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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Propaganda from a "Palestinian theologian"

Hudson-NY has an interesting article by Malcolm Love about "Palestinian theologian" Mitri Raheb.

Here are some excerpts:

The "first assumption" of his new way of thinking, he announced, is that "the Bible could not have been written anywhere else but in Palestine." Now, such books as Esther and Revelation explicitly state that they were composed outside the Land of Israel (in Persia and on a Greek island respectively). Is Raheb so ignorant of his Bible?

His second assumption is outrageous, echoing nineteenth century attempts to obscure the Jewish origins of Jesus, which peaked in the "Aryan Christianity" of Nazi Germany. It is that "the Palestinian people and part of the Jewish people are the continuation of the peoples of the land" whereas "Israel represents Rome of the Bible, not the people of the land."

Why? Because "I'm sure if we were to do a DNA test between David, who was a Bethlehemite, and Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and Mitri, born just across the street from where Jesus was born, I'm sure the DNA will show that there is a trace. While, if you put King David, Jesus and Netanyahu, you will get nothing, because Netanyahu comes from an East European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages."

Even if Raheb's claims about the ancestry of himself and Binyamin Netanyahu were true, he would be putting them at the service of a shameless racism. But, of course, he also has not the slightest evidence to support those claims. He knows nothing of Netanyahu's ancestry. And he himself, for all he knows, may be descended from Greek pilgrims or from Europeans who arrived with the Crusaders, as I have pointed out elsewhere. As for DNA, had he taken the trouble, Raheb could have found that genetic studies on Jews have shown that European Jews are genetically much more closely related to Jews in the Middle East, and even to some non-Jews there, than to non-Jewish Europeans.

Recall that the leitmotif of "Christ at the Checkpoint" was the claim that today Israeli checkpoints would prevent Joseph, Mary and Jesus from ever getting to Bethlehem. In fact, of course, if today a Jewish couple expecting their first child tried to set up house in Bethlehem, they would be denounced by the UN, the US State Department and all the world's foreign ministries as illegal settlers. And Mary would be lucky to live long enough to give birth.

So here comes Raheb to the rescue. As Yasser Arafat liked to say, Jesus and Mary were not Jews but Palestinians; so no problem. "And being born just across the street from where Jesus was born," adds Raheb, "I always loved to say that most probably one of my grand, grand, grand, grandmas used to babysit for Jesus." Once again, Raheb displays ignorance of or contempt for his Bible. According to Matthew's Gospel, the Holy Family fled Bethlehem for Egypt shortly after the birth of Jesus. If anyone babysat for Jesus, it was Copts.

We need not pursue further Raheb's "new thinking" except to note its fundamental aim: to show that wherever the Bible talks about a Chosen People, it means today's Palestinians and specifically the Palestinian Arab Christians. Yes, he really means to make that preposterous claim. Consider a few quotations, and note that his initial inclusion of "part of the Jewish people" has vanished: now it is just Palestinians.

"Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith." "So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren't Israel. This experience I'm talking about, it's only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome." "It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given..."

If one reads attentively all the "Palestinian theology" produced by Raheb and Ateek and their like, one finds that this claim about Palestinian chosenness, with the concomitant disqualification of Israel, is the whole point of the exercise. All the rest is baseless rigmarole, churned out in the attempt to get to that conclusion. 
I didn't know it was so easy to make up theologies. Good to know. Maybe I'll make one up where Palestinian Arabs are really Philistines and quote liberally from Samuel I 7.