The fiery Chicago-based pastor who counted President Obama among his flock for two decades embraced a controversial theory that “Jesus was a Palestinian” during a speech Saturday at an event hosted by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
“We are grateful to God to be able to be here and to speak a word on behalf of Palestinian justice,” Jeremiah Wright began his remarks on the National Mall. He and numerous other speakers gathered there at an event called “Justice or Else!” to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
In his speech, Wright drew parallels between the struggles of Native Americans, African-Americans and Palestinians, which he said have all suffered under the “three-headed demon” of “racism, militarism, and capitalism.”
“The original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people have had the Europeans come and take their country,” said Wright, who retired in 2008 as pastor at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, which Obama attended from 1988 to 2008.
Obama was forced to denounce Wright as a presidential candidate in 2008 after video surfaced of the pastor saying during a 2003 sermon, “God damn America.”
Obama said that he was not in church when Wright made those remarks.
Wright’s comments Saturday are part of what’s known as “Palestinian Christian liberation theology.” That teaching aims to portray Jesus as a Palestinian martyr fighting against Jewish oppression.
Critics of the theory argue that it is used to undermine the state of Israel.
Wright conveyed that idea in his speech Saturday calling Israel an “apartheid state” and claiming that it has ignored more than 40 United Nations resolutions and has now “illegally occupied territories as they take the people whose countries it it and make it their because their God told them that they could have somebody else’s country.”
The Palestinian conflict also mirrors the struggles faced by African-American youth, Wright asserted.
“The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected,” Wright said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., who said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
That “has implications for us as we stand beside our Palestinian brothers and sisters who have been done one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries,” Wright continued, adding that “apartheid is going on in Palestine as we sit here.”
He also said that manifestations of a “three-headed demon” consisting of “racism, militarism and capitalism” is “causing the Palestinians to have a fight just like the fight we are having here trying to get people to understand that black lives matter, Palestinians are saying that Palestinian lives matter.”