Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Visiting Bethlehem - a sad and desperate town
Settlements roll over the hills in the West Bank near Bethlehem.
When we were last here in 1996, Bethlehem - just a 15-minute drive from central Jerusalem - was a bustling, prosperous town. We could drive there without being hassled at checkpoints. Not now. Now we have to sneak in through someone's driveway.
Eight years ago the shops around Manger Square were full of tourists (despite the fact that water was regularly cut off to the town's merchants). Today most of the shops are closed for good; few restaurants are doing well.
Getting to work in Jerusalem can take several hours a day for Palestinian Christians and Arabs. And now the Wall is encroaching on the town's outskirts, slicing throught the communities.