A Glimpse of Bethlehem – Bethlehem

Before we left the West Bank we took one last walk and drive through Bethlehem. The city, aside from Manger Square, was much quieter on Christmas Day: tea vendors quietly sold their goods and fixed their carts (5) and the people went about their business as usual. Although Bethlehem has one of the largest Arab Christian populations, it still has a Muslim majority, so Christmas is not a holiday, nor is it celebrated in their daily lives. As we walked I was able to notice a couple of subtleties I had missed during the night, like the “skyline” (7,9) and the antiwar graffiti (6).

To reach Jerusalem and Israel, we had to take a taxi to the checkpoint, where we were met with Israeli soldiers and armed vehicles. Then we would walk through a small area until we reached the Israeli / West Bank Barrier (1-4) where we would get our passports and bags checked and go through security before being allowed into Israel. Supporters of the wall say it was built to decrease the number of terror attacks, (which has gone down significantly since it’s construction), but others argue it is illegal and restricts access to work, resources, land, and families. The wall is thicker and more substantial near larger cities (ie Bethlehem), and farther away it becomes little more than a fence with barbed wire (with cameras and sensors). The wall is littered with graffiti (3, 4) and has become of symbol of the West Bank.

Keep reading for Christmas in Jerusalem…

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~ by jonathanmtsai on December 28, 2010.

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