When should we stop taking a person seriously? When someone knowingly spreads what we now call “fake news” even in light of abundant evidence to the contrary, shouldn’t we revoke any and all legitimacy previously granted to that person?
In today’s charged political atmosphere, that’s what folks on both the Left and Right eagerly do to one another. When one side makes a dubious claim, the other is quick to highlight contradicting evidence and thus proclaim their rivals unfit to public discourse.
So why do we keep giving the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership the benefit of the doubt?
This past week, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has been at it again. Opening a government meeting in Ramallah, he charged:
“The occupation [Israel] is trying in vain to change Jerusalem’s features and practice policies of expansion, annexation, racism and ethnic cleansing…
“We are on the outskirts of the eternal capital, the jewel of the crown, the point where the earth meets the sky, the flower of cities and the hearth of the hearts of the believers, Muslims and Christians, who come to it to perform their prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and walk the path of suffering to perform their prayers in the Church of the Resurrection… Jerusalem, which includes Canaanite, Roman, Islamic, and Christian monuments, is for them only, and others have no traces in it.”
No one but Canaanites, Romans, Muslims and Christians have any trace of history in Jerusalem? Really??
It’s far from the first time that Shtayyeh and other Palestinian leaders have publicly proclaimed such falsehoods as facts. Nor should such talk be dismissed as throw-away populist rhetoric. Repeatedly painting the Jews as an unwelcome alien presence stirs up hatred, which leads to violence. And Shtayyeh’s smart enough to know that. In fact, Shtayyeh’s smart enough to have earned a doctorate in economic development from a prestigious university in the UK, in addition to being a long-time prominent politician on the international stage.
Sounds like a serious fellow, right? So why’s he regurgitating narratives that are so painfully untrue? That he and other Palestinian leaders want to perpetuate at least a low-level conflict is obvious to anyone with their eyes open. It’s the demonstrable deceitfulness of it all that really irks. That and the fact that people around the world are buying it!
Anyone who has been to Jerusalem knows that the evidence of Jewish history in this city is so overwhelming that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But even if archaeologists hadn’t succeeded in digging up any Jewish history, and even if all other written sources attesting to Jewish history here (like those of the Romans that Shtayyeh mentioned) were lost, there’d still be the Bible.
Try as they might, Shtayyeh and his like-minded Palestinian revisionists can’t escape the Bible.
The Palestinian prime minister was happy to include Christians among those with a stake in the Holy City. But who were those early Christians following? If Shtayyeh had bothered to do even the most rudimentary research, he’d realize that Christians follow a man who the Romans themselves labeled as “King of the Jews.”
The New Testament identifies Jesus, his followers and the entire society around them as Jewish more times than the average reader cares to count. In other words, simply open one of the gospels to almost any chapter and you’ll be made abundantly aware that the events described took place in a Jewish setting.
Shtayyeh clearly didn’t bother to do that. But to assert that Jews were never in Jerusalem, and to recruit Christianity to bolster that argument when the New Testament states otherwise, should be a level of revisionism with which Christians take offense.
As a Christian, I certainly take offense at the Palestinian leader telling me that the New Testament in my hand is wrong in all those places where it tells me that Jesus, Peter, John and Paul were Jews. Because if the New Testament is wrong on that oft-repeated point, can any of it be trusted?
If Muslims want to lie to themselves regarding the historical presence of Jews in this region (even though their own religion is replete with evidence affirming this), that’s their problem. Leave us Christians out of it.