Honigman: Mahmoud Abbas and the Arafatian Jesus
Among other fictions Abbas included in his speech was his purposeful neglect to mention any historical Jewish figures connected to the land. While mentioning Muhammad and Jesus, he deliberately left out the people of whom Jesus was a part of.
On September 23, 2011, Mahmoud Abbas officially demanded that the United Nations create Arab state #22--the second, not first, Arab state within the original 1920 borders of the Mandate of Palestine. Jordan was carved out of some 80% of the total area after 1922.
Among other fictions Abbas included in his speech was his purposeful neglect to mention any historical Jewish figures connected to the land. While mentioning Muhammad and Jesus, he deliberately left out the people of whom Jesus was a part of. This was no accident; indeed, it is part of a pattern Arabs have displayed for quite some time now. You see, airplanes are not the only thing that Abbas and his earlier Arafatian predecessors have sought to hijack. Follow me closely below to see what I mean...
"Now Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod..." is how the story of Jesus' birth begins in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Of course, if too many of today's politically correct Church and other leaders were writing this account, it would undoubtedly read a bit differently.
But notice, please, the location is Bethlehem of Judea...not the "West Bank"...not "Palestine"...but Judea--land of the Jews.
Turning the clock back a bit, as the year 2003 began, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan, Irineos, sought appointment as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Letters with his signature on them to the late Egyptian ghoul--the West's current darling, Mahmoud Abbas's, good buddy and fellow Fatah terrorist colleague Yasir Arafat--contained, among other things, the following...
"You are aware of the...disgust...all the Holy Sepulchre fathers feel for the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus...crucifiers of your people...Jewish conquerors of the Holy Land of Palestine."
Irineos claimed that his 6/17/01 letter, revealed in the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, was a forgery. Unfortunately, there were many other documents of the same flavor making the rounds as well.
Irineos' attitude, unfortunately, is not uncommon among many Christians--in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Indeed, the quote above is virtually the same as words often spoken by the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hilarion Capucci, a few decades earlier. So it's safe to assume that many people share these beliefs.
Some folks simply inherited and modified them from traditional Christian teaching. Others, feeling exposed and vulnerable themselves living among real or potentially hostile dominant Muslim populations, sought/seek common ground with their own off again/on again persecutors by turning the focus on everyone's favorite common demon, the Jew.
Christians played an important role in the nascent Arab nationalist movement in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the above explanation was certainly one of the main motivating factors. This was not unlike some Jews seeking to be absorbed under the potentially protective, inclusive umbrella of various socialist movements in Christian Europe around the same time.
During an earlier visit by the Pope to Israel, the media reported one of many of Mahmoud Abbas's late boss's and colleague's (Arafat) own frequent comments on this subject. Speaking of the Apostle Peter, Arafat explained the allegedly "Palestinian"--i.e. non-Jewish--identity of Peter & Co. Later day Arafatians like to repeat this as well. Indeed, that was Abbas's message in his remarks about Jesus to the United Nations on September 23rd.
Okay, enough of Arab pipedreams. Now for a reality check...
There was no Arab country nor nation known as "Palestine" during the time of Jesus (nor at any other time either). The land was known as Iudaea (Judea) and its inhabitants were Judaeans...Jews.
As I often feel obliged to repeatedly remind folks, Tacitus, Josephus, and Dio Cassius were famous Roman and Roman-sponsored historians who wrote extensively about Judea's attempt to remain free from the Soviet Union of its day, the conquering Roman Empire. They lived and wrote not long after the two major revolts of the Jews in 66-73 C.E. and 133-135 C.E. Note that they make no mention of this land being called "Palestine" nor its people "Palestinians." And they knew the differences between Jews and Arabs as well.
My aim is for this quote to become a virtual mantra for my readers...that's how important the implications of its contents are in the discussion of this topic when folks like Mahmoud Abbas try to claim aboriginal rights for his version of "Palestinians."
Here is one of many such passages from Vol. II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus ...
Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea...he commanded three legions in Judaea itself...To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria...amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations.
After the 1st Revolt, Rome issued thousands of Judaea Capta coins which can be seen today in museums all over the world. Notice, please...Judaea Capta...not "Palaestina Capta." Open up the url to my own book and look at the jacket cover to see one of those exact coins.
Additionally, to celebrate this victory, the Arch of Titus was erected and stands tall in Rome to this very day.
When, some sixty years later, Emperor Hadrian decided to further desecrate the site of the destroyed Temple of the Jews by erecting a pagan structure there (not unlike the revolt of the Maccabees a few centuries earlier against a Greco-Syrian Seleucid emperor, Antiochus), it was the grandchildren's turn to take on their mighty conquerors.
The result of the struggle of this tiny nation for its freedom and independence was, perhaps, as predictable as that which would have occurred had Lithuania taken on the Soviet Union during its heyday of power. Here's Dio Cassius referring to the destruction of Rome's entire 22nd Legion...
"580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt).Therefore Hadrian, in writing to the senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, 'I and the legions are in health.'"
The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews' struggle for freedom that, in the words of the esteemed modern historian, Bernard Lewis, "Hadrian made a determined attempt to stamp out the embers not only of the revolt but also of Jewish nationhood and statehood...obliterating its Jewish identity."
Wishing to end, once and for all, the Jews' hopes, Hadrian renamed the land itself from Judaea to "Syria Palaestina"--Palestine--after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic sea people from the area around Crete.
So sorry, Mahmoud, and your fellow Arafatians in suits: Hijacking the Philistines' identity--as you and others have tried to do regarding Jesus and the Jews-- won't work either.
All of this did not occur until after 135 C.E., with the defeat of Judaea's charismatic leader, Shimon Bar Kochba.
And, as with the breathtaking discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls practically at the very moment of Israel's rebirth over six decades ago by an Arab shepherd boy, Bar Kochba's letters to his troops, his minted coins "For The Freedom Of Israel," and other archaeological treasures were also soon unearthed...a gift from G_d to usher in the miraculous resurrection of the Jewish nation.
"Palestine" later became largely "Arab" the same way that most of the twenty-one states that call themselves "Arab" today did...by the conquest, occupation, and forced Arabization of other countless millions of native, non-Arab peoples and their lands. Muhammad's and his successors' imperial Caliphal armies burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century C.E. and spread out and colonized in all directions.
From the 13th century onwards, the Arabs lost control of much, if not most, of their imperial, caliphal acquistions to Mongols, Mamluks, and assorted Turks.. And when the Arabs' own empires ruled, it was from Damascus or Baghdad. Again, there was never ever an independent Arab entity of Palestine back then either.
Despite Arab pipe-dreams, the Ottoman Turks were the latest in a long series of imperial conquerors to rule the land since the Jews of the Kingdom of Judea fought for their freedom against Rome. They did so for some four centuries until the end of World War I.
During the Mandatory period soon afterwards, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates commission recorded scores of thousands of Arabs pouring into a largely depopulated Palestine from surrounding lands to take advantage of the economic development going on because of the Jews.
Many more Arabs entered under cover of darkness and were never listed. All of these allegedly "native Palestinians" were preceded in the 19th century by thousands of Egyptians who came with Muhammad Ali and son Ibrahim Pasha's invading armies and never left... more Arab settlers setting up Arab settlements in Palestine. Arafat himself was later one of them (born in Cairo, Egypt). Ditto for Hamas' virtual patron saint, Sheikh Izzedin al-Qassam ( for whom the rockets and terror brigade are named) ...coming from Latakia, Syria.
And so much for Mahmoud Abbas's allegedly non-Judean, "Palestinian" Jesus...indeed, Arabs have a word to describe such stuff. It's called taqiyya--deliberate lying to further their cause.
The rest of the world would be wise to keep this in mind when it has to judge issues which arise in Arab-Israeli politics.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world. Visit his website at http://www.geraldahonigman.com/