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“Jesus was the first Palestinian martyr.” –Yasser Arafat

A few months back Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren penned an article titled, “Israel and the plight of Palestinian Christians,” in which he attempted to manipulate the reality of Christians in the Holy Land. Oren’s article came on the heels of an Islamophobic screed by Ayaan H. Ali in Newsweek titled, “The War on Christians.”

Also, today, Bob Simon of 60 minutes will be reporting on the “slow exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.”

As the birthplace of Christianity, Palestine is home to the oldest Christian populations in the world. But after centuries of continuous presence in the Holy Land, the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948 precipitated a quiet exodus of native Christians.

Although Christian opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been mixed in Western countries, many evangelicals have been blind to the plight of  Palestinians in favor of Israeli hardliners. Though their unconditional support for Israel can be attributed to many factors, the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” can at least in part be traced to concerted outreach efforts on behalf of Israel–bolstered by negative portrayals of the Palestinian people, and an absence of their narrative.

Christian Palestinian groups like Sabeel Center and Al-Bushra have had an on-line presence for years, but they were not widely known outside the Middle East. Recently, Palestinian Christians reached out to the global community with the launch of the Kairos Palestine Document, modeled after the South African Kairos Document published in 1985 as part of a successful effort to abolish Apartheid:

This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God.

We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land.

Also, last month in the West Bank city of  Christ’s birth, the Bethlehem Bible College  held an annual conference under the banner, “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Hundreds of Christians from around the world attended, and organizers hailed the event as, “a major breakthrough in the evangelical world.”

While Palestinian Christians have so far reached only a small minority of their Western counterparts, their apparent success has captured the attention of Israel’s increasingly worried supporters.

Christians for Palestine

By Lee SmithTablet

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.

Last month, a conference convened in Bethlehem by Palestinian activists and Christian clergy long at odds with the Jewish state managed to bring a number of leading lights from the evangelical community in North America and Europe to the Holy Land. Many of the speeches at the conference touched on themes that one would commonly hear at a BDS teach-in, like blaming the entire Middle East conflict on Israel’s occupation and the settlements.

Indeed, the name of the conference, Christ at the Checkpoint, is indicative of the different direction this segment of the evangelical movement is heading toward. The idea is that evangelicals should rethink their support for a state that occupies another people and oppresses them. Once they get the full story, conference organizers hope, Western evangelicals may find they have more in common with the downtrodden Palestinians than with the Israelis.

To pro-Israel evangelicals and Zionists who were paying attention, Christ at the Checkpoint was a wake-up call. The larger trend, which for want of a better phrase might be called the pro-Palestinian evangelical movement and is indeed spearheaded by Palestinian Christians, is already changing minds. Giving them momentum are money raised in the United States, theology, and perhaps most important of all, a movie. The documentary film With God on Our Side is leaving many former pro-Israel evangelicals wondering why they never heard the Palestinian side of the story.

Many friends of Israel, as well as Israelis, have long been concerned that evangelical support is premised largely on self-interest of an especially macabre nature. Israel, in this reading, is ground zero for the apocalypse: Before Christ can return to Earth, the Jews must return to Israel and the Temple must be restored, ushering in first a time of tribulation and then a reign of peace.

Of course, the apocalypse and Christ’s return is not the only justification for Christian support of Israel. Indeed, this end-time scenario embarrasses some evangelicals whose support is premised on the idea that God keeps his promises, not only to Christians but also to Jews, to whom God pledged the land of Israel. This conviction is further buttressed by a sense of historical responsibility, specifically to stand with the Jews and atone for the failure of Christians during the Holocaust to save the nation that gave them their savior.

Though the vast majority of evangelicals still maintain that support, for the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948, there is an increasingly heated debate in the evangelical community that may augur a shift in the political winds. And if the Christ at the Checkpoint camp wins out, the pro-Israel Jewish community that once looked warily upon evangelical support may come to regard that movement with nostalgia.

***

“The debate in the Jewish community should not be about whether or not to be comfortable with Christian support for Israel,” David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, told me last week. “Christians are going to be involved in the issue whether we are comfortable or not. The question is whether they’re going to be on Israel’s side or not.”

