Christmas-Peace on Earth?

Edna Yaghi’s Column

When I was a child growing up in my native America, Christmas was the happiest time of year. I can still smell the Christmas pine tree and see the warm glow of red, green and blue lights blink peace and joy to the tune of Christmas carols. Silver and gold tinsel draped over the tree sparkled and glittering ornaments twirled in circles in expectation of the great day.

My older brother and I would snuggle close to the warm corner where our tree stood guard. We would shake the different size containers bearing our nametags, trying to figure out what treasures hid within. Were we going to get all we had asked Santa to bring us?

Outside a white blanket of snow covered our lawn and enveloped the neighborhood. Christmas scenes decorated some adjacent yards, reminding us of long ago and the little town of Bethlehem where baby Jesus was born.

In my world and that of my brother, there was no hate, no war and the only evil we knew exited in movie land where bad cowboys in black hats tried to outmaneuver the good cowboys wearing white ones. The Lone Ranger riding over the hill and off into the sunset was our favorite childhood hero and we ever delighted in his white horse, his devoted Indian friend Tonto and the silver bullet he left behind as a symbol of justice and evil overcome.

Christmas then was a time for children with their Christmas stockings hung over a crackling comforting fireplace. The night before Christmas, my brother and I forced ourselves to sleep while visions of sugarplums danced in our heads.

On Christmas day, we would excitedly bounce out of bed bright and early and scurry beneath our beloved tree next to the shiny wrapped presents decorated with curled bows breathlessly waiting for our parents to wake up and join us so we could finally rip open our gifts.

Christmas dinner proved to be as good as the presents. A golden brown stuffed turkey proudly hoarded center place and red cranberry sauce jiggled on every corner.

My peaceful Christmas days have long passed but the warm memories linger still. I think of the contrast of my carefree childhood, of warm and happy Christmases and the world today. I think of the children in Palestine who have never known a war free day, who have never had the luxury of an exciting childhood, who never experienced peace on earth and good will to men.

At the time this article was written, 175 Palestinian children have been murdered this year. I remember Mohammed AL-Durra and how I watched horrified the live footage of him hugging his father and screaming in fear while an Israeli sniper shot him in cold blood. The same soldier then pumped 8 bullets into the thin frame of his father who tried to shield the boy with his body. Mohammed was on his way home with his father Jamal. Jamal had just bought a new bicycle that Mohammed would never be able to ride. Now Jamal is unemployed and paralyzed from the bullets he sustained in the crossfire that cost his son his life.

The chilling scene of the brave Fares Odeh, facing single handedly an Israeli armored tank holding a small stone still haunts me. Near Al-Mantar crossing in Gaza, Israeli soldiers chased the 14-year-old boy and riddled his frail body with bullets. One bullet hit him in the neck, killing him instantly.

On Thursday, November 22, five children on their way to school in Khan Younis, were blown to bits when they stepped on a mine near their school that had been planted there by Israeli soldiers. No one can really comprehend why school children were targeted by Israeli bombs or what excuse the Israeli government could provide for the taking of innocent young lives while at the same time demanding that Palestinians must stop terrorist activities. It is Palestine that is occupied by an alien force and people. Israeli tanks, helicopter gunships, bulldozers and planes rain the real terror down on helpless Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces extra judicially kill Palestinian freedom fighters and Israeli soldiers aim at the hearts and heads of small children with the intent to kill.

That morning, the five boys did not make it to school. The scattered pieces of their bodies and book bags were all that was left of the children from the same family.

The following day, a child protesting the barbaric slaughter of the 5 children was shot dead. Two days later, Israeli soldiers shot randomly at civilians in Bethlehem and killed yet another child, this time 13 years old.

All over the Holy Land, there is no peace on earth and no good will towards men. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is doing his best to wage genocide against the Palestinian people. For once, the world community should insist that the violence against the Palestinians be stopped, that the siege of their land is halted, that they be given a state of their own to rule on their own and that this Christmas will truly be one of peace and joy.