It’s Christmas Eve for those celebrating, but there is little to be joyful about for Christians in the Middle East, and even beyond.
In the conflict with Israel, the Palestinians and their supporters hijacked Christianity long ago for their own nefarious ends.
Honest Reporting give an apposite example in their report on how pro-Palestinian British journalist Mehdi Hassan twists the Christmas story and writes the Jewishness of Mary and Joseph right out of the story in his article “If Mary and Joseph tried to reach Bethlehem today they would get stuck at an Israeli checkpoint”. They rip his story apart in “Palestinian Christmas rehashed”:
It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without some media outlet running the same tired old anti-Israel story with a Christmas theme complete with a Palestinian Santa Claus. This year it’s Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman (cross-posted in the Huffington Post UK) who wins the prize for the least original piece of Christmas bias.
In the Washington Post, David Bernstein comments on Hasan’s article:
Well, since Joseph and Mary were Judeans, i.e., Jews, from Nazareth, they wouldn’t need to be afraid of Israeli roadblocks needed to combat Palestinian terrorism, but of being murdered by terrorists from Hamas or Fatah.
Seriously, this sort of historical revisionism, treating ancient Jewish Judeans as if they were Palestinian Arabs, and then analogizing modern Israel to the oppressors of Jesus and his family, a common trope in the UK, would be laughable if it were not so pernicious. Pernicious not simply because it’s a ridiculous distortion of history, and not simply because it’s often accompanied by a large dose of anti-Semitism, with Palestinians playing the role of Jesus and the Israelis being the foreign oppressors crucifying him. But pernicious because it goes to the true heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict–the failure of the Arab side to recognize that the “Zionists” are not the “European settler-colonialists” of Third Worldist imagination, but a people with a three thousand year plus tie to the Land of Israel, whose religion was born there, who ruled two separate kingdoms there, who have prayed toward Jerusalem for two thousand years in their ancient Hebrew language, and so on.
There is much more at the link, including:
a lecture given by the courageous Christy Anastas, a young Palestinian Christian formerly of Bethlehem, who spoke out on this very topic earlier this year and in response to a similarly unholy attack on Israel by CBS 60 Minutes.
Richard Maher of the Jewish Media Agency addresses this Palestinianized Christian onslaught on Israel in his item “The ethnic cleansing cleansing of Jesus the Jew”:
In recent years, the birth and life of Jesus has been hijacked by the Palestinian movement, which seeks to portray Jesus as a Palestinian. This is often referred to as Christian Palestinianism.
In recent decades, the quest to rescue Jesus’ Jewish identity has yielded much fruit. Geza Vermes, Robert Eisenman, E.P Sanders, James Tabor, R. T. Herford, George Foot Moor and Hyam Maccoby are among those who have highlighted Jesus’ Jewish identity and origins. Combined with the shared interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jews and Christians have found common ground in the exploration of the Jewish roots of Christianity.
The Palestinian Jesus falsehood is a shocking return to the “Jesus was an Aryan” falsehood of the Far Right or the Church-sanctioned portrayal of Jesus as a fair-skinned, blue-eyed gentile. The identicide of the Jewish Jesus is also redolent of an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism, sometimes described as a metaphysical anti-Semitism.
The ethnic cleansing of Jesus is part of a wider effort to de-Judaize the Jewish people in order to undermine their claim to the land of Israel. So as well as being de-chosen by God, the people of Israel are not even Jewish, according to some Christian Palestinianists. In the mid-1990s, the Palestinian Authority aired a program that claimed Palestinians are the real descendants of the biblical Israelites.
Bethlehem obviously held a special place in Arafat’s heart. Not because he had any special love for Jesus and Christianity but because it was a political rallying point. Bethlehem, according to Arafat, was the “birthplace of the first Palestinian Christian, Jesus Christ.”
Arafat’s reference to the nativity is obviously a ploy to unite Muslims and Christian Arabs against Israel. In and of itself, this is unspectacular, but when placed in the wider context of Islamic replacement theology, the (mis)use of Jesus is sinister. (Arafat not only proclaimed that Jesus was a Palestinian but is “our Lord the Messiah,” which is an astonishing statement for a Muslim to make. Referring to Jesus as Lord is to detract from the strict monotheism of the faith, a grave sin known as shirk.)
The final step in the Palestinianisation of Bethlehem is the fact that UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – has approved a Palestinian bid to categorise the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace of Jesus) as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO’s approval effectively endorses a specifically Palestinian culture and heritage that is distinct from the history of Israel.
Obviously, the invention of the Palestinian Jesus and the misuse of the crucifixion as a political weapon is just one more lethal narrative aimed at demonising Israel and is not an authentic reconciliation with Christianity. In fact, the Christian population in the West Bank has ebbed away under PA rule. And yet Christians in the West seem happy to play along with the pretence that nothing is amiss because they both share the same enemy – Israel.
