BILLER: Gazans Deserve Our Sympathy This Christmas

Ryan Biller Contributor
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If Christ were born in the present day, his birthplace would be just 46 miles away from a location that experiences an average of 500 bombings daily.

In this war-torn area, nearly 85 percent of the population is displaced, the medical system has crumbled, and reports circulate of hospital beds cradling lifeless infants left to decompose. The death toll has climbed to nearly 20,000, a figure comprising thousands of children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

For those living in Gaza this Christmas, the words of Clark Griswold resonate most: “Worse? How could things get any worse? Take a look around here, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell.” 

If you’re a Daily Caller reader, particularly if you identify as Christian, did the aforementioned cause you to roll your eyes? Well, stick with me on this. In my perspective, compassion for human suffering should not be dictated by one’s political affiliation. And if you’re a person with religious inclinations, I especially hope you’ll resonate with my viewpoint. 

It is a plain fact that the Israeli government, backed by American munitions, has killed more civilians in a two month period than Russia has killed in Ukraine in over a year-and-a-half of war. For context, Gaza is .06 percent the square mileage of Ukraine. Though only about twice the size of Washington D.C. in terms of surface area, Gaza’s population density is immense, comparable to that of London. Because of the compactness of people living inside such a meager area, the devastation, no doubt, is almost apocalyptic in scale. 

While North Americans sip eggnog and wine at Christmas parties, the people of Gaza have resorted to drinking brackish water contaminated by the sea. What other water sources remain have been polluted by sewage in the wake of the wastewater network’s collapse, a result of both fuel shortages and Israeli airstrikes. While we in the West curl up around the fire or on the couch for a Christmas movie, exhausted Palestinian families seek cover from almost endless bombardment. While western parishioners admire statuettes of newborn baby Jesus swathed in a manger, Palestinian newborns lay dead, decomposing in abandoned hospitals. While American congregants attended mass, a pair of women sheltering inside a besieged Catholic Church in Gaza were killed by an Israeli sniper. As Western children excitedly rip open gifts beneath the Christmas tree, orphaned Palestinian children frantically dig through the rubble of their homes in a futile effort to retrieve their crushed families. 

At the very least, this warrants reflection. And if your religious identity prevents you from contemplating the plight of Palestinians, then something in your personal theology has gone awry. You must ask yourself if your version of religion has been poisoned by political partisanship. 

There is a dark irony in celebrating the birth of someone described as the Prince of Peace from the comfort of another continent while, in the very land where Jesus is said to be born, a heinous humanitarian crisis is mounting as war rages on. 

Israel remains firm in its claim that it must eliminate Hamas on the pretense of national security. But as the government indiscriminately obliterates Gaza, Israel is, no doubt, radicalizing a new generation of Palestinians. Traumatized orphans and heartbroken fathers in Gaza will want revenge. Wouldn’t you? 

A week ago I sat alone in a coffee shop, watching a Christmas tree’s lights twinkle in the corner. John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” began to play over the speakers. I was reflecting on our response to violence abroad. As Americans, our outrage seems inconsistent, bound to whatever side of the political spectrum our viewpoints fall. What happened on Oct. 7 was sheer horror. What continues to unfold in Gaza is also sheer horror. Whether an American voter prefers a politician who sports a red tie or blue one, the above statement should not be controversial.

A child scattered into bloody pieces – whether by a militant’s rocket or a government’s bomb, whether an Israeli or a Palestinian – is unconditionally horrid. And if your allegiance to one political party’s narrative prevents you from recognizing this, then you are a part of the problem. 

Let us remember this Christmas that the geographic inception point for the holiday is currently fraught with tragedy. A less than two-hour drive from Bethlehem, blood is being spilled en masse. In the shadow of the festive celebrations, children, constituting nearly half the population, face the harsh reality of war – orphaned, maimed, buried beneath rubble. 

It’s crucial for Western Christians to confront the stark contrast between their joyful festivities and the devastating suffering of Palestinians, highlighting the hypocrisy that demands acknowledgment and reflection this holiday season. Regardless of one’s stance on the region in relation to national identity, those celebrating Christmas should recognize that in the land where the holiday originated, there exists profound suffering which, in large part, is being imposed upon kids.

As you sip your eggnog, let go of tribalism and acknowledge that in war, everyone loses. 

Ryan Biller is an independent journalist currently based in Denver.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.