It has been a very long time since that last time I wrote something for my blog. I hope that I can keep a better schedule of posting for next year and perhaps even have a few readers! =) In the meantime, I came up with this new reading of the story of Christmas as it is found on Luke 2.1-7. It is based on recent news about Israel’s building of new settlements on Palestinian territory. As a Christian theologian, it is my hope and my prayer that both the Palestinians and the Israeli could find a way of living peacefully and recognizing each other’s humanity. May peace reign in Palestine and Israel for Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, atheists, Humanists, and every other person of faith or of no faith that lives on this part of the wonderful Mother Earth.
That December, while Palestinian Christians were celebrating the Nativity of Christ, and in a move that could jeopardize the US-brokered peace talks, the Israeli government decided to build even more settlements on Palestinian territory. This happened while Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority was still debating the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas as its President.
Many people decided to move to safer communities. Among them was a couple that lived in Nazareth. Yusuf, a Muslim man from the town of Bethlehem, had married Miriam, a Jewish woman from Tel-Aviv. It was not uncommon for men and women from different faith traditions to fall in love and get married, although it was frown upon by the government officials and religious authorities who put a lot of hurdles for such couples to get married. Miriam was eight months pregnant by now and Yusuf thought that it would be best for them to travel to the town of his forebears, thinking that the Christian majority in Bethlehem will protectthem from any violence that might ignite due to the building of the new settlements.
As Yusuf was driving his old car, they came upon one of the check-points that dot the border between the State of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.There, Yusuf and Miriam were stopped and asked to exit the vehicle while the guards searched it. Upon noticing that Miriam was Jewish, one of the guards was suspicious of Yusuf and took him into custody. Miriam pleaded with the guard but he did not want to hear her. She was so nervous and stressed that she went into labor before the baby was due. The guards didn’t want to pay attention to Miriam’s pleads and told her that there wasn’t a place for them or for the baby to come on either one of the countries. The guards kept telling the family that there was no space for them anywhere within Palestine or Israel. They had both betrayed their faith, their people and their ancestors by loving each other and building a family…