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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, December 26, 2013

PLO/Palestinian Authority Revise Christian Tradition to Rewrite the Jews Out of It

The PLO for many years claimed the Jesus revered by Christians as a "Palestinian." The Palestinian Authority that was set up in 1994 continues this tradition. Yet the Christian holy book, the New Testament, repeatedly makes clear that Jesus was a Jew. Indeed, there was no "palestine" on the ground at the time of Jesus. The Romans and Greeks called the whole country Judea, although the Jews themselves called it the Land of Israel. Jews used Judea in a narrow sense [when writing or speaking Greek], referring to the territory of the former Kingdom of Judah wrecked by Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian forces.

What is relevant to the PLO/PA claim that Jesus was a "palestinian" is that the New Testament
itself says that the Bethlehem where Jesus is supposed to have been born is called Bethlehem of Judea [book of Matthew 2:1]. Get that. The NT itself says that Jesus was born in Judea. No mention of  palestine. Apparently, this is a usage of Judea in the narrow Jewish sense referring only to the former kingdom of Judah, not the broad Greco-Roman usage of Judea which referred to the whole country, all of the Land of Israel, roughly speaking. I deduce that from the fact that the same chapter of Matthew calls the country "Land of Israel" twice [2:20-21]. There appears to have been another Bethlehem in the country, Bethlehem of Galilee, although this point is of lesser importance. Be that as it may, in Jesus's time the country was not called "palestine" either by the Jews, the people of the land, or by the Roman Empire or by writers in Greek and Latin. In Jesus' time nobody knew about any so-called "palestinian people."

This is my introduction to an excellent article by Evelyn Gordon on the historical revisionism of the PLO/PA and on the failure of the major Christian churches to object to this denial of their own Christian Scriptures:

Why Do Christians Tolerate  Palestinian Historical Revisionism?
 by Evelyn Gordon

Christmas this year brought the usual spate of Palestinian historical revisionism, including the by-now routine claim that Jesus was a Palestinian. This, as Jonathan Tobin noted, tells us a lot about the Palestinian mindset and prospects for peace. But to me, the most striking aspect of this story is that objections to such historical revision come almost exclusively from Jews, whereas many Christian churches and organizations seem to have no problem with it. After all, it’s not only Jewish history and the Jewish religion Palestinians thereby erase; they are also erasing Christian history and the Christian religion.
What, for instance, becomes of the famous scene of Jesus evicting money-changers from the Temple if, as Palestinian officials claim, the Temple never existed? (They refer to it strictly as “the alleged Temple”; for examples, see here and here.) Or what becomes of Mary’s husband Joseph, who was “of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4), if, as Palestinians claim, the Davidic kingdom never existed?
Even if you want to claim, in defiance of all the evidence, that Jesus himself wasn’t a Jew, his entire story as related in the Gospels takes place in a Jewish state with a largely autonomous Jewish political and religious leadership, albeit subject to some control from the Roman Empire. According to the Gospels, it is this Jewish leadership that arrests and tries Jesus, though the Romans ultimately crucify him. If no Jewish state with the power to arrest and try ever existed (as Palestinians, again, routinely claim; see here or here, for instance), how did this most foundational of all Christian stories ever occur?
Granted, the Christians most sympathetic to this Palestinian revisionism generally represent liberal churches that aren’t wedded to a literal reading of the Bible. Nevertheless, belief in Jesus is ostensibly fundamental even for liberal Christians–and absent the historic Jewish kingdom of the Gospels, there quite literally is no Jesus.
This ties in with a related issue: Many of these same liberal Christian groups have also turned a blind eye to the ongoing slaughter of Christians in Syria and Iraq, the worsening persecution of Christians in Egypt and various other anti-Christian atrocities worldwide, preferring to focus all their energies on vilifying the one Middle Eastern country where, to quote Israeli Arab priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, “We feel secure” as Christians. As I’ve noted before, this contrast between the terrible plight of other Middle Eastern Christians and the safety they enjoy in Israel is increasingly leading Israel’s Arab Christians to rethink their former identification with the state’s opponents; one result is that the number of Arab Christians volunteering for service in the IDF shot up more than 60 percent this year (though given the minuscule starting point, the absolute numbers remain small). But no such rethinking has occurred among anti-Israel Christians in the West.
In short, the leadership of groups like the Church of Scotland or the Presbyterian Church seem prepared to sacrifice both historical Christianity and real live Christians on the altar of their single-minded obsession with undermining the Jewish state. The million-dollar question is how long their rank-and-file memberships will continue tolerating this travesty.

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I differ with Evelyn Gordon on two points:
1-- The Christian New Testament is not part of the Jewish Bible, almost all of it written in Hebrew with much of the books of Daniel and Ezra and some other parts in Aramaic. The Jewish Scriptures are distinct from the Christian Scriptures although the NT repeats parts of the Jewish Scriptures. [The paragraph has been corrected in regard to the Aramaic in the Jewish Bible, 1-4-2014]

2-- There was never a people called "palestinians." Nobody ever heard of such a people  until the 1960s when the notion of a "palestinian people" was introduced to the world by British psychological warfare experts.

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