Christmas has always been a seasonal event of great importance to soldiers serving abroad, away from home.
Christmas has always been a seasonal event of great importance to soldiers serving abroad, away from home. With Christmas 1976 being perhaps the first Christmas since the Second World War when there are no wars being fought between countries anywhere in the world, the men of the United Nations peace-keeping force in Golan are among the few troops facing the problem of organising their own seasonal celebrations in a foreign land.
SYNOPSIS: There are men from 32 countries serving in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights, with its officers coming from 16 countries. Of all the year's seasonal events, it is at Christmas that the post is welcomed with the most eager anticipation. The letters and parcels from home seem to bring with them some of the warmth and family feeling that the men stationed on this bleak outpost will be missing.
For some time now the officers and men have been preparing for Christmas according to the style traditional in their own countries. The Austrian and Canadians have been decorating their Christmas trees, and appropriate music helps to create a feeling that the big day is approaching. No doubt most of the men hope that next year they will be celebrating at home with their families. It will inevitably depend upon the politicians. The prospects certainly look less gloomy than last year.
Although the Israeli Government has repeated its refusal to attend any reconvened Geneva Peace Conference on the middle East if the Palestinians attend, moves are afoot that could break the deadlock. The current visit of Syria's President Hafez al-Assad to Cairo for talks with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, could provide a solution to the difficulty of constituting an Arab delegation that can represent the Palestinian interest.
But for the United Nations soldiers on the Golan, it is just a matter of tedious routine, and sitting it put until a settlement. Christmas relieves the boredom with tinsel and nostalgia.