Christians United for Israel is the United States’ largest and best-known Christian Zionist organization. Founded in 2006 by John Hagee, pastor of the CornerStone Church in San Antonio, Texas, CUFI boasts over a million members. Hagee has found himself in the middle of political controversy in the past—most recently during John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign when his statements regarding the Holocaust were misinterpreted and McCain rejected his support. (Hagee declined to comment for this article.)

John Hagee

Hagee and other figures base support for the Jewish state on biblical foundations, specifically on Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” The message is clear: Those who support Israel will be rewarded by God. But pro-Israel evangelicals have sent their flock out into the field vulnerable—that is, without an account of the conflict that besets the citizens of the present-day homeland of the Jews. Armed only with a biblical defense of the Jewish state, evangelicals are unprepared to justify it on political grounds.

This gap has made room for people across the cultural and ideological spectrum—whose motivations run the gamut from genuine compassion for Palestinians to anti-Semitism—to fill the space with their own interpretations of contemporary Middle East history. Not surprisingly, many of these narratives tend to be drawn from precincts of the left, like the BDS movement, that are known for their hostility to the Jewish state. What is peculiar is that these accounts are being entertained and sometimes embraced in evangelical churches, Bible schools, and Christian colleges that are not typically known for their progressive politics.

It wasn’t difficult for these Christian critics of Israel to find a weak link in the Christian Zionist narrative—it’s the ethical morass inherent in the formulation of Genesis 12:3. The children of the Bible, Christians as well as Jews, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are therefore born with individual dignity. But if people of faith are supposed to bless Israel because they’ll be blessed in return, then they are treating others, Jews and Arabs, not as individuals but rather as instruments in their own spiritual drama.

You can’t treat people as chess pieces, says Porter Speakman Jr., the 40-year-old director of With God on Our Side. This 82-minute-long documentary, which premiered in 2010 and is now being shown at churches and college campuses, has had a major role in tilting evangelical opinion, especially among young people, against Israel. Speakman told me in a phone interview that isn’t aim isn’t to “delegitimize Israel, but to be critical of policies that are having an effect on real people’s lives.”

“I grew up in a Christian home in the south, where not to support Israel was to go against God,” Speakman told me. He said he made the film in order to explore a question that he thinks has been missing from the conversation in the evangelical community. That is: “What are the consequences of my beliefs and my theology for real people living on the ground?”

With God on Our Side follows the intellectual odyssey of Christopher Harrell, a twenty-something recent film-school graduate, who is trying to come to grips with the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very different story from the Bible-based injunctions that formed his spiritual life as a child. The film’s narrative trajectory starts with Harrell’s parents, who he recalls once celebrated Passover—“I’m not sure why we did that. We’re not Jewish. We’re just this normal American Midwestern family”—and who support Israel because that’s “just what everyone did.” The film moves then to a series of interviews with figures in the evangelical community known for their animus toward Zionism, like Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer, and writers outside the evangelical milieu whose reputation rests on their hostility to Israel, like Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein.

These interviews challenge the mainstream evangelical narrative with well-worn accusations typical of BDSers. For instance, the Israeli occupation, says one South African evangelical, is “apartheid on steroids.”

“Growing up,” Speakman said of his childhood, “there was never a choice, you were supposed to love and support Israel. That meant following Genesis 12 as well as a fulfillment of endtime prophecies. But does supporting Israel mean supporting all of Israel’s geopolitical decisions?”

Speakman, who lived in Israel with his wife from 1998 until 2003, said that he thinks the role of Christians is to support both Jews and Arabs in their search for a solution. But some critics of his documentary think that the film goes much further. They see it as making the case that evangelicals have taken the wrong side—favoring a nation inhabited by those who rejected Jesus as their savior rather than the Christian communities that have existed in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. The issue is that key segments of the Palestinian Christian community have a vested political interest in delegitimizing Zionism—a fact that Speakman and other Western activists in the evangelical community may or may not be aware of.

Among the Palestinian outfits leading the campaign critical of Israel is the Bethlehem Bible College, which organized Christ at the Checkpoint, for which Speakman served as a media coordinator. The most prominent and active organization is the Jerusalem-based Sabeel, headed by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek. Its American branch, Friends of Sabeel North America, is based in Portland, Ore., and raises money for its Jerusalem affiliate.

