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Jesus was a Jew, not a Palestinian

Lately we have been seeing a lot of posts about how "Jesus was Palestinian" - even from so-called academics. Even pics of nativities where baby Jesus is wrapped in a Keffiyeh     

First, let me say the (hopefully) most obvious part out loud: Jesus was a Jew. This is actually not up for debate. The real, historical Jesus (actual name: Yeshua ben Yosef) was a Jew born in the Roman province of Judea (translate: "Land of the Jews") to a Judean Mizrahi Jewish father (Yosef) and a Galilean Mizrahi Jewish mother (Miriam). We know that he wore the tzitzit and was well-versed in Torah - enough so that his followers called him "Rabbi". We also have an extensive genealogy that traces his lineage to King David of the Tribe of Judah (we cannot prove this to current genealogical standards, but even without the genealogy we can solidly say Jesus was a Judean Jew).  


I get it. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, lies in what is NOW the Palestinian West Bank. That does not make him magically, retroactively, a Palestinian. Actually, the words "Palestine" and "Palestinian" would have been meaningless to Jesus and his contemporaries, as the moniker "Syria-Palestina" was not placed on the region until approximately 100 years after Jesus' death - and it was only done by the Roman Empire as an insult to the Jews and in an attempt to alienate them from their homeland. Furthermore, the term "Palestinian" used to refer to a cohesive ethnic identity didn't occur until the 1960's. Just to be clear, that's about 1,930 years after Jesus' death.  


Let me put it this way: saying "2000 years ago the Aboriginal People of Australia & the Māori People of New Zealand were Australian & New Zealand Citizens”.  It's not only historically inaccurate, it's also pretty offensive. 


Now, bear with me because I'm about to get even more genealogical on you. The people we currently call "Palestinians" trace their heritage back to the Bronze Age Canaanites. By the Iron Age, the region was split into the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judea (both ethnically-religiously Jewish). In the 7th century BC, the Assyrian army captured a portion of the Kingdom of Israel, known as Samaria. This is where we start to see a clear ethnic schism. The population of Samaria mixed heavily with the Assyrian conquerors and became distinct (genetically and religiously) from their Jewish neighbours. This brings us to the time of Jesus. While Jesus was very clearly NOT a Samaritan, having no Samaritan relatives and not being born nor raised in Samaria, modern day Palestinians, you might have guessed, can trace much of their heritage to the Samaritans. But it goes even further than that. About 600 years after the death of Jesus came the Muslim conquests of Israel. At this time, a great deal of Arab and Persian influence (cultural, linguistic, and genetic) entered the region while the Jews were pushed out (violently, if they did not flee of their own accord). In summary, the Palestinians are descended from the indigenous Samaritan population mixed with the Arab conquerors. Mizrahi Jews remained as an ever-constant presence in Israel and the Levant, albeit under heavy oppression, while the Jews of the exile mixed to an extent with their host countries (giving us the Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews).


So, regardless of where Bethlehem now lies geo-politically, Jesus was not a "Palestinian". You cannot retroactively change someone's identity based on ever-flowing political boundaries. Not ethnically, not regionally, not religiously.

 



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