News   /   Viewpoint

A Christmas Appeal

An Israeli soldier argues with a Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (Photo by EPA)

By Marzieh Hashemi

It is that time of year for most Christians to celebrate and reflect. With Christmas being so important for Christians, perhaps this holiday season could be used by western Christians to ponder more about their Eastern Christian brothers and sisters. It can be an appropriate time to think about the fate of those living in or near the area where Jesus Christ was born; that would be Bethlehem of course!

Some Western Christians may even be surprised to know that there are Palestinian Christians! That is not a narrative that mainstream media tends to highlight. Because if the spotlight is regularly on the Christian community there, then naturally their current fate should be discussed also. And that story, would not fit in very well with the narrative of Israel being a “democratic country” and accepting people of various faiths.

Going back over seventy years ago, Bethlehem was a majority Christian town in Palestine. Though the majority of the country was Muslim, Christians and Jews lived side by side and were free to practice their respective religions. But since the Israeli occupation, the Christian population has been dwindling, as they undergo extensive pressure from the occupying regime of Israel.

In 1947, Bethlehem was 86 percent Christian. Currently, the Palestinian Christian population of Bethlehem is 12 percent and decreasing rapidly! Christians are under pressure and face the same oppression as their Muslim Palestinian brothers and sisters. Oppressive apartheid measures taken against them by the Israeli regime, include time consuming and humiliating check points, arrests, intimidation, churches being defiled by the Israeli military or settlers, priests and nuns being threatened and arrested and so much more. Many Christians have left due to fear of their safety and wanting their children to have a different reality from their own.

How many western Christians have thought about the fate of their fellow Palestinian Christians? Is it really possible to follow the path of Jesus and not care about the fate of one’s brother? Would Jesus turn a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing taking place of Palestinians, Christian, Muslim or secular?

Israel has tried to control the narrative by saying it is a democratic country, which respects the rights of all people living there. Facts over fiction is what every Christian owes himself and his brother and sister in faith to discover.

The reality is that stealing Palestinian land and initiating various forms of ethnic cleansing against them have been taking place since the Zionists, who are anything but religious, entered Palestine in 1948. This holy territory was stolen from its rightful owners by terror, torture and trickery!

As you celebrate Jesus’ birth, which took place in Bethlehem, perhaps some reflection can be given to the present day inhabitants of that city, along with those in Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah and Nazareth! What would Jesus do if he had witnessed this oppression? Would he accept the word of the one percent, being their media or governments or would he seek the truth and listen to the word of the oppressed and try to do something to change their reality?

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku