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Bethlehem: occupied then occupied now
The town of Bethlehem 2000 years or more ago was occupied by the force of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ's birth. Today Bethlehem is still occupied so nothing has changed really only the occupier but the occupation is occupation and it is what it is.
One conqueror is swapped for another much like the Nazis were swapped for Communist oppressors at the end of WWII in eastern Europe. Life back 2000 years ago as Mary and Joseph could find no room in the inn was harsh for its inhabitants and life today is harsh for their descendants. Bethlehem was back then occupied by the most powerful super power the world had even known the Roman Empire with all the brutality and cultural changes that mean't and today is the same for those who find themselves under the boot of the Israeli occupation.
The West Bank was gained by the Israelis in their wars with their Arab neighbours and the people there today who call themselves Palestinians had no choice who ruled over them, they were occupied and that was that. Although the West Bank today has some autonomy ruled over by the PA or Palestinian Authority based in Nablus the land is still crawling with IDF forces (Israeli Defence Forces) and Jewish settlers.
The wall and harsh checkpoints are there to protect Israel from terrorist actions by Palestinian groups as far as they are concerned and Bethlehem is bang right up against this wall separated from East Jerusalem.
The wall snakes through and across the border between Israel and the West Bank and even cuts through a field allegedly used by the shepherds who espied the star that led them to the stable in Bethlehem. Admittedly the wall has stopped altogether it seems the attacks by Palestinian groups, however, it is a terrible inconvenience for Palestinians going about their business who face checks, stops and often humiliation at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Where as Israeli settlers can leave their settlements unhindered and enter Israel proper and go about what ever it is they want to do.
Since the formation of Israel in 1948 the Christian community has been leaving in its droves making Bethlehem which once had a thriving Christian community a Muslim majority city now.
Many Zionists both Christian and Jewish say it is Muslim violence making Christians leave en mass and while this is certainly true according to some surveys and polls Israeli action has not helped the Christian community either. Many Palestinian Christians have asked for help from their fellow believers around the world in a campaign called BDS.
This campaign is an abbreviation for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel because of its harsh actions to Palestinians and not out of want for revenge. Purely so that Israel will comply with the UN and other bodies to ease up on hard treatment of Palestinians and the motto for this campaign says it all "Equality or nothing".
Bio of Bethlehem
1) Bethlehem located in the country of Palestine though according to an Israeli tourist website term 'Palestine' not recognised by some in the world instead known as West Bank
2) Bethlehem lies on the west bank of the river Jordan
3) Bethlehem straddles two mountain peaks between Israel and Jordan
4) Birth place of Jesus Christ
5) 5 miles or 8 km from Jerusalem
6) Although Israel has a military presence in West Bank and Bethlehem the Palestinian Authority with its base in Nablus took over the running of Bethlehem in 1994
7) Bethlehem fought over, occupied or owned by many powers down the time line from the Romans to the Ottomans to the British and now the Palestinian Authority still overseen by the Israeli government
8) Many Jewish settler communities springing up leading to a poisonous atmosphere between Israeli settlers and Palestinians
9) Christians have been leaving the area due to Muslim and Jewish violence
10) Bethlehem now Muslim majority town due to decrease in Christian populace either through death or Christians leaving
11) There are frequent tours for Christians in Bethlehem out of Tel Aviv and you do not need a passport to travel into the West Bank
12) Christians celebrate the birth of Christ in Manger Square and there is a cave supposedly the stable where Jesus was born