Friday, August 7, 2015

Was Jesus Like a Settler in the West Bank?

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, who was mentioned in a previous post, recently made a speech comparing Jesus to a settler in the West Bank.
Kulanu MK Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US, said that former American presidents John Adams and Abraham Lincoln thought it was their duty as good Americans and good Christians to help Jews return to the land of Israel. He recalled how a Christian Congressmen from West Texas opened a Bible and asked him how much funding Israel required for the Iron Dome missile defense system.

"US-Israel relations go back to spiritual ties," Oren said. "God speaks only one language and it's the language in which we are yelling at each other in the next hall. Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist would today be considered Jewish settlers in Bethlehem. We are on a holy mission to ensure the Jewish state remains strong and beloved." (Gil Hoffman, "Oren: Jesus today would be a settler", Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2015.)
What an anachronism.

In Jesus' day there were no settlers. At the time the people who lived there were Jewish. There were no Jewish settlers in those days.

To me this statement indicates that he doesn't really believe the settlers have a right to live in the West Bank. Why else would he make such a factually false statement? Why say Jesus was like a settler when there were no settlers back then? This is a false equivalence.

Many within Israel are not impressed with this statement. One Israeli columnist, Bradley Burston, responded to the anachronistic statement with these words.
Where would you look for such a man [as Jesus today]? ...

These days, you might expect to find him in Susya. Not the Jewish settlement founded in the '80s, but the much, much older Palestinian village. The Palestinian village whose people have been evicted from their homes, stripped of their lands, physically assaulted by settler youths, and forced to resettle in a place where they are now under imminent threat of wholesale house demolition and mass expulsion by the dictates of settler leaders to the occupation officials who serve them.

You would expect to find him in the Palestinian village of Susya because Jesus was not a Jewish settler. He was a rabbi for human rights. (Bradley Burston, "No, Jesus was not a Jewish settler. He was a rabbi for human rights", Haaretz, July 27, 2015.)
Jesus was not a settler. Back then there were no Jewish settlers as there are now in the West Bank. It is a false equivalence to say that about Jesus. It is anachronistic to say Jesus was like a settler since there were none back then.

There is already enough misunderstandings already. We don't need another one.

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