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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39 replies »

  1. “Scientists have proved that the camels in the story of Abraham and Isaac are a fiction” says the caption under the illustration that was chosen for this article.

    There are no camels in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac:

    22″ After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy[a] will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.”

    Just an example of the over eagerness of the author to read what is not even there.

    • Noga, I think you misread. It doesn’t mean only the sacrifice story. Try Genesis 24:10 And the servant took ten camels, of the camels of his master, and departed; having all goodly things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose, and went to Aram-naharaim, unto the city of Nahor.and verse 63-64 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel.

  2. Presumably Andrew Brown believed that the Bible was the literal truth up to now and his faith was shattered by the discovery that Abraham didn’t have a pet camel.

    It seems that he believes that people lived for hundreds of years as the Bible says and that Sarah conceived at the age of ninety. They must have such fun arguing religion at Guardian meetings.

  3. Scientists have proved that the camels in the story of Abraham and Isaac are a fiction
    Scientists have proved that that the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction.
    Scientist have proved that the virgin birth of Jesus is a fiction.
    Scientists have proved that Mohamed’s travel to Jerusalem and back to Mecca is a fiction.
    All of the four above mentioned scientific achievements have one common aspects: – they have no connection at all to modern Zionism and Israel.
    BTW scientists didn’t prove that these famous camels are fiction, they didn’t find any evidence of their existence. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist.
    The history recounted in the Bible is a huge part of the mythology of modern Zionism.
    Modern Zionism has nothing to do with the camels of Abraham but everything to do with European antisemitism so perfectly represented by Andrew Brown and the Guardian. The founding fathers of modern Zionists living in the Pale of Settlements of czarist Russia or Theodor Herzl in the courtroom of the Dreyfuss trial were concerned with the impossibility of continuing Jewish existence without re-establishing an independent Jewish state. I refuse to believe that today there is a mainstream media source in Europe giving forum this kind of absolute and total bullshit proving the author’s unbelievable ignorance of the subject of his article. His opus in the Guardian must be a Mossad/Cifwatch false flag operation.

  4. Andrew Brown “ponders” a connection between camels and Judaism?

    The man lacks the intellect to ponder anything.

  5. The thought that the Old Testament is part of modern Zionism is so amazingly idiotic, that I couldn’t resist – tried to find it’s roots on the net. Took only ten seconds to find one of Brown’s sources –
    The Bible Is the Blueprint for Modern Zionism
    The description of this less tan venerable website in Wikipedia:

    Jeff Rense is an American conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine woo-peddler who resembles something close to an aging hybrid of John Stossel and Michael Bolton. He is the proprietor of the website and has his own show on satellite radio, making him something of a poor man’s Alex Jones. Topics covered include the New World Order, 9/11 conspiracy theories, UFOs, Holocaust denial, Jewish conspiracy theories, Big Pharma conspiracies, AIDS denial (Rense’s single book is entitled AIDS Exposed), and much more. The crank factor of Rense’s show and site rates fairly close to
    Rense is not as loath as many of his conspiracist brethren to let his anti-Semitism shine through. His site contains a disclaimer that he does not endorse anti-Semitism and he has used the tired excuse of not being against the Jews, but opposed to the Zionists in his explanation of his position on this issue. Naturally, this is all while he and his site’s contributors spew all the usual anti-Semitic canards. In addition to its hosting of just about every conspiracy theory on the black helicopter and militia circuit, the site commonly features “artwork” by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Dees, as well as cross-postings and links to anti-Semitic and white supremacist hate sites.
    Rense has featured notorious neo-Nazi crank Ernst Zündel on his show and features copious amounts of material supportive of him. Rense has also given a platform to white supremacist and Holocaust denier Ted Pike, who believes that Auschwitz never existed.

    Congratulations Andrew Brown and the Guardian – you successfully found your real spiritual and ideological brothers.

    Brown’s allegation –
    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.
    – must be the most idiotic statement on religion uttered in this century. Taking into account that the a most pre-Islamic events described in the Koran have been taken from the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) this comparison of the lack of historical evidence is simply a logical somersault that only really serious, loyal and committed Jew-haters are able to perform. Someone should disclose the the fact – really well known for centuries – to Brown the “belief” expert – that religions are not based on historical evidence but on the very idea of his expertise – belief.

  6. Never ending anti-Semitism, however well disguised, that´s what he proves by connecting the camel saga and the Tanakh to the founding of Israel and Zionism.

    • More precisely, the way how he blends scientific findings, the Tanakh and the founding of Israel, is the main road to anti-Semitism.

  7. Another interesting point is that AB seems to accept that there was a Babylonian captivity. If so, where were these people exiled from? And doesn’t that demonstrate a 2,700 year link with the land, irrespective of the domestic status of the camels….

  8. I read some time ago about scientific research (archaelogical and literary sources) showing that camels were not domesticated in the region until 1500-2000 BC. The only point in the Tanakh that would disprove is the cummulative ages of the patriachs (and subsequent backdating) – but who believes that Abraham lived until 175 anyway?

    So my first thought was pretty much what the first poster (Damntheral) said:

    “the idea that something wasn’t there because we haven’t found its fossils seems a little dubious.”

    And as for the “problem” the camel bones supposedly pose – again I’m wondering exactly what definition of “Zionism” is meant by Brown.

  9. It would be easier for Andrew Brown to pass through the eye of a needle than to give up the bogus claims of the so-called Palestinians.

    • How much thought do we think Andrew Brown put into this to begin with?
      It’s pretty obvious that the trip wire is where his “research” meets up with his prejudice and no need to go any further.
      The man’s as looney as a tune and as mad as a hatter.

  10. hybridartifacts leftofright

    14 February 2014 7:31pm

    You make a good point – so is there evidence of domestication of Camels in some of those cultures? I thought I would take a stab at answering this for you…

    A Sumerian text from the Old Babylonian period, ca. 1950 – 1530 B.C
    found at Nippur describes the use of camels milk, and they are listed along with domesticated animals in a text from Ugarit in a Sumerian text from 1950 – 1600 BC. (Archer, Gleason, 1970, “ Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Abraham to Moses” and Davis, John J., 1986 “The Camel in Biblical Narratives,” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer: Essays on the Old Testament)

    There is a rock carving near Aswan and Gezireh showing a man leading a camel by a rope dated to the 6th Dynasty of Egypt, ca. 2345 – 2181 B.C by the patina, an inscription with it and the style of the petroglyph suggesting the camel may have been domesticated in Egypt as early ca. 2200 B.C (Michael Ripinsky, 1985, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 71) – but there is also evidence for an earlier date – the 1st Dynasty (ca. 3100 –  2890 BC). A ointment vessel in the form of a recumbent camel was found in a tomb of that period and Frederick Zeuner (a key figure in early research into animal domestication) thought it was carrying a load. (F.E.Zeuner, A History of Domesticated Animals(New York,I963)
    There are also Some Early Bronze Age finds of clay camels attached to miniature clay carts suggesting they were domesticated in Southern Turkmenistan by the early 3rd millennium BC.

    There is the Black obelisk of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858-824), which shows a man leading camel, but this is much later than the evidence mentioned previously. There is also a stone panel in the British Museum from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal showing camels used as steeds by Assyrian troops but thats from around 645 BC.

    The problem with the earlier instances of archaeological finds is that they are debatable – are they wild animals being led or properly domesticated ones, are they actually carrying loads, are they even actually camels, and are early texts commenting on camel milk a reliable inference of them also being used as beats of burden? Personally I think the best evidence is that Ugaritic text that lists camels alongside other animals we know were domesticated – why else would it appear in a list of domestic animals if it were not also domesticated? Especially since the word employed for it is one of two terms employed at the time – one means ‘of the road/caravan’ and the other ‘of the mountain’. Why refer to it as ‘of the road/caravan’ if it is not a domesticated animal used by caravans on the road?

    There is an implication that the Bactrian camel was domesticated before the dromedary and may have been used by the middle of the 3rd
    millennium or earlier. It seems to have reached the Mesopotamian peoples by the middle of the 3rd millennium and perhaps been more common by the end of the 3rd or 2nd millennium.

    The references to Camels in Genesis may be anachronistic not because they were not domesticated by then in the area, but because they were not commonly used in the area at the time or because their use was sporadic or short lived – there is a strong suggestion that later on they were not used at all (especially as they came to be seen as unclean). There is a difference between sporadic and limited use and widespread and frequent use and surely that would affect any archaeological finds? Its quite possible (even probable) that the investigation of camel bones described in the article shows they were not in common use in the area as beats of burden – but that does not necessarily mean they were never used as such. Zooarchaeological evidence does seem to be at odds with some other archaeological evidence, and I suspect there may be a bit of specialisation blindness at work here – its very easy for specialists to see only the evidence from their own field as being truly significant and to overlook other evidence or see it as less relevant, and coupled with that everyone wants their work to be really significant in itself and this can lead to overstating it.

