New York-based Muslim political activist Linda Sarsour started a mini-Twitter war after recently tweeting that Jesus was Palestinian.
“Jesus was Palestinian of Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown copper skinned with wooly hair,” she tweeted last Saturday, July 6.
This led to a more than 24-hour debate about the Jewish and Palestinian roots of Jesus.
Sarsour noted that Palestinian is a nationality and Judaism a religion, implying that there is no contradiction between Jesus being both Jewish and Palestinian.
“Palestinian is a nationality not a religion. Your point is not negated. Jews lived with Palestinians in peaceful co-existence before there was a state of Israel,” she tweeted.
She then switched from insisting that Jesus was from Nazareth, which currently is in Israeli territory, to remind her followers that he was born in Bethlehem, which currently is part of the Palestinian Authority.
She tweeted: “Why so upset by the truth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem aka بيت لحم in Arabic. Bethlehem is in Palestine. It’s currently militarily occupied by Israel and home to a predominately beautiful Palestinian Christian community. Yes, the birthplace of Jesus is under military occupation.”
Some followers pointed out that Palestine as a concept did not exist until over a century after Jesus died and that the land on which both Bethlehem and Nazareth were situated was called Judea.
She continued to double down on the “multiple truths” about Jesus – that he could be Palestinians and Jewish, finally saying she had enough “Jesus talk” and would turn her attention to the Women’s World Cup finals. End of discussion.
The Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman wrote Sunday that: “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.”
Marcy Oster writes for the JTA international news agency and wire service.