 B.C. in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean.")
of course, in those days, camels were so small that they could pass through the eye of a needle …
so their bones are notoriously difficult to find!


Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:24

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Rolling Stones to play in Israel with a minimum ticket price of 645 shekels (about £112) a pop. That's more than what they wanted for their O2 show last year. That's British prices on Israeli salaries (about 2/3). Forget BDS, the Israeli public should boycott this extortion!


Wed, 03/26/2014 - 13:33

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joemillis1959: Rolling Stones to play in Israel with a minimum ticket price of 645 shekels (about £112) a pop. … Forget BDS, the Israeli public should boycott this extortion!

compared with daily prices (28th dec - 1st january), that's actualy quite reasonable!

hmm … i wonder which one will attract more rabbis?

(but what have the rolling stones got to do with old camel bones?? )


Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:02

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Apropos of Erekat's very modern Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian nationalist narrative, if he is allegedly a genetic Canaanite, only Israelis today speak any dialect of Canaanite, which is what Hebrew is, derived from the Hebrew, Jewish tradition, which is the only indigenous tradition and narrative that the Canaanites of Palestine actually came up with and which survived, of which, ironically, both Christianity and Islam are memetic offshoots, including Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.


Fri, 04/11/2014 - 18:48

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Err... Macairt, since Hebrew and Arabic are both from the same language family - Semitic - both are related to Canaanite.


Mon, 04/14/2014 - 09:06

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joemillis1959: … since Hebrew and Arabic are both from the same language family - Semitic - both are related to Canaanite.

yes, hebrew is one of the canaanite languages, which are among the northwest semitic languages, while arabic is either central semitic or south semitic … all part of one happy family! , see and

Macairt: … only Israelis today speak any dialect of Canaanite …

macairt, i fail to see what language has to do with it … language often has nothing to do with ethnicity (eg post-exilic jews spoke aramaic, not hebrew), and little to do with culture

(moreover, the adoption of hebrew into jewish culture (after almost three thousand years of aramaic etc) pre-dated the new palestinian narrative by only a few decades!)

the simple fact is that the new palestinian schoolbook narrative is perversely contrary to the narrative of all other arab cultures, which (like the jews) claim zero ethnic or cultural connection to the philistines and the canaanites! )

the rest of your post, i don't really understand

nor do i understand why you have commented on the narrative at all, when surely merely quoting it (as i did) is scathing enough!


Fri, 04/25/2014 - 11:32

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Fri, 04/25/2014 - 18:03

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suzanna: Isreal will try anything to provoke another war:

why do racists write headlines that are totally unsupported by the associated text?

suzanna, you should be writing for the daily mail!


suzanna, linking to webpages with titles such as 'SodaStream "treats us like slaves," says Palestinian factory worker (Electronic Intifada)', really doesn't help the racist boycott movement!


Fri, 04/25/2014 - 18:58

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This year's Limmud in the Woods will take place at Horley Scout Camp, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, between 21-25 August.

Limmud in the Woods is a return to nature. The under-canvas festival is packed with music, learning, art, eco-consciousness and outdoor adventures, for the young and not-so-young.

It’s a place where you can explore, learn, dance, discover, eat (we’ll try not to have too many jacket potatoes), laugh, challenge yourself and others, connect – or just be.

When you book your place, you’ll be asked to give your preferences of where you would like to volunteer, because volunteering is what Limmud’s about. So we are asking everyone who comes to give just 4 hours of their time over the weekend to help to make this exciting event happen. Of course, if you like being involved you can always do more! We won’t complain.

For full information and updates, go to and watch out for some super surprises!

And don’t forget to follow LitW on Facebook and Twitter @Limmud_Woods

See you there!


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