The Airbrushing of Middle East History

by MELANIE PHILLIPS September 17, 2010
In the Guardian, Giles Tremlett writes about Europe’s first Christian theme park in Mallorca. He writes:
Exact details are scant, but the Buenos Aires park offers its re-enactments of the creation of mankind, the birth of Christ, the resurrection and the last supper eight times a day. With a cast of extras in the costumes of Romans and early Palestinians, the park advertises itself as ‘a place where everyone can learn about the origins of spirituality.
‘Early Palestinians’, eh? And just who were these ‘early Palestinians’? Well, they were what we would otherwise call... Jews. Jesus was a Jew. The ‘last supper’ was the Jewish Passover seder. The land of the New Testament was called Judea and Samaria. The people who lived there and were persecuted by the Romans were not called Palestinians. They were Jews.
Yet Jews do not figure at all in Tremlett’s story (whether they figure as such in Mallorca’s theme park itself is not clear). This is not some idle mistake. This is the wholesale adoption of the fictional Arab narrative which airbrushes the Jews out of their own story and claims, falsely, that Jesus was a Palestinian.
Much of this rewriting of history comes from Arab Christians based at the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem under the aegis of Father Naim Ateek (who is such a personal favourite with so many in the Church of England), and which is a crucial source of systematic, theologically-based lies and libels about Israel. Ateek has revived the ancient Christian doctrine of supersessionism, or replacement theology – the doctrine which said the Jews had forfeited all God’s promises to them which had been inherited instead by the Christians, and which fuelled centuries of Christian anti-Jewish pogroms -- and fused it with ‘Palestinianism’ to create the mendacious impression that the Palestinian Arabs were the original inhabitants of the land of Israel and that Jesus was a ‘Palestinian’.
Ateek has sought to plant the impression that the Jews are crucifying the ‘Palestinians’ just as they helped crucify Jesus. In December 2000, he wrote that Palestinian Christmas celebrations were ‘marred by the destructive powers of the modern-day ‘Herods’ in the Israeli government.’ In his 2001 Easter message, he wrote: ‘The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.’ And, in a sermon in February 2001, he likened the Israeli occupation to the boulder sealing Christ’s tomb. With these three images, Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for trying to kill the infant Jesus, crucifying him and blocking the resurrection of Christ. And in 2005 Sabeel issued a liturgy titled ‘The Contemporary Stations of the Cross’ that equates Israel’s founding with Jesus’ death sentence and the construction of a security barrier with his crucifixion.
It is a narrative which gives the lie to the naive belief that the Middle East impasse is a fight over land boundaries. It is instead an attempt to excise from the region not just the Jewish state of Israel, not just every single Jew from a future state of Palestine, but the historical evidence that this land – including Judea and Samaria – was the Jewish national home centuries before Arabs invaded and conquered it, and many more centuries before Arabs started to style themselves as Palestinian. It is an attack on Jewish historical national identity in order to justify the attempt to destroy the Jewish nation state.
That is why the Arabs have destroyed so much archeological evidence of the ancient kingdom of Judea gathered from excavations on the Temple Mount. That’s why the Jews are being airbrushed out of the history of the region, the origins of Jesus and of their own story.
Isn’t it wonderful to have quality newspapers written by educated writers? Contributing Editor Melanie Phillips is the author of the powerful and frightening "Londonistan" which can be purchased here and she blogs at The Spectator.

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