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BETHLEHEM: A COMMUNITY BOOK

Copyright: Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem, 1999 Printed in Bethlehem, Palestine RAI house of art Copies can be ordered at the Arab Educational Institute, P ! Bo" #$1, Bethlehem, Palestine %ia Israel &a": ''(9)*(*(*)) )++, -ra.ings: Adnan /ubeidi

0he Culture and Palestine series 0he Culture and Palestine series e"plores %arious e"pressions of the Palestinian culture and heritage, including material items such as types of food or popular arts, and immaterial ones li1e traditional stories and customs It is the series2 purpose to in%ol%e the Palestinian school communities in learning to 1no. about, and to e"press 1no.ledge of Palestinian culture3 to understand its rele%ance for contemporary situations, and to communicate it to a public abroad 1 4ahtain: -isco%er the Palestinian Culture by Eating 11' pp Published by the &reres 4chool in Bethlehem, 1999 * 5oral 4tories of Palestine Published by the Arab Educational Institute Accompanied by teacher manual and card game Bethlehem, 1999 6 Bethlehem: A Community Boo1 A publication e"ploring the culture and conte"tual history of Christianity in Bethlehem and en%ironment Published by the Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem, Christmas 1999 0AB7E !& C!80E804 PRE&ACE

BE097E9E5: A C!55:8I0; B!!< PRE&ACE 0he name of =Bethlehem= e%o1es a chain of images .hich are dear to Christians throughout the .orld: the little pastoral to.n .here >esus .as born in a stable, and .here the shepherds and the <ings arri%ed to .itness and pay homage 0his picture of Bethlehem has a suggestion of cosiness and intimacy befitting Christmas time It is one image .hich Bethlehemites also hold dear ;et there are other images, too >esus .as born in the cold, persecuted by 9erod, and the 9oly &amily had to flee to Egypt !%er the centuries, the people of Bethlehem ha%e .itnessed >esus2 birth during often e"tremely turbulent times 4till another image: Bethlehem hosts both Christian and 5oslem residents .ho li%e their daily life in a surprising intermingling of cultures and religions 0his boo1 is about the images of Bethlehem beyond the ob%ious In subse?uent chapters .e deal .ith the ancient and modern history of the Bethlehem area, the influence of the Arab and Palestinian peasant culture on religious customs, some basic characteristics of the church communities, some remar1able =Christian .ays of li%ing,= 5oslem(Christian li%ing together, and crafts practiced by Bethlehem artisans In preparing the boo1, .e al.ays reminded oursel%es that the boo1 should be about =people, people, people = @e .ished to sho. that there is a li%ing community in Bethlehem 0he boo1 has therefore an emphasis on history, community and culture, on men as .ell as .omen Religion is approached in the conte"t of real social life 0he preparation of the boo1 reflects this community orientation In the beginning of 1999, the Arab Educational Institute, .ith the help of Anton >arayseh AcounselorB, &uad Ciacaman Aprincipal and director of the Arab Educational InstituteB, and 7oraine 9abash Asecretary at the InstituteB, arranged four .or1groups .ho .ere attended by people reflecting %arious social strata including youth, .omen, e"patriots and members of church communities li%ing in the Bethlehem area !ut of these .or1shops .e determined the topics that had to be co%ered by the boo1 4ubse?uently, the follo.ing associates of the Arab Educational Institute performed inter%ie.s .ith community members and collected photos: 5aha 4arras Ateacher in special needs educationB, 9u.eideh Anastasis AEnglish teacherB, 4usan Abu 0eir, Anton and 5iner%a >arayseh Asocial .or1ersB, and &uad Ciacaman -r 0oine %an 0eeffelen, a -utch anthropologist li%ing in Bethlehem, .rote the te"t of the boo1 0his te"t .as subse?uently re%ie.ed in detail by -r Adnan 5usallem, lecturer in history at Bethlehem :ni%ersity 4e%eral .or1shop attendants ga%e feedbac1, including 4rs Bie and Patricia from Bethlehem :ni%ersity Cretchen 5ollers, a %isiting American music teacher, edited the English te"t &uad Ciacaman .as responsible for general proDect coordination @e .ould li1e to than1 the follo.ing persons for their input, e%en though they do not bear responsibility for the final product: &inally, .e than1 the donor .ho made the production of the boo1 possible and .ho .ishes to remain anonymous

Arab Educational Institute -ecember 1999

C9AP0ER 1: BE097E9E5 I8 BRIE& 9istory(7ocation(Climate(Population(Religion(7anguages(Crafts and economy(Bethlehem *'''(Architecture(Customs(0ra%eling(Political situation( -resses( 5oney(Cuisine(Papers(5asses(4ome e"pressions C9AP0ER *: A8CIE80 9I40!R; !& BE097E9E5 Canaanite settlement(7u1e(5atthe.(0.o interpretations(A place for %eneration( 5onasteries(Insecurity(0he early Islamic Period(Interfaith relations(ArabiEation of Christianity(Crusaders(A Cree1(7atin mode of cooperation( 4aladin and the 5amlu1s(!ttoman millets(0he Capitulations(Ad%antages and disad%antages(A ne. roof(Brea1do.n of la. and order(5oslem( Christian relations(0o.n ?uarters C9AP0ER 6: 09E 1909 A8- *'09 CE80:R; 5ohammed 2Ali(E"ternal meddling(Crimean @ar(!pening up to the .orld(An A.a1ening(Arab identity(Arab nationalism(Emigration( Contradictory promises(British mandate(4uccessful emigrants(Palestinian nationalism(A >e.ish 4tate ( 8a1ba(0he >ordanian regime(Israeli occupation(:ne%en de%elopment(Intifada(0he !slo Peace Accords(7oo1ing bac1 into history C9AP0ER ,: 09R!:C9 PEA4A80 E;E4 4acraments in daily life(8ature as cultural repertoire(Religion and nature(Christmas and peasant culture(7ight(@ater(Ca%es(5usic(Bethlehem as symbol of simplicity and humility(4tories C9AP0ER +: C9:RC9E4 I8 09E BE097E9E5 AREA 4chisms(Councils(:nionate churches(Cree1(!rthodo" and Cree1(Catholic(Prayers and songs(Informality(Armenian liturgy(4yrian(!rthodo" community(4maller churches(0he Roman Catholics(Christmas celebrations(Christmas and the local community(!ther feasts(&asting C9AP0ER #: C9RI40IA8 @A;4 !& 7I&E A 9oly 7andF(Pilgrimage as learning e"perience(5onasteries(5oti%ation(0he desert a city(Coenobium(-esert life and imagination(Giolence( Cosmopolitan outloo1(>ohn of -amascus(@omen(19th century(-ifferences in moti%ation(4tereotyping(!rders(7ittle 5iriam(8ature rendering glory(5ary Alphonsene(Gariety(Intifada(Palestinian theology(Empo.erment(9ospitality(8o Christmas celebration(4ermon of the 5ount( Reconciliation (Christian action no.adays C9AP0ER ): 5!47E5(C9RI40IA8 7IGI8C 0!CE09ER Culture of the land(Adoption of ancient practices(Go. ma1ing(Badriyyeh2s shrine(Rain processions(Palestinian feasts(0he 5amre festi%al(Al( <hader or 4t Ceorge(Rainbringer(Concrete and general(Al(<hidr(4ufis(!ther forms of interfaith .orship(A 5oslem(Christian dialogueF(4tories( 5others(5oslem(Christian politics(Ignorance(-i%ersity and unity(Education C9AP0ER $: CRA&04 !li%e .ood sou%enirs(5other(of(pearl(Icons(8o copy of reality(4culpturing(@omen2s crafts 7I40 !& 7I0ERA0:RE

