Palestinian Christians Remake History
Most Christians, especially westerners think Christians worldwide are pretty much the same. They believe Jesus is the Messiah. Most recognize he was a Jew, and think he became the first Christian.
What many western Christians may be unaware of is in the Middle East there exists a starkly different Christian narrative, which should be of interest to Jews as well.
During the past several decades, as displaced so-called “refugees,” who in fact are ethnic Arabs from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon have been renamed “Palestinians,” a simultaneous makeover has been taking place among Palestinian Christians regarding Christianity and Jesus.
What’s taking place should be disturbing to mainstream Christianity as well as Christian Zionists, who unlike most Christians, recognize the Jewish people have not been replaced as G-d’s covenantal promise holders.
‘Replacement theology’ as it’s called, suggests G-d abandoned the Jewish people after Jesus wasn’t accepted as Messiah, and were replaced by Christians or “the Church.” This anti-Semitic viewpoint cannot be found anywhere in the Christian Bible (New Testament). In fact it’s refuted. Romans 11:1 says “did G-d reject his own people? By no means!” Yet, while replacement theology is troubling, many adherents still acknowledge Jesus was a Jew.
However, in the Middle East Palestinian Christians have come up with something different, albeit still troubling. The common element shared with other Christians is Jesus is viewed as Messiah. From here things take a different path.
During recent years there has been a growing effort to promote the ‘Palestinian’ Church. Within this narrative some traditional understandings have been altered to fit their revisionist effort.
For example, instead of Jesus being seen as a Jew, he has become a ‘Palestinian.’ This is in stark contrast to the view held by most Christians worldwide. Mary, the mother of Jesus has also been remade into a Palestinian.
The Palestinian makeover of Jesus and Mary is shared by Muslims as well, as evidenced by these examples:
“Jesus was the first Palestinian Martyr.” [Fatah TV Dec. 3, 2010]
“Fatah proud of Palestinian Virgin Mary“ [Fatah web site March 8, 2010]
“Palestinians are Jesus’s Descendents” [Official PA Daily May 6, 2013]
Such outrageous claims negate virtually all known historical fact about who Jesus is, and portray him as part of an ancient nation of “Palestinians” that in fact never existed. Their efforts go so far as to alter biblical scripture itself to fit their revisionist agenda.
‘Palestinian’ Version of Ezekiel 37
On March 9, 2012 speaking at a conference in Bethlehem called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” Jack Sara, a Palestinian, and President of Bethlehem Bible College, made a speech. In it he offered a ‘Palestinianized’ version of Ezekiel 37, a well-known piece of scripture about “dry bones,” which has always been widely accepted as referring to Israel and the Jewish people.
Here’s what Sara said- “The hand of the Lord was on me and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of the West Bank – Bethlehem, Jenin and Salvit and Nablus and Ramallah. It was full of bones … He asked me, Son of Man, can these bones live? Can the Palestinian people live?”
For those unfamiliar with the Bible it does not mention “West Bank,” any of these cities, or the “Palestinian people.” His statement is a blatant effort to alter the Bible and promote an anti-Semitic, pro- Palestinian agenda. Those unfamiliar with scripture can easily be deceived by such statements. Revisionist efforts like this are intentionally designed to delegitimize what has been historically accepted as Jewish.
Support From Main Stream Christians
Many western Christian leaders have stood together with the Palestinians in this effort. Indeed, representatives from dozens of mainstream Christian denominations attended the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. Some have embarked on speaking tours with Palestinian Christians, who along with their revisionist agenda, also defend Muslims, referring to them as fellow Arabs sharing a common enemy- Israel.
These same Palestinian Christians suggest the large decline of the Arab Christian population is due to “Israeli checkpoints” and the “occupation.” They conveniently ignore reports which confirm the alarming decline of Christian population has nothing to do with Israel. It’s because of Muslim persecution, and is taking place throughout the entire Muslim world, not just in areas under Israeli authority. At a recent event I personally witnessed such factually incorrect comments made by Sami Awad, Founder of the Holy Land Trust, and a Palestinian Christian. He was touring with Lynne Hybels, wife of Pastor Bill Hybels from Chicago’s Willow Creek Church, which has over 20,000 congregants.
In fairness, a tiny number of Palestinians do not align themselves with this effort. Sadly they have been ostracized by the majority of their fellow Palestinians.
“Tell a Lie Often Enough….”
The emerging partnership between mainstream western Christians and revisionist Palestinian Christians is problematic for more than one reason. Uninformed audiences tend to accept what they hear as true. They in turn share said information with friends, and soon a new “truth” becomes reality. The notorious Nazi Joseph Goebbels once said “if you tell a lie often enough, and keep repeating it, people will believe you.” This is precisely what these revisionists are counting on.
Another concern is Jews have been understandably hesitant to develop close relations with Christians due to their harsh treatment and anti-Jewish views for the past 2 millennia.
However, in recent years efforts to repair these hurts have been made by organizations such as Christians for Israel International, and Christians United for Israel. They have shown strong support for Israel and have gone to great lengths to establish close, non-proselytizing relationships with the Jewish people.
Yet, when Jews see mainstream Christians aligning themselves with a Palestinian effort to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish Bible, the hurt immediately returns and the effort to repair centuries of pain and mistrust by the aforementioned Christian organizations gets undermined.
Palestinians and western Christians associated with the revisionist agenda say they are promoting “peace, justice and reconciliation.” However, how can delegitimizing Israel and the Jewish people, rewriting biblical scripture, and remaking Jesus into a Palestinian exemplify such noble ideals?
Where these ideals are being truly reflected is in the efforts of Christians for Israel International and Christians United for Israel and organizations like them. Let’s work to accomplish true “peace, justice and reconciliation,” and reject the views of those who “tell a lie often enough….”
Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page