“Sabeel is nakedly hostile to Israel,” Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, told me in an interview. In an article on Sabeel and Ateek published last week, Van Zile quotes the clergyman at length, including this peculiar admission: “From my perspective as a Palestinian Christian, Zionism is a step backward in the development of Judaism.”

***

According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.

“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”

In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.

But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”

The unpleasant reality is that Christian anti-Semitism has as much, if not more, theological justification as Christian support for Israel. Compared to two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating with the Holocaust, one biblical verse is a pretty thin thread on which to hang support of the Jewish state.

Neal says that he believes Christian love of Israel is premised on Genesis 12:3 and on Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will enter into judgement with them there for my people, my heritage Israel.”

“We are supposed to love what God loves,” Neal said. “We consider ourselves ambassadors of Christ. For centuries, Christians abused and abandoned the apple of God’s eye, and we are not going to let that happen again on our watch.”

But as CUFI pushes Genesis and Joel, the Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is focused exclusively on Palestinians’ distress and apparently ignoring history. CAMERA’s Van Zile, who attended last month’s conference, noted that nowhere in the pro-Palestinian evangelical narrative is there any account of Jewish persecution. “I’ve heard moving testimony about Palestinian suffering. But they don’t acknowledge Muslim anti-Semitism. They don’t talk about Palestinian leadership, or how it’s abused the Palestinian community. There’s no account of Hamas in their story about Israel.”

********

John Hagee of the rabid Zionist Christians United for Israel, trying to drag the US into a war with Iran:

 

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  • Baba Haba

    Do you know that pre-1948, It was one land which was called Palestine, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live, and its Capital was only one Jerusalem (Al-Quds), which was neither eastern nor western?Do you know that the first wave of Jewish immigrants to Palestine was sponsored by Hovevei Zion. This wave brought about 35,000 immigrants during the period 1882-1903. Almost half of them left within several years of their arrival. The number of Jews living in Palestine before 1882 was no more than 8000?Do you know that about 40,000 Jews immigrated between 1904 and 1914. As with the first wave, half of them left in later years. This 2nd wave included a number of Socialist Zionists. Prominent among them were Ben Gurion, who became the first Israeli Prime Minister and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, the second President of Israel?Do you know that another 150,000 illegal Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived in Palestine during the period 1939-1948?Do you know that between 1949 and 1951 more than 600,000 immigrants arrived, among them were fewer than 2,000 American Jews. Most of the new immigrants came from new sources.Do you know that the origin of immigrants don’t belong to Palestine as their origins like Falashas and Ashkenazi Jews whose origin came from Africa specially Ethiopia ,and Europe?Do you know that all these steps were just to change the identity of Palestine?

  • Alexandra

    All persons interested in Israel and Jews should Google “Do Christian Zionist Authors Push Their Agenda Through Lies and Plagiarism?”
    (Warning: Christian Zionists will not be provided with shock absorbers!)

  • Géji

    AJ Says: “Geji probably lost a little patience here but I like her/his attitude a lot – clear, concise, eloquent and unapologetic.”

