December 20 2002

First Person

Its going to be a sad . . sad

Christmas in Bethlehem

by Hector Carreon
La Voz de Aztlan

Los Angeles, Alta California - December 18, 2002 - (ACN) Christmas, as many here in America seem to have forgotten, is to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus in a manger in the “Little Town of Bethlehem.” Christmas in Bethlehem used to be a joyous occasion, that is until the Jewish Army rolled in their military tanks into Manger Square and declared that the most holy of Christian celebrations was cancelled. This year there will be no decorations or festivities to mark the birth of the “Son of God” and the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Gospel of the New Testament says Mary gave birth to Jesus through an immaculate conception in a manger in a spot that is now enclosed by the Church of the Nativity. This very church was partially destroyed by the Zionist occupation army earlier this year.

Meanwhile, here in the USA, all we hear in the media is that there are “just so many days left to shop before Christmas.” Everyone here seems to be suffering from some kind of collective amnesia concerning the true meaning of Christmas. What is more surprising is that not even the organized Christian churches are saying much about the Jewish Army’s cancellation of Christmas in Bethlehem. Not the Catholics, not the Baptists, not the Methodists, not the Presbyterians, not the Anglicans, not the Lutherans, not the Episcopalians, not the Pentecostals, not the Mormons and not even the Jehovah Witnesses. Sure, Jesus taught us to “turn the other cheek” when slapped in the face, but he never said to remain silent before the evil deeds of Godless people!

As a Christian, I felt a deep shame at the hordes of Americans that were shown on television on the day after “Thanksgiving Day” outside the nation’s shopping malls. Billed as the first day for Christmas shopping, tens of thousand of materialistic Americans where shown in long lines at six o’clock in morning waiting to enter the malls. Could it be that the same “evil forces” that can stir American shoppers into such a frenzy to “shop, shop, shop” are the same “evil forces” that are silencing any criticism of take-over of the Holy Town of Bethlehem?

Bethlehem is in the Nation of Palestine, but it is now under full Jewish occupation. The Zionist Army now has troops, tanks and sharpshooters surrounding Manger Square. Yesterday, Mayor Hanna Nasser said, “This is the most unhappy Christmas I can remember.” Mayor Nasser is a native of Bethlehem whose family traces its roots in the city back several centuries. Mayor Hanna Nasser says that, “unemployment is running close to 70% and that those able to buy food do so with with Red Cross vouchers. He adds, “Where will all this suffering end?”

Bethlehem is the town where this author first became aware of the injustices committed against the Palestinians by the Jews. On a tour of the Holy Land before the current Intifadah, we made a stop at Manger Square to visit the Church of the Nativity. Our tour guide as well as the tour bus driver were Jewish immigrants from Russia. I had been wanting to purchase one of those hand carved olive wood crucifixes that they sell in the region. I had my chance when I spotted a merchant by the entrance of a Church. While I was purchasing the crucifix, Danny, the tour guide came over very angrily and attempted to pull me away. I did not understand the situation at the time but refused to comply and I told Danny to bug off.

Danny left very upset and proceeded to round up everyone on the tour to board the bus. This took some time and allowed me to converse with the merchant that sold me the crucifix. He knew I was perplexed and started to explain. It turned out that he was a Palestinian that also spoke Spanish because he had spent many years in Mexico. He told me, “Es que no nos quieren.” (“It is because they do not like us.”) The Spanish speaking Palestinian merchant added, “No quieren que vendamos a los turistas” (“They do not want us to sell to the tourists.”) I ended buying three large crucifixes.

Later on the bus and on our way to the Jewish section of Jerusalem, Danny proceeded to lecture everyone, on the tour, on the “evils” of buying from the Palestinians. May God strike me down if I am wrong in saying this, but Danny sounded like an American southern racist bigot talking just like a USA “redneck.” He ended his racist diatribe with the promise of taking us to a place where we could make great deals on souvenirs. He took us to a Jewish store in Jerusalem where I saw the very same crucifixes I bought in Bethlehem at 2.3 times the price.

I now have one of the beautiful hand carved olive wood crucifixes on the wall above my bed. It has become a constant reminder of the lesson I learned in the Holy Land.

On December 25, when I am at home with my family celebrating Christmas, I will be remembering the Palestinian suffering in Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Holy Land. When I listen to the Christmas classic, “Silent Night” whose lyrics say:

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
’Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

In my mind I will be seeing bullet holes on the wall just above the “manger.” In my mind I will see the Zionist soldiers with their heads peeking out from their tanks in Manger Square. In my mind, I will see the Israeli snipers in their perches on the roof of the Church of the Nativity. I pray, that all you Christians who have read this, in your minds you will also see the same things. Have a happy and joyous Christmas. It might just be the last one you will ever have.

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