The Spirit of and War on Christmas

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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 History).

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 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 pictures

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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