The new Palestinian exploitation of Christmas - opinion

The irony of the issue isn’t just that Jesus was a Jew, but also that the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip even more so, actively oppress their Christian population.

CELEBRANTS POSE for a photo in front of a nativity scene display at Manger Square ahead of Christmas in Bethlehem last week. (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
CELEBRANTS POSE for a photo in front of a nativity scene display at Manger Square ahead of Christmas in Bethlehem last week.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
As Christians around the world celebrated their holy day, Palestinian activists and even the PLO once again co-opted “Jesus as Palestinian.”
This myth has been broken down several times, yet for some reason, anti-Israel groups and even the Palestinian government continue to use it as a propaganda talking point.
The irony of the issue isn’t just that Jesus was a Jew, but also that the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip even more so, actively oppress their Christian population. Yet when Christmas rolls around, they can’t wait to co-opt Jesus again.
This Christmas, for example, the PLO tweeted about Jesus, “the son of Palestine.” Yet the PLO and the PA haven’t exactly been a friend to Palestinian Christians over the years. Christian churches, such as the Maronite church in Bethlehem, have faced numerous arson attacks and vandalism incidents in recent years, yet the Palestinian police rarely deal with these incidents, and the PA has issued gag orders to the press on reporting them.
Indeed, churches (and Christians) have become targets for Palestinian Muslim violence for various reasons.
One example from 2006 involved the burning of a church in Tulkarm during riots over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers – an incident completely unrelated to the church that was attacked.
In Bethlehem, Ramallah, Tubas and other municipalities, Christians have been threatened and targeted, some even being extorted mafia-style by Fatah officials to pay for “protection.”
In 2002, the Church of the Nativity itself was taken under siege by Palestinian terrorists who held priests and nuns hostage and lit the church on fire.
In Gaza, the situation is even worse. Since Hamas came to power, Christians have been targeted and killed without anywhere to turn to for recourse or justice, and most have fled for their lives, if capable of doing so.
In 2007, for example, Rami Ayyad, director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society, was found tortured and killed after receiving numerous threats to stop selling Christian religious books in Gaza.
Since Hamas’s rise to power, Gaza Christians have faced ongoing persecution, in some cases even kidnappings, and tremendous pressure to convert.
Pastor Hanna Massad of Gaza Baptist Church has spoken about the situation Gaza Christians face under Hamas, stating that the community, which is now only about 1,000 people, lives in fear, and Christian women have even started to cover their hair so as to avoid harassment and discrimination.
“They are isolated from the rest of the world, surrounded by [non-Christians], ruled by Hamas and oppressed by the extremists and the even more radical Salafists,” he said.
While the Christian population in Israel has actually grown – the only such country in the Middle East where that is the case – Palestinian Christians have fled in the thousands from their homeland due to ongoing hostility and persecution at the hands of Palestinians – not Israelis. In 1950, the area that is now the Palestinian territories contained roughly 15% Christians. Today, it is only 2%. Similarly, Bethlehem has seen a 64% drop in the Christian population since the PA took over from Israeli control in 1995 as part of the Oslo Accords.
Despite all this, Palestinian leaders and their supporting activists are desperate to claim Jesus as “one of their own” when the holiday season rolls around internationally.
Jesus, born to a Jewish mother and father, existed before the religion of Islam, and lived in land of Israel before the Arab conquests in the seventh century. Yet Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions groups and other anti-Israel activists have repeatedly stated that Jesus was a Palestinian, mistakenly thinking that this somehow shifts the narrative of Palestinians and lends legitimacy to their claim over the land. Apparently, the irony that Jesus would be Israeli today and thus would be the target of their boycotts is completely lost on them.
In any case, Palestinian leaders can’t have it both ways, and their actions demonstrate the height of hypocrisy – invoking Jesus when they think it suits their political aims, while oppressing their own Christians.
The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC.