Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

There, I said it.

Yes, I know I was supposed to have been traumatized from having to sing X-mas carols during my elementary school years.  But I tend to lump that history in with the fact that I attended more Catholic masses than Jewish services during my youth (although you could add all the religious activities I participated in during my childhood on two hands and, possibly, one uncovered foot).

And yet, despite all this cultural “indoctrination,” I never seem to have shaken my religious and cultural identity, to the point where my children will be given far more religious education than I ever had (Jewish, by the way).

It was sometime after I had obtained my own Jewish religious and cultural consciousness that it became de rigueur among the wider Jewish community to fret that the Christian symbols permeating the landscape (despite that landscape having been long cleared of public-school Christmas carol singing and public-square crèches) were intimidating or insulting to those of us who belong to religious minorities.

But, as someone whose Jewish identity didn’t get derailed by having to sing Silent Night to an audience of bored parents of all religious denominations in the 1970s, it dawned on me years later that today’s Christmas would bother me much more if I were Christian.

After all, the bulk of what passes for the holiday season deals either with shopping or generic good will for all.  And while I’m no Scrooge with respect to either contributing to the economy (by caving in to my kid’s every whim) or showing good will towards others, it strikes me that a religious holiday should ultimately be about something other than generosity of wallet and spirit (although there’s nothing wrong with either).

Which gets me to the real problem we should be having with Christmas this holiday season, regardless of whether we are Christian, Jew or other.  For this year, it seems like the tendency to co-op the holiday for self-centered politics seems to have reached a level of tackiness unseen since the days of Europe’s overtly anti-Semitic Passion Plays.

First, as NGO Monitor points out, “charitable” non-governmental organizations with church affiliations seem to be taking particular delight this year in retelling the history of the Middle East in religious (even super-sessionalist) terms.

Under this storyline, Jews and Arabs are not dealing with a contemporary political dispute over land (much like similar disputes that take place all over the world).  Nor, are they even talking about the conflict by using the usual one-sided, self-serving language related to objects of contemporary belief such as “human rights” and “international law.”

No, instead, we are back to medieval narratives of Jews denying Christ (or Christ’s descendents, who we are told with the usual tastelessness and imperviousness to historical accuracy are actually the Palestinian Arabs), emanating from groups such as Sabeel which never tire of characterizing Jews doing things like limiting access to their cities by those who perpetrate and celebrate blowing up school buses in those cities as the equivalent of nailing Christ to the cross (again).

Such quasi-religious (but really secular and hyper-political) condemnations tend to accompany annual grotesques, such as celebrations in “Palestinian” Bethlehem which couple ten minutes celebrating the birth of Christ with four hours condemning the Jewish state for the depletion of Christians in the area.  This all in spite of facts that anyone who has not built barriers around their mind and senses can see (notably that the flight of Christians from Bethlehem being the result of handing that town over to the very Palestinians now crying crocodile tears over missing Christians they themselves forced out).

Needless to say, the abuse of Christmas finds its most tasteless expression by our own home-grown BDSers who have taken in recent years to demonstrate their impotence by singing their own butchered X-mas carols in front of stores selling the latest hit Israeli product (Ahava cosmetics in recent years, but Soda Stream this time around).

The fact that sales of Israeli goods have exploded, despite their out-of-tune warbling and outrageously contrived lyrics has not prevented this hoard of self-centered grinches from  doing what they can to confuse, annoy and appall shoppers in places like downtown Boston who clearly pay no heed (except to express contempt).

But remember, lowering SodaStream sales are not the point.  Nor (despite what the BDSers will tell you) are they doing their thing to “make a statement” or “start a conversation” about the “plight of the Palestinians” or anything (or anyone) else.

For the reason why these tired, old, has-beens gather to torture passersby can be found on the Facebook page of the group itself.  For that Facebook page IS the point: the chance to show off to friends and allies that they (the brave, bold, BDSers) are “doing something” are taking “direct” action so bold and edgy that it’s worth, well… posting on Facebook!

So as the body count increases in Syria, tanks roll against civilians in Egypt, and the Middle East not-so-slowly descends into the mire, we can at last see what those friends of humanity in BDSland have as their priority: placing themselves as the object of celebration this holiday season in place of you-know-who.

4 Responses to “Merry Christmas!”

  1. fizziks December 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    ACTION ALERT: SUPPORT A STORE THAT STOOD UP TO BDS BULLIES

    Cliff’s Variety Store in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood recently stood up to BDS activists who were protesting Sodastream and kicked them out of the store. The BDSers are threatening to sue for “assault” and other nonsense. They have a video of the incident here: http://youtu.be/2s-6iK7sxZs Cliff’s is probably going to get a lot of flack so please take a minute to thank them. Especially if you live in the Bay Area, but I think everyone should do it. Their e-mail address is cliff@cliffsvariety.com

    For example, here is what I wrote:


    Dear Cliffs,

    I’ve been shown a video of your employees recently standing up to some disruptive anti-Israel protestors and kicking them out of your store, and I wanted to let you know that myself and many other Bay Area progressives support your actions. These people are disruptive everywhere they go and they have an abhorrent political philosophy that opposes peace in the Middle East. I wasn’t previously aware of your store, but because of your courageous and principled actions I will think of you for my shopping needs when I’m in the city. Don’t let these people bully you – they are paper tigers.

    If you weren’t aware, the video is being shown here:
    http://youtu.be/2s-6iK7sxZs

    Sincerely,
    - [My Name]
    [My City], CA

  2. BDS December 27, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    I think you left out the most egregious example of the exploitation of Christmas:

    “The Israeli Embassy in Ireland caused a storm of protest Monday when it posted on Facebook an image of Jesus and Mary and suggested that if the Biblical figures were alive today they would have likely been murdered by a mob of Palestinians.

    On Monday afternoon, the following post appeared on the embassy’s official Facebook feed:

    “A thought for Christmas… If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought…….” ”

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-embassy-facebook-post-sparks-irish-ire/

    Remember, this isn’t some random activist, but rather the official page of an Israeli embassy.

    • DivestThis December 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Here we have an excellent example of that Pointing Finger strategy I mentioned here:

      http://divestthis.com/2012/11/gaza-propaganda-accuse-accuse-accuse.html

      http://divestthis.com/2012/05/blame.html

      See how our visiting BDSer has pretended to acknowledge that exploiting Christmas for political ends is generally bad, but rather than acknowledge the specifics I point out of the abuse of Christian imagery by his own allies in the NGO community, or the abuse of holiday cultural artifacts (such as mock Christmas caroling designed to abuse the public),he instead has fished out one example where Israelis have done something similar and declared this to be the supreme example of the phenomenon I am criticizing.

      Just to make sure we’re talking about this “Pointing Finger” propaganda technique: Is it safe to say, our BDS visitor, that you unquestionably condemn the behavior outlined in the piece above regarding X-mas abuse by your friends and allies (not to mention the non-stop abuse of Christian symbols and actual Christians unfortunate enough to live under Palestinian jurisdiction)? After all, your “Well Israelis do it too!” argument only makes sense if we can count on you to join us in making sure your finger is, in fact, pointing in more than one direction.

      • Brian Goldfarb January 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        Interesting to note that 7 days later, your BDS visitor has seen fit to go blind and deaf. I wonder why? Could it be that they don’t actually have an answer, or at least one that would get them of the hook and satisfy their equally one-eyed buddies in the BDS movement.

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