Was Jesus Palestinian?

UNESCO declared two world heritage sites last week — the Nativity church in the Palestinian territories and Cave River, where remains of pre-historic man were discovered, in Israel. Should these sites be considered as political tools, or are they simply part of the history of humankind? Famous Israeli author, Meir Shalev, wonders if Jesus was Palestinian or if pre-historic humans were Jews.

al-monitor A nun walks outside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad.

İşlenmiş konular

shaul goldstein, inpa, pre-history, homo palestinesis, jesus, cave river, nativity church, religion, world heritage, unesco, salam fayyad, palestinians, judaism, israel, christianity, bethlehem

Tem 8, 2012

We live in a very fateful period: dangers threaten us from all sides, and we are fortunate that a man with the stature of our prime minister leads the helm. And there is truly reason for hope: the prime minister barely concluded his planning of the Ulpana Hill settlement transfer project, and already threw himself into investing all his efforts in defending his giant coalition. For this purpose he even activated the enterprising Nathan Eshel (suspended-chief of cabinet of Netanyahu who still is acting on behalf of the PM in behind-the-scene negotiations), gifted cameraman and virtuous human being, and together the two will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death and yea, we shall not fear evil.

But with all due respect and gratefulness to the prime minister, last week’s news featured two local personages, not less, and even more important: one is prehistoric man, and the other is Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was the most important and influential Jew of all times, while prehistoric man, and I consider this to be even more significant, was the only normal person to have lived in this country.

These two important persons are no longer with us, unfortunately. We would all benefit to heed Jesus’ innovative ideas — ideas that closely resemble those of the biblical prophets, by the way. And with regard to prehistoric man, his "normalcy" has, regrettably, disappeared along with him. Nevertheless, occasional reminders of his existence do pop up now and again in our locale: in the slope of the forehead, in his vocabulary, his modes of expression and persuasion.

World Heritage

As aforesaid, these two personages appeared in the news last week due to the decision of the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage committee to designate two new heritage sites. One is in the Palestinian Authority’s territory — the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth according to Christian tradition. The other is in Israel’s domain — the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve (a cave river reserve in the Carmel mountains), where prehistoric man lived. To be more exact: that is the site of several early continuous human cultures that span hundreds of thousands of years.

The Heritage Site designations will benefit the maintenance of these sites, and perhaps also increase the number of tourists who will come to see them; nevertheless, the two winnings also led to interesting statements. Shaul Goldstein, CEO of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), lost no time in releasing the following statement about  Nahal Me’arot: “I am happy that UNESCO skipped over political differences and recognized an Israeli heritage site containing many values of heritage and history, Jewish and universal.” The Palestinian Authority, on their part, announced, “This is a moment of national honor and recognition of our historical and cultural rights.” Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad even expressed hope that this act will put an end to “the Israeli occupation’s damage to the Palestinian heritage and culture.”

Before I go into detail, I would like to ask Israel and the Palestinian Authority to turn their attention to the fact that the committee did not designate Jewish, Israeli or Palestinian heritage sites—but only world heritage sites. In other words: the importance of these two sites does not stem from their locations, but from their essences. In light of this, I find the enthusiasm with which Jesus of Nazareth was embraced into the bosom of Palestinian heritage, and prehistoric man into the bosom of Judaism — to be rather amusing.

One is always most acquainted with one's own self — even if pre-historical — therefore I’ll focus on the Israeli side of the equation. First of all, the words of Shaul Goldstein (CEO of the INPA) regarding the existence of Jewish heritage values in the caves of prehistoric man, are not as ridiculous as they sound. If we examine the situation, we can even reveal several commandments that were meticulously observed by prehistoric man. For example, prehistoric man never lighted fires on the Sabbath for quite a long time period — in fact, he did not light fire all week long. He even religiously observed the commandment that a male shall not wear clothes of a female and a female shall not wear clothes of a male — because prehistoric men and women actually wore no clothes at all for many years. Thus they also avoided the prohibition of shatnez (Jewish religious prohibition against wearing a fabric containing both wool and linen).

Prehistoric man also did not bow down to other gods — such as Baal and Ashtoreth, for example — and he certainly did not convert to Islam or Christianity. In order to carry out the dictate “thou shalt not commit adultery,” he avoided marriage at all costs. He respected his father and mother. Judging by the bones remains find on the site, he might have even literally dished his father with his mother… And lest we forget — prehistoric man did not enlist in the IDF and also eschewed National Service, out of principle.

And with regard to the Israeli heritage cited by Mr. Goldstein: the Nahal Me’arot Nature Preserve is the only site in the world, in which Neanderthals lived side-by-side with Homo Sapiens. What could be more Israeli than that?


Speaking of which, I cannot but wonder how CEO of INPA, Shaul Goldstein, let it slip his attention the fact that one of those pre-historical species whose remains were found at the River cave site is the one named ''Homo Palestinensis.'' As it stands, I'd like to know if he intends to convert him as well.

To the Palestinian authority we can underline that Homo Palestinensis is an important, ancient and scientifically recognized Palestinian figure. So why do they need to annex themselves a simple Jew like Jesus?

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