Hussein Ibish in The National:
When Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, referred to Jesus in his recent Christmas greeting as a “Palestinian messenger”, the Israeli government accused him of an “outrageous rewriting of Christian history”.
Numerous pro-Israel commentators insisted that “Jesus was a Jew,” and that this only underscores the ancient Jewish connection to the land versus the supposedly tenuous Arab one.
Accepting, for the sake of argument, the traditionally-inherited histories about Jesus, both sides are right and wrong, factually and, especially, politically.
Israelis and their supporters are right that Jesus was born Jewish. But unless they are converts to Christianity or Islam, they accord him no religious significance. Jewish Israelis are on very shaky ground pointing to Jesus as a proto-Israeli, or anything other than a very heretical Jew at best.
Palestinians can make the counterargument that Jesus was the founder of Christianity, and that while he was born Jewish he became the first Christian, and was later identified as a prophet of Islam. Since the Christians and Muslims of the land almost entirely identify as Palestinians, by that logic Jesus was a proto-Palestinian.
Except that this is all historical, intellectual and political rubbish from both sides.