The war in the Holy Land challenges the basic premise of Christmas

Author: Karoli Ssemogerere. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • There is a new attempt to remake the Chinese identity, even if it comes with fewer economic opportunities. 
  • In 2023, slower Chinese economic growth has dragged with it global economic growth, which IMF predicts will even be slower in 2024.

Most of the Christmas carols allude to the baby in the manger, sleeping atop a straw of hay. They also describe a “silent night”, stars in the sky, lit up by the moon. Millions of Christians worldwide have been celebrating this tradition over an eight-week period that runs from December to February depending on the calendar. 

The world continues to watch how Christmas 2023 will be remembered mostly as a horror that began with Hamas’ invasion of Israel, firing more than 5000 rockets, killing 1200 people and taking hostage hundreds more. And then followed by Israel’s war of annihilation to uproot Hamas from the West Bank, whose death toll is now at 15000 people. 

Taken into context Gaza is home to two million people, of whom 600,000 people live in Gaza City, so at least one fatality in every 130 people. There is no end in sight, as this narrow strip of 139 square miles. Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Sudan, Iran, Tunisia and Iran each with their own restive movements have expressed some form of support for Hamas. Iran backed Hezbollah in Lebanon on Israel’s northern border is lurking in the shadows. 

While Israel’s military effort in Gaza is winding down to an end, Israel itself and the world are faced with an existential threat of confidence surrounding them, that of identity. The disproportionate share of economic prosperity between the rich and the poor nations. Certain populations, big and small, feel threatened. The Russia-Ukraine war is a war of identity. Ukraine did not pose any specific military threat to the Russian federation apart from attempting to join NATO. Countries with more or less an open border system like Canada with a target to welcome 1 million immigrants annually are facing domestic pushback. 

Inside China, there is a new attempt to remake the Chinese identity, even if it comes with fewer economic opportunities. In 2023, slower Chinese economic growth has dragged with it global economic growth, which IMF predicts will even be slower in 2024. The war in the Holy Land is just a headline of the spiritual turmoil surrounding the world’s most celebrated holiday. Santa Claus is indeed on fire, the Pope found himself refereeing his words from describing the conflict in different words, acts of terrorism, war and then genocide. 

Genocide is a highly inflammatory term with which the Catholic Church finds itself, partly blamed for the rise of Hitler in the 1930s, when a papal concordat with Hitler was in place as extermination of Jews begun in Europe. 
In one highly reported phone call with the Israeli President, the Pope told the Israeli president, Israel could not respond to terror with terror. On each side, he was faced with victims of these wars. This environment is shaping new politics, less democracy, less willingness to negotiate, yet military and strongman tactics cannot bring prosperity save for the very few global elites.

In the place of terrorism, the statement, Israel met its own 9-11 is acceptable. 9-11 is a bigger term, a warning mountain of intelligence failures, where Hamas plans to invade Israel were on the radar of Israeli intelligence for more than seven years but no action was taken as they were deemed far-fetched.  

In Uganda, the concentration of small units capable of very violent crime has been demonstrated in the dual High Court trials of the murderers of two single women abducted in Kampala, Maria Nagirinnya in 2015 and Susan Magara in 2018. December came with news of the arrest and remanding of 31 Ugandans including pastors, police and army officers charged with a plot to overthrow the government.

Countries worldwide must search for a new consensus, that minimizes the brunt of raw political power, excess use of force and managing the dwindling resource envelope many countries are facing after the global economic downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

If it means amending constitutions to allow for power sharing, if it means toning down inflammatory rhetoric, using religion, ethnicity or other beliefs, that may save the world from even more conflict in 2024. 
Christmas, the peace of the manger has been erased from our memories for years to come.

 Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]