Israel – Part 4

On Monday, December 7, Hank took us to Bethlehem, which is even closer to Jerusalem than I realized – 2.5 miles, to be specific.

Bethlehem is surrounded by a huge barrier wall, built by the Israeli government, ostensibly to keep terrorists out of Israel. (Bethlehem is part of the area under the Palestinian Authority.

Problem is that the wall also discriminates against the people living in Bethlehem, many of whom are Arab Christians, our brothers and sisters. You can enter or leave Bethlehem only through guarded checkpoints.

These barrier walls are built throughout Palestine. Here are a few scenes of the Bethlehem wall.

Palestinians express their feelings by painting images and messages on the wall.

I suppose you notice the “Made in USA” label at the base of the wall. This, of course, was added by Palestinians to show that Israel could not continue its program without the massive aid that USA provides.

Once inside the city, we went to see Bethlehem Bible College, which Hank had not yet heard of.

The College was founded in 1979 by Bishara Awad, who is the current president. The College has about 130 students. Since it is Arab students who attend, instruction is mostly in Arabic but with one class in English. The school is active in reconciliation and helping the poor. It also has a guest house, so now you know where you can stay on your next visit to Bethlehem!

You may learn more about the College from the web site: http://www.bethbc.org.

Here are some street scenes in Bethlehem.

Perhaps you noticed the simple Christmas garlands in the above photo.

We did not have time to go inside the world-famous Church of the Nativity, but here is a view of the courtyard and entrance to the church. Centuries ago the door was made very low so that horsemen could not ride into the church!

I found myself wishing we could be in Bethlehem for the Christmas Eve service. To celebrate the birth of Christ in the town where he was born would be a moving experience, I would think.

We met Mr. B. and his family. They are Palestinian Christians.

His extended family has lived in and around Bethlehem, and they have been Christians starting evidently in the first century. From his small rented apartment he looks out on the modern settlement that Israel has built in Palestinian territory.

Hank is helping Mr. B. start a pizza shop in Bethlehem so that Mr. B. can have a reliable income. “House of Bread” will be the name of the shop. The vision is that in the early morning, before the shop is open for business, it will be a place for men to gather to pray for peace between Arabs and Jews.

Pray for peace – that’s a good occupation for all of us.

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for your interesting descriptions. Lots of food for thought.

  2. “He also looks out on the hill, prime real estate, that the Israeli government has annexed (read, confiscated) from his family – land his family had owned for 700 years.”-its is very serious thing to say. is there any documents that proves your words? and is it the land that belonged to israel before or not? coz if its really just confiscated with no compensation it is shok for me… i am kinda speechless..its so unjusty!

    • Hello, friend,
      Yes, this is a serious thing to say.
      I do not have access to documentation to prove my statement, but I understand from a personal friend of the family in question that this documentation does, in fact, exist.
      “Is it land that belonged to Israel before?” It belonged to Israel in the period of the United and Divided Kingdom in Old Testament days. It has not belonged to Israel in the modern era, until this annexation.
      The Jews are the people through whom our Savior came into the world, so I have no desire to make Israel look bad, but I do think the world should know the facts about the annexations that are going on, which, as you say, are unjust.
      John

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