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‘Don’t pretend Jesus was a Palestinian’ – Historian blasts AOC’s ‘Palestinian Jesus’ tweet

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By World Israel News Staff

A historian who specializes in the study of early Christianity took aim at comments by some Democratic lawmakers comparing Jesus to today’s Palestinian Arabs.

On Christmas eve last year, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, a member of the far-left “Squad,” sparked controversy when she wrote a post on Instagram comparing Palestinian Arabs to Jesus – and the State of Israel to King Herod.

“Christ was born in modern-day Palestine under the threat of a government engaged in a massacre of innocents,” Ocasio-Cortes wrote in her Instagram post.

“He was part of a targeted population being indiscriminately killed to protect an unjust leader’s power. Mary and Joseph, displaced by violence and forced to flee, became refugees in Egypt with a newborn waiting to one day return home.”

“Thousands of years later, right-wing forces are violently occupying Bethlehem as similar stories unfold for today’s Palestinians, so much so that the Christian community in Bethlehem has canceled this year’s Christmas Eve celebrations out of both [fear for their] safety and respect,” the congresswoman added.

In response, historian and Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University Paula Fredriksen penned an opinion piece published by The Washington Post Thursday, ahead of Easter Sunday, refuting Ocasio-Cortes’ comparison and suggesting the claim is akin to classic antisemitic canards.

“This Easter, let’s not try to pretend Jesus was a ‘Palestinian Jew,’” Fredriksen wrote.

Ocasio-Cortes is not the only member of the Squad to compare Jesus to Palestinian Arabs. In 2019, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar came under fire after she retweeted an opinion piece published by The New York Times claiming Jesus was a Palestinian.

“So caught up were these advocates in their own spin that they mischaracterized reality,” Fredriksen wrote of such comparisons, noting that in contrast to Ocasio-Cortes’ claim that Bethlehem is under occupation by “right-wing forces,” an apparent allusion to the Netanyahu government, in fact Bethlehem has been administered by the Palestinian Authority for nearly 30 years.

“But Bethlehem has been administered by the Palestinian Authority since 1995. Once a significant majority there, the Christian population plunged from 86 percent in 1950 to less than 12 percent in 2016,” she wrote, also noting that under Hamas, the Gaza Strip has been “extremely hostile” towards Christians, fueling the decline in the area’s Christian population.

Fredriksen added that the comparison drew on historic antisemitic tropes, and fuels antisemitism today.

“For two millennia, Jews have been blamed for Jesus’ execution by the Romans; casting him as a Palestinian just stokes the fires of hate, using Jesus against Jews once again.”

“It is, further, an act of cultural and political appropriation — and a clever rhetorical move. It rips Jesus out of his Jewish context. And it rips 1st-century Jews — and 21st-century Israeli Jews — out of their ancestral homeland, turning them into interlopers. This is polemic masquerading as history.”


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