    Often with ancient history the sensible answer is that actually we don’t really know for certain.

  11. The Guardian’s anti-zionist antics become weeeirder and weeeirder still (and actually, involuntarily, very funny). I love the dissection of Brown’s ‘logical’ argument. That man really is beside himself, that is my conclusion, at least. – Brown should get a good kicking from a camel, maybe that would help!

  12. Brown should read the Camel entry in the latest edition of the Oxford Campanion to Archaeology, edited by the ‘Zionist’ Niels Asher Silberman, author of such ‘Zionist’ classics as Digging for God and Country: Exploration, Archeology, and the Secret Struggle for the Holy Land and The Bible Unearthed.

    The entry-author, Hamilton-Dryer, writes the camel was likely first domesticated between 3000 and 2500 BCE.

    I wish I had been able to write this in the comments in time.

    A radiocarbon date of 8200 BP has been obtained on a dromedary mandible excavated from a shell midden on the southern Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. The midden itself dates from about 3300-3000BP. The calibrated date of the mandible is c. 7100–7200 BC.

    and this;-
    As a result of the aforementioned data, many archaeologists now believe the domestication of the camel occurred sometime in the 3rd millennium B.C. Scarre states an early domestication date for both species of camel, writing that “both the dromedary (the one-humped camel of Arabia) and the Bactrian camel (the two-humped camel of Central Asia) had been domesticated since before 2000 BC.”40
    Other scholars, such as Saggs, also agree with an early camel domestication date by “proto-Arabs” of the arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula. Macdonald’s research in southeast Arabia has apparently revealed more evidence. According to him, camels were probably first domesticated for milk, hair, leather, and meat, and subsequently travel across previously impassible regions in Arabia as early as the 3rd millennium B.C. For those who adhere to a 12th century B.C. or later theory of domestic camel use in the ancient Near East, a great deal of archaeological and textual evidence must be either ignored or explained away.,d.Yms

  14. Andrew Brown’s fatuous ramblings show how desperate the Guardian is to pursue it’s propaganda campaign against Israel.

    They must have some really powerful motive for putting god-awful crap like this on their site. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were antisemitic.

  15. Interesting – because archaeologists haven’t found something from over 3,000 years ago – proves somehow that it never happened? Those archaeologists also have not be able to prove the Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy – so that must mean that either Kennedy is alive or never lived.

    Lack of evidence does not prove a damn thing

  16. I hate to take this jerk Brown seriously but anyhow:
    1– the archeologists in questions for camels at one site and did not find camel bones there. That is one site and may not represent all other sites in the Levant region.

    2– Here is a quote from Brown as above:

    “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.”

    The stories of the Patriarchs are supposed to have taken place between ca. -2000 and -1800 (BCE), not 1500 years before 950 BCE, which is 2450 BCE. Doesn’t Brown know that?

    by the way, a different archeologist at Tel Aviv U, Israel Finkelstein, himself notorious as skeptic toward the Bible, examined animal bones at various sites inhabited by humans in the Land of Israel. He and his team found differences between the bones in the deposits in the mountains of Judah and Shomron, Judea-Samaria, for the middle of the 2nd millennium, and the bones in deposits in the lowlands. They found no or almost no swine bones in the mountain deposits whereas they found plenty of swine bones in the lowland deposits. Since this study was based on many sites, the findings indicate that the inhabitants of the mountains did not eat pork. Which goes to support the account in the Bible that the Israelites in the country, in the mountains, of the period after Joshua’s conquest did not eat pork.

  17. It’s late and I see that I made a mistake in my point no. 1 above. It should read: The archeologists in question WERE LOOKING for camels at one site OR A GROUP OF SITES IN A RELATIVELY SMALL AREA, THE ARAVA, NOT THE WHOLE LEVANT.

  18. [Auswurf der Menschheit, aber große Meister im Lügen].
    [literally: “and were therefore regarded as cattle, scum of the earth, but also great masters in lying”]