Julian Assange – a Christmas story
|Wednesday, December 22,2010 13:38|
|By Rachel Stephens|
Some years go I decided to stop subjecting myself to the propaganda I received from daily news programmes. My knowledge of politics was poor, but the internet enabled me to educate myself and I was especially keen to learn about British involvement in the Middle East.
The patriarch Abraham came from Ur, in the area that is now modern Iraq. Descended from the nomadic tribe from the north that had conquered the Old Babylonian Empire, Abraham felt moved to leave Ur and find fertile land to settle on. His journey took him through the “fertile crescent” of Mesopotamia and he eventually settled in Egypt. Abraham’s descendants and others who came to believe in his sense of a personal God for their chosen few, later left Egypt and reached the River Jordan. Looking across to the far bank they saw the lush farmland of Canaan, supporting a variety of ethnic groups such as Philistines, Hittites and Amorites. The Lord God told his chosen people (now known as the Israelites) that they must “destroy the inhabitants totally, making no treaty with them and not leaving alive anything that breathes” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2 and 20:16), so that the Israelites could then take “land with large, fine cities you did not build, houses filled with good things, hewn cisterns you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees you did not plant - and eat your fill.” (Deuteronomy 6:11)
The Israelites did not find it easy to take the land, but after rape, pillage and the slaughter of babes in their mothers wombs (Isaiah 13:16) over a period of years they succeeded in settling in an area in Canaan (modern Palestine) centred on the old town of Jerusalem. The area became known as Judah, after one of Abraham‘s descendants, and the related tribes that settled there were known as Jews. The name Zionist comes from Mount Zion, where – at the time the Jews attacked the ancient town of Jerusalem “setting fire to it and killing all its people” (Judges 1:8) – there was a Canaanite fort.
Learning about Israel – and, indeed, the Bible – has affected my view of Christmas. The words to carols such as “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Once In Royal David’s City” now more than grate on my nerves and I am disgusted by the failure of most leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England to stand up to Israel to any significant degree, as well as by the blind support for the Israeli government shown by many church members. Nevertheless, the message of Christmas is love, which is perennial and not tied to any particular religion. The symbolism of Christmas is that of a new beginning and a redeeming factor entering the world to inspire others to abandon self interest.
Should Israeli war criminals be allowed to visit Britain without fear of arrest? Forget any moral considerations – it’s just a matter of tweaking the current law. As we are all now well aware, anything goes as long as it is perpetrated by the rich and powerful.
Julian Assange has knowingly sacrificed his freedom and possibly his life by standing with the poor and dispossessed. His imprisonment confirms our fears about the aims and methods of the US government and their vassals. However, Assange himself has demonstrated at this special time of year that there are still those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the good of others. The USA then plays the part of Herod – the cruel, unbalanced slaughterer of children. Most of our representatives in the British government take the role of Pontius Pilate, desperately keen to ingratiate themselves with their masters – the USA and Israel. And what of us? Will we play the part of Christ’s disciple Peter and, from cowardice, deny our interest in and support for the unimaginably courageous Julian Assange – afraid even to send cash for his legal fund, (via his solicitor, Paul Millett, Managing Director of the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, in case we attract unwanted attention?