Christmas in Palestine

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Christmas in Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
No joy to the world in Palestine. No peace and good will. No most wonderful time of the year.
Not this year. Or previous ones for decades. Or future ones without top-to-bottom fundamental change. What’s nowhere in sight.
Militarized occupation harshness continues. Gaza remains besieged. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. So is state terror.
Israel denies millions of Palestinians fundamental rights everyone deserves. Ruthlessness defines its agenda. 
Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in its gulag. Guilty of wanting to live free. Separated from loved ones.
On December 23, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) decorated a Manger Square Christmas tree with leftover Israeli terror remnants.
Including tear gas canisters. Stun grenades. Missile fragments. Photos of martyred or injured children along with them. Delivering a clear message. 
Saying Palestinians suffer year-round. Including during what Christians call the most joyous time of year. PSCC member Mazen Al-Azzeh said tree decorations are dedicated to dozens of Palestinian martyrs. 
Killed by Israeli forces. Including PA Minister Ziad Abu Ein. Its committee against Israel’s Separation Wall and settlements head. Murdered by Israeli soldiers.
Beaten to death. With rifle butts and helmets. From tear gas inhalation. While leading a peaceful demonstration.
Planting olive trees on Palestinian land. Threatened by Israeli confiscation. In Turmus’ayya village. Near Ramallah.
Popular struggle activist Abdullah Abu Rahma said Abu Ein wanted a symbolic Christmas tree display. In Bethlehem’s Hall of Nativity. 
Decorated with remnants of weapons Israel uses to kill Palestinians. Manger Square’s exhibit complied with his wish.
Honoring him. Other non-violently resisters. Around 2,200 Palestinians Israel killed last summer.
In Gaza. Mostly noncombatant men, women, children, the elderly and infirm. Willfully targeted. Killed in cold blood. Unaccountably.
Al-Azzeh called the tree symbolic of popular struggle. On the occasion of Jesus Christ’s birth. Challenging occupation harshness. Israeli apartheid. 
Sending a message. Saying others may celebrate. Palestine remains occupied. Brutalized by Israeli harshness. Debunking propaganda portraying Israel as a peace-loving democratic state.
PSCC coordinator Jamal Jum’a said the season’s message  reminds people everywhere about Palestinian suffering.
Deprived of what they rightfully deserve. Isolated on their own. Sitting ducks for Israeli ruthlessness.
Bil’in village resistance coordinator, Salah Khawaja, called Manger Square’s decorative display symbolic of daily Israeli violence.
Telling Holy Land visitors there’s no peace. No joy. No freedom under occupation. Not this year. Or any since 1967. Or until Palestinian liberation.
Human rights activist Farid al-Atrash said “(t)he world has to move to save the Palestinian people and hold the occupation accountable for its crimes against unarmed people in Palestine.”
Separately, Israeli soldiers attacked Santa. Palestinians dressed as Santa Claus. Marching toward a checkpoint.
Connecting Jerusalem’s Old City with East Jerusalem. Carrying signs saying: “Jesus came with a message of Peace, Freedom and Justice.” “We want Christmas without occupation.”
On December 23, USA Today headlined “Violence dampens Holy Land tourism during Christmas.”
Saying Bethlehem “is praying for another Christmas miracle. Months of violence near this cradle of Christianity has dampened visits by holiday pilgrims, and there are few signs tourism will rebound anytime soon.”
Shopkeeper Louis Michel said “people have been scared away. We’ve never experienced such a sustained drought of pilgrims.”
“I haven’t been able to sell what I already have. It’s difficult for me, but also for the many families here who rely on the income from the local factories.”
“Business is way down, 90% down, since the Gaza war,” said Eli Kouz. A shopkeeper in the Old City’s Christian Quarter. “The only people walking down this street are locals, not pilgrims,” he said.
Israel commemorated holiday season like every day of the year. On Christmas eve, attacking Gaza border areas. In Khuzaa and al-Qarara. East of Khan Younis. 
Killing Taysir al-Smeiri. Injuring two others. Hamas said its southern Gaza reconnaissance unit head was killed.
Israel claimed Palestinian sniper fire. Whether true or false doesn’t matter. Israel responds with artillery an aerial attacks.
Grave breaches of international law. On December 17, the HIgh Contracting Parties convened in Bern, Switzerland. 
Discussing conditions in Occupied Palestine. Despite US/Israeli pressure to dissuade world nations from attending.
A 10-point declaration followed. By consensus. Highlighting applicable international humanitarian law. 
Related to Occupied Palestine. Reaffirming the obligation of all parties to uphold fundamental rule of law principles.
Including Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power. Expressing deep concern over Gaza’s continuing blockade.
Israel’s occupation was supposed to be temporary. It’s ongoing nearly half a century. With no end in sight.
In blatant disregard for Fourth Geneva principles. Other relevant international law. Prohibiting what continues daily in Occupied Palestine. 
Virtually every civil and human rights violation imaginable. Including state terror. Collective punishment. Land expropriation. Bulldozed homes. 
Resource theft. Ethnic cleansing. Settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land. Cold-blooded murder. Mass arrests. Political imprisonments. Torture. Wars at Israel’s discretion. 
Bern’s declaration has no legal authority. Israel ignores rule of law principles anyway. Operating extrajudicially. Throughout its sordid history.
The whole world knows about Israeli viciousness. Lawlessness. Contempt for Palestinian rights. Bern’s declaration highlighted it.
The horror of occupied life. Including blatant Israeli civil and human rights violations. Virtually every high crime imaginable.
Ongoing without end. Affirming its pariah state status. Even on Holy Land Christmas eve.
Invading Hebron and al-Arroub refugee camp. Terrorizing residents. Attacking them. Including children. 
Kidnapping three Nablus Palestinians. Two others in Jenin. Injuring many others in the process.
IDF dogs mauled a child. Before soldiers kidnapped him. Homes were ransacked. Causing extensive damage.
On Tuesday, nine other West Bank Palestinians were kidnapped. Israel attacks their communities multiple times daily.
Even on Christmas eve. Christmas day makes no difference. Rogue states operate this way. 
Rule of law principles don’t matter. Or human lives and welfare. Or moral decency. 
By a country brazenly calling itself a democracy. A sham by any standard. Affording rights solely to Jews. 
Treating Palestinians the way Hitler treated Jews. Its own Arab citizens like fifth column threats.
Wanting Palestinians ghettoized on worthless scrub land. Or ethnically cleansed so they’ll be gone. Or mass-murdered to assure it.
Even during Holy Land Christmas commemorations. Palestinians are fair game year-round. Against Israel’s nuclear-armed killing machine, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.