C9AP0ER 1: BE097E9E5 I8 BRIE& 9istory 0he to.n .hose name in Arabic means =house of meat,= has a history .hich goes bac1 more than ,,''' years It .as already a .ell(1no.n Canaanite place in Biblical times Bethlehem is sacred to each of the monotheistic faiths &or >e.s, it is the place .here Rachel died and .here -a%id .as born and anointed <ing of Israel It .as here that the romance bet.een BoaE and Ruth the 5oabite .as en%isaged &or Christians, it is the site of the 8ati%ity of >esus Christ according to the Cospels A5att *3 7u1e *B >esus is also held in esteem by 5oslems as the di%inely(inspired prophet Issa 7ocation Bethlehem is located # miles A1' 1ilometersB south of >erusalem and lies *,++' feet A)#+ mB abo%e sea le%el It co%ers rolling hills .hich stretch out east.ard to the desert Its fields of fruit and %egetables stand in sharp contrast to the surrounding .ilderness 0he to.n is continuous .ith Beit >ala, to the north.est, and Beit 4ahour, to the southeast Climate It is pleasant for the greater part of the year @inter, from mid(-ecember to mid(5arch, can be se%ere &or the remainder of the year it is temperate, .ith the hottest .eather in the high summer months of >uly and August 0he annual rainfall in Bethlehem is #'9 mm 4oil Bethlehem and Beit 4ahour, the largest Palestinian communities in the district, are located on deep bro.n or pale =renEinas= soil that is %aluable for agriculture !n such areas, the culti%ation of grapes and oli%es, field crops A.heat and barleyB, and graEing is the main land use Population 0oday, the broader Bethlehem area Aincluding Beit 4ahour and Beit >alaB has a population of #1,''', half of .hom are Christians, and half 5oslems A large part of the population in Bethlehem are refugees .ho fled their country of birth during the .ars of 19,$ and 19#) bet.een the Arabs and Israel Religion Bethlehem is one of the .orld2s most famous religious places Its silhouette is dominated by both mos?ues and churches: a symbol of the li%ing together of the region2s religions 0he historic and religious di%ersity of the ancient Palestinian community is apparent e%ery.here 9undreds of thousands of pilgrims %isit the to.n e%ery year, especially around Christmas and Easter Indeed long before the age of modern tourism, the to.n .as one of the maDor attractions of the 5iddle East It has been .elcoming %isitors from around the .orld e%er since 0he imposing Church of the 8ati%ity has sections for the Cree1(!rthodo", Catholics and Armenians !pposite the Church is the 5os?ue of !mar .hich commemorates the respectful attitude of !mar Ibn Al(<hattab to.ards the Church of the 8ati%ity .hen Arab Islam came to Palestine in #6# A- In Bethlehem there are churches and con%ents for the Roman Catholics, Cree1(!rthodo", Cree1(Catholic A5el1iteB, 4yriac(!rthodo", 4yriac( Catholic, 7utherans, Baptists, Copts, and Ethiopians 7anguages Beside the nati%e language of Arabic, English is taught at all schools and is .idely spo1en &rench, Cerman and 4panish are spo1en too, especially since many Bethlehemites ha%e family members in European and 7atin(American countries Crafts and economy 0he people of Bethlehem ha%e de%eloped high ?uality craftmanship, mainly religious and secular items of mother of pearl and oli%e .ood !%er one thousand different gift items are made and sold primarily to pilgrims and tourists 9and embroidery is another special trademar1 of Bethlehem Bethlehem is also a fruit and %egetable mar1et for the neighboring %illages and to.ns 8earby 5adbasseh 4treet, 1'' meters from 5anger 4?uare, is the reno%ated traditional Bethlehem mar1et Apart from agricultural acti%ities and sou%enir crafts, Bethlehem, Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour host a range of modern industries and ser%ices, almost all of them small(scale Bethlehem *''' In preparation for the year *''', a Bethlehem *''' Committee has .or1ed hard to gi%e the to.n a facelift 5anger 4?uare and the surrounding to.n center are indeed reborn 0he Committee has also initiated se%eral cultural proDects to in%ol%e tourists as .ell as the Bethlehem and Palestinian population in the *''' celebrations A list of all celebrations during the year *''' is a%ailable at the 5inistry of 0ourism office near 5anger 4?uare

Architecture !ld Bethlehem has a special atmosphere &ollo.ing the traditional building style houses used to be constructed around a courtyard .ith the e"terior .alls containing small .indo. openings as protection against attac1s @ith the gro.th of an e"tended family, the inhabitants .ould create intricate architectural e"tensions .ith arches and staircases around the courtyard If you lea%e the main roads and you can ha%e a loo1 at such architectural treasures, many of .hich a.ait reno%ation Customs Arab culture is 1no.n for its hospitality to.ards %isitors It is ?uite common that people in%ite strangers for a drin1 at home in order to ha%e a pleasant con%ersation, or to e"plain one2s opinion about current affairs By %isiting a %illage or refugee camp, you may establish friends on the spot In the countryside people may sometimes be o%erly curious ;et, in general, the Arab(Palestinian population is ?uite friendly and courteous 0ra%eling In the Bethlehem area one can tra%el during the day alone .ithout much problem !ne should al.ays 1eep one2s passport or another form of identification .hile tra%eling, including one2s %isa, .hich may need to be sho.n at Israeli chec1points 0he Palestinian police, especially the tourist police, ha%e been trained to be helpful to tourists Close to 5anger 4?uare, in front of the Church of the 8ati%ity, an office of the Palestinian 5inistry of 0ourism is a%ailable for any practical information you may need 0here are se%eral Palestinian tra%el agents and tour operators .ho are .illing to guide you in a programme of cultural tourism or authentic pilgrimage .hich includes contact .ith local people A collecti%e ta"i or =ser%ice= from >erusalem2s -amascus Cate brings tourists to Bethlehem in about half an hour If the ta"is go to =Bab al(/?a?= ACate of the AlleysB, and you .ish to go to the Church of the 8ati%ity, it is necessary to change ta"is Dust after Rachel2s 0omb 5anger 4?uare is a good starting point for a .al1 through Bethlehem Especially .orth a %isit are: 5il1 Crotto 4treet .ith its sou%enir shops and small churches3 5adbasseh 4treet, the central shopping street3 and 4tar 4treet, the oldest street in Bethlehem in .hich an old city gate can still be admired E%ery.here you see churches .hich are interesting to %isit since they represent %ery different denominations and church AartB traditions A good place to meet local people is the campus of Bethlehem :ni%ersity @ith o%er more than *,''' students, the uni%ersity hosts BA courses in academic and %ocational subDects ranging from English 7anguage and 7iterature to 9otel 5anagement and 8ursing 8ear the entrance is the ne. Palestine 9eritage Center of the :ni%ersity .hich .ill be open to %isitors and tourists Political situation 0he political situation is complicated and transitional Bethlehem and the neighboring to.ns are ruled by the Palestinian 8ational Authority AP8AB, .hich established itself in the main Palestinian to.ns in 199+ An area such as Bethlehem, .here there is both military and ci%ilian control by the P8A is called =area A = 0he countryside is largely controlled by Israel 4ome areas fall under both military and ci%ilian Israeli control, called =areas C = !ther areas are militarily controlled by Israel .hile the P8A has established a ci%ilian go%ernment there3 these are called =areas B = It is not possible for Palestinian citiEens .ith a @est Ban1 identity card to freely pass the chec1point bet.een Bethlehem and >erusalem 0hey need special permission @hile some do not get such a permit for often un1no.n reasons, others .ho do get a permit are usually allo.ed to go into Israel for limited periods of time only In preparation for the millennium, Israel has proposed to open a second chec1point bet.een Bethlehem and >erusalem !ne chec1point .ould be open for holders of @est Ban1 identity cards, mainly those .ho .ish to .or1 in Israel 0hey .ould ha%e to .al1 a fe. hundred meters and pass through iron corridors and, after passing the guards, ta1e a bus into Israel 0he other chec1point .ould be for tourists and those Palestinians .ho ha%e an Israeli or >erusalem identity card or a foreign passport 0he Bethlehem municipality has protested against this plan, because they consider the ne. chec1point a further step to.ards an =impossible= segregation bet.een >erusalem and Bethlehem @hen Palestinians .ant to tra%el from the southern part of the @est Ban1 to the northern part, from Bethlehem to Ramallah for instance, and do not ha%e a permit to enter >erusalem, they ha%e to ta1e a by(pass road in the desert around >erusalem .hich is full of rather dangerous :(turns and, at times of bad .eather, slippery Bethlehem is also affected by Israel2s settlement policy 0here are 1$ settlements in the Bethlehem district established on lands e"propriated from the to.ns and the %illages and connected by by(pass roads .hich a%oid Arab populated areas 0hese settlements form =rings= around >erusalem aimed at strengthening >e.ish control o%er the city Rachel2s 0omb inside Bethlehem, as .ell as an adDacent par1ing area and a part of the >erusalem(Bethlehem road, are under Israel control !n >e.ish feast days, .hen religious >e.s come to attend celebrations, the en%ironment is closed off and Palestinians ha%e to ta1e narro. and cro.ded side roads in order to reach the main >erusalem(Bethlehem high.ay Rachel2s 0omb ser%es as a focal point for protests by youth against Israeli policies 0he political situation has largely been responsible for the emigration of mostly Bethlehem Christians to.ards the Americas 9undreds of thousands of Palestinians from the Bethlehem area no. li%e in countries li1e Chile, 9onduras, 5e"ico and the :nited 4tates -resses 0he Bethlehem 5useum, some +' meters to the .est of 5anger 4?uare in an alley off 5adbasseh 4treet, has an e"cellent collection of traditional Bethlehem dresses and De.elry as .ell as household utensils and other interesting items It is located in one of the older houses of Bethlehem 5any .omen, especially %illage .omen, still .ear the traditional =thoub=, a long dress .ith cross(stitch embroidery designs on the chest 8ote that some older .omen, in effortless grace, still carry bas1ets or plates on their head ;oung girls often .ear Deans although the Islamic long dress has also gained popularity 0he 1ufia headdress, .orn by men especially during .inter, is made of cloth in .hite and blac1 or red and blac1 s?uares