It’s not only from the Palestinian territories that Christians are disappearing. The Globe and Mail reports on the Arab world’s vanishing Christians:
At a time when the Middle East is aflame with sectarian strife, the observance of the Christian holiday is a sad reminder that the region’s distinctive religious, ethnic and cultural diversity is rapidly disappearing. At the beginning of the 20th century, Christians made up roughly 20 per cent of the Arab world. In certain areas – including southern Egypt, the mountains of Lebanon and southeastern Anatolia – they formed an absolute majority. Today, just 5 per cent of the Arab world is Christian, and many of those who remain are leaving, forced out by persecution and war.
Jews, too – once a vital presence in cities such as Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad – have all but disappeared from the predominantly Muslim parts of the Middle East, relocating to Israel, Europe and North America. Even in Muslim communities, diversity has been dwindling. In cities like Beirut and Baghdad, mixed neighbourhoods have been homogenized, as Sunnis and Shiites seek shelter from sectarian attacks and civil war.
The Arab Spring upheavals have given rise to grave new challenges to cultural and religious diversity in the Middle East. Many of the authoritarian regimes now under threat of collapse cultivated the support of minorities. This was especially true in Syria, where the Alawite-dominated Baath Party fostered ties to Christians and other small communities by presenting itself as a bulwark of secularism and stability in the face of a supposedly threatening Sunni majority. Now that Syria’s Sunnis have risen up against their Alawite rulers, Christians’ loyalty to the regime has become a liability, even a danger. In some corners, Christians are regarded as complicit in the government’s brutal crackdown, making them targets for attack.
The rise of the Islamic State over the past year has sparked even more violence against minorities. Powered by a fundamentalist Wahhabi ideology and a boundless appetite for bloodshed, the Islamic State seeks a return to an imagined premodern caliphate that subjugates Shiites and treats non-Muslims as second-class citizens. When the Islamic State captures a city, its fighters give Christians the choice of paying a medieval tax known as the jizya, converting to Islam or being killed. Many simply flee.
The end of diversity in the Middle East is a tragedy not just for those who have died, fled or suffered. The region as a whole will be worse off as a result of their absence. Minorities have historically served as brokers between the Middle East and the outside world, and if they disappear, the region will lose an important class of cultural, economic and intellectual leaders.
The Muslims of the region don’t seem to be bothered by the declining quality of their countries. Nobody ever accused the Muslims of using common sense and acting in their own self-interest as we can see from the above when it comes to their supremacist ideas about their religion.
When Palestinian or Muslim terrorism targets the Jews, whether inside or outside Israel, the world acts shocked but in the end either ignores the attacks, excuses them under various pretexts, or manages somehow to blame Israel and the “occupation”. But this one-sided view of the Middle East has come home to roost in Europe and elsewhere, as we have seen these past couple of weeks.
In Australia, we saw the horrific siege of a cafe and hostage taking by a Muslim extremist, and the eventual murder of two innocent civilians by the terrorist. He was not “deranged” or mentally unbalanced. He was acting in the name of a supremacist religion – Islam – that has not been confronted and opposed forcefully enough in the West due to politically-correct attitudes or simple cowardly fear of the terrorists (which is understandable enough but is now way to conduct the foreign policy or security concerns of a country).
And now in France we have seen a rash of lone wolf and “terror-car attacks” similar to what we saw in Israel a couple of months ago:
PARIS — A French official said 11 people were hurt on Monday, five seriously, after a van drove into a Christmas market in the western city of Nantes.
An official for the Loire-Atlantique regional authorities said five of the victims were seriously injured, including the van’s driver.
Video images on French television showed a white Peugeot van in the Christmas market, which was being held in the city’s main square.
Speaking on French television, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the driver “deliberately crashed into the crowd.”
French officials called for vigilance but warned against jumping to conclusions Monday after a pair of weekend attacks — one in which a driver ran down 13 bystanders, and another in which a recent convert to Islam knifed police officers.
The driver, who had a history of psychological problems, was arrested following the attack in the city Dijon in eastern France, while the assailant who stabbed the officers outside the city of Tours was shot to death by police. None of the victims died.
The prosecutor in Dijon said the driver behind the attack in that city has a long history of severe mental illness and no links to terrorism.…
The driver was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) and “that he was acting for the children of Palestine,” a source close to the investigation said. He was suffering from a severe psychological disorder, Tarrare said, in an apparent attempt to ease concerns that the attack was inspired by Islamic extremism.
He shouted “God is great” to give himself courage to act, and not out of religious belief, Tarrare said.
Counter-terrorist police are investigating the attack Saturday on police in a suburb of Tours, which left two officers seriously injured and a third with light injuries.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the attacker, who was killed by police, was a 20-year-old from Burundi named Bertrand. Police believe he’d been drawn to radical Islam several years ago by his 19-year-old brother Brice, who’s been detained for questioning by police in Burundi, Molins said.
Excusing the terrorists by calling them mentally deranged or with psychological problems does not solve the problem or ease public concerns. It only pushes the problems under the carpet, leaving them to fester.
As PM Netanyahu remarked as he sent condolences to Australia after the cafe siege:
He said that International Islamic terror does not know borders, and the struggle against it needs to be global.
Or, to paraphrase Martin Niemöller: First they ran over the Jews but the world called it an accident. And then they ran over the Christians….