David Nabhan
David Nabhan
Tectonic Shifts

The New Canaanites—Guess Who?

Walls of the ancient Canaanite city, Jericho, captured by Joshua (Library of Congress)

There is nothing that pleases far-left anti-Israel boycotters promoting disinvestment and sanctions against the Jewish state more than finding something foundational in Judaism susceptible to being hijacked, dismissed, or held up for derision. Moses, for instance, has long since joined Jesus Christ, the icon of another Western tradition they despise, Christianity, as “fictional.” Abraham, they also assert with surety, never existed either.

The anti-Israelis—always holding up a finger to protest perfunctorily that they’re certainly not anti-Semites as well—revel nonetheless in exposing sections of the Torah which seem to plagiarize other and earlier sources. The great flood story, for example, is found more than a millennium before the Bible in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Likewise, Sargon’s birth legend—complete with baby in reed basket set adrift in the river—predates Moses’ by many centuries. On a positive note however, if it weren’t for these forays into the ancient texts desperately searching for perplexing and potentially embarrassing disconnects, it’s doubtful the sacred writ of Judaism and Christianity would ever be perused by these particular investigators.

And concerning those peoples who were the rivals and enemies of the ancient Israelites, the absolute reverse is to be seen. The Canaanites, the original and true possessors of Israel, must have been a good and decent people if Jews were their adversaries, or so it must certainly seem to manic demonstrators screaming “from the river to the sea!”

Canaanite culture of divination, witchcraft, pederasty, incest, child sacrifice and all the rest is now seen by modern progressives as propagandistic slander created by Jewish conquerors. It should be definitely put to the side, they advise, that the very first mention of Canaanites comes in 1800 BC with the king of Mari complaining about “thieves and Canaanites” in the same breath. And with regard to the Philistines, whose very name now means “uncouth,” the same sadly can be said. These weren’t coarse barbarians, assure activists burning Israeli flags in the street, but instead a refined and polished people also defamed by Jewish misinformation.

“We are the Canaanites,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2019. Unfortunately for politicians who can be Canaanites on Monday and Trobriand Islanders on Tuesday if the wind blows that way, there are some recent scientific studies that shed light on who might have the right to call themselves that. Collaborative DNA collection efforts upon scores of ancient remains at Canaanite sites across Israel and Jordan, conducted by teams of researchers from  Harvard University, Hebrew University, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and others between 2017 and 2020, have identified the modern-day Canaanites: they’re called “Lebanese.” A study of remains from the coastal town of Sidon showed that modern Lebanese can trace more than 90 percent of their genetic ancestry to Canaanites.

If the Lebanese are to be the resurrected “Canaanites” the world might cross its collective fingers and hope that as they retake their long-lost homeland—in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank—that those unhappy, depressed, anchorless, corrupt, riot-torn corners of the Earth can after three-quarters of a century of abject and outrageous mismanagement by Palestinians be somehow brought back to life.

Let’s give the Lebanese, or Canaanites, or whoever or whatever they care to call themselves a shot at bringing peace finally to the Middle East. After seventy-five years of blundering, tail-chasing discord it may be time for the Palestinians to vacate the stage and give another party a chance.

About the Author
David Nabhan is a science and science fiction writer. He is the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three other books on seismic forecasting.
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