Actor Jim Caviezel portraying Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ."

Actor Jim Caviezel portraying Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.”

TEL AVIV – Palestinian leaders this Christmas season are bent on claiming Jesus Christ and the celebration of His birth as their own.

Despite the fact that Jesus’ birthplace of Judea wasn’t renamed “Palestine” until at least 100 years after his death, despite the fact that modern-day Palestinians didn’t adopt that name until the 20th century, Palestinian Authority officials have repeatedly claimed recently that Jesus was a “Palestinian.”

Some PA officials went so far as to claim Jesus was the first Palestinian “martyr.”

Last week, for example, PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.”

Palestinian Media Watch notes that Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash announced, “Christmas is also a Palestinian holiday, because Jesus, peace be upon him, was Palestinian. He was born in Palestine; lived and was sent [as prophet] to Palestine. Therefore, Christmas has a special Palestinian flavor.'”

Ramallah’s District Governor Laila Ghannam further expressed her hope for “victory, far off as it may be” and encouraged Palestinians to “be merry” and celebrate Christmas as, “Jesus the Messiah is Palestinian,” documented PMW.

On his Facebook page, Adnan Al-Damiri, the official spokesman of the PA Security Forces, wrote last week that at Christmas we celebrate “the anniversary of love and peace, the birth day of Jesus the Palestinian.”

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat referred in an interview to “the first martyr, the first Palestinian, Jesus.”

PMW documents that on his Facebook page, Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, wished the “united Palestinian people a new Christmas that will herald liberty, as did Jesus, the first Palestinian.”

The Bible’s Books of Luke and Matthew state Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a province of Judea. Judea also contained the cities of Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethany, Bethpage, Emmaus and others.

After the Great Jewish Revolt (66-73 A.D.) and Bar Kokhba’s revolt (132-135 A.D.), the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to Syria Palaestina. Some scholars have concluded this change was made to scrub the Jewish people of its history and relationship to the region.

Modern Palestinian leadership, as well, has attempted to rewrite history and the biblical text. In a 2007 in-person interview with WND, Chief Palestinian Justice Sheikh Taysir Tamimi claimed the Jewish Temples never existed, the Western Wall really was a tying post for Muhammad’s horse, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built by angels, and Abraham, Moses and Jesus were prophets for Islam.

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