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A Palestinian messenger

Israel/Palestine
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Kerry in Jerusalem

John Kerry in Jerusalem

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

The Christian messages keep coming. First Edward Snowden, then the Pope, now Mahmoud Abbas. Shall the last become first?

Perhaps. But if the news is accurate, it seems that America’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, is determined to dampen Abbas’s Christian cheer.

Reports are that the US plan to be presented to Israel and the Palestinians will include an Apartheid Wall in the Jordan Valley. The Palestinians in the West Bank would be walled in on both the Israeli and Jordanian side.

If such a proposal doesn’t prompt a real and final walk out by the Palestinian Authority, they are beyond the pale. Even Jesus can’t save them.

Of course, every day, Kerry adds new amendments to his plan. Expect more shifts in the coming days.

It seems that details of Kerry’s plan depend on which way the Israeli or Palestinian wind is blowing. Kerry’s lack of direction – and substance – is no doubt why he is a failed Secretary of State rather a former President of the United States.

Walls are physical enclosures. They are symbolic markers as well. No matter what the Palestinians do, their destiny is to be surrounded by foreign powers. How much leeway Palestine has to interact with these powers is crucial.

To think of any governing authority signing onto any variation of Kerry’s proposal boggles the mind. It’s a Vichy-like set-up. Palestinian leadership would be seen by many as collaborators in their own ghettoization.

To say that more Palestinian suffering would ensue if the PA refused to govern, that, for example, people’s salaries would be unpaid, that the economy would collapse, anarchy would ensue or that corruption and gangland violence would rule – all of this may be true. However, it is also possible that a concentrated effort by Palestinians to survive through mutual solidarity would win the day.

Would the international community wake-up if Abbas simply quit, shut the government down and went on the lam? Refusal to accept tyranny can be contagious.

When the Pope visits in March, perhaps, once arrived, he, too, might go on the lam. It would certainly draw the attention of the world if the Pope disappeared into a Palestinian refugee camp and refused to leave.

What do Abbas and the Pope have to lose?

As the noose is tightened, Abbas didn’t say much in his Christmas message and, strangely enough, the news lead in many newspapers was that Abbas had referred to Jesus, not as a Jew but as a “Palestinian messenger.”  Abbas put it this way: “In Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born; a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world. As we Palestinians strive for our freedom two millennia later, we do our best to follow his example. We work with hope, seeking justice, in order to achieve a lasting peace.”

A Palestinian messenger, indeed, and we have to add, a Jewish one at that. This makes Jesus a Palestinian Jew.

A Jewish Palestinian Jesus joining Abbas and the Pope in Palestine would certainly get the world’s attention.

Is John Kerry listening? Perhaps he should join them too.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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26 Responses

  1. Walid
    Walid
    December 27, 2013, 10:05 am

    “If such a proposal doesn’t prompt a real and final walk out by the Palestinian Authority, they are beyond the pale. Even Jesus can’t save them.”

    I’ll wait for his reaction to the proposal before I make up my mind about him. So far, I’ve been guessing about him but there’s still a chance Abbas may become a hero if he walks out and goes straight to the UN.

    • Theo
      Theo
      December 27, 2013, 1:23 pm

      Walid

      I admire your faith in the impossible, but remember in real life there are no wonders!! Abbas is a pudgy butterball without any backbone and courage, he certainly will not risk losing the support of his present donors. The palestinians desperatly need a new set of politicians, however I do not see anyone on the horizon, they are all in israeli jails.

  2. JeffB
    JeffB
    December 27, 2013, 10:34 am

    To think of any governing authority signing onto any variation of Kerry’s proposal boggles the mind. It’s a Vichy-like set-up.

    Yes. That’s what Oslo was an agreement to a Vichy-like set-up. That’s the idea. The Palestinians get a self governing colony so they can develop in peace, the Israelis get a security buffer of the Palestinians. The war ends. The Israelis have even less faith in the Palestinians than they did two decades ago in Palestinians intentions so the terms and conditions keep getting worse but that’s always been what Oslo was about. That’s why Arafat said “no” at Camp David.

    is no doubt why he is a failed Secretary of State rather a former President of the United States.

    Failed at what? The Obama administration is one of the most successful foreign policy diplomacy administrations I can think of. Syria is a huge win. Iran is turning into a huge win. North Korea is looking good. There was a flare up in India that he played well.

    Who is a good Secretary of State? What’s the criteria? Clinton did mostly the same stuff. Condoleezza Rice? Colin Powell? Albright? Warren Christopher?

    Would the international community wake-up if Abbas simply quit, shut the government down and went on the lam? Refusal to accept tyranny can be contagious.

