Christ in a Kaffiyah?

Turning fiction into fact has become a favored pastime of writers and film producers in the Western world. Their books and docu-dramas using names of actual people and historical events as a backdrop for writing fiction or reshaping history consistency exceed the limits of propriety and good taste. The impact would be minimal if the general population possessed a basic understanding of historical truth. This is not the case, however, and for a generation virtually illiterate about the central facts of history, these fictional sorties are accepted as fact. Thus, history is rewritten and revisionists’ purposes are served. This flagrant trodding down of truth and accuracy is, of course, nothing new. It reflects time-honored patterns from other regions of the world where manipulating minds has been honed to an art form.

No better illustration of the phenomenon can be set forth than the current attempt by Palestinians to deJudaize Jesus and turn members of the early Church into Arabs rather than Jews. PLO leader Yassir Arafat and Hanan Ashwari make the absurd claim that they can trace their Arab ancestry to the first Christians—a strange statement indeed, considering the fact that there were no Arabs in the area until the Muslim conquest of the seventh century. Ashwari, spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference, declared last October, “I am a Palestinian Christian. I am a descendent of the first Christians in the world, and Jesus Christ was born in my country, in my land.” Arafat, a Muslim, joins her by saying that the apostle Peter was “a Palestinian who defied Rome.” Such claims reflect the new crusade to Palestinize Jesus and, as was stated in a Jordanian TV production, blame the Jews for murdering Jesus, “the Palestinian prophet.”

Sad to say, there are those who are joining the campaign to place Kaffiyahs on the heads of Jesus and His first-century followers. Their stated aim is to forge a Muslim-Christian alliance against Israel and the Jewish people. The Anglican Church in Jerusalem, for example, has joined with a world Islamic body to call for an international conference on the situation for Christians in the Holy Land. Canon Naim Ateek of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem goes so far as to refuse to acknowledge the Jewishness of the New Testament. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem,” he writes, “grew up in Nazareth, was baptized in the Jordan River … Therefore, the first witnesses to the resurrection were Palestinians; the Church was born in Palestine as the early followers of Jesus were Palestinians. The Palestinian Christians of today are the descendants of those early Christians.”

Unbelievable? To say the very least! One does not need to be an accomplished theologian to discover that the followers of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were Jewish. Just read the Book.

Unbelievable? To say the very least! One does not need to be an accomplished theologian to discover that the followers of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were Jewish. Just read the Book. Palestine did not exist as such in Jesus’ day, nor in the infancy of the Christian Church. There were no Palestinians at that time. The Samaria, Judea, and Galilee familiar to New Testament readers comprised the provinces of the area. Arabs had nothing to do with creating Palestine. Credit the Romans and their Emperor Hadrian for coining that word. And why did he do it? For precisely the same reasons the Arabs and their Christian consorts are sanctifying the word today. The motivation was and is to rewrite history and de-Judaize the region and its people.

For, you see, Hadrian, after defeating the Jews in the Jewish revolt of AD 132–135, aspired to wipe Jewish identity off the face of the landscape. To do so, he resurrected the name of Israel’s notorious enemies, the Philistines, and renamed the area Palestine. So much for those troublesome Jews, he thought.

Does history repeat itself? Of course it does. And we are witnessing the beginning of an upward curve in a perversion of history that may well dwarf the ill fated attempt of the Roman despot who inspired like minded Jew haters of this century. Consequently, we can expect an onslaught of misinformation about how much Christianity has in common with Islam and how Muslims and Christians can live in peace and harmony as pluralistically minded bedfellows in North America. After all, their common roots run back to Arab Palestine and a Kaffiyahed Christ.

Before you believe it, you’d better do a body count on the Christians, Arabs, and others being martyred at this moment in the “holy” name of Islam.

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