Borrowing Christian figures to advance an anti-Israel cause

Come Easter and Christmas, the PLO perennially borrows Jesus “as one of its own.” Meanwhile, swathes of the Arab world are a burial site for Christian martyrs.  

Steve Apfel

OpEds Christian pilgirm on Easter Eve (illustrative)
Christian pilgirm on Easter Eve (illustrative)
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Coupling some great figure to a cause will give it more than intermittent exposure, more limelight than competing causes dream of getting. And it could not be simpler. All it takes is for the figure to be dead because you don’t want it protesting the liberty you’ve taken using the name to elevate your cause. Hardly was Nelson Mandela cold in his grave when the boycott movement hitched the icon to its bandwagon.

Before Mandela there was Jesus. The crusaders, early users of the name in vain, seem to have got people thinking. Today the messiah for billions of Christians cuts a figure quite divorced from the observant Jew of Galilee and Judaea he was. Like Mandela, he has been refashioned into a grievance leader no less, playing second fiddle to no one. Kept for the biggest vendetta of our time, Now he flies the Palestinian flag –  when not trampling Israel’s into the muck.    

The right to this powerful name seems to be owned by different churches with a similar heretical mind. Not to mean that the brand cannot be pirated. It can and has been. You don’t have to be Christian, or even a friend of Christianity, to invoke his name. The Palestine Liberation Organization is not a Christian body, yet come Easter and Christmas it perennially claims Jesus “as one of its own.”


Will those Jews in army fatigue frisk the carpenter from Nazareth for an explosive device strapped under his robe? Will they take too long to check his papers? Will they be abusive?
The liberty taken with the name by clerics is hardly less outrageous, even heresy. They step into his sandals with the alacrity of a comrade in arms. They borrow his name not to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, rather to do things which people routinely do: 

Some clerics walk the "Son of Man" through a checkpoint manned by Israeli soldiers. How will the Jews treat him now that, contrary to their theology, Israel is back in the Holy Land and making the rules? Will Jews in army fatigue frisk the carpenter from Nazareth for an explosive device strapped under his robe? Will they take too long to check his papers? Will they be abusive? How will Jesus deal with the daily ritual of a Palestinian? Note already a good-as-a-lamb victim and a hardball villain. 

Bare-faced abuse of the Gospels is not beyond parts of the Church. They will desecrate the holiest of beliefs in order to attack the Jews. Note the magen dovid on the cross in the cartoon by Emad Hajjaj in the Jordanian paper Al-Ghad, linked here. 

Naim Ateek is a cleric who is not afraid to dip into Christian imagery if it helps to pillory Israel. In his Easter sermon Ateek exploits the crucifixion without turning a hair. “It seems that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. The Israeli government’s crucifixion system is operating daily” [1]/

Alternative ways to put the divinity to work, tease the wits out of men of the cloth. None do it better than Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. The cleric with a grin does not waste his time draping the apparel of a Palestinian over Jesus. No – Tutu puts words in his mouth. He makes him bellyache about the fence and the wall that keep suicide bombers at bay. Tutu elects to be the dummy of a ventriloquist speaking from heaven’s throne. The lips of Moses and Balaam, we’re told, sprouted forth the unmediated word of God. So with Tutu. “Jesus is angry that they (the Jews) could shut out other human beings,” says the Divine ventriloquist.[2] 

Tutu either had a prophetic encounter greater than St Paul’s, or else Tutu was hallucinating. One or the other, he belittles the figure worshipped by billions of Catholics and Protestants. Who’d believe that Jesus would choose to focus on what the Jews are doing, while a camel ride would take him to look for strongholds of Christianity dating back to Gospel days? 

Except he wouldn’t find them. Islamic Jihadists have turned Arabia into a vast Christian graveyard.  Listening to Tutu we are led to think that it is Israel which poses an existential threat. Think of it. When last did a Jewish zealot put a Christian to death? The road to Damascus, not the road to Jerusalem, cuts through the valley of the shadow of death. 

Yet Tutu makes his clay Nazarene pre-occupied with Israel ‘shutting out’ Palestinians. Meaning what? Islamists not Jews want to cleanse the Middle East of infidels ahead of their caliph making a grand entry. 

Churchmen have to ask: how much remodeling are they ready to tolerate for the sake of a political agenda? Do they really want their messiah to be another ‘Rights’ activist plying his trade under the halo brand, a leftwing, money-driven, anti-Israel activist? Surely there is more than enough of the type – there’s the bloc of Europe aligned with American Democrats onto Israel’s case. They, like the human rights clerics, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil about what Palestinian Arabs get up to. Their flocks pray for salvation even as they bare their necks for jihad martyrdom. 