    @AJ, to tell you the truth, as far as goes my “sharp” replies on this thread regarding this topic, was not due to lost of patience at all. But instead if anything, was due to the fact I was very surprised a bit in disgusted fashion, giving the specific topic she’d choose to addressed out-of-all the article in her post on the very first comment section of this thread, was the shortness without providing any bit further explanation as to why, of Ms HGG clueless blank rejection of Yasser Arafat’s statement of -“Jesus was the first Palestinian martyr” – by replying – “No, He [sic] wasn’t” – which as you can see lack a bit clarification as to why “He wasn’t”. And mind you, I wasn’t the only poster to took note of this. So giving the lack of clarity, I took it as simply her denying Palestinian’s connection to Jesus of Nazareth, and thus maybe by extension their historic connection to the land. And which by the way, still even though she pointed her nose again in this thread to rant, in response, haven’t give any clarification whatsoever why she was rejecting Arafat’s statement, choosing instead to excitedly rant like a cat in heat, about what she falsely perceive being “my-bad-ass-behavior” style of reply of my posts towards her, completely avoiding to answer the main bone of the topic at hand. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I witnessed ms HGG dropping such shapeless, idiotic short statements that gives open to misreading for lack of their clarity, all the while when those nonsensical statements are addressed by posters, only to re-point her nose to rant zig-zaging around, incapably of addressing what she was called for in the first place, with the utmost obvious hypocritical detours. I pray God to be wrong, but I cannot help but think giving several other statements she made on different threads that I find to be very weird similar to the style of the one she made about Palestinians on this thread, especially concerning threads that speak of Muslim women, but also comments she made about of the prophet Muhammad regarding “ridicule depictions”, or her acid replies to some Muslim LWatchers and so on, to think that maybe HGG do not like Muslims much, I may be wrong but still it make me wonder. — Anyway, regardless of what, I’ve always abhorred more than anything else since my childhood, hypocritical behaviors that tries to blurs the true nature of a reality saying one sugary thing while clearly meaning otherwise, hence my sharp straightforward wordings even here at LW. I’ve always preferred directness stating as I see it, even though sometimes it did put me to trouble with my parents, teachers, and friends. And have always admired those individuals I viewed as being not endlessly chewing their words but instead always unafraid to tell it like it is, and fortunately I did witness some posters and writers here at LW, of being of such calibre, namely Danios of LW, which I admire greatly through the style of his articles. Hypocrisy of any kind makes me boil with impatience, especially the hypocrisy of sugared wording that tries to downplay the horrific reality of things, such as when it comes to the tragedy facing the Palestinian people for the past 80+ years, or the more recent tragedies of Iraqis and Afghans at the hands of the merciless, ferocious American empire. Add to that our own fair share of disgustingly hypocrite Muslims, be they the religious fanatic psychos that do not hesitate for one moment to use Islam to further their intolerance committing injustices, the dictators and despots in control of Muslim lands shamelessly torturing their very own people in front the world’s eyes, and you may understand better why I think we as Muslims need more than ever before, some straight-forward talks as oppose to sugary wordings that tries to blur the truth reality of our Ummah’s condition today, if we ought to be fixing the choatic situation she’s in. And BTW, yeah, greeeat interview of Bob Simon’s 60 Minutes! [sac], “grilling” Mr ‘the ambassador’ of the only state openly admired worldwide for it’s greeeat Ethnic-Cleansing/Apartheid status. Peace Insh-Allah! — Also, I too like reading JSB posts, I’ve already stated such to her, but I don’t mind restating that she’s one of my favorite poster here at LW. Salaamu-alaikum to the both of you.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Géji:

    I am glad that you had the opportunity to post here again. You have said much, so let me just deal with your first comment about your “undeserved ‘popularity'” on this thread.

    You and your antagonists do feed off each other, and perhaps you all deserve the harsh words you throw around. But, I hope that you can all step back and take the time to address each other’s substantive points without the name-calling.

    I also think that you do have a bit of a history of not considering alternative points seriously. For example, while you criticize HGG for stating that Arafat’s statement was wrong, you have almost conceded as much: Jesus can’t be the *first* Palestinian martyr because you claim that there were Palestinians before him, including martyrs I imagine. Yet, your initial response to HGG was, “Oh my AraboIslamophobia!!” How can a true statement like HGG’s be AraboIslamophobic? Even Averroe’s Ghost called Arafat’s statement hyperbolic, meaning exaggerated, or incorrect.

    How about the following? Prove those against you wrong by making some positive comments about those they may argue you consider your political opponents. And, by positive, I mean truly positive, and not something like “some of them are not completely evil.”

    To make it easier, I’ll start. Though I don’t consider the Palestinians my political opponents, it would be fair to say that I am much more pro-Israeli than the average LW poster. But, in looking at the Palestinians, I see a people who have unfairly suffered greatly over many decades and have done so with a great and profound dignity. And while all people have their provocateurs, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people have done nothing wrong other than to be born to a people who were suffering. Despite their unjustified suffering, polls repeatedly show that most of them are willing to compromise on what they believe to be their justifiable political rights in order to achieve peace. They have also shown a remarkable willingness to not take the easy way out, with many of them refusing to leave their homes in the West Bank or Gaza or to accept the benefits of Israeli citizenship for those (those in East Jerusalem) who could do so. Others have spent their entire lives in refugee camps without rising up violently at those conditions, often accepting that their sacrifices help send a symbolic message to the world that they are not giving up on their dreams. Indeed, the willingness of so many Palestinians to sacrifice so much is both sad and inspiring, and shows the callousness of those who would not recognize the need to address their suffering.