    Wake up to what? Most of the world’s leadership understands the plan. It isn’t a big secret. The quartet the ones imposing this are the USA, UN, Europe, Russia. The Arab league is kinda questionable but ultimately if this fails does the Arab league start negotiating directly on behalf of the Palestinians? That would mean “normalization”. That would probably work in getting the Palestinians a somewhat better deal but it is hard to see how it is in their interests.

    To say that more Palestinian suffering would ensue if the PA refused to govern, that, for example, people’s salaries would be unpaid, that the economy would collapse, anarchy would ensue or that corruption and gangland violence would rule – all of this may be true. However, it is also possible that a concentrated effort by Palestinians to survive through mutual solidarity would win the day.

    Why didn’t more or less the same strategy win the day in Gaza?

    • libra
      libra
      December 27, 2013, 12:44 pm

      JeffB: Yes. That’s what Oslo was an agreement to a Vichy-like set-up.

      And what’s Israel’s role in this Vichy-like set-up, Jeff? Did you think through this analogy before boasting of it?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 27, 2013, 1:15 pm

        @libra —

        I think any comparisons of Israel to the Nazis are inherently anti-Semetic. There are thousands of other regimes one could choose to equally well make the point. But if the left insists on demeaning the uniqueness of the holocaust and discuss the Nazi regime like any other global power then we’ll talk about the Nazi regimes like a global power.

        What is unique about the Nazis was not things like Vichy. Setting up puppet friendly regimes after an invasion is the norm. It is a civilized way to govern that diminishes bloodshed. What was unique about the Nazis was their fierce racial hatred and the final solution. Those properties Israel doesn’t have at all. Israel has worked hard on diminishing racism from the time it first started getting Mizhari. As for the final solution if Israel ever invades Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq to bring Palestinians en mass back to Israel for execution then the comparison will be appropriate.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 27, 2013, 5:59 pm

        @ JeffB

        ” What was unique about the Nazis was their fierce racial hatred and the final solution.”

        What’s not “fierce racial/ethnic hatred” about the Zionist premise that Israel’s justification for its existence and whatever it does to whomever (that it can get away with considering Nuremberg /Geneva law & modern technical transparency media) to maintain Israel as a Jewish state, as large a one as possible, as eternal insurance policy against eternal Goy hatred of the Jew?

        The US government recognized Vichy government as the representative of the French people until 1944. It’s the same country that supports the PA now. Adolf Hitler decided that leaving a French government in place would relieve Germany of the considerable burden of administering French territory. Similarly, Israsel does not pay for the Palestinians in its OT. The Gentile nations do. Placing the PA in the West Bank and Gaza has certainly relieved the IOF of the burden of administrating a high Palestinian population.
        Only few French resisted the Nazi occupation. The majority chose life over dignity. The Palestinians choose both life and dignity. The dismantling of the PA is essential to the unity of the Palestinian resistance to the Zionist occupation. The Palestinians have been hit by the Vichy Syndrome. Nonetheless, history lessons teach us that the Palestinian Vichy Government will fall eventually.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 27, 2013, 11:52 pm

        @Citizen

        What’s not “fierce racial/ethnic hatred” about the Zionist premise that Israel’s justification for its existence and whatever it does to whomever (that it can get away with considering Nuremberg /Geneva law & modern technical transparency media) to maintain Israel as a Jewish state, as large a one as possible, as eternal insurance policy against eternal Goy hatred of the Jew?

        That’s not even a sentence.

        Similarly, Israsel does not pay for the Palestinians in its OT. The Gentile nations do. Placing the PA in the West Bank and Gaza has certainly relieved the IOF of the burden of administrating a high Palestinian population.

        The PA isn’t running Gaza. Further it isn’t Israel that’s calling for all these foreign governments running around Israeli territory. For example the Europeans are threatening to cut of PA aide, you don’t hear the Israelis being unhappy about that. The PA cut tremendous aide after the Israeli incursions in the West Bank, Israel didn’t care. The PA cut much of the aide off to Hamas
        after the various Hamas / Israel wars damaged stuff they had paid to build. Given Israel’s repeated actions I think they seems mostly indifferent to the aide.

        As for the West Bank colonial scheme with the PA, yes. That’s one of the few things that Israel gets out that scheme.

        The dismantling of the PA is essential to the unity of the Palestinian resistance to the Zionist occupation.

        To be replaced with Hamas? Anything else isn’t unity with Gaza. Israel might be fine with organizing town councils. If it is too much trouble they would likely be fine with anarchy and let a gangster government form in a total vacuum. But I suspect that if the PA collapses Hamas wins. Hamas seems like for all its many flaws it genuinely does represent Palestinian popular opinion as best as possible.

        But if I were rooting for the Palestinians I’d be rooting for Abbas. The Palestinians need to stabilize they are collapsing rapidly. They can’t keep up a pace of losing or even fighting this many wars. Harsh as it may sound, they want traditional colonialism. Settler colonialism is much more dangerous. If Israel can be induced to comfortable with the Palestinians presence and begin to reintegrate them into the economy they have a much stronger hand. Right now they are a surplus population. Because of the terrorism in the last decade they are genuinely hated by many Israelis. That’s a very scary place to be.

