By Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
The first century of the Common Era was a very stressful time for the fledgling community of faith in Jerusalem that followed in the footsteps of the martyred leader Jesus the Christ. Convinced that Jesus had somehow cheated death and was now strategically positioned at the right hand of Yahweh, the Jewish deity of the Old Testament, followers of Jesus went everywhere preaching that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and savior of the world.
The OGs of the Old Testament and enforcers of Yahweh, the Jewish community, were less than impressed with the new religious movement. Having cast all kinds of aspirations on Jesus and his mother, the Jews of the first century CE decided to dig deep into their bag of religiosity and pull out a secret weapon that was destined to become a favorite among all three of the Abrahamic faiths.
The Jews unleashed a wave of religious persecution which they might have called in those days Operation Nip it in the Bud. Christians were hounded, arrested, and killed sometimes without any of the niceties of a trial. The book of Acts in the New Testament records the unfortunate lynching or rather stoning of Stephen who fell victim to the evil machinations of Saul or Paul of Tarsus
Europeans, in the form of the Roman Empire, and the Jewish nation conspired together to rout the early Christian movement. Political tension between the Roman Empire and the Jews eventually led to the destruction of the Jewish temple in CE 70 and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem. The genocide directed against Christians sporadically continued until the fourth century when the Europeans found Jesus.
The conversion of Constantine to Christianity in CE 312 proved to be a blessing and a curse to the Christian community. On the plus side, the religious paradigm shift in the Roman Empire meant that the Christian community had crossed a figurative Red Sea and were now in the promise land of preferential treatment. Constantine gifted the Church with wealth and the capacity to unload obscene amounts of violence on its enemies.
The Christian Church wasted no time in turning the table on its detractors. The new, sharp, glistening sword of the Church was unleashed. Heretics pagans and (wait for it) Jews were all hounded, arrested, and killed sometime without the niceties of a trial. Heretics were burnt, pagan temples were destroyed and Jews were forced to walk over hot coals in memory of their former persecution of Christians and more specifically because of the unforgivable sin of deicide.
The persecution of Jews by European Christians would continue for centuries and culminate in the inglorious acts of the Nazis who implemented a final solution to rid Europe of all Jews. The final solution of the Nazis is undoubtably one of the best-known genocides of all times and is considered in some scholarly circles as the benchmark of what a real Holocaust looks like.
Having found their lives to be in jeopardy by land and sea and by night and day in Europe, secularly minded Jews decided to take the fate of the Jewish people into their own hands and started a repatriation movement to Palestine. This Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland was finally achieved in 1948 when the modern nation of Israel was accepted by the United Nations.
The land settled by the new nation of Israel was not terra nullius as was suggested by some apologists for the nation of Israel. Neither was the land a desert waiting for the expert hand of European Jews to make it blossom into a modern-day Garden of Eden. Palestine was inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed to make room for newly arriving Jews from Europe and elsewhere.
The establishment of the state of Israel by the British and the ensuing Nakba further destabilized what can only be describes as the most volatile piece of real estate on the planet. Christians and Muslims for centuries had carved out a river of blood to determine control over Jerusalem. The addition of a third triumphalist religion into the Middle Eastern mix only added new tributaries to the river of blood.
The current bloodletting taking place in Gaza is a stark reminder that the human heart is very prone to wander and to forget the lessons that history is supposed to teach. Jews persecuted Christians when they were in a position of power in the first century CE. When the table was turned around and Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, Christian took a crack at Jews. The modern state of Israel backed by the military might of the United States and the European Union has been engaging in an ongoing campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing directed against the Palestinian people as though the Holocaust against Jewish people never occurred.
The state of Israel and its apologists can invoke the Holocaust and lob the epithet of anti-Semites against their critics to their hearts content. The lying eyes of the global South however, are sufficiently trained by centuries of oppression to recognize the untreated horse manure dripping out of the mouth of the Israeli, American, and European power establishments and media. The table has turned and the victims of the Nazi Holocaust has become the victimizers in the state of Israel Holocaust directed against the Palestinian people.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Grand Failure; How Christianity Became a Source of Evil in the World.