    I challenge you, in a positive way, my dear Géji, to prove your opponents here wrong by showing that you can be willing to at least recognize both sides of some political issue and recognize the best of your opponents and not just the worst.

    Wa-alaikum as-salaam.

  • Believing Atheist

    I would also like to add that the Palestinians are also the indigenous people of that region since both Jews and Arabs share a common ancestry via genetics
    http://bric.postech.ac.kr/science/97now/00_10now/001030a.html

    But to deny the Jews their link to that land is simply pseudo-historical.

  • Believing Atheist

    “it doesn’t take fairy-tails and fables, to realize that the Palestinian people are the natives/indigenous people of the land, period.”

    No they aren’t at least that was not always the case.

    * From the 12th century BCE until 135 CE Jews were the largest ethnic- religious group in this area.

    They were forcefully expelled by the Romans after a failed revolt.

    “In 73 AD, the last of the revolutionaries were holed up in a mountain fort called Masada; the Romans had besieged the fort for two years, and the 1,000 men, women, and children inside were beginning to starve. In desperation, the Jewish revolutionaries killed themselves rather than surrender to the Romans. The Romans then destroyed Jerusalem, annexed Judaea as a Roman province, and systematically drove the Jews from Palestine. After 73 AD, Hebrew history would only be the history of the Diaspora as the Jews and their world view spread over Africa, Asia, and Europe.”
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Diaspora.html

    Under international law, the Jews were allowed to assert their right of self-determinism and return to the land of their ancestors.

  • Géji

    Wow! I didn’t visit for few days and already I see my posts in this thread cause quite interesting stirrings, some causing hateful reactions to my straight-talk style, while the smart brains of bunch have understood this long ago. So, though I have no interest addressing the trashy ones for now, I’ll start with brains of the house, my favorite posters.

    @Just Stopping By, you asked: “First, how can Jesus possibly be the *first* Palestinian martyr?

    Salaamu-alaikum Just Stopping By, first let me tell you that I’m loling at my quite undeserved “popularity” in this thread. Second, though I know you don’t mind and have stated so numerous times, nonetheless I’m sorry that I couldn’t reply to you sooner, the simply reason being that I don’t get as much chance as I use-to replying to comments addressed to me — Third, my dear akhi, if you reread my posts you’ll realize I never used the term ‘*first*’ when I was referring to Jesus of Nazareth-(p.b.u.h) being a Palestinian martyr. But simply said in response to what I find to be weirdly short HGG’s rejection of Arafat’s statement without him/her giving a bit more explanation as to why, that there is absolutely nothing wrong at all referring to Jesus as a ‘Palestinian martyr’, understanding where Yasser Arafat-(Allah-yarhamu) was coming from with his statement. — Fourth, I believe my dear through the numerous similar conversations you and I had already regarding the topic of who the Palestinian people are-(regardless of their faith)- I think you may understand by now the simple reason behind why I agreed that Jesus of Nazareth can be referred to as Palestinian martyr. — Thus, if we put aside the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and which I think you may recall me already stating several times though in different fashions, that those are none but faiths, that A)- people may easily stick-to because they were born into ~ B)- people may easily reject the one they were born into because they may feel once they grew-up that it doesn’t make sense to them anymore ~ and C)- if they’re still seekers of one, may easily adopt whichever one out-there that speaks more to their heart, or may as just end-up rejecting all faiths altogether, and all the while still remaining into the “flesh/blood” or “color/race” they were born into, simply because as we all know it, it take more than religions or its scriptures and holidays to change the flesh-blood/color-race. — So, having re-stated and re-mentioned all that once more, I think my dear akhi you can easily understand where I’m coming from when I’m referring to Jesus as Palestinian martyr. Simply being because racially and geographically, no-matter which religion, the people who as far as we can still witness today, and as far as history going back generations and generations tells-us, that inhabit the land of Jesus, no matter how many “empires” may have came to control them, and no matter the religion they ended-up adopting, whether they’re Jews because of Judaism, or Christians because of Christianity, or Muslims because of Islam, and although as people they date further than the word “Palestinian” and was referred-to differently in past times, still nonetheless today, as far as history and it’s memory records, those people are referred to today as the people of Palestine, thus the Palestinians. It doesn’t matter whether some of them became “Israeli citizens” after the 1948 European immigrants invasion and annexation, or whether some of them ended-up living in open-air prisons at what we referred to today as “occupied territories”, or whether some of them had to escape overseas and are disgustingly “forbidden” to return home because of cruelty of men, or whether some of them had been shifted by force into refugee camps in neighbouring lands, and again be they Muslims, Christians or Jews, though of course as I’ve mentioned earlier when you and I had similar conversation on different threads that some of them overtime may themselves be “mixed” with other ethnics of the region. Nonetheless, if anyone were to asked who comes the closest ever to be the actual flesh-blood/color-race of Jesus the Nazareth, who are the direct descendants of his today? THE answer without a hint of doubt, will be the PALESTINIANS, again just so you may understand me per-favor, regardless of their religion. And it doesn’t take to be “a genius” engaged in intellectual acrobacies, it’s doesn’t take “science” or “technology”, it doesn’t take fairy-tails and fables, to realize that the Palestinian people are the natives/indigenous people of the land, period.