        Dignity is BS. They need a long term survival strategy if they want there to be a Palestinian people, at least of any meaningful size, in 2200. IMHO you by feeding them false hopes are encouraging them to run right into a buzz saw.

        Nonetheless, history lessons teach us that the Palestinian Vichy Government will fall eventually.

        Everything falls eventually. The question is how long and what comes next.

      • puppies
        puppies
        December 27, 2013, 1:22 pm

        He must have; it’s consistent and fits perfectly with the logic. His position does reflect that of the Zionist government and checks entirely with the Nazi side’s look at Vichy. Why, Vichy was one of their big successes, as Oslo is a smashing success for the Zionists.
        One difference may be that the Vichy zone was somewhat better protected from Nazi exactions and massacres than the West Bank and Gaza are today.

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      December 27, 2013, 1:29 pm

      A ‘self-governing colony’? Ha ha, if you believe the complacent tripe you peddle, then you really are ignorant about the situation, or simply callously indifferent. To maintain such a state of ignorant bliss, like Shavit and Beinart, you need these kind of heavy-duty blinkers to avoid seeing the bleeding obvious. Which is more or less what you expect from ziofreaks inside their little cocoon of fantasy.

  3. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    December 27, 2013, 11:59 am

    Gaza’s sole power plant shuts down again due to a lack of fuel.

    ‘May you live in the hell you created.’

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 27, 2013, 12:44 pm

      Best time of year to direct all garbage and sewers into the Med. Winter currents will carry them to TA.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 27, 2013, 12:27 pm

    RE: “Why didn’t more or less the same strategy win the day in Gaza?”

    Because Obama ignored OP Cast Lead when it happened, and he threw the Goldstone Report in the garbage bin when the UN tried to call Israel to account. And Goldstone himself dissed his own co-authored report when he was shunned by the Jewish Establishment.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 27, 2013, 11:58 pm

      @Citizen

      However, it is also possible that a concentrated effort by Palestinians to survive through mutual solidarity would win the day…

      RE: “Why didn’t more or less the same strategy win the day in Gaza?”

      Because Obama ignored OP Cast Lead when it happened, and he threw the Goldstone Report in the garbage bin when the UN tried to call Israel to account. And Goldstone himself dissed his own co-authored report when he was shunned by the Jewish Establishment.

      Thank you for a real answer! But do you see the problem? Under your theory a concerted effort doesn’t work when:

      a) The US doesn’t much care about the welfare of the Palestinians.
      b) The Jewish establishment is able to effectually undermine the public case.

      Do you think either (a) or (b) would fail to be true if there was a concerted effort in the West Bank 2015-2020?

  5. Scott
    Scott
    December 27, 2013, 12:53 pm

    It can seem almost hackneyed, but the idea of Jesus being Palestinian can pack quite a punch when you first hear it. In the mid 90’s, at a mainstream Protestant church on Madison Avenue, I heard the minister describe Mary as a poor Palestinian woman, or something like that. It might have been the first time ever I had heard Palestinians spoken of in a favorable context. (And I was a media professional, already middle aged.) In a way it’s a a kind of rhetorical trick, though of course the idea that one can be Jewish and Palestinian is quite genuine, pointing to the promise of a genuine non ethnic state for all its citizens. I once made reference to this moment in passing, and was slammed for giving credence to a liberation theology rendering, or something. Though I guess I was, though not cognizant of it at the time.

    • puppies
      puppies
      December 27, 2013, 1:08 pm

      ” the idea of Jesus being Palestinian can pack quite a punch when you first hear it”

      Especially if you pair it with the treatment of bona fide Palestinian Jews by the Zionists, even today: intimidation, terrorist attacks, torture, etc.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 28, 2013, 12:04 pm

      “It can seem almost hackneyed, but the idea of Jesus being Palestinian can pack quite a punch when you first hear it.”

      According to the Gospels, Jesus was Jewish by religion and ancestry, raised a Galilean. The region was always so pitifully weak politically and militarily that any number of labels appended to that land, at various times, so to call the land Israel or Palestine are equally supportable (and equally wrong, as he was born in Iudeae Province, a subject of the Roman Empire.)

      But calling him a Palestinian is rhetorically powerful because in both his life and the current world, the area is occupied by a polity with its origins in Europe which descended on the native people of the land and denied them their national aspirations. So “Palestinian Jew” is an apt description, politically, if historically a bit off.

  6. puppies
    puppies
    December 27, 2013, 12:58 pm

    “It’s a Vichy-like set-up.” Waking up after 20 years?

