Palestinian leader claims Jesus was ‘Islamic martyr’

Over Christmas, several Palestinian leaders repeated the claim Jesus was a Palestinian, but one took it a step further, calling him the first Islamic martyr.

Tawfiq Tirawi, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah Central Committee member, made the claim that Islamic tradition would mean Jesus is rewarded in heaven with 72 virgins, the Jerusalem Post reported -- an argument many Christians would consider blasphemous.

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“This is blessed Christmas, The birthday of our lord Jesus the Messiah, the first Palestinian and the first Shahid [Islamic Martyr],” Tirawi wrote on social media Christmas Eve, according to the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

Tawfiq Tirawi, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah Central Committee member, claimed Jesus was an Islamic martyr in a Christmas Eve post on social media. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Tawfiq Tirawi, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah Central Committee member, claimed Jesus was an Islamic martyr in a Christmas Eve post on social media. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Christmas a "Palestinian holiday" that "is ours" on the official PA TV News.

PMW called out the leaders for their claims.

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"As documented many times by Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority rewrites history, both ancient and recent, according to its political and internal needs," Itamar Marcus wrote for the non-profit research institute. "As a people without a history who are attempting to create a national identity, teaching Palestinians that Jesus, one of the most important and admired historical figures, was a Palestinian, is their attempt to trick primarily their own people into believing that they have not only an ancient history but a glorious national identity."

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In 2019, the New York Times issued an apology and a correction after an op-ed claimed: "Jesus was a Palestinian."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, accused the Times of "fake news" and said they were trying to "rewrite" history.