Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Maccabee puts Meaning back in Christmas!

AT this time, when Tory newspapers are trying to make the Season of Goodwill a time for yet more hatred, by claiming that "They" (anti-racists, lefties and non-Christian minorities) are threatening "Our" Christmas; poor people are desperately trying to keep up with the exhortations to spend, spend, spend; the homeless are still seeking room at the Inn; and the casualty wards are gearing up for their busiest time....

Let us praise some people who are not only putting meaning back in Christmas by seeking Peace on Earth, but drawing attention to what is happening right now in the place where it is all supposed to have started.

You may not see them on television, but you might have heard them beneath the tree in London's Trafalgar Square some years back, and more recently around the statue of Edith Cavell. Tomorrow evening, December 21, you can catch them at Euston Station, singing what sounds at first like traditional carols, but with a difference. For instance....

O come all ye faithful,
All who care for justice,
O look ye, O look ye at Bethlehem.
Come and behold it
Under occupation.
O come, let's not ignore it,
O come, let's not ignore it,
O come, let's not ignore it,
Tell the world.

Sing, all ye people,
Sing in indignation,
Be with the citizens of Bethlehem.
Sing out for justice,
Freedom from oppression.
O come, let's not ignore it,
O come, let's not ignore it,
O come, let's not ignore it,
Tell the world.

Once in royal David's city
Stood a big apartheid wall;
People entering and leaving
Had to pass a checkpoint hall.
Bethlehem was strangulated,
And her children segregated.
Though this city is a symbol
To the world of peace and love,
Concrete walls have closed around her,
Settlements expand above.
And apartheid Israel stands
All around on stolen lands.
David's people once instructed
All the world in righteousness;
Once they spoke of truth and justice;
Now they ravage and oppress.
Nations, look at Bethlehem
And speak out the truth to them.

Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Look what's really happening,
While you sing of peace on earth,
Eat and drink with festive mirth.
Nations, open up your eyes,
Stop the silence and the lies,
And throughout the world proclaim:
There's a Wall round Bethlehem!"

Hark the herald angels sing:
"Look what's really happening!"
Symbol of our lack of peace,
Symbol that our woes increase,
Symbol of the hate and fear
Filling places far and near.
If peace comes to Bethlehem,
It will radiate to them;
Nations, join with us to call
For the downfall of the Wall!
Hark the herald angels sing:
"Look what's really happening!"(repeat first verse)

The singers at Euston will include members of Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews for Justice for Palestinians (Opera singer Debbie Fink should be in fine voice), but the honours for initiating this fine new tradition belong to another mainly Jewish group, Just Peace UK, and particularly to amateur song-writer Deborah Maccoby, who penned these carols. I hope Deborah won't mind me giving her this publicity.

The Zionists have already been trying to get Deborah victimised from her job, and those upholders of cultural freedom at "Engage" get enraged all year round about these "Christmas carols"; but one other person has launched a bitter attack on Deborah Maccoby, after she dared to criticise him (blasphemy!).

More Balmy Gilead

Israeli sax player and self-appointed scourge of left-wing Jews Gilead Atzmon uses the online magazine Palestine Chronicle this week not to attack what Israeli forces are doing in Bethlehem, or proclaim goodwill to all men and women campaigning for peace with justice, but to denounce Deborah, whom he calls "professional goy critic Maccoby". It seems that, replying to his earlier attack in "The Protocols of the Elders of London", she took issue with his treatment of Jews as Christ-killers. Atzmon says:-

"Again the question I would like to raise is how come a Jew like yourself is so concerned with the association with Christ killers. Why Italians aren't that concerned with very similar accusations? At the end of the day, it was their Roman ancestors who made the crime. The reason is simple. While Italians developed an ethical thinking, your resemblance to the murderous great priest is shockingly apparent. It is something you try to push under the carpet. You know so well that you are a modern day Christ killer".

Maybe if there was a history of pogroms in which priest-led mobs inflamed by the Christ passion and too much vodka descended on Italian communities, burning homes and murdering entire families, then people of Italian origin would get a little sensitive now and then about the crucifixion story, and scholars would even spend time trying to prove the Romans were innocent.

But Atzmon, perhaps still a bit hazy about religion in his new milieu as he is about history, warms to the idea that Jews like Mark Elf and Deborah Maccoby who have criticised him or replied to his attacks are really attacking Christianity. "Living in London surrounded by Christmas decorations and millions of Christmas shoppers must make some tribal secular Jewish activists feel alienated. While the religious Jews have Hanukah, a Jewish alternative holiday of lights, the Tribal secular Jew has no collective bond rather than anxiety. At Christmastime Elf and Maccoby are apparently threatened by Christ the ordinary human being (rather than a Son of God). I can't wait and see what kind of fears they may bring up at Easter".

I've no doubt some of the friends who were trying my home-made latkes at the Jewish Socialists' Group secular Hanukah party last weekend (the theme was anti-occupation. Oh there we go, stealing what Atzmon think is solely religious property!) will also be singing Deborah Maccoby's alternative carols tomorrow night. When the event was held in Trafalgar Square first time (with PLO envoy Afif Safieh and family as guests of honour) there were not just singers but several musicians with an odd but pleasing array of instruments.

Had we not got to know his views I expect people would have happily welcomed a certain accomplished saxophone player. As it is, detecting a certain identity wish in his Palestine Chronicle article, I might turn up with my hammer and nails if I thought Gilead Atzmon was coming.

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At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Deborah Maccoby said...

Dear Charlie,

Many thanks for your support both re the alternative Xmas carols and Gilad Atzmon (I'm not sure what Gilad makes of the carols).

Just some brief comments on Gilad's ridiculous piece on me (I'm also putting this on Mark Elf's blog).

1) Re Vanunu: I would like to point out that I later said on the JPUK list
(May 3rd 2005) that I regretted liniking Vanunu to Shamir and Eisen, who
don't have the excuse of 12 years in solitary confinement. Gilad entirely
leaves out my later comments.

2. Gilad is extremely dishonest when he claims that I oppose the democratic
electoral choice of the Palestinians. I did not say this at all and it
would be entirely untrue. I only said I do not support Hamas's religious
fundamentalism. In this, unlike Gilad, I am in harmony with most of the
Palestinian electorate, who only elected Hamas as a protest vote.

3. It is not surprising that Gilad supports the religious fundamentalism of
Hamas, as he is obviously a Christian religious fundamentalist who accused
me of "re-murdering Christ" when I said Jesus was a human being. He is so
proud of this accusation that he actualy repeats it in his response! He
shows no tolerance or respect for the views of Jews, Muslims, humanists or
atheists when he dogmatically insists that Jesus must be seen as the divine
Son of God and this must not be questioned. To question the doctrine of the
Incarnation is not to show disrespect to Christianity, any more than to
question whether Moses received the Torah from God on Mount Sinai shows
disrespect to Judaism (though certainly to do so would deeply offend Jewish
religious fundamentalists.)


At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie, I'd like to use some of the "Alternative Texts" to Christmas carols in posts on "beliefnet" - is that OK?

I can be reached by the following e-mail if that's convenient.

Thank you.


At 3:02 AM, Blogger Levi9909 said...

Deborah has now put another cat among the pigeons which you can see here.

At 3:04 AM, Blogger Levi9909 said...

Deborah has now put another cat among the pigeons which you can see here.


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