  7. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    December 27, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Abbas’ message hits all the right notes for Christian solidarity activists. He certainly understands the concerns of Palestine’s Christian supporters. One might question whether he is entirely sincere in his expressions about human rights, 67-borders, non-violent resistance, etc. But we allow so many others to be optimistic at Christmas, why not grant the same to Abbas?

  8. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    December 27, 2013, 9:41 pm

    How do they assert that Jesus was Jewish, even their law says one who converts to Christianity is no longer Jewish? And what about the complaints in what was it, The Forward, about how 30% of Jews think you can believe Jesus was the Messiah and still be Jewish? I discussed this earlier with Woody, if memory serves me right.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 27, 2013, 11:42 pm

      I think they take the line that Jesus (if he existed at all) was initially Jewish – born of a Jewish mother* and brought up as a Jew. They may have noted that there is nothing particularly unJewish about his teachings (as portrayed in the Gospels) and that his immediate followers (again, following Luke’s second novel) carried on being Jews. There were various “Jewish Christian” groups around for quite a while afterwards.
      Christianity as we know it seems to have been invented in Antioch, perhaps by Paul, if he existed.

      (*Though of questionable paternity. God or a passing Roman soldier called Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pantera ?)

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 30, 2013, 10:28 am

        RoHa,

        I can see what you mean, however the State does not include “Messianic Christians”, who still follow the ritual requirements, under the Law of Return due to the part of the law saying that changing religion changes nationality.

        In other words, the conditions you laid down- parentage, self-identification, following the gospels, are not enough to prevent the Messianics from being blocked under the Law of Return.

        Also, I would agree that the gospels’ ideas were Jewish. However today some of the ideas in them are often considered uniquely Christian by the rabbinical community, like whether Jesus could forgive sins. Of course the idea of forgiving sins itself is pat of Judaism. So there are different ways of looking at that.

        In any case, there is a serious contradiction.

    • Djinn
      Djinn
      December 28, 2013, 8:53 am

      I’m yet to be convinced that Jesus is anything other than an amalgam figure but if the Bible version ever existed he never converted to Christianity as it didn’t exist until quite some time after his alleged death. He also (allegedly) reaffirmed everything God had previously commanded. He upheld Jewish law in its entirety, there’s no reason to consider him anything but Jewish.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 30, 2013, 10:34 am

        Traditional Christians would agree with this:
        “He also (allegedly) reaffirmed everything God had previously commanded. He upheld Jewish law in its entirety, there’s no reason to consider him anything but Jewish.”

        But there were times when He overcame the Law, saying “You have heard X (quote from the law), but I say Y (do mercy).”

        However, I am very skeptical about this:
        he never converted to Christianity as it didn’t exist until quite some time after his alleged death.
        Christianity means the belief that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah, and it looks to me like He thought He was a Messianic figure.

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        December 30, 2013, 10:54 am

        TBH it’s pointless to debate what someone who very well may never have existed believed but at no point during his alleged life did anything called Christianity exist ergo it was not possible for him to be one.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 30, 2013, 12:29 pm

        Hi Djinn.

        Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus are not allowed in by the State’s Law of Return because they are considered no longer Jewish. Some of the Messianic Jews probably do not even call themselves “Christian”, finding the term not Jewish enough.

        Whether Jewish Christians are called Christians or not isn’t really my main point. Rather what I was getting at is that here the State’s supporters call Jesus and his followers “Jewish”. Yet the same generosity is not extended to Jesus’ current followers, including those who follow the ancient rituals and have clear ethnic descent.

        As for the lesser issue of whether Jesus’ followers would be called Christian, I think that even if the term was not around then, it could still apply. For example, the Quakers were not originally called “Quakers”, but just “Friends.” Yet once the movement started, it’s possible to identify them as Quakers, even before the term came about.

        Regards.

  9. mcohen
    mcohen
    December 28, 2013, 1:18 am

    Borrowed this comment from another site

    In 1982 Abbas published and received a PH.D for a thesis which later became a book al-Wajh al-Akhar: al-‘Alaqat as-Sirriya bayna an-Naziya wa’s-Sihyuniya.
    I can live with that.Some Israelis and Jews,demonize Arabs,Muslims and Palestinians,too,for reasons of fear of the other . One makes peace with Its enemies, not friends.It Is a common phenomena to adopt certain Icons and Ideas, In order to glorify one self and belittle his/hers enemies.That Is where revisionist history fits well.Palestinians are guilty of It, so are Israelis. One needs to “grow up” and see beyond this. Btw, Bethlehem mayor, when Interviewed after Christmas celebrations, when asked what she wished or missed, answered that If the presence of Jews was more numerous and visible, the town would had truly benefited.In my view, this sums It up- most people want nothing more than security,dignity and economical stability.Political solutions will follow.
    May this coming new year bring us all good health,security ,more compassion and better understanding of our fellow man.

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