David G. Littman in FrontPage writes on Arafat’s canny appropriation of Christ and Christianity to serve his agenda “” in line with the larger appropriation of the dhimmis’ religious and cultural heritage by their masters: traditional Islamic theology presents Judaism and Christianity as we know them today as manmade corruptions of the original Islam that was preached by Moses and Jesus.
In the past 2,000 years there have been numerous descriptions of Jesus of Nazareth, but the image of an Arab Jesus — “the first Palestinian fedayin who carried his sword” — as depicted by Yasir Arafat at a sideshow of the United Nations in 1983 was probably the most grotesque. Present at his first press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on September 2, 1983, I heard the words from the UN simultaneous English interpretation of his spoken Arabic:
“We were under Roman imperialism. We sent a Palestinian fisherman, called St. Peter, to Rome. He not only occupied Rome, but also won the hearts of the people. We know how to resist imperialism and occupation. Jesus Christ was the first Palestinian fedayin who carried his sword along the path on which the Palestinians today carry their Cross.”1
There was a full house, but no one expressed either shock or disbelief, nor was there any later protestation from representatives of the Holy See or the World Council of Churches, even after my letter quoting his words was published in three Swiss newspapers.2 Yet few could ignore the historic fact that it was in 135 — 100 years after the death of Jesus — that the Roman Emperor Hadrian re-conquered Judea, changing its official name from Judea to Palestina. ( “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod”¦” Matthew 2:1)
It was not the first nor the last time that Arafat, and others, would steal the symbol of Jesus, transforming the Jews of Judea into “˜Arab Palestinians,” inhabitants of ancient “˜Palestine.” According to Greek Catholic Archbishop FranÃ§ois Abu Mokh, when Arafat was received by Pope Jean Paul II two weeks later, on September 15, 1983, he told the pope that he felt at home in the Vatican, seat of the successors to St. Peter, “the first Palestinian exile.”3 And Arafat repeated his “˜Jesus / “˜Super-fedayin” story to columnist Flora Lewis six months later in Paris.4
This theme of Jesus and “˜Palestine” became a constant in the framework of Palestinolatry. Bat Ye”or has explained this well, showing how — after the Second Vatican Council and the Nostra Aetate Declaration (1965) — the recycling of Christian religious symbols in the Arab-Muslim war on Israel was carried out at the instigation of Arab clergymen. The Christological themes of Palestinianism developed, based on the traditional Judeophobic schemas of the crucifixion, and were introduced via the Arab Churches and the Euro-Arab current. The Arab Palestinian Churches transfigured the Arab Palestinian terrorist into a Christ-like image. In the long tradition of Syrian-Palestinian Christianity, the assassinations of Jews was thus hallowed.”5
This was expressed as early as 1970 by Bishop Georges Khodr, the Metropolitan of Byblos and Mount Lebanon, when he stated in a Paris lecture:
You know what place Christian symbols occupy in contemporary Arab poetry, particularly that of the Palestinian resistance. It is not for me to tell the Muslims what force the evangelical ferment would contribute to the Arab cause (“¦) On June 5, 1967 I chose Arabness because on that day I saw that Jesus of Nazareth had become a Palestinian refugee” 6
In 1974 — after a formal complaint — Geneva’s authorities banned the entry and display of Arafat-Fatah posters representing Jesus nailed to a Star of David, with the caption “Palestine.”
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