I traveled from Nablus to Bethlehem on Wednesday evening. I had planned a short visit to a city that had no room at the inn for a young couple from Nazareth.
I was luckier. There was a room reserved for me at the Bethlehem Inn, not far from Rachel’s Tomb. I had hoped to visit that place, but found an obstacle in the way – a tall, impenetrable object made of concrete. And this is what I saw from my window the next morning.
I had heard that the Separation Barrier, also called The Wall, was creating problems for those living in Bethlehem and the many pilgrims that come to see the place where Jesus was born. The Wall in front of the Bethlehem Inn seemed to snake around a small area – Rachel’s Tomb as I later learned. In so doing, it isolated several families from the rest of the neighbourhood and the shops that are their livelihoods.
I was visiting my EAPPI colleagues whose residence is located nearby, in fact, two doors away from the vehicle gate that separates Bethlehem from the access road to Jerusalem.
With my trusty guide Ulrike from Germany, I explored the graffiti statements painted on the wall. Some of the images I saw follow, including several by the well-known artist Banksy:
We walked on to find the birthplace of Jesus:
And then, the Door of Humility presented itself and in we went to view the altar and the mosaics:
As we left, the carillon in the bell tower was ringing out. I will return for a more thorough visit on a day when the crowds are few.
After a visit with my colleagues, I departed for the pedestrian checkpoint that they monitor four mornings a week as Palestinians cross into Israel with their work permits. This is what it looks like as you enter the crossing:
A lot packed into a morning and early afternoon. And that’s all I have for you, dear follower, in Bethlehem. More to see and do than time permits.