0ourists can in principle .ear anything, but it is ad%isable not to .ear shorts, especially not in religious places 5oney 0ourists can pay in Israeli she1els but often also in :4 dollars 0here are se%eral moneychangers in 5adbasseh APaul GIB 4treet @hile tra%eling is relati%ely cheap, especially in ser%ice Acollecti%eB ta"is, the food and accommodation prices are comparable to those in Israel and Europe Cuisine Palestinian food is tasty, in general not spicy, and agreeable for %egetarians In fast food restaurants one may ta1e =falafel= made of crushed beans, or a meat sand.hich called =shoarma,= or 1ebab 4uch food costs up to 1+ she1els Bethlehem has also se%eral restaurants .hich specialiEe in foreign dishes, such as Chinese and Italian A full meal costs bet.een ,' and $' she1els Palestinian 5oslems do not drin1 alcohol and one can therefore buy alcohol only in cities .ith a siEeable Christian population such as Bethlehem, Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour Papers &or regular touristic, cultural and political information you may consult Palestinian papers such as =0he >erusalem 0imes= A.ee1ly, .ith a tourist supplementB, =Palestine Report= or, for tourist information, the monthly =0his @ee1= .hich is a%ailable at hotels and tra%el agents 5asses An o%er%ie. of church ser%ices is gi%en by =0he >erusalem 0imes = ;ou may also consult the Christian Information Center in >erusalem near >affa Cate 4ome e"pressions @here is H @en 0han1 you H shu1ran 9o. are youF H 1iif haala1 Aaddressed to a maleB, 1iif haali1 Aaddressed to a femaleB Cood morning H sabah al(1her Cood e%ening H masal(1her 9ello H marhabba !ne H .ahad 0.o H tnain 0hree H thalaate &our H arb2a &i%e H 1hamse 4i" H sitta 4e%en H sab2a Eight H tamaanye 8ine H tis2a 0en H 2ashra

C9AP0ER *: A8CIE80 9I40!R; !& BE097E9E5 Although .e do not 1no. much about Bethlehem2s prehistory, archeological e"peditions sho.ed the e"istence of life in the area of the to.n some +',''' years ago In 196, e"ca%ators in Bethlehem found fossiliEed bones and i%ory including remnants of panthers, elephants, hippopotami, rhinos, giraffes, antelopes as .ell as e"tinct species 4ome of the bones .ere car%ed by flint tools pointing to habitation by predecessors of human beings !ther e"ca%ations sho.ed stone and iron age remains In this and the follo.ing chapter .e .ill describe the subse?uent history of Bethlehem A .ord of caution is here in place 0he history of Bethlehem, li1e the history of Palestine, has been greatly influenced by geopolitical factors re%ol%ing around the importance of the Eastern 5editerranean area in human history 5any nations fought hard to grasp and hold this strategic crossroad &ollo.ing the appearance of the earliest settlers in Palestine, i e the Canaanites, and the emergence of the Canaanite City 4tates, .a%e after .a%e of peoples con?uered andIor settled in Palestine and left their legacy on the already e"isting culture there 0he settlers included: ancient Egyptians, 9y1sos, 9ittites, Philistines, 9ebre.s, Babylonians, ancient Persians, Cree1s, Egyptian Ptolemies, 4yrian 4eleucids, 5accabee >e.s, Armenians, Romans, ByEantines, Persians, Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula, &atimid 5oslem Arabs, 4elDu1 0ur1s, Crusaders, Egyptian 5amlu1es, !ttoman 0ur1s, Egyptians A5ohammed AliB, Creat Britain and Israel A comprehensi%e history of Bethlehem and Palestine, .hich is not the aim of this boo1, .ill ha%e to ta1e into consideration the legacies of the afore( mentioned peoples and cultures Canaanite settlement &rom the Bible .e learn about the Bethlehem A=Ephrata=B of the Patriarchs2 times .here the .ife of >acob, Rachel, died Bethlehem is also mentioned in the 0ell Al(Amarna letters, dating from the 1,th century BC, in .hich the Egyptian go%ernor of Palestine informed the <ing of Egypt that a to.n south of >erusalem called =Bit(7ahama= had fallen in the hands of the =<haribus= Apossibly 9ebre.sB 0he name =7ahama= .as a Canaanite adaptation of the 5esopotamian goddess of %egetation and fertility of the same name At the beginning of the Iron Age A1*'' BCB small clusters of habitation emerged in many parts of Palestine2s hill country Bethlehem .as a Canaanite settlement located t.o 1ilometers to the east from the main cara%an and army route lin1ing >erusalem, also a >ebusiteICanaanite settlement that .as captured by <ing -a%id Aaround 1,''' BCB, .ith the southern part of the country 5ost li1ely Bethlehem .as a modest regional mar1et for grains, fruits, especially oli%es, and li%estoc1 Its first d.ellers ( farmers, shepherds and traders ( chose a roc1y hilltop to li%e on, the same one upon .hich the Church of the 8ati%ity .ould later be erected A high place ensured better defense against raids by armies and marauders .hile also pro%iding a %ie. for sur%eying the neighboring orchards and gro%es against robbery In the centuries before the birth of >esus Bethlehem remained small As .ith other places in the area, the %illage .as se%erely affected by draughts, hunger and in%ading armies Culturally, the population .as probably not %ery different from the neighboring areas .ith .hich it 1ept trade relations 7ater, .hen it .as occupied by the 9ebre.s, one may presume that some of the Bethlehemites started to .orship the >e.ish Cod ;ah.eh instead of the Canaanite Cods Birthplace of <ing -a%id At moments of emergency Bethlehemites needed to ta1e refuge in the surrounding areas Already in the Iron Age some people from the Bethlehem area tra%eled to the lands of 5oab to the east 0he first person from Bethlehem mentioned in the Bible, Elimelech, .as a refugee .ho married a 5oabite 7ater on 8aomi, Elimelech2s .ife, .ould be accompanied by the 5oabite Ruth on her return Dourney to Bethlehem As described in the mo%ing story of the Biblical Boo1 named after her, Ruth married BoaE and ga%e birth to !beid, .ho became father of >esse, and >esse father of -a%id, the Israelite <ing -uring the unstable circumstances of the time Bethlehem .as probably liberal .ith regard to intermarriage !ne of the minor Dudges in the Bible, IbEan, .ho came from Bethlehem, encouraged his daughters to marry .ith the Canaanite population According to the Bible, the Prophet and >udge 4amuel came around 1,''' BC to Bethlehem and anointed -a%id as <ing in the place of <ing 4aul Although archeologically spea1ing .e 1no. %ery little about the reign of the 1ings -a%id and 4olomon Aroughly bet.een 1,''' and 9'' BCB, it is possible that around that time Bethlehem gained in strategic %alue because of its location at the southern point of entrance to >erusalem According to the Bible, Rehoboam, 4olomon2s successor in .hat the Bible describes as the =southern <ingdom,= fortified Bethlehem and made it into a store place for bread, oil and .ine 8e%ertheless, the %illage subse?uently shrun1 in siEe, for un1no.n reasons It seems that after the Babylonian e"ile only 1*6 Bethlehemites returned to their former home Bethlehem .as =the least among the tribes of >udah= in the .ords of the prophet 5icah ;et, ironically, despite its smallness it .as destined to become the birthplace of the descendant of <ing -a%id, >esus Christ Both 7u1e and 5atthe. locate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem 0he follo.ing translations are from the 8e. >erusalem Bible 7u1e =8o. it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the .hole inhabited .orld 0his census ( the first ( too1 place .hile Juirinius .as go%ernor of 4yria, and e%eryone .ent to be registered, each to his o.n to.n 4o >oseph set out from the to.n of 8aEareth in Calilee for >udea, to -a%id2s to.n called Bethlehem, since he .as of -a%id2s 9ouse and line, in order to be registered together .ith 5ary, his betrothed, .ho .as .ith child 8o. it happened that, .hile they .ere there, the time came for her to ha%e her child, and she ga%e birth to a son, her first(born 4he .rapped him in s.addling clothes and laid him in a manger because there .as no room in the li%ing space In the countryside close by there .ere shepherds out in the field 1eeping guard o%er their sheep during the .atches of the night An angel of the 7ord stood o%er them and the glory of the 7ord shone round them 0hey .ere terrified, but the angel said, 2-o not be afraid 7oo1, I bring you ne.s of great Doy, a Doy to be shared by the .hole people 0oday in the to.n of -a%id a 4a%ior has been born to you, he is Christ the 7ord And here is a sign for you3 you .ill find a baby .rapped in s.addling clothes and lying in a manger 2 And all at once .ith the angel there .as a great throng of the hosts of hea%en, praising Cod .ith the .ords: 2Clory to Cod in the highest hea%en, and on earth peace for those he fa%ors 2 8o. it happened that .hen the angels had gone from them into hea%en, the shepherds said to one another, 27et us go to Bethlehem and see this e%ent .hich the 7ord has made 1no.n to us 2 4o they hurried a.ay and found 5ary and >oseph, and the baby lying in the manger @hen they sa. the child

