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Father Edward Beck tells CNN that Jesus was a Palestinian.

Jesus was not Palestinian or Asian say scholars

The effort to erase the Jewishness of Jesus is making headlines in Israel and around the world. It follows efforts around Christmas of Palestinian groups and even some Christians to wrongly claim Jesus was Palestinian and Christianity Today’s article touting him as Asian.

Edward Beck, a Catholic priest, alleged in a CNN interview that Jesus was Palestinian – an amazing statement as Rome would not rename Israel “Palestine” for another 100 years.

“What I’m so struck by is that the story of Christmas is about a Palestinian Jew. How often do you find those words put together? A Palestinian Jew born into a time when his country was occupied, right? They can’t find a place for her to even give birth, his mother. They’re homeless,” Beck said.

The priest’s comments were roundly condemned as being historically inaccurate.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, a researcher at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote that Beck “has to stop watching al-Jazeera and start reading the New Testament.”

So outrageous were the Palestinian claims that Jewish media outlets around the world reported heavily on the statements. Thousands of Jews have posted memes mocking the idea with some hilarious results. For example, one stated “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth, and the Palestinians.”

It was also mocked on Israel’s version of Saturday Night Live:

“I’m no expert CNN, but Jesus could not have been a ‘Palestinian Jew,’ because the term ‘Palestine’ was introduced by the Romans some years after his death,” wrote Jake Wallis Simmons, editor of Britain’s Jewish Chronicle. “Jesus lived in Judea. To retrospectively call him ‘Palestinian’ suggests a political agenda.”

jesus palestinian

Jesus represented as a Hezbollah fighter is being shared on social media by Palestinians.

“Because you know how in Matthew 15:24 Jesus said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,’” he wrote. “By ‘Israel’ Jesus meant ‘Palestine.’”

Over the last 70 years there has been a concerted effort by Palestinians and liberal theological circles to separate Jesus from his Jewish ancestry and even deny that a Jewish temple ever existed in Jerusalem.

The effort may have unknowingly or purposely been picked up on the pages of Christianity Today – one of the nation’s leading evangelical publications that has come under scrutiny for veering from Biblical Christianity recently.

The magazine published a story with the headline “How Asian Artists Picture Jesus’ Birth From 1240 to Today” in which writer Victoria Emily Jones argued “Jesus was born in Asia. He was Asian.” The photo essay featured nine pieces of artwork from Asian cultures depicting the Nativity. Jones claimed that by representing Jesus as Asian, Christian artists could portray a deeper theological meaning of the universality of Christ’s birth.

Although the article was published on December 18, it drew attention on Christmas Eve after the outlet posted it on Twitter. Commentators rejected the article’s premise and mocked the evangelical outlet for promoting it. Joel Berry, managing editor for the Christian satire news site The Babylon Bee joked, “Next, can you please do an article with a bunch of AI images of Jesus if he were Rosa Parks?”

Christian blogger Samuel Sey shot back, “Blasphemy. Jesus is a Jew. It’s necessary for our salvation that he is a son of David, from the tribe of Judah, and born in Bethlehem. Stop this nonsense. He isn’t European, Asian, Palestinian or black. He’s a Jew — the king of the Jews and therefore the savior of the world.”

While many cultures do represent Jesus in a way that reflects their own societies (a Black Jesus in Africa for example) they do not deny the Jewishness of Jesus or his heritage.

Israel’s most respected daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post weighed in on the issue.

Josiah McGee, writing for the newspaper, says it is unfortunate that “some seek to take advantage of this genuine concern by politicizing the holiday and championing the phrase ‘Jesus was a Palestinian.’”

He goes on to write that this “historically inaccurate sentiment reveals a transparent effort to reduce both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the players involved to mere caricatures, all the while weaponizing Christian identity to support one side of the conflict.”

The view that “Jesus was a Palestinian” he says, “often suggests a deeply problematic attempt to force Christians to exclusively view the conflict through the lens of liberation theology, with Israel cast as the evil oppressor.”

McGee encourages Christians to oppose this rewriting of history and the Bible for the sake of everyone. “Christians should not allow that to happen. Instead, we should embrace the fullness of Jesus’s identity as a Jewish man who cares deeply about both Israelis and Palestinians.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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