Jesus, Christmas, and Palestine

Feature Article Jesus, Christmas, and Palestine

On the 25th of December, the Christian community around the globe will engage in the annual reenacting of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Even though many reputable Christian scholars are of the opinion that it is unlikely that Jesus was actually born on December 25, the Catholic Church in 350 CE officially asserted that this would be the date of the birth of baby Jesus.

The Catholic Church, much to the consternation of its detractors, has never backed away from an opportunity to build bridges between older religious traditions and Catholicism. Pope Julius I and the Catholic intellectual community of the fourth century were well aware that December 25 was already a high day in the non-Christian world. Many of the God-men of the pre-Christian era were thought to have been born on December 25.

Accepting the same date for the God-man of the Christian faith was simply good marketing strategy on the part of the Catholic Church especially since the days of the older religious traditions were numbered. It made the world of good sense for pagans to find familiar rituals, symbols, and high days in the new faith that many would be dragged into willingly or otherwise.

The radical Puritans of the 17th century in their studious efforts to extirpate anything that was pleasurable or that brought a modicum of joy to the lives of the English did the unthinkable and banned Christmas and all the celebrations associated with the season. Puritans across the Atlantic in the US engaged in the same kind of anti-Christmas tomfoolery with some success as well.

Christmas was however too deeply entrenched and survived the brief interlude injected by the greatest joy killers of all times. Today, there is an echo of the Puritan anti-Christmas spirit among such groups as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Armstrongites, Church of God Seventh Day, and Seventh-day Adventists. Why Seventh-day Adventists are mentioned among these Christmas buzz killers is a mystery since there is an abundance of evidence that Adventists like their Catholic progenitors do not believe in looking a gift horse in the mouth.

The little town of Bethlehem which millions of Christians worldwide will be singing about during the Christmas season certainly needs a savior figure right about now as Israeli bombs continue to pulverize the little town of Bethlehem and its inhabitants. Regrettably, if Jesus were to drop in on the little town of Bethlehem, he would most likely be shot at by the Israeli Defense Force on the grounds that he looked like a Hamas fighter.

As ridiculous as that may sound, that is precisely what would happen to Jesus because he would have had a cool tan like the Palestinians. Palestinian Jews, Christians and Muslims have more in common with each other that they do with the European Jews who now control the state of Israel. Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, as he makes the rounds on social media and the news networks that are prepared to hear his brand of truth, carries a folder with pictorial evidence showing how Jews, Christians, and Muslims were peacefully coexisting in Palestine prior to the launching of the Zionist settler colony project.

Orthodox Jews like Rabbi Weiss who are vehemently anti-Zionist seem to be echoing the teachings of Jesus far better that the Christian Zionists whose rhetoric is perfectly poised to fast track the world to the Armageddon they talk and write so much about. The only props missing among the Christian Zionists as they sing their praises to the state of Israel are the short skirts and pompom used by regular cheerleaders.

Pope Francis is pointing the international community in the right directing by labelling the atrocities being committed by the state of Israel as terrorist acts. On December 17 the Pope restated the point that terrorism cannot be fought with even more terrorism. This latest statement came after an Israeli sniper killed a mother and her daughter on their way to the bathroom in compound of the Holy Family Church in Gaza raising the alarm level among Palestinian Christians.

The Houthis of Yemen are the closest thing to a savior the people of Gaza have at the moment. From the onset of the bombardment of Gaza, the Houthis declared war on Israel and have been doing their best to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea. Both British and American warships have also been targeted by the Houthis. They have also launched a number of ballistic and cruise missiles at Israel. Hezbollah has also been helpful by engaging the Israelis in northern Israel. The other major players in the Arab world have resorted to the games of diplomacy.

Since Christmas is a time for giving, the gift I would like to give to the people of Gaza is the resolve to fight to the bitter end. The Palestinian people must not go quietly into the night of their own oblivion. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is adamant that neither Fatah nor Hamas will be allowed to govern what is left of Gaza after the Israeli death machine has powered down. Israel under Netanyahu and those of a similar mind set have never been good faith negotiators with respect to the two-state solution.

Netanyahu’s goal is Israeli sovereignty from the river to the sea as reflected in the Likud Party documents. For Israel to achieve this dream there has to be a second Nakba that will be far more extensive than the first. The question that remains to be answered is whether the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world will simply sit back and watch the Palestinians be offered up as macabre human sacrifices to usher in some mystical age for the state of Israel. I am inclined to think that if the present carnage continues the games of diplomacy will eventually give way to a more substantive Muslim military intervention which will stretch the resolve of the Israeli Defense Force to its outer limits.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Black Paradigm: New Thinking for a New Age.