Tuesday, January 07, 2003 7:11 PM
Subject: Christmas under Occupation

Greetings in Christ our God!  Today the Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land celebrated the birth of Christ according to the old calendar.  However, Christians and Muslims continue to be oppressed under Israeli military occupation, thank you for sharing the following story with your church or organization, if this email is not readable or missing parts, please write back so I can stop sending you emails that you can't read and please forgive me for taking time from your busy schedule.

With my best wishes for a blessed and happy new year with all of God's blessings, maria


Orthodox Christmas Silently Passed

By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.


The Sun has just set in the beautiful hills of Judea marking the end of the Orthodox Christmas Day celebration on the old Julian calendar in the Land of Christ's birth.  The words of a nasty email keeping ringing in my head "Judea is for Jews,"  "Arabia is for Arabs" as part of recent hate mail I received for promoting human rights for Palestinians and an end to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.  I keep thinking of the words of Christ Himself in Acts 1 "…and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."  Does this not indicate that Christ calls upon to practice our Christianity no matter where we live?  Should Christians disappear from the Land of Christ's birth just because Israelis make their life miserable each and every single day?  I can't understand why the Jewish race is above all laws.  They have Israel created in l948 by the United Nations why can't they live inside Israel and get out of the West Bank and Gaza and let the Palestinians have their own independent state?  Why must they have illegal Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria too?


Palestinian children die each and every single day on their way to school and from school.  Palestinian homes continue to be demolished every single day leaving hundreds homeless and helpless.  Palestinian land continues to be confiscated for security walls and illegal settlements daily.  The only time the world hears about Palestinians is when the Israelis want the international world to know about suicide bombers blowing themselves to pieces killing innocent people that no Christian, Jew or Muslim should condone.  The desperate circumstances of these people that have had their human rights neglected for over 54 years should not give them permission to harm innocent victims.   However, all the money and weapons from the United States goes to Israel thus the Palestinians are left to fight with only their bodies because they do not own f-16's, tanks, and  armored jeeps paid by American tax dollars.  Palestinians are seeking freedom and independence, they are not terrorists.


Since I live in the middle of the wilderness I can't claim to know much but if the United States stops sending so much military aid to Israel maybe the Israelis wouldn't carry out so much destruction which so far has including blowing up the historic and archeological cave chapel of St. Barbara from the fourth century in the village of Aboud, damaging the back door and parts of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, firing unto St. Nicholas Church in Beit Jala, damaging the Orthodox Church in Nablus and firing missiles on the Orthodox Club in Beit Jala.  If the United States wanted peace in the Middle East it could achieve it in one week by asking the Israeli government to stop the cruel occupation and torture of the Palestinian people.  But instead the United States is preparing for war in Iraq and announcing a possible 18 month occupation of Iraq.  The Bush government should seek diplomatic and peaceful resolutions not war.  I am so confused as how America thinks as one nation under God and resorts to war as the answer.  The God I grew up knowing from my Sunday School teachers and my parents is the God of love and the God of peace.  Is this not the God that created all humans equal as Christians, Muslims and Jews to give glory to Him and to do unto others as we wish others to do unto us?


On Orthodox Christmas every year I drive to Bethlehem to attend the midnight service at the Nativity Church giving glory for Christ's birth.  This year I am blocked in my little village by large cement blocks on both main entrances and the Israeli army is keeping Bethlehem under curfew.   The Orthodox Christmas services took place as usual but local Christians outside Bethlehem found it difficult and impossible to attend.  I spent this Orthodox Christmas Day listening to shooting and gun fire not knowing who was shooting who.  We are all currently prisons in our individual towns and villages and peace seems more distant than ever.  The fanatics on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continue to ruin life for the average people that are willing to live in coexistence.  Please know that the terrorists are not the Palestinians which the media continues to overemphasize but a greater terror is taking place with American money and weapons that you should be aware and contact your government officials to vote for diplomatic and peaceful resolutions not more military aid to Israel.


In closing I hope I am not what another email stated " a disgrace, an embarrassment to even be called Greek,"  instead I hope in all humility you find me as a witness for Christ and a small voice crying in the wilderness and speaking the truth from the occupied Palestinian territories where Jews and Muslims are slaughtering each other daily and Christians are just disappearing in this Ethnic Cleansing campaign that started September 28, 2000 by Ariel Sharon.  May Christ our true God Who selected this Holy Land to reveal His glory bring inner peace where peace does not exist among the people.  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  (Luke 2:14)