Whilst wishing all my readers a Very Blessed Christmas, I would like to use this opportunity to write an open letter of hope and goodwill to two human beings named Benjamin by their parents.
Firstly, Benjamin Netanyahu. I haven’t met you, Ben, but your reputation is well-known as a stolid and stubborn defender of the State of Israel. Most people of goodwill agree with you that Israel has a right to exist, but, you see, the problem is that they also firmly believe that Palestine too deserves statehood, which is a swiftly receding possibility if you build a new settlement for tax exiles from Belair and Belarus, that will cut off the little town of Bethlehem from East Jerusalem. You say that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for over 2,000 years. Hold on, Benjamin, didn’t you study History at school? You seem to have airbrushed out two millennia, when Jerusalem, for one reason or the other was NOT the capital of Israel! Please, Benjamin, don’t do it. Become a great statesman and hold out an olive branch to the Palestinians. Israel has so much to offer its neighbours: world leaders in electronics, software development, renewable energy, irrigation, agriculture, and many other great gifts and talents you possess. Don’t listen to your ultra-right minority partners. Show your true worth and astound us in 2013 for all the right reasons. Secondly, to an amazing young man of 19, Benjamin Morrell, born and bred in South London, now organ scholar at an Oxford College, and together with his twin brother, Peter, organising a group of 30+ young people to go to Rio, Brazil, next July for World Youth Day, which will culminate with an open air Mass for 1,000,000+ young people in a peaceful spot 40 miles from Rio. Well done, Ben. Pax Travel will take good care of all of you, from the moment you set out from Heathrow on July 19th, until we bring you back to blighty at the end of July.
Thank you for entrusting us with your pilgrimage (YES, it IS a pilgrimage!!).
Finally, to both Benjamin’s and all my readers, listen to the last verse of the carol:
O holy child of Bethlehem
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in,
Be born in us today.