Opinion: Politics at Christmas

Dr. Maria C. Khoury

Source: Greek Orthodox Church Taybeh | Maria C. Khoury

It’s that special time of year where you simply want to wish everyone a blessed holy Christmas celebration but I can’t help it that it’s the only chance I get to remind my friends of the horrors that are still happening where Christ was born. Every time I travel to Boston, I simply feel I am escaping from the day to day misery of Israeli occupation and take a break from seeing the new illegal Israeli settlement getting bigger in front of my kitchen window in Taybeh. By the way, Israel approved 4,000 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem. These days, I cannot even get the Orthodox Churches to invite me to speak about the Christian community in the Holy Land because people don’t want to hear politics. Although I don’t mean to be political but I am giving my life to promote a Christian presence in the very land where Christ lived, was crucified and resurrected for my salvation.

I am very sorry, I have a need to tell someone that this year, Israel, doubled up its efforts in demolitions of Palestinian property over 500 homes, wells and other structures to add to over 24,000 Palestinian homes that have been demolished since 1967. This also means displacing more than 1,000 people just in the last few months not to mention over 700,000 Palestinians who ran away at gun point to save their lives when Israel was created in 1948 creating the catastrophe of the current eight million Palestinian refugees who have no right to return to their home.

No one is paying attention to the twenty human rights organizations including Amnesty International reporting Jewish settler violence against Palestinians increased in 2011. The attacks from settlers are up 50% because maybe they are going crazy with Palestine’s effort for full UN membership and the recent admission of Palestine to UNESCO, thus over 10,000 olive trees were deliberately damaged this year alone to add to the over one million trees that have been uprooted since 1967. This is a huge destruction to Palestinian livelihood and to the mother earth.

If anyone knows Newt Gingrich personally can you please tell him that with my own eyes I have seen my late father-in-law’s birth certificate (1925) that was entitled “State of Palestine” issued under the British Mandate and actually I could not believe it myself because I did not know that Palestinians existed until I met my husband at Hellenic College. Mr. Gingrich said Palestinian people were invented. I did not know what he means? Because before the peace talks and Oslo Peace Agreement (1993) it was forbidden to even say the word Palestine. With my own eyes I have experienced a historic moment when I saw the Palestinian flag raised for the first time at the Friends Boys School in Ramallah in November 1996 without the students being shot at by soldiers or thrown in jail. Also I need Newt Gingrich to know that it took two Palestinian pounds (local language called Jeneh Philestinee) to pay for the tuition at FBS (1920’s) when our uncle Hanna Khoury was a student which was a huge financial burden for his father the local Orthodox priest in Taybeh.

Please forgive me to remind you that more hard worked tax payers’ money was sent to Israel this year because seven million dollars a day from the USA was not enough to keep up this awful occupation that includes hundreds of checkpoints and more illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It is currently costing more than 8 million dollars a day in military aid to support what I call the 51st state and very spoiled child of the USA. If you have an only child or an only son you might know what I mean. Parents are not supposed to have favorites but we do. Israel has ignored more than 65 United Nation resolutions.

I am being so political that I have to keep saying the Jesus prayer every second to keep my sanity. Please, Dear Lord, remind me that these most holy days all eyes are on Bethlehem which is a big prison with the wall surrounding it and help me stop being political because people will pray for peace. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born for you.” (Luke 2:13) We keep our hope because we believe life with Christ overpowers death. His Light overcomes the darkness of our times. Christ’s love is the answer to the current hate and discrimination. Palestine exists in the heart of every Palestinian child and a needed Christmas gift of 47 years would be the end of occupation. Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Wishing all of you a most blessed Holy Nativity celebration with all of your loved ones. And, I wish not to be remembered for politics but for someone who believes Christ is our greatest gift.

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