Peace, Good Will and Joy on Earth at Christmas! But what does that mean for Palestine and Palestinians? Every year, on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month, the human spirit pauses to pay tribute to world peace, good will and joy towards all and commemorate that dark moment in modern world history, a century ago, when an armistice put an end to the host of conquerors who once again were intent, at all cost, upon committing one of the greatest blood bathes to date. That date and time marked the latest end to the madness of the human soul when it felt compelled to commit a blood-letting of over 60 million human beings in a never-ending quest to once again divide the world up, like some giant monopoly board, between the conquerors and the conquered.
Each year on that same Armistice Day in November special tribute is paid in particular to all the warriors who lost their lives in the struggle to defend their nation’s right to continue to exist in peace and good will towards all and experience the joy of what it means to be a free people. But the millions of nameless, faceless, innocent civilians murdered in the process forever remain all but unacknowledged beyond being labelled collateral damage.
Yet on the 25th of December, barely a month later, in Palestine, the world pauses once again to honor the hallowed birthplace of Jesus and commemorate the life and teachings of that consummate Prince of Peace. But during that sacred time each December is exactly when yet another moment should be taken to pause and honor not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ but also give a face to all those lost millions of nameless, faceless, innocent ones by paying a living tribute to the fearlessness of those like the Palestinian peoples and other unheralded ones, who still daily, alone and with little help from the world, lose their lives as warriors or as collateral damage in defense of their right and that of their nation to exist and remain free.
Ever since that “World War to End All Wars” came to a bloody halt, Britain’s Balfour Declaration, a racist-assimilationist document made at the war’s conclusion, with the Western World’s acquiessence, changed the course and composition of the Middle East forever, but for the worse. Among the artifical divisions that the Balfour Declaration created, Palestine ended up being mandated to the Jewish race to the exclusion of the Palestinian peoples themselves.
What that Balfour Declaration in essence created was an immigrant settler-occupier-conqueror reality that ever since the end of the Second World War has threatened the integrity of Palestine as a nation and the rights of the Palestinians as a people deservant of the same level of respect and defense of their right to exist and remain free and independent in their own homelands. To this day, they represent the poster child face of the world’s collateral damage.
Without the world’s protection and defense of their right to exist, the nation of Palestine and the Palestinian people’s former way of life has continued to be reduced down to pathetic fragments of what it once was. The once prosperous Palestinian villages, towns and cities filled with happy children, families and commerce of a viable way of life, now have been turned into squalid refugee camps with little hope for the future: cordoned-off by Israeli checkpoints at gun point; reduced to walled-in enclaves of homes cut off from their fields and livestock, with; borders demarcated on three sides by an Apartheid Wall on land and a fourth invisible wall, demarcated by the Mediterranean Sea and patrolling Isreali Defense Force boats that represent death, arrest and humiliation to all who dare to attempt to penetrate or go beyond Israel’s imposed 3-Mile Limit. But to the rest of the world it’s as if all this remains invisible.
And yet, ever since, the same hatred that the Jewish people once felt towards the Nazi for the many pogroms, expulsions and genocide they were forced to endure, that earned them the expression “Am Israel Chai”, meaning “The Jewish Nation Lives”, could also be used as an apt phrase to describe the same fierce defiance that Palestinians continue to display against those in Israel and their allies who now hate them as much. The fact that places like Gaza survive and the people defiantly struggle to find joy in spite of their miserable state could amply be described as Am Palestine Chai.
The vexing, unresolved tensions that continue to exist unabated between Israel & Palestine in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, like the unresolved tensions between other nations and peoples gripped in similar unresolved conflicts, such as those between: India and Pakistan and the sovereign kingdoms of Jammu and Kashmir; or the warring systems of government between an authoritarian China and democratic Hong Kong, where widespread torture, extrajudical killings, arbitrary arrests and disappearance of journalists and activists, continue to cause the world to tetter on the edge of yet other future threatened wars that threaten to embroil all nations.
It’s not surprising that in some circles, what with the on-going threats of Climate Change, rise of fascist authoritarian governments and growing ever-wider disparities between the rich and poor, the world’s ’Doomsday Clock’ now has been advanced to two minutes before midnight. But the world’s nations seemingly remain impotent to ever do anything to rein in the political, military, corporate and financial forces that continue to dangerously move the Doomsday Clock that much closer still to midnight.
Called into question is the human spirit’s inability to ever realize on earth a permanent just peace and good will for all. So the unaswered question remains: when, if ever, can freedom-loving Palestinians, Hindus, Muslims, Chinese, or whatever persecuted and brutalized indigenous peoples hope to celebrate their own day of remembrance of the values and identities of their peoples’ lives needlessly lost in their quest for peace and freedom?
Yet, still, almost as if it were a compulsive, irrational, knee-jerk reaction, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11thmonth, and 25th of each December the human spirit nevertheless strives to honor and pay tribute to the Prince of Peace who once spoke out so eloquently and powerfully against the needless futility of the very butchery, savagery and carnage that for the past two thousand years humans still remain so compelled to wage upon one another, the natural world, all non-human forms of life, and, indeed, against the very essence of life itself.
In spite of it all, during each Christmas-tide, special tribute and honor continues to nevertheless be paid to what the birth of the baby Jesus in Palestine still symbolizes. Yet, oddly, the birth of that extraordinary human and spiritual being once ended up being assassinated by the same Jewish people who now ruthlessly rule today over Palestine and the Palestinians.
