DECEMBER 25, 1956
HYDE PARK,Monday N.Y.—A heartfelt wish will go out throughout this country for peace and goodwill among men and may the Christmas season bring to all of us a deeper sense of our obligation to try to bring this goodwill about. It is not just going to happen. We will have to work hard for it, and we will have to have great determination and great understanding of the situations which exist in foreign countries.
We will be enjoying this year our usual Christmas cheer. There will be no shortage of gasoline to prevent us from seeing our families and friends; our houses will be warm; we will be able to buy what we need without restriction.
I was talking only the other day, however, to someone from a European country who told me that in most areas abroad all of the old ration books were out again. In Great Britain you are limited to seven miles a day of travel by car. In Switzerland no one can go anywhere by car on a Sunday, and the already-cold houses of Europe have become even colder.
Of course, everyone will make an effort to have Christmas decorations and some of the usual spirit which surrounds the season, but nowhere will it be a carefree Christmas.
In the Near East, the country which first heard the announcement from the angels of the birth of the Child who was to bring a new religion into the lives of so many people, there still will be bitterness and recriminations and no real peace.
A group of young high-school students visited the Syrian delegation headquarters of the United Nations the other day and were told there was no hope whatever for peace in the Near East unless all Israelis were sent back to the countries from which they had come.
The youngsters asked me whether I thought such a thing was really possible, and I said:
"Many of these Israelis came as refugees from tyranny in Germany before World War II, from many other countries of Eastern Europe where they had lived in ghettos and under constant oppression and from many countries of the Arab world where the same thing had existed.
"The little state of Israel represents to them the first fulfillment of a prophecy. It is a homeland and a refuge, and they had never refused to take in any refugees who went there either because of physical or mental disability. How would it be possible to return these people to their country of origin?"
This solution sounds like a Soviet idea which was fought over a period of years in the United Nations on the question of all World War II refugees who did not wish to return to their countries of origin after their countries had been brought under Soviet influence.
Now this same thing, which must be a suggestion of the Soviets, is being brought forth by the Syrians and I can't say that I see much hope in that doctrine.
Let us hope that in the year ahead before our next Christmas we will find solutions to the problems that beset our world and we can approach the message of the angels with a greater hope of its realization throughout our world.