Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Um No, Jesus Was Not A Palestinian

Just your average typical Christian theme park in Mallorca:
With a cast of extras in the costumes of Romans and early Palestinians, the park advertises itself as "a place where everyone can learn about the origins of spirituality". Visitors include tourists and groups of young roman Catholics studying for their first communion. [emphasis added]
'Early Palestinians'? How did that get in their? Can there ever be any mention of that part of the Middle East without politics poking its way in?

I knew that Jesus was Jewish--now he was a Palestinian too?
That would be some trick, considering that the name "Palestina" that the Romans gave the area did not happen until later, about 135CE.


Perhaps the first to co-opt Jesus for the Palestinian cause is Yasser Arafat, who invented the idea of a Palestinian people to begin with. According to Bat Yeor in The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam, during a September 2, 1982 press conference at the UN, Yasser Arafat stated that:
Jesus Christ was the first Palestinian fedayeen who carried his sword along the path on which the Palestinians today carry their cross.[quoted in Wikipedia; hat tip: Brian of London]
But distorting history is not new--take Hanan Ashrawi, for instance.
Soccer Dad writes about another attempt to distort history--in an article from The Washington Post in November 4, 1991:
It is a fawning and unquestioning profile of Hannan Ashrawi by Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post and it displays the built in biases of much of the MSM when dealing with the Middle East:
As spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation at the Middle East peace conference here, the 45-year-old Ashrawi has been arguing that case with a composure, conciseness and clarity long missing in the bitter Palestinian-Israeli dispute. In the process, she has left many of the outworn cliches and taboos surrounding this conflict cut to ribbons.

Take, for example, the man who rose at Friday's press conference to confront her. A representative of an American Christian broadcasting outlet, he said he "didn't understand" how Ashrawi could ask Israel "to exchange land for peace," because "when Judea and Samaria were in the hands of the Arab world, Israel was attacked three times."

"First of all, I find your reference to 'Judea and Samaria' a statement of extreme bias, and rather offensive," Ashrawi replied, homing in on his use of the biblical names for the occupied West Bank that echoes the Israeli government's religion-based claim to the land where Ashrawi lives and where the Palestinians hope someday to have an independent state. "I am a Palestinian Christian, and I know what Christianity is. I am a descendant of the first Christians in the world, and Jesus Christ was born in my country, in my land. Bethlehem is a Palestinian town. So I will not accept this one-upmanship on Christianity. Nobody has the monopoly." [emphasis added]

After dismissing the man's challenge with a deft mini-dissertation, she ended with: "Are there any serious questions?"
Soccer Dad notes that with all of her gushing, Murphy had forgotten one thing--to do her job:
There is, of course, a striking problem with this "deft mini-dissertation." What would Jesus have called the areas in question? He almost certainly wouldn't have called them Palestine! Most likely he would have referred to them as Judea and Samaria, the biblical names of the places. But Murphy was so enamored of the put down of someone sympathetic to Israel, she didn't bother to note that Ashrawi's response was seriously and historically wrong.
Along those lines, he quotes My Right Word on the usage of Judea and Samaria who observes:
While Judea and Samaria appear extensively in the Bible as well as the New Testament (Acts 8:1, for example), they were terms used by the British during their Mandate period 1920-1948 and by the United Nations in its Partition Resolution 181 (Part II, Para. A).
As a further indication of Ashrawi's wrongheaded rant, read Elliot A. Green's What Did Rome Call The Land of Israel -- & Where Were Its Borders?. Long after the name of the land was changed to Palestine, the Romans themselves still recognized the name 'Palestine' as a later accretion:
Despite the official change in name, Greek and Latin writers after Hadrian (i.e., Ptolemy the Geographer, Dio Cassius [cf. LV:23; LXIX:13:1 & 14:2], and Eusebius) continued to use Judea along with Palestine. Judea was sometimes used officially by Rome even after Hadrian. Eusebius, writing around 300 CE, summarizes the changes of name:
"... Hebrews... inhabited the neighboring country to Phoenicia, which itself was called Phoenicia in old times, but afterwards Judaea, and in our time, Palestine."(19)
If anything, Arafat, Ashrawi and other Arab spokespeople are not descendants of 'early Palestinians'--but rather of the Romans, in using the word Palestine to delegitimize Israel.

Hat tip: Mere Rhetoric

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