Christmas is often an occasion for media laments about the lack of peace in the “Holy Land.” Camera crews show a depressed, unfestive Bethlehem, while Palestinian activists complain about Israeli security measures. Sometimes the Palestinian leadership abets these kinds of seasonal cliches: On Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas released a Christmas greeting calling Jesus a “Palestinian messenger” and strongly implying that Israel persecutes Christians. While reaffirming the PA’s commitment to talks with Israel, Abbas made the bizarre statement that “this Christmas Eve, our hearts and prayers will be with the millions who are being denied their right to worship in their homeland” — meaning, it seems, Christians and Muslims living in Gaza who are “prevented from worshiping in Bethlehem.”
These are the kinds of statements that undermine Israelis’ faith in the peace process —necessary if the average Israeli is to get behind the inevitable security risks of creating a Palestinian state.
Imagine instead if Abbas had focused on another story of the season, this one about a four-year-old boy from Hebron. According to the Times of Israel, the child, named Muath, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease when he was six months old. His single father had no way to pay for the operation that could save his life. Enter Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli nonprofit that provides essential cardiac surgery to children from around the world. According to its literature, approximately 50 percent of the 250 children who receive medical care through SACH each year are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq, and Morocco. In addition, the organization’s Heart of the Matter program, funded by the European Union though its Partnership for Peace program, provides training for Palestinian physicians and nurses
This month, SACH arranged for Muath to received life-saving treatment at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The surgery was scheduled for Wednesday morning — Christmas Day, in fact.