they repeated .hat they had been told about him, and e%eryone .ho heard it .as astonished at .hat the shepherds said to them As for 5ary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart And the shepherds .ent bac1 glorifying and praising Cod for all they had heard and seen, Dust as they had been told = A7u1e *B 5atthe. =After >esus had been born in Bethlehem in >udea during the reign of <ing 9erod, suddenly some .ise men came to >erusalem from the east as1ing, 2@here is the infant <ing of the >e.sF @e sa. his star as it rose and ha%e come to do him homage 2 @hen <ing 9erod heard this he .as perturbed, and so .as the .hole of >erusalem 9e called together all of the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and en?uired of them .here the Christ .as to be born 0hey told him, 2At Bethlehem in >udea, for this is .hat the prophet .rote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of >udah, you are by no means the least among the leaders of >udah, for from you .ill come a leader .ho .ill shepherd my people Israel 0hen 9erod summoned the .ise men to see him pri%ately 9e as1ed them the e"act date on .hich the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem .ith the .ords, 2Co and find out all about the child, and .hen you ha%e found him, let me 1no., so that I too may go and do him homage 2 9a%ing listened to .hat the 1ing had to say, they set out And suddenly the star they had seen rising .ent for.ard and halted o%er the place .here the child .as 0he sight of the star filled them .ith delight, and going into the house they sa. the child .ith his mother 5ary, and falling to their 1nees they did him homage 0hen, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and fran1incense and myrrh But they .ere gi%en a .arning in a dream not to go bac1 to 9erod, and returned to their o.n country by a different .ay After they had left, suddenly the Angel of the 7ord appeared to >oseph in a dream and said, 2Cet up, ta1e the child and his mother .ith you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because 9erod intends to search for the child and do a.ay .ith him 2 4o >oseph got up and, ta1ing the child and his mother .ith him, left that night for Egypt, .here he stayed until 9erod .as dead 0his .as to fulfill .hat the 7ord had spo1en through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt 9erod .as furious on realiEing that he had been fooled by the .ise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children 1illed .ho .ere t.o years old or less, rec1oning by the date he had been careful to as1 the .ise men 0hen .ere fulfilled the .ords spo1en through the prophet >eremiah: A %oice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and .eeping bitterly: it is Rachel .eeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more A5atthe. *B 0.o interpretations E"actly .here in Bethlehem .as >esus bornF According to a traditional interpretation of 7u1e2s account, >oseph and 5ary came from 8aEareth to arri%e at a Bethlehem =inn= Ain Cree1 =1ataluna=B .here they .ere refused entry because of lac1 of space 0his %ersion could be true In fact, the !ld 0estament testifies that there happened to be an ancient cara%anserai near Bethlehem for people .ho .ere on their .ay south to Egypt According to the Bible, this cara%anserai belonged to a relati%e of one of the generals in <ing -a%id2s army .ho had recei%ed it as remuneration for a successful military campaign ;et there is another interpretation of =1ataluna= as .ell =<ataluna= does not necessarily mean =inn= but can also refer to a section of a normal house, or =li%ing(space,= as in the translation pro%ided abo%e &ollo.ing 7u1e, .ho mentions that >esus .as born in a manger, many Bethlehemites thin1 that the 9oly &amily may ha%e stayed in a house on top of a half(ca%e used for storing goods and 1eeping house animals 4uch a ca%e .as .arm, pri%ate and therefore suitable for gi%ing birth 0he baby .as after.ards laid in the manger normally used by the animals 0he reason .hy Bethlehemites prefer this interpretation has to do .ith culture 5ary and >oseph came to Bethlehem because it .as the to.n of their ancestors 0his fact ma1es it for Arabs difficult to belie%e that the 9oly &amily .ould not ha%e been in%ited by their relati%es in Bethlehem 0hat .ould run counter to the rules of hospitality for .hich the local culture is famous 0o gi%e credibility to this interpretation, the Bethlehem 5useum, close to 5anger 4?uare opposite the Church of the 8ati%ity, has opened an old house of the type in .hich >esus could ha%e been born A place for %eneration After >esus2 ministry and death, Bethlehem .as probably inhabited by >e.s, Canaanites, and some early >udeo(Christians .orshipping the place .here >esus .as born @hen the Roman Emperor 9adrian crushed the >e.ish re%olt led by Bar <ochba in 16+ A-, the >e.s of Bethlehem .ere compelled to lea%e the %illage, .hich no. became e"clusi%ely inhabited by the descendants of the Canaanites 4ometimes called =pagans= or =peasants,= the Canaanites %enerated the agricultural deity Adonis abo%e the ca%e that .as designated by the >udeo(Christian community as >esus2 birthplace It is possible that Emperor 9adrian reinforced the Canaanite cult to pre%ent a continuing Christian .orship of the ca%e