    > “Did the Palestinians begin to exist with him?”

    No, of course not, it would be silly to think the people we refer to as “Palestinians” today “begin to exist with-[Jesus]”, for they have existed way before Jesus of Nazareth ever set-foot on this earth. And I don’t doubt for a moment that Yasser Arafat either was meaning in such when he referred to Jesus as *first* Palestinian martyr. But I think my dear JSB, you’re looking more at whatever “name” of the land people may come to identify themselves-with during certain stages, more so than you’re looking at the actual land and it’s actual people. The “name” of a land and with-it the name of the “nationality” may change overtime, the religion or lack of it may change, heck even through the inevitable human interactions, new bloods, languages, cultures ect.. may come to said land and change or mix the original ones overtime. But the one thing that may never change-( even through the comings and goings of what I aforementioned, i.e., culture, religion, languages, names ect)- is the land itself and the physical presence of a people through generations and generations belonging to said land. Some Native Americans, Canadians, Australians, may have become mixed overtime with whatever immigrants that came to their lands, they may have adopted their religion, they may have adopted their language, they may have adopted the new name that were giving to their ancestral and with-it thus a new national name and so on, BUT still they are, were, and will be as far as history tell-us, the original natives of that land. And whatever they may have adopted overtime, it’s through their long presence dating back to generations and generations to the land that they’re called today as Native Americans, Canadians and Australians. And so the same in that sense goes for the people we referred to as “Palestinians” today, for they are none but the Native people of that land. And please so that just you don’t mistake, take note that what I’m about to say is in no way reference to you JSB, for I never witnessed you saying such thing. But solely is in reference to the extremist side of Zionism ideology that keep on telling us otherwise about Palestinian people, whether saying nonsensical utterance such as “a land without people”, or Palestinians are “invented people” and so on, even though history and logic proves such nonsense wishful thinking and fairytale wrong, to me equates to simply trying to erase Palestinians completely from history, and that my friend, I wholeheardly believe to be just as illogical as nonsensical as it is of pure hatred. Thus the people of conscience can never let that happen, for such will be to let happen even further hatred and injustice to Palestinians than what the Native Americans, or Canadians, or Australians went through by loosing their ancestral lands in the utmost savage injustice unfortunately human beings can be capable of inflicting.

    > “In claiming that he was the *first* Palestinian martyr, Arafat was trying to separate Jesus from his Jewish roots.”

    I don’t think so, and as I’ve mentioned above, I highly doubt that Yasser Arafat was trying to “seperate” Jesus from whatever religious affiliation we may categorize him, be they Jewish “roots” or Christian “roots” or what not. Don’t also forget that for the Muslims, all prophets of the One God are categorized as “Muslims”, in the sense they submitted worshiping the One God alone. But as far as I’m understanding his statement, I believe the point Arafat was trying to make was to led the world remember that his people, the Palestinians, are not only the descendants of Jesus of Nazareth, but are suffering as martyrs just as he did, under a cruel system imposed upon them by force.

    > “It’s a shame that you cannot disagree with me without using terms like “darn fools” or “stupid.””

