Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor of President Barack Obama, spoke at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March at the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Saturday, in which he condemned the "demon" of racism, militarism and capitalism of oppressing minorities. The controversial pastor also asserted that Jesus Christ "was a Palestinian."
"The same issue is being fought today and has been fought since 1948, and historians are carried back to the 19th century … when the original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people had the Europeans come and take their country," Wright said in his speech, according to The Hill.
He further attempted to link the suffering of African-Americans, Native Americans and Palestinians, and said:
"The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected."
Obama's former pastor referred to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and told attendees that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, 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."
The Million Man March was first organized as a mass rally for African-American men in 1995 by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Obama has distanced himself from Wright, who has made a number of controversial comments throughout his career. The pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has in the past strongly criticized the U.S. government, the Supreme Court, and the conservative Tea Party.
"Tell your children we have some unfinished business on the agenda with the voting rights bill gutted by a right-wing dominated Supreme Court, … with mass incarceration robbing black and brown communities of any positive future … with jobs being shipped overseas … with one branch of the Tea Party being nothing but a 2.0 upgrade of the lynch mobs … with some folks doing everything they can to get that black man out of their White House," Wright said at the time.
The claim that Jesus was a Palestinian has been made in the past as well, as seen in comments by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2013.
Abbas called Jesus "a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world," but also blamed Israel for the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor shot down the suggestion and said the Gospel does not support such claims.
"He should have read the Gospel before uttering such offensive nonsense, but we will forgive him because he doesn't know what he's doing," Palmor said of Abbas, calling his claims an "outrageous rewriting of Christian history."