9alf.ay into the second century, one of the early Christian church fathers, the nati%e Palestinian >ustin 5artyr of 8ablus, 1ne. about a Bethlehem ca%e as the traditional birthplace of >esus It seems to ha%e been one of the earliest places .here a local Christian tradition of .orshipping persisted In 616 A- Emperor Constantine announced Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire 4hortly after.ards the bishop of >erusalem re?uested the Emperor to encourage Christian .orship at the pre%iously neglected places that commemorated >esus2 life Constantine dispatched his mother 9elena to super%ise church building, especially at the three sites .here there .ere holy ca%es: the place .here >esus .as crucified, the site of >esus2 ascension, and the nati%ity ca%e At all these spots 9elena built magnificent churches 7ocal inhabitants pointed out the Bethlehem ca%e and 9elena erected a church de%oted to 4t 5ary o%er it A large atrium dominated the entrance, and a sil%er manger .as put near the spot .here tradition said that >esus .as born 0he manger .as later to be transferred to Rome, but it is still possible to obser%e the mosaics that graced the church floor 0hey are located some t.o feet belo. the present ground le%el &rom the outside, the Church .as surrounded by a .all .ith t.o to.ers bordering the only street of Bethlehem that e"isted at the time Aroughly follo.ing the present(day traDectory of Bethlehem2s 4tar 4treetB People li%ed .ithin the .alls to protect themsel%es against marauding bands and armies In the course of the fourth century, after the ne.ly built churches became 1no.n throughout Europe, Christian pilgrimage commenced on a .ide scale Pilgrimage is premised upon the idea that some places are of special holiness to belie%ers and that one gains in de%otion by %isiting them !riginally the Church fathers and local bishops had dismissed the idea that one place .as holier than another Indeed, >esus had asserted that 9e, rather than any holy building, .as the 0emple, and that 9e could be %enerated any.here ;et .ith the churches and communities of belie%ers present at the sites, it .as not surprising that the local bishops and Biblical scholars began to consider pilgrimage as an important .ay to 1eep the faith ali%e 5onasteries 4ome pilgrims stayed at the places they %enerated In 6$, A- >erome, then the most famous Biblical scholar in the Roman Empire, .anted to pursue his studies in a ?uiet atmosphere, far a.ay from Rome, .hich .as then much troubled by theological ?uarrels 9e .as accompanied by t.o .ealthy Roman ladies, Paula and her daughter Eustochium, .ho used their fortunes to establish a monastery for men under >erome2s direction, three cloisters for .omen under the direction of Paula and her daughter, and a hostel for pilgrims In the fourth and fifth century thousands of pilgrims arri%ed in the 9oly 7and Gisited by pilgrims and mon1s, the Bethlehem and >erusalem areas became reno.ned for the many different nationalities present there -uring the great Christian feasts the churches .ere %isited by belie%ers from countries as far as India, Ireland, Ethiopia and 5acedonia 0he numbers gre. so much that the e"isting monasteries could barely cope .ith the stream At one point Paula had to sell the remainder of her estates in the Roman countryside to meet the needs of the pilgrims In fact, many of them .ere poor refugees loo1ing for a place to sur%i%e Bet.een ,1) and ,*' A-, .hen Paula and >erome died, the monasteries and hospice .ere handed o%er to their successors @ithout >erome2s and Paula2s charismatic leadership monastic life in Bethlehem slo.ly declined under the persistent pressure of military attac1s 0here may ha%e remained a fe. hundred Christians in and around the fortress(li1e church .alls and to.ers At the sight of Bedouin bands or armies, they .isely fled into the countryside to return later .hen peace .as restored Insecurity 0he political and military picture .as not simple &or one thing, not only Christians .ere the target of attac1s 4e%eral Roman emperors oppressed non(Christians, especially .hen they formed a coherent and asserti%e force that challenged the regional Roman hegemony 4uch .as the case .ith the 4amaritans, a religious group .ho claimed descent from the first Israelites Burdened by oppression during the reign of Emperor >ustinian, 4amaritans from 8ablus re%olted in +*9 A- against the ByEantines, in%aded Bethlehem and damaged the Church of the 8ati%ity After >ustinian subse?uently suppressed the re%olt, he ga%e orders to rebuild the churches &rom that time dates the Church as it is presently on %ie. in Bethlehem 0he interior .as beautifully decorated .ith, among other things, a 1ind of reddish stone ?uarried in nearby gro%es !ne interesting aspect of the ne. building .as a sculpture in front of the church depicting 5ary, baby >esus and the %isiting @ise 5en, or the 5agi In the portrayal, the 5agi seem to ha%e had a Persian appearance In #1, A- Persians in%aded Palestine, burned the Church of the 9oly 4epulcher but spared the Church of the 8ati%ity, reportedly after they sa. the images of the Persian @ise 5en on the e"terior of the Church 0he early Islamic Period &or a brief time Bethlehem remained in the hands of the Persians, but .as then re(con?uered by the ByEantines 9o.e%er, the real .atershed .as the ad%ancement of the Islamic Arab armies from the Arabian Peninsula into the 9oly 7and in #6$ A-, ushering in the Islamic(Arab era :pon the arri%al of the army, the church head of >erusalem, bishop 4ophronios, negotiated a bloodless surrender 0reading the streets of >erusalem respectfully, the %ictorious but pious Caliph !mar Ibn al(<hattab refused to pray in the Church of the 9oly 4epulcher If he .ould ha%e done so, he e"plained, his disciples .ould ha%e transformed it into a mos?ue Briefly after.ards he peacefully occupied Bethlehem .here he made a different arrangement .ith the bishop After entering 4t 5ary2s Church, as the present Church of the 8ati%ity .as still called at the time, he prayed in its southern apse, in the direction of 5ecca 0hen he handed o%er to the bishop a co%enant .hich stipulated that 5oslems .ould be allo.ed to pray in the church on an indi%idual basis only, and .ithout the mueEEin calling them 0he Christians .ould ta1e care for the maintenance and cleaning of the 5oslem site in the church 0his respectful gesture is no.adays commemorated by the mos?ue that is located opposite of the Church of the 8ati%ity, called =5os?ue of !mar = !mar2s arrangement .as astonishingly tolerant in the light of the religious and military practices pre%alent during the time In fact, it is 1no.n that .hile during early Islam there .ere riots bet.een Cree1 and 7atin clergy in the Church of the 8ati%ity about residency rights, there .ere no problems bet.een 5oslems and Christians 0he 5oslem practice of praying in the Church of the 8ati%ity has persisted up until recent times Interfaith relations

