Santa In Distress, 3 Wise Men Arrested

Santa in Distress, Three Wise Men Arrested
By Ari Edwin | Bethlehem | 24 December

Santa in Distress
Ever since Israel began construction in 2002 of its Separation Wall, Santa Clause has had much difficulty on his annual Christmas routes (Bethlehem is, after all, located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories).

In a recent photo Santa, otherwise referred to as St. Nicholas, can be seen chipping away at the Israeli Separation Wall. On the 24th of July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared the Israeli Wall “contrary to international law” and instructed that this illegal construction end. Ignoring the ICJ, Israel is continuing to build its wall (sometimes called the "Apartheid Wall" because it separates people on the basis on ethnicity).

The Israeli Wall cuts through Bethlehem and isolates major holy sites such as Rachel’s Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Church of Nativity (the birthplace of Christ). The Israeli Separation Wall, once completed, will be over 700 km long and more than 8 meters high. Human rights workers argue that the Wall is not for security reasons (as Israel claims), but rather to “grab” Palestinian agricultural land.

Supporting Santa
Local Palestinian supporters of peace (including many Santa supporters), a year after the ICJ legal opinion, gathered in Ramallah in July 2005 and issued a call to the international community for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel breaks down its Separation Wall and abides by international law.

The BDS campaign has had much success in the eight years since its launch. Earlier this month Canada’s largest Protestant church launched a campaign to boycott Israeli settlement goods. In South Africa, for example the South African Council of Churches issued a resolution in which it states: “[We] Confess our contribution towards the suffering of Palestinians through our silence or lack of action. [We commit ourselves] toward ensuring that the call and challenge from our Palestinian brothers and sisters will not go unheard … [and we] support the non-violent resistance to the occupation of Palestine such as the call to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. This is a commitment toward a just and lasting peace and reconciliation in and for Israel and Palestine”

In his support for BDS, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said: “surely we must recognize that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Efforts to contact Santa were unsuccessful. A source close to him has said that he is very “distressed”.

In a related case, three wise men are arrested*
In a related case, three wise men have been arrested by Israeli authorities attempting to enter East Jerusalem, en-route to the Holy City of Bethlehem in Palestine. According to an Israeli official, the three wise men (of Arab ethnicity) were carrying massive amounts of flammable substances known as “frankincense” and “myrrh.” While not explosives themselves, Israeli security experts revealed that these two substances could be used as a fuse to detonate a larger bomb. The three alleged terrorists were also carrying gold, presumably to finance the rest of their mission.
 Also implicated in the plot were two Palestinians named Joseph and Mary. An anonymous source close to the family overheard Mary saying that her son would “bring down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly.” In what appears to be a call to resistance, the couple claims their son will someday “help to unite and free Palestine.” “These people match, in word and deed, our terrorist profile perfectly,” an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesperson said.

All of the suspects claimed they heard angels singing of a new era of hope for the afflicted and poor. However, Israeli settlers are ridiculing this sentiment, as one put it: “These One-State-For-All wackos are talking about overturning our entire Israeli Bantustan model and create a single democratic state for all - Jews, Muslim, Christian. In fact the Israeli Separation Wall and Bantustan model are working perfectly well and the objections from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are ridiculous [in 2004 the ICJ ruled that Israel's Separation Wall is illegal]. We Israelis don’t care what some angel sang or for that matter the UN or ICJ say; God wants Israel to be king and He is on our side. And so is the USA. Who cares about the indigenous Palestinian Christians, they lost out, tough!”
Motion to Cancel Christmas in Israeli Parliament    
A member of Knesset (Israeli parliament) has announced that it might be prudent to cancel Christmas until others in the plot are rounded up. “I assure you that this measure will be temporary, like our Occupation of Palestine. Israelis love Christmas (and peace) as much as anyone but our security comes above everything. For people to sing, ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all’, is just the wrong message to send to these Palestinian terrorists at this time.” 

The strongest opponents of the Christmas “ban” were, surprisingly, representatives of American retail stores, movie chains and makers of porcelain Christmas figurines. “This is a tempest in a teapot,” fumed one unnamed American businessman. “No one thinks of the political meaning of Christmas any more. Christmas isn’t about a savior who will bring hope to the outcasts of the world; it’s about feasts, presents and bright lights. History has shown that mature people are perfectly capable of singing hymns about world peace while still supporting whatever war or occupation our leaders think necessary. People long ago stopped tying religion to the real events in the world”. 

It is rare for America to be critical of Israel. In fact, America has used it veto power at the UN, to protect Israeli actions (often deemed illegal) over 40 times. Most recently, in February last year, the USA vetoed a resolution critical of Israeli settlement construction in the holy city of Jerusalem.

Amnesty International Issues Urgent Appeal
There has been no word on where the three suspects are being kept, or when their trial might take place. They are being held under the notorious  Israeli "administrative detention order”, an Israeli law resembling Apartheid South Africa's “detention without trial". Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal for the immediate release of the three wise men or "trial in full conformity with international fair trial standards".

Israeli authorities have not responded to the Amnesty International statement and are instead asking citizens who see other Arabs resembling nativity scene figures to contact the Israeli internal security agency, the Shin Bet.

* Based on Pastor Jim Rigby’s article, “Christmas Is No Time To Talk About War And Peace”.