A Christmastime Disgrace in the Holy Land

This is the story of two young people in Israeli jails at this Christmas time. One is a Jew; the other a Muslim. Neither celebrates Christmas, but the holiday’s message of “peace on earth” speaks loudly to their incarceration. The Israeli is 20-year old Elor Azarya (or Azaria). The Palestinian is 16-year old Ahed (or Ehed) Tamimi. The juxtaposition of these two youngsters is a sharp illustration of the extremes of conflict and misinformation in the West Bank.

I realize most of you don’t have much interest in the comings and goings of the West Bank, even though our government sends Israel $10 million-a-day in military and other aid. Embassy in Jerusalem? Who cares? Like images of starving people in Africa, who wants to be reminded of such confusing conflict in the region, especially this time of year? We turn away. That’s okay, it’s of supreme importance to me, so I pay attention. Here’s what you need to know about these two youngsters.

Elor Azarya

The people of Israel – not just the government, the people – want Azarya released, because they view him as a hero and his extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian teenager in the streets of Hebron last year as completely justified. I’m serious. Azarya was 19-years old when he blew the brains out of an incapacitated and bleeding Palestinian who was lying prone on his stomach in a pool of blood. Azarya pulled his rifle, walked a few steps to get close to his victim and shot him in the head. All of this was caught on videotape. This blatant murder was reduced to manslaughter with Azarya sentenced to 18 months in prison, four months of which was immediately suspended. The people of Israel want him released, and the latest news is that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin might just pardon him. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Azarya, “Everyone’s son” in calling for his release. You should also know that there are questions about the belief that Azarya’s victim was, in fact, the man who attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife on the day he was executed. The whole mess stinks, and yet Azarya’s smiling face is plastered all over the country as a symbol of the fine young men who defend Israel and her government.

Ahed Tamimi

Ahed Tamimi, however, is a well-known teenage protester of the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis, especially on the West Bank. Despite her young age, she’s been at it for many years. The Israelis pejoratively refer to her as “Shirley Temper,” because she is loud and obnoxious to her oppressors. Tamimi and her mother were arrested Wednesday after Ahed and another teen were seen in a viral video hitting, kicking, and slapping Israeli soldiers who were blocking entrance to the Tamimi home. The video is said to be humiliating to the Israeli soldiers, an illustration of the “moral fiber” of the soldiers to just stand there are take it, or as a demonstration of the girls’ heroism. Cries of foul are coming from those who think the Tamimi family has been exploiting their daughter for years by making constant videos of her activities.

But here’s the thing: Ahed confronted the soldiers, because her brother Mohammed had been shot in the head earlier in the day with a rubber-coated metal bullet by Israelis during a protest over Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decisions – which the governments of the rest of the world have condemned. Nobody knows if her brother will live or not, but the point is this incident was not unprovoked, exploitive, or some heroic demonstration of restraint on the part of the soldiers, and this is getting lost in the blur of propaganda. Palestinian actions in the West Bank are ALWAYS reactive. They never come out of nowhere, nor are they based in hatred of Jews. These people are reacting to the ghettoization of their land by occupiers who have no regard for international law.

Like the case with Azarya, nothing is ever black and white in the region, because the Zionist government has a need to spin events to represent their narrative. That this escapes only the U.S. is what’s so mind bogglingly frustrating to someone who really cares about the Palestinian people.

And Christians? Their mouths are shut, because they view all of this as prophecy being fulfilled, which in reality is thumbing their collective noses at God Almighty. Meanwhile, the holiday that proclaims Christ’s birth as the “reason for the season” marches forward without a care.

It’s utterly disgraceful.

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