0here are se%eral indications that the early Islamic era .as an interesting e"periment in peaceful interfaith relations 0he archeological e%idence suggests that there .as no disruption in the daily life of the Palestinians before and after the arri%al of Islam Bethlehem remained a %illage of stoc1 raisers and peasants li%ing from oli%es, figs, almonds, grapes and pomegranates 4ince they .ere allo.ed to continue their .orship, it seems that initially %ery fe. Christians con%erted to Islam Christians and 5oslems li%ed side by side 0he pilgrim Arculphus described ho. ne. places in the %icinity of the Church of the 8ati%ity became %enerated by Christians and 5oslems ali1e, including a .ell in .hich the @ise 5en2s star .as supposed to shine, and the tombs of <ing -a%id and 4olomon 0here .as also little change in administration 0he ne. 5oslem administrators, .ith their tribal bac1ground, had little e"perience in ruling comple" societies, and they needed to learn the trade from the Christians Especially remar1able .as the scholarly e"change bet.een 5oslem and Christian theologians and intellectuals After the Caliphate2s center mo%ed from -amascus to Baghdad in )+', the ne. Abbasid generation of rulers encouraged an open dialogue bet.een the religions Aincluding >udaismB 0his cultural dialogue %ery much helped to integrate the Cree1 philosophical treasures from ancient times, .ell 1no.n to Eastern Christians, into Islamic thin1ing 0here .as also a rich mutual influence bet.een Christian mystic traditions and the ne. Islamic mystics, called 4ufis, .ho after )+' A- increasingly gained support among common Islamic belie%ers ArabiEation of Christianity @hile Christians had a far(reaching influence on the Islamic culture of the time, the climate of cultural openness stimulated in its turn an ArabiEation process among the Christians 0his process had already started before the ad%ent of Islam, .hen Christian Arab tribes such as the Chassanids migrated from Arabia and 4yria to Palestine In fact, the largest traditional clans or ?uarters in Bethlehem, &arahiyyah and 8aDaDrah, trace their origin to such Christian Arab tribes @ith the ad%ent of Islam, ho.e%er, the process of ArabiEation e"panded in siEe and scope In order to be effecti%e amongst the Christian floc1 as .ell as %is(K(%is 5oslems, Christian theologians and mon1s learned Arabic and translated the Bible and ecclesiastical te"ts from Cree1 and 4yriac Aan old language close to the ancient AramaicB into Arabic, the ne. lingua franca 0he literature produced .as often polemical yet .ith a tone of a chi%alrous courtesy !ne .ell(1no.n Christian type of narrati%e relayed the e"periences of mon1s .ho, standing in front of the caliph or emir, did not hesitate to e"plain their reasons to refute Islam, being prepared to die as martyrs for their beliefs 4uch apologetics not.ithstanding, both Christians and 5oslems .ere often ?uite sensiti%e to each other2s holy te"ts 0he Christian literary and theological production during the Abbasid period A)+'(1'+' A-B .as indeed %oluminous It is said that, apart from 7atin, there is no other language in .hich more Christian .or1s ha%e been .ritten than Arabic 0he ArabiEation of Christianity .as of great influence in bringing together the different Eastern sects of Christianity that from the fourth century on had emerged due to dogmatic differences :p to this day Christians from the 9oly 7and stress Arabness as an intrinsic part of their historical and cultural identity 9a%ing said this, one should ta1e care not to idealiEe the picture of Christian(Islamic harmony -uring the reign of the :mayyad 2:mar ibn 2Abdel 2AEiE, .ho .as an e"ception to the rule of a tolerant 5oslem(Christian li%ing together, Christians came under pressure 0hey had to .ear special clothes, and .ere not allo.ed to mount horses 0hey .ere sometimes singled out for hea%y ta"ation at moments .hen tensions rose bet.een the Caliphate and the ByEantine Emperor @hen Christians .ere encouraged to become 5oslems, many only chose to do so out of fear for persecution 0he number of mon1s and nuns .ho inhabited the Bethlehem con%ents shrun1 to little more than a doEen -uring the reign of the Egyptian &atimid Caliph Al(9aa1im bi(Amar Allah at the turn of the millennium, Christians as .ell as many 5oslems .ere physically persecuted Churches .ere burned, and it .as probably only because of the tradition of the local 5oslem citiEenry of Bethlehem praying in the Church of the 8ati%ity that the church there .as not destroyed, a fate the 9oly 4epulcher in >erusalem did not escape -espite this, the maDority of people li%ing in the 9oly 7and remained Christian until the latter part of the ele%enth century Crusaders 0he Crusader period signified a ne. era in the history of the 9oly 7and After learning about the destruction of churches by Al(9aa1im and the oppressi%e reign of the 4elDu1 0ur1s thereafter, the mood in the @est .as one of resentment 0he feudal European society generated a %iolence .ithin its borders that .as no. proDected out.ards 0o legitimiEe the %iolence, people spo1e about spreading European %alues and protecting European interests by force 0he call of Pope :rban II for a holy .ar .as met by unanimous appro%al across the cities and po.er holders ruling Europe 0he Crusaders con?uered the 9oly 7and in 1'99, ma1ing Bethlehem a fe. days before >erusalem @hile >erusalem suffered a horrible massacre among the indigenous population Amainly 5oslems but also >e.s and Eastern ChristiansB, Bethlehem, a small %illage, .as ta1en .ithout bloodshed After its occupation, Bethlehem gained in religious, political and material significance 0he Crusader <ings Bald.in I and II cro.ned themsel%es in Bethlehem rather than >erusalem in order to a%oid the embarrassment of becoming a <ing in the city .here >esus .ore the cro.n of thorns Replacing the hierarchy of the Cree1 Church, the 7atin Church established a bishopric in Bethlehem, and endo.ed it .ith goods and lands from se%eral European countries 8o.adays .e 1no. that the Crusaders2 actions managed to put a serious political and moral burden on the history of the 9oly 7and 0he Crusaders2 forceful imposition on the 5oslems has had the effect of traumatiEing the 5oslem and Arab .orld up until the present time 7ater conflicts bet.een the @est and the Arab .orld .ere bound to be percei%ed as a restaging of the Crusades At present, there are many Christians .ho deeply regret the e%ents of the Crusades Recently, in 1999, a Christian group of tra%elers coming to the 9oly 7and on foot, li1e the Crusaders, e"tended apologies to the 5oslem mufti of >erusalem 0he issue .as not only one bet.een Christians and 5oslems 0he Crusaders also imposed, .ith the bac1ing of @estern po.ers, a temporal domination of the 7atin Church o%er the Eastern Christian church 0his ine%itably fostered religious(national di%isions that .ould haunt the future history of the land as .ell 8e%ertheless, the Crusades brought a temporary prosperity to the Christian population of Bethlehem 5any pilgrims from European countries started %isiting the 9oly Places 7ocal commerce flourished E%en 5oslems started to come bac1 to Bethlehem, but as %isitors, since they .ere not allo.ed to stay 0he Church of the 8ati%ity .as fortified .ith a ne. .all and to.ers 4ome of the remainders can still be seen around the present(day Casa 8o%a building adDacent to the Church A con%ent for Augustinians .as erected on the place .here the Catholic 4t Catherine Church no. stands 0he remainders of this con%ent2s cloister are still on %ie. in 4t Catherine2s courtyard In the 19+'s, the courtyard .as reconstructed by the Italian architect BarluEEi follo.ing the model of the Crusaders

