Bethlehem under threat

Many ancient cities have vanished.

We read about them in history books without giving much thought to how the world could have been different had they stayed with us.

In this instance, the subject is Bethlehem, a city that is vanishing in front of our eyes. Does it matter?

This is the question I have been asking myself since Christmas 2004, when I embarked on a film that was meant to chronicle the changes taking place in my hometown.

Israel had just started building a wall that today confines Bethlehem to less than 13 per cent of its original territory, a development that threatens to drive out all of its Christian population.

I have always known that Bethlehem is a unique place but it was always difficult to put it into words.

Despite its global fame, no one has tried to tell the story of my town beyond the stereotypes of the Nativity or the brutality of military occupation.

Yet Bethlehem does have another story, and understanding it is key to a meaningful engagement with the politics of the Middle East.

It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered an account that supports my long-held belief about Bethlehem’s unusual pedigree. Continue reading.

Source: The Elders

Image: Operation Bethlehem/Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation

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