No other place on earth since has ever been spared. At the slightest whim or desire of whatever new would-be conqueror, megalomaniac or narcissist arrives upon the scene, the young crème-de-la-crème of whatever nation, like Pavlovian Dogs, are prepared to once again thrust themselves into the meat grinder for The Cause, whether it be for God, King or Country. Like lemmings led to the sea, they’re prepared to sacrifice themselves for whatever new hopeless, meaningless, unattainabe version of ‘The Madness’.
On the eve of 2020, as the world delves ever-deeper into the 21st century, the meltdown and unraveling of civil human societies continues to lead to untold, irrational acts of murder, mayhem and terror committed against so many innocent populaces in a myriad of places.
The long history behind how countries like Israel, India, Pakistan and others throughout the Middle East artifically first came into being at the end of WWI & WWII, and the terror they continue to be responsible for in their on-going expansion, should be the real background story evoked by the watchword phrase Lest We Forget.
The Nakba War that began in Palestine in 1948; the endless intifadas and military operations that ever since have proliferated in still other occupied territories, in violation of innumerable international laws and U.N. resolutions; continue to everywhere provoke perpetual terror that rage on like deadly untreated cancerous scourges.
Yet the sheer magnitude of so many betrayals that have been perpetrated against so many different peoples over the past century have been committed with the consent of an indifferent world that, like modern-day Pontius Pilate’s washing their hands of the whole matter, has left the fate of many to those who lust for their blood, homelands and natural resources.
What continues to happen in places like East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is nothing less than a blatant outrage against humanity. But it isn’t. The Palestinians continue to struggle to survive in open-air prisons and squalid refugee camps, victimized by on-going illegal sieges, blockades and onslaughts against their some 2 million and counting refugee residents, crammed into a tiny 24 mile by 7 mile strip of land that represents one of the worlds most densely populated concentrations of human life on earth.
But in spite of it all, over the years Israeli air, missile and artillery bombardments have continued to surgically fire upon Gaza, whether at UN-designated sites, hospitals, schools, mosques, homes and marketplaces, that have killed thousands of civilians with whole families and clans wiped out. Yet the resistance of the people still remains strong in the face of however many more innocent, defenseless civilians become the victims of endless punitive death and destruction inflicted by one Israeli military operation after another, with IDF military snipers constantly maiming, murdering terrorizing and humiliating the people.
In the past, some Israeli leaders, lke Gilad Sharon, son of Israel’s former PM Ariel Sharon and a major in an elite Israeli Defense Unit (IDF), have even had the temerity to wish for the utter destruction of Gaza, not by the use of gas chambers but by a nuclear bomb that would create yet another Hiroshima or Nagasaki and send the Gaza Strip back to the Stone Age.
Meanwhile, in the hell-hole that is Gaza, the people continue to be subjected to innumerable inflicted tortures, such as: trying to cope with only two to four hours of electricity per day; left without air conditioning or heating in blistering hot or freezing cold tempertures; while the nearby Mediterranean ocean, as polluted and empty of fish as it is, is designated off-limits beyond an artifically-imposed limit to the rights of fishermen to search for food or adventurous Palestinian sailors who desire to explore the world beyond; while 97% of Gaza’s water is considered undrinkable because the people are denied the ability to purify the water; with 50% of Gaza’s hospitals deemed non-operational due to an inability to get medical supplies through Israel’s maze of cruel, concentration camp-like borders and military checkpoints. Palestinians even find it physically difficult get in or out of the Gaza Strip without onerous restrictions, while virtually nothing that human beings everywhere in the world normally take for granted to make their lives viable, if not palatable – like food, medicine, fuel and goods – can ever get into Gaza, further perpetuating their misery. But the same could be said for the plight of many other dispossessed indigenous peoples throughout the world.
So, now that the world once again has just passed yet another Armistice & Remembrance benchmark anniversary, and approaches yet another Christmas season of rebirth, forgiveness and good will, it seems only fitting and proper if yet one more brief moment were taken to remember, lest we forget, such outrages and pay tribute to those less fortunate ones who, over decades of time, have striven, against the greatest of odds, to help their people survive against the cruelest and most barbarous conditions, under all but insurmountable odds.
But can or will the world in 2020 heed the hue and cry for the same retributions, boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Isreal and other fascist-minded governments that once brought the apartheid state of South Africa to its senses? Some say it’s about as unlikely as getting the world’s pollutng corporations to agree to face up to Climate Change!
Meanwhile, the state media apparatus of countries like the U.S., Canada, Israel, and their allies in the EU and U.N., only ever refer to Palestinian and Hamas activists and freedom-fighters as ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’, rather than ‘patriots’ and ‘heroes’ who desire to live free and dream dreams of a more positive future.
In the face of it all, so-called democratic Western nations like the United States, Canada and others also continue to provide unequivocal moral support, succor, and billions of their willing or unwilling tax payers monies to provide the wherewithal for those intent upon carrying out whatever nefarious ends of state-run terrorism; with virtually little oversight or accountability of how the monies spent may contravene U.N. resolutions, principles of international law, war crimes or crimes against humanity.
So at this Christmas season of giving, Lest We Forget, it would seem appropriate for the world to recall what it means to truly irradicate all the ugly things of the past from which the human race forever dreams of one day freeing itself and join together with the peoples of all nations who search in earnest for that elusive dream of peace, justice and good will for all.