‘Jesus Would Be Born under Gaza Rubble’ – Palestinian Pastor

(Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

Palestinian pastor Reverend Munther Isaac has criticized what he calls the hypocrisy and racism of the Western world, saying Gaza has become the moral compass of the world. 

Delivering his Christmas message to the congregation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem on Saturday, Reverend Isaac said what would have been a time of joy, is instead a time of “mourning, we are fearful.”  

“Gaza, as we know it, no longer exists,” he said. “This is an annihilation. This is genocide.”

He said: “We are tormented by the silence of the world,” adding that “leaders of the so-called free lined up one after the other to give the green light for this genocide against a captive population.”

“Not only did they make sure to pay the bill in advance, they (also) veiled the truth and context providing the political cover,” he added. The “theological cover”, he said, was provided with the “Western church” stepping into the spotlight.

Amongst the congregation was an international delegation of Christian leaders, who are spending Christmas in Bethlehem in solidarity with the Palestinian people.  

South Africans, he said, “taught us the concept of state theology; defined as the theological justification of the status quo with its racism, capitalism and totalitarianism.”

It does so, he explained, by misusing theological concepts and biblical texts for its own political purposes.

“Here in Palestine the bible is weaponized against us,  our very own sacred text.”

Theology of Empire

He added, “Here we confront the theology of empire, a disguise for superiority, supremacy, chosen-ness, and entitlement.”

“The theology of the empire becomes a powerful tool to mask oppression under the cloak of divine sanction,” the reverend said. 

He explained that “It speaks of land without people. It divides people into us and them. It dehumanizes and demonizes. The concept of land without people again even though they knew too well the land had people. And not just any people, a very special people.”

He said “theology of the empire calls for emptying Gaza. Just like it called for the ethnic cleansing in 1948, a miracle or a divine miracle as they called it.” 

“It calls for us Palestinians to go to Egypt, maybe Jordan, why not just the sea?” he questioned.

Hypocrisy of the Western World

He said the “hypocrisy and racism of the Western world is appalling.”

“To our European friends, I never ever want to hear you lecture us on human rights or international law ever again. And I mean that. We are not white I guess, it does not apply to us according to your own logic.” 

He criticized the “many Christians in the western world” who, in this war, “made sure the empire has the theology needed. It is their self-defense, we were told.”

“I continue to ask how the killing of 9,000 children Is self-defense? How is the displacement of 1,9 million Palestinians self-defense?” the reverend asked. 

He continued: “In the shadow of the empire they turned the colonizer into the victim and the colonized into the aggressor. Have we forgotten that the state they talk to was built on the ruins of the towns and villages of those very same Gazans?”

He further said, “We are outraged by the complicity of the church.”

“Let it be clear friends, silence is complicity. And empty calls for peace without a ceasefire and end to occupation and the shallow words of empathy without direct action all under the banner of complicity.”

Gaza: The World’s Moral Compass

So here is my message, he said: “Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world.”

He said that Gaza was hell before October 7, and the world was silent. “Should we be surprised at its silence now?” he asked. 

“If you are not appalled by what is happening in Gaza. If you are not shaken to your core, there is something wrong with your humanity,” he stressed. 

“And if we as Christians are not outraged by the genocide, by the weaponization of the bible to justify it, there is something wrong with our Christian witness and we are compromising the credibility of our gospel message.”

He cautioned: “if you fail to call this a genocide, it is on you. it is a sin and darkness you willingly embrace.”

Jesus Would be Born Under Gaza Rubble

He said “some have not even called for a ceasefire, some churches have not even called for a ceasefire. I feel sorry for you.” 

However, he said, despite the immense blow that Palestinians have endured, “we will recover, we will rise, we will stand up again from the midst of destruction as we have always done as Palestinians.” Adding that this is by far the strongest blow received in a long time. 

But he cautioned those whom he said, “are complicit”.

“I feel sorry for you. Will you ever recover? Your charity and words of shock after the genocide won’t make a difference. But your words of regret won’t suffice for you.”

He added: “Let me say it: we will not accept your apology after the genocide.”

“I want you to look in the mirror and ask: where was I when Gaza was going through a genocide?” the reverend said. 

Thanking the international delegation of Christian leaders present, saying “through you, God has spoken to us, that we are not forsaken.”

He said, “if Jesus was to be born today, he would be born under the rubble in Gaza.”

Acknowledging the nativity scene in the church which showed a doll wrapped in the Palestinian keffiyeh and placed amongst debris and rubble, he said “this manger is about resilience, about sumud…”

In Bethlehem, public Christmas celebrations and festivities have been canceled due to the ongoing atrocities being carried out in Gaza. Celebrations will be mainly prayers with no festive celebrations.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 20,424 Palestinians have been killed, and 54,036 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

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