[by Dean Smith] Just before Christmas, the Palestinian Authority rewrote history. It has become a bit of an annual event in Palestine.
Over the past few years, a few days before December 25th, the Palestinians roll out a number of officials who make statements claiming Jesus was a Palestinian. This year was no different.
According to the Wafa News Agency on December 22, 2014, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas said:
“We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.”
This was followed by another statement by Palestinian Sharia Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash who added:
“Christmas is also a Palestinian Holiday, because Jesus, peace be upon Him was a Palestinian. He was born in Palestine, lived and was sent [as a prophet] to Palestine. Therefore, Christmas has a special Palestinian flavour.”
But perhaps the best statement was reserved for Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, who at the lighting of a Christmas tree in Jericho, described Jesus as “the first Martyr, the first Palestinian.”
According to the Bible, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1-6). At the time, the cities of Jerusalem and Jericho were also part of this province.
The Old Testament prophet Micah predicted Bethlehem would be the birth place of a new ruler of Israel (Micah 5:2). By adding the statement, “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (NIV), Micah seemed to imply the pre-existence of the new ruler, a reference to Jesus’ deity.
Bethlehem now sits in Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
The Romans changed the name of the province from Judea to Palestine (actually Syria Palestine) after two revolts by the Jewish people decades after Jesus’ death. During the first revolt (66 AD to 73 AD), the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple (70 AD), which Jesus prophesied.
But it was the second revolt between 132 AD t0 135 AD that caused the Romans to rename the area to Palestine. Some suspect they were trying to remove any Jewish connection to the region. In fact, the name Palestine was chosen as a spin-off of the word Philistine, the hated enemy of the Israelis.
This renaming of Judea to Palestine took place about 130 years after the birth of Jesus.