First they came for the Saturday people…
Then they came for the Sunday people…
While Bethlehem is happy for you to visit as a tourist… as long as you are not a Jew …you are not welcome to live there, unless you are Muslim.
Today Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Jews represent 0% of the population. Five decades ago, the Christians living in Bethlehem made up more than 70% of the population.
What’s happening? “Under the Palestinian Authority, the majority have fled due to Islamist pressures, which have included bullying, terrorist attacks and forced closures of Christian shops and places of business. They have been rendered a small persecuted community often forced to live in poverty.”
Tourism is the primary business source for the town. BUT the primary revenue source for the Palestinian Authority and their forces are the European Union, the United States (as authorized by Congress and certified as terrorist-free by the State Department), and the United Nations via UNWRA - the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Meaning YOUR TAX DOLLARS ARE FUNDING the organization doing the persecuting.
In 2002, Manger Square, the primary Christian religious site in Bethlehem was held under siege by Palestian Islamic gunmen. 39 “gunmen” had taken control of the Church of the Nativity, triggering a 39-day siege while holding the priests hostage and trashing the religious icons inside. Christian residents of Bethlehm reported that the Islamic Palestinian militants had imposed a two-year reign of terror that included rape, extortion and executions of Christians. The militants said they were part of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Today the area of Bethlehem is Judenrein, cleansed of Jews with high walls built around distant neighborhoods to prevent Palestinian snipers from killing Jewish children in the distance and Jews forbidden from even driving down the street. And all the Christians that have been able to flee have done so, leaving a small trapped persecuted minority to suffer under the thumb of their Palestinian Muslim neighbors.
That’s Bethlehem today. And, if you’re in the U.S. or Europe, your government paid for it and your foreign service diplomats (i.e. the U.S. State Department) supported it happening.