Tutu is one type of Jesus borrower. There are others; they bypass the son to go directly to the Father. God is there for the so-named Kairos group who have the bravado to approach the Heavenly Throne, saying unto them: “The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights bestowed by God." [3]

We’d do well to scan scripture to find:

(a) Palestinian Arab land;

(b) Israel occupying it; and 

(c) God breaking His covenant with Israel by bestowing the land on Palestinian Arabs. Meantime we’re led to think of God in a juristic robe and cap at the International Criminal Court, pronouncing on man-made law. The Almighty with a bout of amnesia.

Hadn’t He bestowed the land on the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – what was it, forty hundred years before the Palestinians lodged their case with the court? Had He not decreed that the tribes of Israel would be expelled and dispersed? How and when did ethnic Arabs enter the bible to suffer Divine wrath? How perplexing that kings of Israel, Solomon and Herod, built their temples only for a Palestinian Arab "people" to come, 1,967 years after the date set for Jesus' birth, to claim ownership of the Temple Mount.  

However clergymen solve the conundrums, the way they slipped Arab people into the Old and New Testaments remains a breath-taking feat. Is there no limit to such irreverence! 

One of the hallucinatory members of this Kairos group is the grandly titled Theodosias Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia and Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He beseeches the Creator to forge a union of Muslims and Christians; He calls on the Almighty to be a super diplomat, to “foil the American offensive against Iraq and free Palestine from the river to the sea.”[4] 


Christians in the Palestinian Authority are objects for legal, political, cultural and religious persecution. Hamas and Islamic Jihad crazies have built a society and a culture based on hate for the other.
You have to wonder. Did Hanna actually go to Iraq to sound out the bride to be? If he did it was a miracle that he kept his patriarchate head and headpiece on his neck. Seeking to tie the knot with Islamists he would have found them engaged on quite different business, in no mood to stand before the altar with a man of the Orthodox Church. The prospective bride still had to burn down the few remaining Christian heritage sites in old Mesopotamia. There remained Christian women to rape and steadfast Christian men to behead or crucify.  Unfinished business. Why marry when there’s murder to be done?

Hanna in any case is already wedded to murderers. "Suicide bombers,” he told the ASSIST News Service, “carrying out their activities in the name of religion are national heroes and we're proud of them." [5]

Hanna would have done better helping his flock closer to home. Living as dhimmis, Christians in the Palestinian Authority are objects for legal, political, cultural and religious persecution. Hamas and Islamic Jihad crazies have built a society and a culture based on hate for the other. The Palestinian Authority under Arafat wrote Islamic law into the constitution. Christian Arabs in Gaza and the ‘West Bank’ are targets for hate crimes. 

Justus Weiner, an authority on Palestinian Arab Christians, witnessed and wrote it all up – the mass emigration from ancestral homes to countries prepared to take them. Some 70% of Palestinian Arab Christians live abroad, a demographic shift that Weiner traces back to Arafat. [6] A lonely Christian who braved breaking the silence was Pastor Reverend Naim Khoury of the Bethlehem Baptist Church. Khoury testified about animosity in PA controlled areas. Christians, he said, were continually pressured to convert to Islam. He was lucky to live to tell the tale, though his Bethlehem congregation had to shut its doors.

What is going down with men of the cloth? Clay Christian figures are being fashioned for radical agendas while swathes of the Middle East are excavated for a burial site for Christian martyrs.  

On a closer look, one island of co-existence sticks out. In Israel itself, two faiths aren’t burdened by the myths and madness of hate. They aren’t biding their time before liberating "Palestine" from the river to the sea.  Israelis, Jewish, Christian and secular, are building a better society for all.  

Sent by the writer, excerpted from his forthcoming book “A bias thicker than faith."

Notes

1. Munther Isaac, “Reflections of a Palestinian Christian,” May 28, 2014, http://muntheri-

saac.blogspot.com/.

2 Steve Apfel, “A Bias Thicker Than Faith: Christians Who Punt for Their Persecutors,”

Israel Affairs 18, no. 3 (July 2012): p. 403–11. See also “Sabeel and Naim Ateek Fact Sheet,”

NGO Monitor, October 2, 2011.

3 Kairos Palestine.

4 Justus Weiner, “Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society,” Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, 2005




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