Another clarifying message from Bethlehem, 2,000 years on

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 28, 2023
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Bethlehem pastor Munther Isaac's Christ in the rubble nativity scene. Taken from his X profile

If you haven’t yet, please dedicate the next 17 minutes and 36 seconds of your life to watch and/or listen to the Reverend Munther Isaac’s Christmas sermon in Bethlehem. Click here for the link.

It’s devastating.

Searing

Stirring.

Shaming.

The pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a Palestinian just like the more than 20,000 dead in Gaza since October 7, called out the West’s “hypocrisy”, “racism” and “complicity” in the mass killing of thousands of children. “Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world,” he said. “If you fail to call this a genocide, it is on you. It is a sin and a darkness you willingly embrace.”

He added: “Leaders of the so-called ‘free’ lined up one after the other to give the green light for this genocide against a captive population. They gave the cover.”

And he noted the hideous contrast he saw in the American capital on a visit around Thanksgiving: It was bedecked with Christmas ornaments and seasonal commerce ruled the collective consciousness but as they praise the “prince of peace…they sent us bombs”.

But it was the pastor’s warning that Palestinians “will not accept your apology after the genocide” that probably spoke the loudest.

What’s the point of the British government, to take just one example, constantly highlighting its humanitarian largesse, when the people of Gaza shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place? They shouldn’t be reduced to needing “almost £60 million in additional humanitarian funding” from the UK, which represents the “trebling (of) our existing annual budget to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).” As Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said at the outset of Israel’s collective punishment of Gazans after Hamas’s monstrous crimes of October 7: “Western politicians are not talking about stopping the (Israeli) crimes, they are talking about opening a humanitarian corridor. That’s not the problem. This is not a natural disaster. This is because of the decision of Israeli officers. So they should put pressure on Israeli officers to not commit crimes.”

In his sermon from Bethlehem, the pastor underlined the same point: “…empty calls for peace without a ceasefire and an end to occupation and the shallow words for empathy without direct action are all complicity,” he said. There is no doubt that the West will be generous with its charity, afterwards, he added, but we will not accept it.

It needed to be said.

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