Linda Sarsour, a well-known progressive political activist, suggested over the weekend Jesus was, at least in part, a Palestinian man.
In a series of tweets, Sarsour argued Jesus was both Palestinian and Jewish, claiming “multiple truths can co-exist.” While the Son of God was religiously Jewish, she said he was born in what was — and is — geographically Palestinian territory.
Yair, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also tweeted his opposition to Sarsour’s claim about Jesus’ origin:
Most of Sarsour’s critics, like the Democratic Majority for Israel and Netanyahu’s son, pointed to the fact that, according to the biblical account of Jesus’ life, Palestine was not an established demographic at the time.
While there is disagreement over the origin of the word “Palestine,” it is generally accepted the descriptor wasn’t put into use until more than a century after Jesus’ crucifixion, around 135 CE.
During Jesus’ lifetime, the land on which both Nazareth and Bethlehem were situated was called Judea — very much a Jewish territory.
Seth Frantzman, op-ed editor for The Jerusalem Post, argued in a recent column that efforts to suggest Jesus was in any way Palestinian are an attempt “to erase the Jewish history of the Land of Israel.”
He took issue with Sarsour’s decision to reference the Quran in her description of Jesus and argued it is possible for Palestinians to revere Jesus without rewriting his ethnic heritage:
There is no reason to repackage Jesus as Palestinian. He can be a historical figure from Bethlehem or Nazareth without being “Palestinian.” Sarsour’s attempt to reference the Quran is interesting because she seems to not mention other aspects of how Jesus is described in Islamic theology. For instance, he is seen as a messenger to the ‘Children of Israel’ and an adherent of the laws of Moses. He is linked to the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes of Israel, as well as kings David and Solomon.
This is not the first time claims about Jesus’ geographical background have come up. I outlined several biblical passages that reveal Jesus’ Jewish heritage in April, after a column in The New York Times claimed Jesus was not a Jew, but of Palestinian descent.
At the time, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) faced criticism for retweeting the Times op-ed suggesting Jesus was from Palestine.