A Cree1(7atin mode of cooperation Although @estern Christianity imposed itself upon the East, Eastern Christianity in the 9oly 7and .as certainly not e"tinguished Bald.in I realiEed that .ithout a mode of cooperation bet.een the 7atin and Eastern churches it .ould be impossible to go%ern the Crusader state 7i1e his successor Bald.in II, he too1 an Eastern, Armenian Christian as .ife In 11#9 A- the fruits of a strategic reconciliation became apparent in Bethlehem .hen the ByEantine Emperor 5anuel I Comnenus, the 7atin <ing Amaury Aor AmalricB and the 7atin Bishop in Bethlehem, a 8orman Englishman named Raul or Radulph, super%ised the reconstruction of the Church of the 8ati%ity 0his is 1no.n from an inscription in the church2s apse, significantly .ritten in both Cree1, the language of the Cree1(!rthodo" church, and 7atin, the language of the @estern church &loor and .alls .ere laid .ith marble, mother(of(pearl and mosaics, and the roof made ane. .ith cedar beams 0he church .as a %isible compromise bet.een Eastern and @estern Christianity &or instance, the choice of saints painted on the pillars of the Church represented a balance bet.een Eastern and @estern nations A name of one of the artisans responsible for the .or1, Basilius Pictor, can be detected on the north .all of the Church By then Bethlehem2s population had gro.n beyond the limits of an agricultural %illage 4e%eral families specialiEed in handicrafts such as spinning, .ea%ing and embroidery A contemporary pilgrim e%en reported about the presence of some >e.ish families .ho specialiEed in dyeing 4aladin and the 5amlu1s After the Crusader <ingdom lost its main strongholds in the 9oly 7and as a conse?uence of the Battle of 9attin in 11$) A-, 4aladin too1 o%er Bethlehem 7i1e !mar Ibn Al(<hattab in the se%enth century, he adopted a remar1ably tolerant attitude to.ards the religious presence of the Christians 0he Cree1(!rthodo" .ere again allo.ed to ta1e o%er control of the Church, .hile a fe. years later a 7atin presence .as permitted as .ell 5oslem guards too1 a fee from pilgrims entering the Church 4ome Armenian construction .or1 .as encouraged @hen .al1ing from the narthe" of the church into the na%e, the present(day %isitor can see t.o car%ed .ooden entrance doors, one .ith an Armenian and the other .ith an Arabic te"t, both of them dating from the time of 4aladin 8onetheless, .ith the stream of @estern pilgrims once again subsiding, Bethlehem became something of a bac1.ater It .as, according to %isitors, barely a =sling2s shot long and a stone2s thro. .ide,= Dust =thirty mean houses in .hich 4aracens L5oslemsM and Christians of the neighborhood li%e = In the follo.ing decennia, the .alls and to.ers became damaged during %arious disruptions primarily as a conse?uence of the internal instability of the 5oslem empire 0he church and %illage .ere se%erely damaged by the 5ongols in 1*,, In the mid(16th century the 5amlu1 sultan Baybars gained control in Palestine !ne measure he adopted .as the establishment of the 8ebi 5usa Aprophet 5osesB mausoleum in the desert not far from the road from >erusalem to >ericho It has been said that, in doing so, he .as influenced by the location and appearance of the 5ar 4aba 5onastery In general, he had less patience .ith the Christian presence than 4aladin 9o.e%er, the Church of the 8ati%ity miraculously escaped destruction, once again 0he 1,th and 1+th centuries .itnessed a further decline of Bethlehem &or the 5amlu1s, the Christian places in >erusalem and Bethlehem .ere primarily a source of income @ithout the presence of a 7atin bishop the &ranciscans gained the right in 16,) to become custodians of the 9oly 7and In a pattern that .ould become common in the centuries to follo., a European protector paid the 4ultan a large sum of money for this fa%or 4ince then, the &ranciscans protected the 7atin 9oly Places and encouraged the construction of local churches 0hey established themsel%es in the Augustinian monastery ne"t to the Church of the 8ati%ity 0heir .or1 .as initially difficult .ith the Crusader legacy still fresh It .as only at the end of the 1+th century that the &ranciscans .ere permitted to do repair .or1 in the Church 0he Church had lost its pre%ious splendid interior under the influence of neglect, pillage and a lea1ing roof !ne pilgrim .riting at the time compares the Church .ith a =barn .ithout hay, a pharmacy .ithout medicine, a library .ithout boo1s = In 1,$9 the .alls of Bethlehem .ere destroyed, adding to the general lac1 of safety !ttoman millets 0he 0ur1ish or !ttoman period ushered in a ne., some.hat more promising era for Christians After the sac1ing of Constantinople in 1,+6 A-, the ne. empire stretched from India to deep into Europe >erusalem and Bethlehem .ere captured in 1+1# A- 0he 0ur1ish sultan became the ne. caliph 0he Christian and other religious minorities recei%ed a status .hich .as a bit more secure than during the times of the 5amlu1s .hen the Christian communities could not o.n lands and possessions at holy sites such as Bethlehem In e"change for paying tribute and maintaining la. and order in their o.n circles, they .ere no. left autonomous in matters of ci%il administration, Dudiciary and education Christians came to li%e under the protection of the 4ultan, i e in his trust, and for that they paid tribute 0he state protected the Christians2 li%es and property, an arrangement called =dhimmi = 0he legal arrangement of the autonomy .as called =millet = 0here .ere t.o millets for the Christian minorities3 one for the Cree1(!rthodo", .hose head .as held responsible for all ByEantine churches, and another for the Armenian church holding s.ay o%er the Eastern churches .hich had pre%iously seceded from the ByEantine church In practice this arrangement amounted to the formation of Christian states .ithin the larger Islamic state 0he increased autonomy and security came at a price 0he Cree1(!rthodo" bishop in Constantinople, no. renamed Istanbul, .as suddenly in%ested .ith an immense amount of authority o%er the Christian communities .ithin and outside the Cree1(!rthodo" Church 0he ne. hierarchy ine%itably encouraged patronage and fa%oritism 0he leadership of the !rthodo" patriarchate especially became %ulnerable to bribery -uring the 1#th and 1)th century, the position changed hands e%ery fe. years or so in fa%or of the highest bidder At the lo.er le%els of church hierarchy, familial relations .ere often decisi%e in appointing functionaries Psychologically, the system had dra.bac1s, too 0he millets .ere not allo.ed to e"pand beyond their religious communities and their present number of belie%ers 0hus they tended to become some.hat in.ard loo1ing and conser%ati%e 0he Capitulations 0he 7atin Church .as left out of the system 0he memory of the Crusades .as still fresh, and any ne. 7atin encroachments into the Empire .ere regarded .ith deep suspicion 9o.e%er, .hat .as not possible through the front door could ta1e place %ia the bac1door 0he &ranciscan custodians .ere po.erfully protected by the &rench, and e%en though the East had lost attraction after the European disco%ery of America, there .ere still

political games to play 0he ac?uisition of a foothold in the !ttoman areas remained a %aluable asset for the Europeans &rom his side, the !ttoman sultan considered that tactical deals .ith European po.ers could help maintain political strength as .ell as promote commerce 0he result .as the introduction of the system of =Capitulations = 0hese .ere contracts .hereby traders and other e"patriates from European countries .ere e"empted from paying ta"es and .ere granted Dudicial pri%ileges :nder the system, they could ma1e special arrangements .ith local nati%e facilitators such as guides, agents and translators @hile the system initially ser%ed only foreign nationals li%ing in the !ttoman Empire, European po.ers used it to e"pand their influence locally 0hrough the consulates and traders, authority .as sought o%er national and religious groups .ith .hom a special relationship could be maintained for the purpose of gaining a foothold in the empire 0his .as especially so after the !ttomans passed the pea1 of e"pansion and self(confidence, and became .ea1ened from inside by an increasingly corrupt administration &or @estern po.ers, local Christian minorities .ere an ob%ious target to e"ploit this .ea1ness 0he &rench declared themsel%es to be the true protector of the 7atin Church and the &ranciscan presence in the 9oly 7and -uring the 1#th and 1)th centuries the Capitulations that .ere agreed upon .ith the &rench .ere regularly rene.ed and each time the negotiations included the ?uestion of 7atin authority o%er the holy places 0hrough these negotiations, the &ranciscans ac?uired the rights o%er holy places that the millet system pre%ented them to ha%e 0he Cree1(!rthodo", from their side, .ere supported by the Russian church Athe =0hird Rome,= after the Italian Rome and ConstantinopleB, .hile the Armenians .ere in turn supported by the British and the Russians In the course of the !ttoman period the rights to the holy places .ere subDect to renegotiation dependent on the e"isting balance of po.er and the bribes offered 0he Church of the 8ati%ity fre?uently passed hands bet.een the &ranciscans and Cree1s In the second half of the 1$th century, after gaining a military %ictory o%er the !ttomans, the Russians .ere able to deli%er maDority control to the Cree1(!rthodo" church in both the 9oly 4epulcher in >erusalem and the Church of the 8ati%ity in Bethlehem 0he inter%ention of the @estern po.ers in the dispute about o.nership of the holy sites .as a maDor factor in the de%elopments leading to the Crimean @ar in the mid(19th century 0he @estern po.ers e"ploited the system of Capitulations to its fullness &or instance, it .as used to gain the right to obser%e the maDor Church celebrations in the holy places 0hus, during Easter in the 9oly 4epulcher and during Christmas in the Church of the 8ati%ity, a corps diplomati?ue consisting of European consuls %isited mass, a custom upheld until the present day 8e%ertheless, the Capitulations system generated bitterness and resentment bet.een the %arious Christian churches, nourished as it .as by the distant historical conflicts bet.een Eastern and @estern Christianity dating bac1 to the time of the Crusades and before Another input to the international and interchurch ri%alry .as the secession of se%eral Eastern Christian churches from Istanbul and their integration into the @estern Catholic church 4ince the 1#th century, in the era of Pope Cregory NIII A1+)*(1+$+ A-B, the Roman church started to establish its first contacts .ith Eastern Christian sects through the >esuit and other Catholic missionaries It fre?uently happened that a bishop or other functionary .ho .as at loggerheads .ith the Cree1 or Eastern !rthodo" church hierarchy defected to Rome, simultaneously bringing all the church members .ith him 0hese churches, .hether 5aronite or Cree1(Catholic A5el1iteB groups, maintained their hierarchy, liturgy and customs 0he @estern po.ers, primarily &rance, gained a foothold in the !ttoman Empire by claiming representation of such defected Christian minorities Ad%antages and disad%antages &or the local Christians, the system had certain ad%antages and disad%antages !n the one hand, the alliance .ith foreign po.ers allo.ed Christian citiEens to open up their horiEons3 to tra%el abroad Ain some cases they e%en ac?uired a foreign passportB3 to become in%ol%ed in profitable international commerce, and to gain a measure of international protection As far as the trade bet.een the 5iddle East and Europe is concerned, it gradually passed from European traders to their local Christian agents -ue to their 1no.ledge of foreign languages and modern business methods, Christian merchants built a trade net.or1 connecting the region .ith Europe 0his e%entually led to the emergence of a ne. social class .ith direct 1no.ledge of European life, .hich played an economic and cultural role as a bridge bet.een East and @est 4ome Bethlehem Christian Arabs .ho belonged to the -abdoub, >a2ar, >acir and 9andal families became in this period acti%e in the import and e"port business !n the other hand, the Christian minorities ris1ed becoming %ulnerable to political manipulation 0hey could become alienated from the cultural en%ironment in .hich they li%ed and attract suspicion from their Islamic rulers and neighbors It .as a dilemma that .ould haunt Christians for a long time to come 0he Christian groups li%ing in the 5iddle East pro%ided %ery different ans.ers &or instance, many 5aronites in 7ebanon unambiguously chose the @estern camp but paid a high price in terms of continuous unstable local relationships !thers .ould become closely associated .ith Arab nationalism At the heyday of 1#th century !ttoman rule, Bethlehem .as small and, in general, not seriously affected by these de%elopments It should be noted, ho.e%er, that one of the traditional clansI?uarters in Bethlehem, the 0araDmeh A-ragomenB, traces its origin to Europeans from Genice .ho settled in Bethlehem and .or1ed for the &ranciscans -ue to their mastery of European languages, they e%entually became dragomen or guides par e"cellence 0he first signs of EuropeaniEation .ere already felt .ith the arri%al of the &ranciscans in the 1,th century 0hey established a school for handicrafts in the %illage to support .hat .ould later be called the tourist industry At the end of the 1#th century a 0erra 4ancta school for boys .as opened by the same order In the 1)th century the Armenians established a bishopric in Bethlehem, adding to a certain cosmopolitanism 0here .ere pilgrims2 reports that, on their arri%al in the %illage, they .ere approached by a great many guides and sou%enir sellers, both Christian and 5oslem 0he tourism business became a main source of li%elihood for a sector of the population All this changed the culture of the %illage 0he tastes and preferences of the local people became influenced by the many European pilgrims A ne. roof !ne maDor e%ent affecting Bethlehem .as the replacement of the roof of the church in 1#)'(1 0he lead had been stripped in se%eral places and the timbers .ere rotting @ith the financial help of a Cree1 trader, the Cree1 Patriarch ac?uired permission to carry out repairs 0he huge loads of timber, landed in the port of >affa, .ere brought by forty o"en on impro%ised t.o(.heeled .agons to Ramlah, located half.ay bet.een >affa and >erusalem 0here they remained until a group of !rthodo" Christians from the surrounding %illages constructed a special road to facilitate the difficult haul through the mountains It too1 fi%e months before the timber arri%ed in Bethlehem 0hen the .or1 .as finished by carpenters imported from Creece 0he most urgent problem .as security and safety, especially along the pilgrim2s route bet.een >erusalem, Bethlehem and 9ebron 5arauders robbed tra%elers and abducted .omen and children to be sold as sla%es Pilgrims needed to pay protection money 7ater on, the %illage of &a.aghreh on the Bethlehem(9ebron road .as put in charge of collecting road ta"es, a business for .hich they .ere so hated that after a particularly %irulent ?uarrel they .ere dispersed to the neighboring %illages, .hich, ho.e%er, refused them entry 0hey came to Bethlehem and as1ed for asylum &rom that time dates the establishment of the &a.aghreh ?uarter in Bethlehem, its only 5oslem ?uarter