    JSB, never have I ever refer to you as “darn fool” or “stupid” in past, nor was I speaking of you when I used those terms in my above post. But said the world and Jews with-it are neither darn fools nor stupid that’ll believe the extreme side of Zionism that is attempting to deny Palestinians as the Natives of the land. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough with that, but no dear akhi, I was not referring to you at all, and how could I, when since the time I’ve been reading through your posts here at LW, I never thought for one moment that those were from a “fool” or “stupid”, but instead actually from a very smart poster that uses his God giving brain to say a lot of things that make sense? I hope I’m more clearer not only in regard to this last paragraph, but with the topic in general. — Asalamu-alaikum.

  • MaratSafin

    Remember it was Levantine Christians who helped and were eager to destroy the Ottoman Caliphate and aided the EUropeans in ridding the Arab countries of Islam. Anti semitism was enthusiastially embraced by Arab Christians when the French, British and Italians went to colonise them. They were then free to do what they could not under Arab Muslim rule.

    The Arab Muslims were silly to give up their own tolerance and embrace Christian anti semitism. Prior to European colonisation, there was no anti semitism in the Muslim world.

    Middle Eastern Christians and anti-Semitism
    by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
    http://www.aymennjawad.org/10029/middle-eastern-christians-anti-semitism
    Similarly, in an interview with NBN TV on November 9, 2010, Iraqi priest Father Suheil Qasha claimed that the Jews consider all gentiles to be beasts, and asserted that the “real danger” to Middle Eastern Christians came from Zionism. He went on to state that those who perpetrated the attack on the church in Baghdad were certainly not Muslims, but probably those trained and supervised “by global Zionism.”

    Anti-Semitism extends to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which, serving around 10 percent of Egypt’s population, is the largest single church in the Middle East and North Africa. As liberal Egyptian blogger Samuel Tadros points out, a certain Father Marcos Aziz Khalil wrote in the newspaper Nahdet Masr: “The Jews saw that the Church is their No. 1 enemy, and that without [the] priesthood the Church loses its most important component . Thus the Masonic movement was the secret Zionist hand to create revolution against the clergy.”

    AT THIS point, many would no doubt be inclined to explain away this anti-Semitism by pointing to the anti-Jewish sentiments that are mainstream among the Muslim populations of the region. Living in such an environment – the reasoning goes – Christians would naturally be careful not to denounce deeply held convictions among their Muslim neighbors for fear of provoking persecution.

    However, the cancer of hostility toward Jews among Middle Eastern Christians goes much deeper than that.

    Indeed, it is telling that other non-Muslim minorities that have suffered discrimination and violence at the hands of Islamists – including the Yezidis, Mandeans and Bahá’ís – have never blamed Jews or Zionism for their persecution; their religions have not featured anti-Semitic doctrines.

    The case of the Bahá’í community is especially important because, with the religion’s global center located in Haifa, charges of collaboration with Israel can easily be leveled against Bahá’ís. Yet the Universal House of Justice has never complained of a Jewish/Zionist conspiracy against the Bahá’í communities in Iran and the wider region. Rather, it has always rightly identified the problem as enforcement of traditional Islamic law on the treatment of non-Muslims and apostasy, along with the supremacist attitudes fostered by the promotion of Shari’a.

    Ultimately the malaise of anti-Semitism among Middle Eastern Christians is entrenched in charges of deicide (i.e., of killing Jesus) against the Jewish people as a whole. As Saliba put it, Jewish conspiracies are “only natural” because the Jews repaid Christ for his miracles by crucifying him. In particular, Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church lambasted the Western churches for exonerating Jews for Christ’s death, in a televised interview on April 8, 2007. He argued that Jews were “Christ-killers” because “the New Testament says they are.”

    It is clear that in general, the Eastern churches have yet to move beyond the noxious anti-Semitic motifs repudiated by the Vatican in its Nostra Aetate declaration issued in 1965, after the Second Vatican Council. If anti-Semitism in the Middle East and North Africa is to be eradicated, the burden of theological reform will evidently not be a task for Muslims alone.

  • Believing Atheist

    @JSB,

    Thank you JSB for your response. The first post is my catharsis, and the second is my curiosity. I have dispensed catharsis and with your answer fulfilled my curiosity. I can now move on.

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