by: Cheryl Hauer, International Vice President
Whether it means stockings hung by the chimney with care in the northern hemisphere or a week at the beach in the south, Christmas is a holiday beloved by billions around the world. For many Christians, it is a time with real sacred meaning, celebrating the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. For others, it is a time of goodwill, the hustle and bustle of shopping, giving gifts and gathering family together around festival meals.
Unfortunately, for others it’s a time to weaponize the holiday and use it for political purposes. The Palestinian propaganda machine kicks into high gear every year as Christmas approaches, unable to pass up the opportunity to replace goodwill toward men with ill will toward Israel. From animated shorts to full-length videos, interviews with politicians and clerics, articles and tweets, even sermons at the local mosque, the airwaves and social media are awash with revelations of a new Jesus (Yeshua). He is no longer the Jewish baby born in a manger in Bethlehem of Judea who grew up to preach love for our fellow men, but a Palestinian Jesus—some even teach a Muslim Jesus—who grew up not to die on the cross to atone for the sins of men, but who died as a shahid, the first martyr to the Palestinian cause.
In Christmas greetings to the Palestinian people, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been quoted as saying that the holiday celebrates “the birth of one of our very own, Jesus the Christ.” Four decades ago, Abbas’s predecessor and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat was fond of referring to Jesus as a fellow revolutionary and even decorated his office with a picture of an emaciated man crucified on a Star of David.
But the emergence of this new Jesus predates even that. It is believed that a dependence on historical revisionism and the creation of a Palestinian Jesus were reactions to the devastating effect that Israel’s triumph in the Six Day War had on the entire Arab world. It was shortly after that victory that revelations of a new Jesus began to emerge from Muslim sources, planting seeds of hope for a demoralized people and laying the groundwork for a rewrite of history that would give the Palestinians a historic—though fictional—claim to the land of Israel.
Since that time, through a carefully orchestrated disinformation campaign, the concept of a Palestinian Jesus has become a widely accepted tenant of religious belief in the Arab world. Beginning with a new and revolutionary look at their history, Palestinians were encouraged by words such as these:
“Jesus is a Palestinian. The self-sacrificing Yasser Arafat is a Palestinian. Mahmoud Abbas, the messenger of peace on earth, is a Palestinian. How great is this nation of the holy Trinity!”
—An op-ed in the PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
“Christmas blessings to the Christian communities…for this holiday. The holiday of the birth of the Palestinian prophet Jesus.”
—PA government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem
“Jesus is the virtuous patriotic Palestinian forefather. The Palestinians, Jesus’ descendants, rose from the ashes like the phoenix.”
—The PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
“Jesus was born in this land. He lived in this land. It is known that he was born in Bethlehem…He also lived in Nazareth, moved to Jerusalem. So he was a Palestinian par excellence.”
— Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories”
“Jesus was the first fedayee [militiaman] who carried his sword for Palestine.”
Bethlehem is the “birthplace of our Lord the Messiah, the city of the Palestinian Jesus!” —Yasser Arafat
“Jesus is the greatest Palestinian in history since Yasser Arafat.”
—Senior PA leader Jibril Rajoub
Even Santa Clause has not escaped the Palestinian usurping of Christmas, with a Palestinian Father Christmas appearing in at least seven videos where he is harassed, chased and even murdered by brutal Israel Defense Forces soldiers and their vicious dogs.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, however, was a remark from a Muslim cleric being interviewed on Palestinian television. Referring to Matthew 27:45, he claimed that the Aramaic phrase, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is traditionally translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” is in fact a mistranslation. What Jesus was actually saying on the cross, claimed the cleric, was, “Alluah Akbar, Alluah Akbar, Alluah Akbar.” According to the cleric, Jesus was prophesying the coming of Mohammed, the final prophet.
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, claims that Palestinian leadership is suffering from what he calls “Jesus envy.” Because of that obsessive resentment, Marcus says, Palestinian leadership has falsified an entire Palestinian heritage that is a mirror image of Jewish antiquity. They have claimed a 5,000-year-old history that is not substantiated by the historical record or by archaeology. Many believe that the PA’s falsification of history is so absurd, it should just be ignored. But Marcus warns of the dangers of such a position.
First of all, this counterfeit history robs Jesus of His Jewishness, helping to remove any historical link between the Jewish people and their ancient homeland. Secondly, much of the language used by Palestinian leadership finds its genesis in age-old anti-Semitic rhetoric and the Jew hatred of Nazi Germany, attempting to ignite anti-Semitism in the hearts of hearers. Finally, by connecting modern Palestinians to the ancient Jesus, a level of validation is granted to a history that, without it, has no foundation in reality.
But if we don’t ignore it? What can we do to change the situation? Marcus is a strong believer in the power of prayer and invites Christians to pray for God’s intervention on Israel’s behalf. Bible believers also have a responsibility to educate themselves regarding these issues and commit to standing with Israel and speaking out against the anti-Jewish lies that are proliferating literally everywhere. We all have spheres of influence, Marcus says, some more profound than others. But if we all do our best to bring the truth to those spheres, we can make a difference. After all, if a lie told often enough becomes truth, then the truth told often enough will surely have the victory every time.
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