Was Peter a Palestinian?
At a time when modern Jewish Scholarship is taking seriously the Jewishness of the man Jesus, a new narrative is emerging—one that turns the Gospel it into a fictional Palestinian story, denying the Jewishness of Jesus or his mother Miriam. This version was portrayed in a recent article that embraces the new rage to challenge Christian Zionism—evangelical support for Modern Israel. Many young people in the evangelical community are ditching Israel in favor of Palestine. In fact, the writer’s father has been an ardent supporter of Israel over the years. But the new social justice generation (which we view as good!) sees Israel as Goliath and the Palestinians (backed by one billion Arabs!) as David.
The problem is they are being duped. Theologically and politically they are swallowing the new Palestinian Narrative without doing a proper background check. It goes like this:
Palestine was a nation that Israel took over.
‘Palestinian’ is a nationality that goes back to New Testament times.
The Security Fence (that stopped Suicide Bombing in its tracks) was built to harm Palestinians.
Palestinian Christianity can be traced back to the disciples.
Jesus (Son of David!) was actually a Palestinian freedom fighter and Bethlehem was not a Jewish town, but Palestinian.
Arafat was the first to declare that Jesus was the first Palestinian. Other’s followed suit:
“We must not forget that Messiah [Jesus] is a Palestinian, the son of Mary the Palestinian.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 18, 2005] “We celebrate this holiday [Christmas] to mark the birth of the Palestinian prophet.” (Official Palestinian Authority TV, Dec. 25, 2013) “Jesus was a Palestinian and that the Christian faith started specifically in Bethlehem and spread to the rest of the world.” Father Raed Abu Sahliya referring to a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (WAFA news agency, Dec. 23, 2013)
And here is one directly from the Palestinian President:
“In Bethlehem, more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born; a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world.” (WAFA news agency, Dec. 23, 2013)
And it is not just politicians and newspapers are preaching this lie. Palestinian Pastor Mitri Rehab said:
“The Palestinian Church was started on Pentecost 2,000 years ago…Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Palestine under imperial occupation, Roman occupation.” (at Christ at the Checkpoint)
Bethlehem, Palestine? Really? The angels appeared to the Jewish shepherds in an Arab country? Was David also born in Palestine?
An Arafat Invention
The Palestinian flag was created only in 1964 by the PLO, a non-state and only adopted as the official Palestinian state flag in 1988, disproving the myth of a former Palestine.
This is what the PLO has been doing since its creation in 1964. They have sought to invent a narrative, that the Palestinian people predated Jesus, when in fact, a Palestinian national Arab identity—separate from Jordan—doesn’t even predate 1964! The Palestinian flag was adopted as the official flag of the future state in 1988!
Walid Shoebat lived in the West Bank when it was part of Jordan in 1967. Israeli forces pushed the Jordanian army over the Jordan River. “Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?” referring to the invention of a Palestinian nationality. He continues, “they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all at once we had a Palestinian flag.”
For instance the 1,500,000 Israeli Arabs who live in the land that the PLO wanted to liberate when they formed, the land they referred to as Palestinian do not call themselves Palestinian Arabs. In case you did not get that—the Palestine Liberation Organization was created in 1964—when the West Bank was Jordan’s and Gaza was Egypt’s. So the Palestine they wanted to liberate was Israel (as in Tel Aviv, not the West Bank)! And the Arabs who live inside Israel do not consider themselves Palestinian.
Why would the Jewish-owned Newspaper name itself after a Arab Nationality? Of course, they would not. Palestine was the name of the region, not the people.
The word Palestine came about in 135 CE, 105 years after Yeshua, when the Romans (not Arabs) renamed the Jewish region of Judea to Palestine—long before the Arabs who now go by that name lived there. In 1948 there was not one Arab who thought Palestinian was a nationality. In fact, the Jewish-owned newspaper was called the Palestinian Post.
All the way back to the first disciples…really?
The aforementioned evangelical article quotes Palestinian legislator Dr. Hanan Ashrawi without mentioning that she that she was very active with Yassar Arafat during the first intifada.
“Palestinians are the descendants of the early Christians. We are probably the straightest line to original Christianity. The Christian presence in Palestine is important. Christianity is part and parcel of the Palestinian identity.”
The author goes on to say:
The modern Palestinian Christian community traces its roots back to Pentecost, representing an unbroken Christian presence in the land of Jesus since the first disciples.
The author, a bright young man, just accepts these claims at truth. Even a minor examination reveals the absurdity of these assertions.
1. There were no Palestinians in the time of Yeshua. Not one. Zero!
2. The straightest line to original Christianity would clearly be Messianic Judaism as the first apostles were all Jewish.
3. Christianity has no historic connection with the Palestinian people—as they did not exist as an ethnic identity until very recently.
4. The modern Palestinian Christian community could not trace its roots back to Pentecost, as there were no Arabs at Pentecost—only Jews visiting Jerusalem for the Jewish Holiday.
5. The word Palestine is not mentioned once in the New Testament (because it did not exist!)
To suggest that some or all of the disciples were Arab Palestinians—and use this lie to legitimize a fake Palestinian heritage is one thing. For a Christian magazine to reprint these lies without investigation is truly shocking. Where is the scholarship or journalist integrity? Why not seek out a dissenting view? Was it Simon the Jewish zealot that was actually Palestinian? Or was it the Apostle Peter?
When Truth Gets in the Way, It Must be Silenced
Several people respectfully shared these points with the author. The response—their online magazine simply turned off the comments feature for that article. Rather than retract the falsehoods—they silenced the critics.
Yes, without historical investigation, evangelicals are buying into a clearly false narrative and a historical lie in order to justify anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian sentiments. Theologians like Dr. Gary Burge are now challenging the idea that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy.
This is very dangerous as Paul warned that if the wild branches (Gentiles), who through faith, were grafted into God’s olive tree, turned against the natural branches (Ethnic Israel), they too could be broken off (Rom. 11:17-23). That doesn’t mean Israel is perfect or shouldn’t be challenged when crimes are committed—as in any country. But overall, there is an expectation in the Scripture that the End Times Church will befriend the Jewish people and ‘provoke her to jealousy’ (Rom. 11:11). Paul says that even as the nations have received through Israel their Messiah, they have a debt of gratitude towards Israel (Rom. 15:27).
Concerning these mysteries surrounding Israel, Paul says, “ I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited.” Sadly that is what is happening.