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Jesus in the rubble of Gaza this Christmas

Crescent International

By Iqbal Suleman

Smoke from bombs pollute the Gaza sky.

Dust, soot and blood cover the tender faces of babies.

The instinctive cry of a baby for its mother whose gentle fingers will never rub the its face again.

The sweet scent of motherly love is too short to even be a memory for the babies of Gaza.

The motherless war child is born in the rubble of Gaza.

The baby cries of hunger.

No one is there to hold her in the cold terror of the night.

In New York, London and other middle class bourgeois neighbourhoods, Christians celebrate the birth of Prophet Jesus Christ (as).

Yet, more than 8,000 babies have been slaughtered in Gaza and they are supporting this genocide.

Christmas celebrations have been cancelled in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Prophet Jesus (as).

“If Christ was born today, he would be born under the rubble and Israeli shelling” says Pastor Munther Isaacs of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

In a Christmas nativity scene, in the church in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, a baby Jesus is wrapped in a Palestinian Keffiyeh surrounded by rubble.

The image is powerfully symbolic and captures the suffering of Palestinian child killed unjustly every ten minutes by the Israeli occupation.

Pastor Isaacs says “Christ was born under occupation”.

This year Palestinian Christians have cancelled Christmas celebrations and holiday festivities in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

There are no festive parades, no Christmas lights and no lively colourful decorated tree in Manger square.

Bethlehem, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, bears witness to the horrors of occupation.

More than 150 illegal zionist settlements encroaching upon the peace and native territorial integrity of the West Bank. Approximately 20 percent of Bethlehem’s population is Christian.

Bethlehem is now hemmed in by Israel’s “security barrier” and checkpoints.

Pastor Isaacs says “This year we are not celebrating Christmas, it is impossible to celebrate with genocide happening in our country.”

Recent days have shone light on the suffering and heroic resistance of Palestinian Christians under Israeli occupation.

Last weekend, two Christian women sheltering at a Roman Catholic Church in Gaza were brazenly gunned down and murdered by Israeli snipers.

Gaza’s oldest church St Porphyries was hit by Israeli shells killing at least 16 refugees taking shelter there.

Pastor Isaacs delivered a letter from the churches of Palestine asking Joe Biden, Congress and the US churches to apply Christ’s message regarding injustice and called for an end to the genocidal war.

In speaking truth to power, he is ideologically inspired by Jesus who was aligned to the poor, downtrodden, dispossessed and disaffected peoples of the earth and who took issue with an unjust economic and political system.

Jesus was with the people and on the side of justice and truth and opposed the powerful political and economic elites.

This was in fact the position of all Abrahamic prophets who were located among the poor and downtrodden.

They were persecuted by the entrenched authorities and capitalists of their time.

Those who advocate for social justice and a democratized economy are inspired by the activism of Jesus when he resisted capitalism and overturned the tables of the capitalist bankers and money lenders who concentrated wealth only among the few (1%).

The American theologian Howard Yoder describes the persecution of Jesus as “the political, legally to be expected result of a moral clash with the powers ruling the society.

More than 20,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered by the Israeli occupation forces since October 7.

The wealthiest western regimes like the US and Britain are supporting the zionist state militarily, economically and politically.

They are involved in a diplomatic dance by calling for a pause in fighting but refuse to call for a ceasefire which will end the war and the killing of children.

Pastor Isaacs a sincere, devout and committed believer has demonstrated the responsibility of a servant of God.

When a child is killed every ten minutes in Gaza and the major powers refuse to call for a ceasefire, they are called out by the righteous pastor whose voice resonates with the people worldwide.

Where are the other religious leaders who are silent during this genocide and refuse to take a stand for truth and justice?

Where is Mogoeng Mogoeng’s self-righteous voice?

Currently a delegation of South African Christian religious leaders is in Bethlehem in solidarity with the Palestinians among them veteran anti-apartheid activist Reverend Frank Chikane, Dean Michael Weeder of St Georges Cathedral and Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.

The churches’ statement in solidarity with Gaza states “Then the land was under occupation by the Roman Empire. Now the occupier is the state of Israel. Then King Herod carried out a genocide of boys under the age of 2. Now Israel is carrying out a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza which is now spilling over to the West Bank and more than 800 children have been killed.”

Pastor Isaacs implores us all: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and people of all scriptural persuasions to check our spirituality and conscience in this festive period where everyone is naturally inclined to rest after a hard year of work, be happy and celebrate with family and friends.

How can we feast when the starving people of Gaza are bombed to death in a genocidal war and almost two million people are displaced, without water and are homeless?

The baby Jesus in a Keffiyeh in the rubble reminds us that Palestinians are people and human like everyone else.

They have a right to freedom, self-determination and to resist the occupation.

For 75 years now, they are occupied and colonized.

Iqbal Suleman is a social justice lawyer and former head of the law clinic for Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria.

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