13 December 2015

I find these gatherings strangely uplifting. There is so much love.

Image - No room at the inn - Gaza

Chief complaint and the spirit of Christmas

It is sometimes hard to develop the spirit of Christmas under occupation. On Friday 17 Palestinians were injured by Israeli occupation forces in Bethlehem including a friend of mine. Rehab is a photographer who was there to document what is going on. Targeting journalists and photojournalists is not new to the Israeli regime and has been practised since 1948. One journalist and writer who has been held without trial and who has been on hunger strike since 25 November is Mohammad AlQeeq.

Atrocities continue. The Israeli officials continue to call for more racist killing of Palestinian natives who are merely asking for freedom after decades of Israeli colonial occupation. Ministers call for murder and ethnic cleansing. One member of the Israeli Knesset even supports the burning of Palestinian children alive (saying this is not terrorism because Jews cannot commit terrorist crimes). The Israeli system refused to punish those who actually did such a horrible deed on a 13 year old Palestinian child.

But I digress. How are we to develop a spirit of Christmas and what actually is the spirit. I was in an exceptionally well filled church today in my town of Beit Sahour (the Shepherds’Field where shepherds were told to go to see the newborn Jesus some 2000 years ago according to Christian tradition). My mother and I went to church because of two deaths and we needed to participate and share with families.

Hundreds of town people gather and then go to a big hall where families of the deceased gather to receive condolences. As two deaths were involved both halls of the church were filled with people. I find these gatherings strangely uplifting. There is so much love. So many people sharing and hugging and shaking hands and asking each other genuinely “how are you”; in some other places that is a formality but not here in these gatherings when people actually mean it.
Here as we sipped coffee and ate special “church bread” and when they ask me how am I doing, I am free to tell them that I was sad at the injury and death of friends (either naturally or via Israeli actions), sad at continued starvation of Gaza, sad at seeing a video of a young Syrian refugee family that lost one of their two daughters in the sea but I am happy that there are so many good people doing great things to help each other (we just received one more volunteer from Germany yesterday). I then contemplated that I can find the spirit of Christmas (Jesus’ message of love and kindness to one another) even in sad occasions.