Christmas and I have an understanding. I’ll smile and wish my Christian friends the merriest and happiest of holidays, white and laden with decorated trees. Jesus and I have an understanding too. He was born a Jew; died a Jew and was a Jew every day in between those dates. Whatever was done to him, whatever was done in his name in the centuries that followed, doesn’t change who he was, what he believed in. No, I don’t believe he was the son of God…well, anymore than my sons are sons of God, my daughters, the daughters of God. But, like Jesus, I never claimed to be a Christian; never claimed to believe that God is more or less than what He has always been.
I believe Jesus was a man of deep thought, but only a man. And I think somewhere, his neshama, his soul, remains Jewish to this day and I assume would accept not only his Christian followers, but the Jewish people to which he belonged.
I believe he would condemn Muslim suicide bombers…even if the Christian church often fails to do that. I just read that Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal is going to be condemning Israel on Christmas night in Bethlehem. He won’t condemn the Arabs that took the Church of the Nativity hostage; the Arabs who urinated in the church and apparently sexually abused the priests and nuns they held for days. He won’t condemn Syria or Egypt or Iran or Hamas or Hezbollah.
I can deal with that because no matter in whose name he thinks he speaks, I’m going to believe that God knows the truth and the rest of us are smart enough not to listen. But one comment finally got to me…the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas has decided, once again, to float the idea that Palestinians have a history that lasts more than a century or less. Despite conclusive archaeological proof that not a single Palestinian relic has been found dating back 200 years, never mind 2,000 years, Abbas has decided that Jesus was a Palestinian.
The truth, as we all know, was that Islam didn’t exist at that time, nor did Palestine. Jesus lived and died as a Jew – not a Christian and certainly not as a Muslim. He had the honor, as I do today, of living in the Jewish land – then called Judea, today called Israel. Like millions of others, Jesus was murdered by those who hated us, who wanted to kill us.
No, Jesus was not a Palestinian…nor was anyone else for another 1,800 years after he lived. There were no Palestinians according to the current use of the term until, at most, 100 years ago. Before 1948, there were Palestinians – they were Jews and Arabs who lived in this land, ruled by the Turks, then the British. And then, as today, when the Arabs wanted to go to their holy of holy places…they turned their backs to Jerusalem and prayed to or went to Mecca.
And yet, later tonight, as this Archbishop stands up in Bethlehem, among a dwindling Christian population that is often harassed by its Muslim neighbors and seeks refuge among its Jewish neighbors, Jesus may well watch from above and wonder why in his name, the only people he ever knew, remain standing alone, as we have always been…as he was once…
Jesus, a Palestinian? Not be a long shot. Not now, not then, not tonight and not in any of the tomorrows to come.