Christmas 2015 Brings More Misery, Poverty, and Dispossession for Bethlehem and Palestinians
In the Christian holy text Matthew tells his readers about the special events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jewish child, conceived miraculously to a young girl, and born in a manger to Joseph of Nazareth and Mary, his betrothed. And because there was no room at any of the inns, Mary delivered the infant child in a manger in the Holy City of Bethlehem, Palestine.
In some ways circumstances in Palestine some two-thousand years ago were no different from what they are today. Palestine was a Roman colony, and as such, the colonizers ruled with a brutally iron fist and exacted hefty taxes. After the Roman Senate declared Herod King of Judea (a vassal king to impose Pax Romana) his paranoiac affliction and ruthlessness inflicted misery on the people of Palestine, Jews and others alike. Fearing that the birth of Jesus would eventually depose him, he ordered the murder of some three thousand innocent children in Bethlehem and environs. The Massacre of the Innocentshas been memorialized in art by Peter Paul Rubens, Guido Reni, Giotto, Breughel the Elder, and Nicolas Poussin.
Violence and executions, taxation without representation, human rights violations, segregation, exploitation, xenophobia, expulsion, and the confiscation of personal and communal properties were the norm in a society that demeaned its indigenous non-Jewish populations in first century Palestine.
If one were to compare conditions in Pax Romana Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth to Pax Americana in modern day occupied Palestine, one would be shocked to discover that Roman occupation was infinitely more benign than the current Israeli occupation.
Halaby, Raouf J. Professor Emeritus, "Christmas 2015 Brings More Misery, Poverty, and Dispossession for Bethlehem and Palestinians" (2015). Articles. 100.