Andersen: Jesus was a Palestinian |

Andersen: Jesus was a Palestinian

Paul Andersen
Fair Game

Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” is worth revisiting nine years after it came out as a best-seller in 2005. “Planet Flat,” as Friedman referred to the newly forming world, was being leveled by global economics and politics in the 21st century.

Friedman stated convincingly that collaborations across the globe, based on electronic interconnectedness, were ushering in a new human experience evinced by burgeoning global relationships and interdependencies.

“The scale of the global community that is soon going to be able to participate in all sorts of discovery and innovation is something the world has simply never seen before,” he wrote.

Not everyone celebrated Friedman’s flat world, however.

“It may pose a threat,” he cautioned, “to the distinctive places and communities that give us our bearings, that locate us in the world.”

Friedman warned that “hundreds of millions of people on this planet have been left behind by the flattening process. … Some have enough access to the flattening tools to use them against the system.”

ISIS uses these tools today, recruiting jihadists over the Internet, allowing ISIS to grow into a festering boil on the surface of the flattening world. The Taliban eschew modern tools but represent an ugly global wart as they bludgeon their way toward a fundamentalist mandate that is bizarre to most Westerners.

Recurring Israeli-Palestinian tensions raise other lumps in the flat-world topography. So do all wars and conflicts that mar, with violence and acrimony, the world-flattening potential for peaceful human relations. Here in the U.S., we see sociological pimples rising from racial tensions inflaming the nation from coast to coast.

The flat world remains elusive given tectonic sociopolitical frictions and upheavals that form new and impregnable escarpments. Still, there is something innate in humanity that strives to cross these imposed boundaries.

While I was on a monthlong bicycle tour with a friend through Israel in April, it became evident to us how quickly national and ethnic identities can change. A chameleon-like quality is necessary for humans to adapt to shifting circumstances in a corrugated world.

A man in Tel Aviv explained that he is technically a Palestinian but would today be described as an Israeli Jew. He was born in Palestine before Israel declared statehood in 1948 and so is torn by divided sympathies.

In the Druze village of Mas’ade, nestled beneath the looming hulk of Mount Hermon, we met a young man who ran a coffee shop. After warming up over coffee and friendly conversation, we asked, “Are you a Muslim?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m a Druze — one of 78 sects in Islam.” He explained that his village had been part of Syria before the Six-Day War in 1967 and that his grandfather and father had been Syrians. He was born in modern Israel and served in the Israeli army. Family reunions with Syrian relatives are held in Jordan, assuming they can get visas.

Jesus of Nazareth was technically a Palestinian, though most of that region was part of the Roman Empire. Jesus wanted to flatten the world by fomenting a brotherhood of man and challenging the contrived boundaries dividing humanity.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Jesus advised, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Instead of receiving a universal hug, Jesus was crucified for sedition.

Riding our bicycles down the West Bank of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, we passed through the Great Rift Valley. Our deepest ancestral history as a migratory species played out in this valley, marked by the footsteps of our common forebears coming out of Africa.

If only we could see ourselves as common progeny, the fruit of one seed, we might appreciate how bound we are — not by politics, economics or ethnicity — but by a common ancestry that links us, through blood and bone, to a shared Earth.

Flattening the world with love would be the greatest of human achievements.

Paul Andersen’s column appears on Monday. He can be reached by email at