Wednesday, 14 July 2010


In 2002, I lived in Bethlehem for two weeks. The city had just undergone a siege, you know when Israeli's surrounded the Church of Nativity? Bullet holes graced the old walls of the church where Jesus was born and this holy site usually filled with pilgrims was almost empty.

Look closely at the bullet holes that fill the outside walls of the church

My my time flies. Eight years later I stand in the middle of the agora of sorts in front of the church. The siege is gone and the Eastern European pilgrims, probably the crowd from the church of Holy Sepulchre I saw in Jerusalem, are lined up waiting for their turn to enter to the grotto where Jesus was born and pray. It's a different time.

Bethlehem always reminds me of the first time I ever stepped foot in Palestine. It was in 2000 during Christmas that I came here. The crowds were out and the lights were shining - it was after all, Christmas in the city where Christianity started.
The rent for these shops used to cost thousands of shekels, but since the wall came up rent is probably around 1NIS. So everyone's closed up shop.
The entrance to Aida refugee camp
The wall in Aida refugee camp

Bethlehem is the perfect example of Palestinian co-existence. A church stands near a mosque, veiled muslim women shop beside non-veiled women with crosses dangling from their necks and alongside the many tourists.
The old gate in front of Dheisheh refugee camp which was demolished recently (as it was still there in 2002). This was installed during the 1st intifada and of course soldiers were guarding the entrance.
The view from Dheisheh Refugee Camp's roof

A visit to my old "home" of sorts is not complete without returning to the place where I stayed, Ibdaa Cultural Centre in the Dheisheh refugee camp.

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