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Chief complaint and spirit of Christmas, by Mazin Qumsiyeh

It is sometimes had to develop a spirit of Christmas under occupation. On
Friday 17 Palestinians were injured by Israeli occupation forces in
Bethlehem including a friend of mine. Rehab is a photographer who was there
to document what is going. Targeting journalists and photojournalists is
not new to the Israeli regime and has been practiced since 1948. One
journalists and writer who is held without trial has been on hunger strike
since 25 November is Mohammad AlQeeq. Atrocities continued. The Israeli
officials continue to call for more racist killing of Palestinian natives
who are merely asking for freedom after decades of Israeli colonial
occupation. Ministers call for murder and ethnic cleansing. One member of
the Israeli Knesset even supports the burning of Palestinian children alive
(saying this is not terrorism for Jews cannot commit terrorist crimes). The
Israeli system refused to punish those who actually did such a horrible
deed on a 13 year old Palestinian child. But I digress. How are we to
develop a spirit of Christmas and what actually is the spirit. I was in an
exceptionally filled church today in my town of Beit Sahour (the Shepherds’
Field where shepherds were told to go see the newborn Jesus some 2000 years
ago according to Christian tradition). My mother and I went to church
because of two deaths and we needed to participate and share with families.
Hundreds of town people gather and then go to a big hall where families of
the deceased gather to receive condolences. As two deaths were involved
both halls of the church were filled with people. I find these gatherings
strangely uplifting. There is so much love. So many people sharing and
hugging and shaking hands and asking each other genuinely “how are you”; in
some other places that is a formality but not here in these gatherings when
people actually mean it. Here as we sipped coffee and ate special “church
bread” when they ask me how am I doing, I am free to tell them that I was
sad at the injury and death of friends (either naturally or via Israeli
actions), sad at continued starvation of Gaza, sad at seeing a video of a
young Syrian refugee family that lost one of their two daughters in the sea
but I am happy that there are so many good people doing great things to
help each other (we just received one more volunteer from Germany
yesterday). I then contemplated that I can find the spirit of Christmas
(Jesus’ message of love and kindness to one another) even in sad occasions.

I recommend highly for you to send as a gift to your friends and relatives
as a gift for Christmas one or both of Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, MD, MPH books
 "Chief Complaint: A Country Doctor's Tales of Life in Galilee” Just World
Books, 2015 and   'A Doctor in Galilee: the Life and Struggle of a
Palestinian in Israel', Pluto Press, 2008    Active Blog: (Dr. Kanaaneh will donate his
portion of the sale of his newer book to the Palestine Museum of Natural

We have this calendar of Palestine Natural History available and proceeds
help Palestine's children in Gaza and PMNH activity (also involving
children but in the West Bank). It is available in Palestine directly from
the Museum or you can order it online at:

We will have an all-volunteer meeting in Bethlehem December 21. Please
notify us if you can come (send email to We will
review accomplishments this year and plans for next. Incidentally we just
got our latest research paper accepted for publication (on butterflies) as
well as two other papers. We also completed a research paper on reptiles.
We further welcome donation to the Museum (see )

Walking with Abraham: a journey through Palestine, Israel and beyond – in

1,000 Black Activists, Artists, and Scholars Demand Justice for Palestine:
Full-text of statement from Angela Davis, Cornel West, Talib Kweli, the
Dream Defenders, Hands Up United and other prominent organizations and
leaders Read more at EBONY

Stay human and come visit us in Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine

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