Reflections on the season of peace, Christmas 2023

Santa Claus Gaza

The tree lights shine, the decorations sparkle, the delicious smells of baked goods and roasting food fills the room.  The evening of Christmas Day, the presents are all unwrapped and momentarily coveted, the family has now gone home.  Outside all is calm, bright with the coloured lights of Christmas.   But I feel no joy, perhaps the satisfaction of seeing my family safe and far from the agonies that are destroying other parts of the world, but no joy, nothing festive. 

I turn on the computer and review the geopolitical news of the day, and not even for one day is there peace in the land that is holy to three of the world’s major religions.  My stomach knots, my nerves tighten as I read and see the massacres of the people of Gaza, the women and children struck down by the maniacal violence of Israel, the United States, indeed the ‘western’ world.  They have no warm homes, no solid meals, nothing but piles of rubble, the immediate grief of lost family members, and the never ending threat of destruction falling from the skies.

As part of this world I am ashamed…but no, ashamed is not the right word, more of a cold anger against the perpetrators of such violence, the politicians, manufacturers, and financiers who support mass destruction, genocide, death, and ethnic cleansing for their own profit and power.  It goes beyond words yet words at the moment are all I have.

I usually try to abstract myself from the situation I am writing about, to be factual, observant, and while I advocate, I try to do so using the reasoning of history and international laws.  That is beyond me at the moment, partly because there are – fortunately – many others reporting on the unfolding disasters against humanity in the Middle East, not just Gaza, but throughout the West Bank, up into Lebanon, and out onto the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea and beyond.   It is beyond me, mainly because what is happening is so stunning against my core beliefs about the common sensibilities of people wanting to live essentially simple lives in peace and harmony with their families, friends, and community. 

History does not bode well for thoughts of peace:  the Versailles Peace of 1919 was a disaster setting the stage by way of the Balfour Letter and the British Palestine Mandate for today’s problems;  the end of World War II, the last battle of World War I,  did not bring global peace but a falsely constructed military struggle against a falsely perceived enemy creating wars around the world; and the settlement of the Jewish people because of Europe’s – mostly Britain’s – history of neocolonialism set the stage for today’s genocidal massacres.  Peace under these conditions has only come about from the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people. 

Amazingly, the Israelis do not seem to care that their slaughter is taking place under the global scrutiny of modern media.  They defy the world blatantly and openly, daring the world to do something, knowing that the political powers that be are either too weak – vis a vis their own people’s anger at them – or are very much on their side while exposing the double standards and hypocrisy of nations claiming morality but demonstrating only criminality and violence against humanity.

I watch, I listen, I wait – hoping that somewhere, somehow, someone in power with enough humane sanity left, stands up and says enough…yet knowing there are only a few people in the world with that power, and they appear to be applying the throttle to the momentum of war.   The lies, the manipulations, the self-satisfied morality of a chosen people, of an indispensable nation, both carrying nuclear weapons as backups to the madness of their militarily saturated egos and desires makes it difficult to feel other than an underlying anger at the society that engenders them. 

I sit, not comforted by my own ease, but very ill at ease with the daily recurrence of the genocide that I know is in part perpetuated by my own government.   I can speak out for peace – wondering at the same time if my speaking is having any effect – perhaps as it joins in with hundreds, thousands, of other voices.  A peace not just the cessation of hostilities for a momentary prisoner exchange, nor a truce allowing both sides time to re-arm and re-equip themselves, but a peace that will allow all the people of the Middle East – and the world beyond – to live together in harmony, sharing their cultures and creating a full community beyond the narrow confines of militaristic power authorized by some strange false narrative of supremacy. 

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator

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