0he !ttoman rulers attempted to control the Bedouins by gi%ing them the authority to lead cara%ans or to collect ta"es Castles .ere built in the .ide %icinity of >erusalem &rom that time dates the building of the 5urad castle near 4olomon2s Pools at the southern side of Bethlehem along the road to 9ebron 0he leaders of Artas, a %illage to the east of the castle, .ere as1ed by the !ttomans to control the area3 in e"change they .ere e"empted from paying ta"es Brea1do.n of la. and order Especially during the 1)th and 1$th century the situation in the countryside deteriorated !ttoman rule decayed 7ocal pashas gained their offices by .ay of bribes and .ere allo.ed to 1eep their positions for a short time only :sually they e"tracted from their constituency as much profit in as short a time as possible 0his created a situation in .hich the central and local go%ernments .ere met .ith deep mistrust In 1##' a &rench tra%eler mentioned that the countryside around Bethlehem .as almost completely deserted as the peasants fled from the pashas in >erusalem Another negati%e factor .ere tribal fights bet.een %illages and cities, especially in the Bethlehem(9ebron area Apparently due to these fights a group of t.el%e Christian families left Bethlehem for 8aEareth to continue their business there 0he feudal ?uarrels .ere largely bet.een t.o regional tribal groupings, the =Jais= on the one hand, and the =;emeni= on the other 0hese di%isions can be traced to the Arabian Peninsula 0he pre(Islamic Jais .ere the northern Arabs .hile the ;emenis .ere southern Arabs @ith the ArabIIslamic e"pansion these tribal di%isions persisted in the ne. lands 0he tribes brought %arious alliances of 5oslems and Christians together on different sides of ethnic battle lines &or instance, the Jais inhabitants of Beit >ala, neighboring Bethlehem to the @est and mainly Christian in composition, .ere aligned to the 5oslem 9ebronites .hile being opposed to the ;emeni 5oslem and Christian inhabitants of >erusalem and Bethlehem 5oslem(Christian relations In general, Christians .ere little different from 5oslems 0hey .ore different head clothes Afor 5oslems the .hite dress, for Christians usually a blac1 oneB but other.ise the contrast bet.een li%ing in the to.n and in the countryside .as far more important than the religious identity Christian and 5oslem peasants had a similar Arab lifestyle, the same customs and dialect 0heir li%es .ere dominated by a concern for sur%i%al 0his .as spiritually e"pressed by a popular religion that .as often shared 5oslems and Christians together begged 5ary to gi%e rain during the dry season, and they Dointly %enerated local saints li1e 4t Ceorge AAl(<haderB and 4t Elias 0hey faced similar fates in their dealings .ith the !ttoman central go%ernment and ta" collectors In the course of the 1)th and 1$th centuries, more than half of the Christian %illages gradually disappeared 0heir inhabitants left the Palestinian countryside for the to.ns It is not unli1ely that in the case of Bethlehem and >erusalem, Christians .ished to lea%e the insecure countryside to find more and better employment opportunities in the to.ns .ith their nascent tourist industries Bethlehem pro%ided international contacts especially through the &ranciscan and Cree1 presence 0o.n ?uarters @ith their gradual e"pansion, Palestinian to.ns such as Bethlehem ac?uired a characteristic of their o.n 0he ne. inhabitants .ere housed in to.n ?uarters or =haraat= Asingular =hara=B 0he haraat formed a cluster of houses closely and densely built around a courtyard, .ith fortress(li1e small .indo.s pro%iding the e"tended families .ith ma"imum protection in case of attac1s by tribes or greedy pashas ABethlehem .as .ithout .alls at the timeB 0he families created a meeting point in the courtyard, .here they performed their handicrafts and household labor, and e"changed ne.s and stories 0he necessity to build in.ard and up.ard .ithin the limits of the hara led to some intricate pieces of home architecture .hich can still be admired, although often in dilapidated form, in the center of Bethlehem to.n near 4tar 4treet as .ell as in the neighboring small to.ns of Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour ABoth Beit 4ahour and Beit >ala .ere established by tribes coming from @adi 5oussa in >ordan3 Beit 4ahour in the 1,th century and Beit >ala in the 1$th centuryB 0he building acti%ity itself often too1 years, and .as celebrated at its final stages .ith a feast for the entire neighborhood and those .ho had lent a helping hand 0here .as a certain ethnic specialiEation among the haraat As .e sa., the 0araDmeh hara, close to the part of 4tar 4treet that is opposite to the Church of the 8ati%ity, .as .ell 1no.n for the tourist guides it pro%ided -uring the !ttoman times, si" Christian haraat .ere built A&arahiyyah, 8aDaDrah, 2Anatrah, Ja.a.seh, 9raiEat, 0araDmehB .hile the 5oslem hara &a.aghreh .as constructed at the end of the 1$th century As in the old days, the regional mar1et attracted %illagers from a circle of some *' 1ilometers around the to.n International influence continued to be a characteristic of Bethlehem, sometimes affecting the racial composition of the population It seems that some of the Cree1 clergy married .ith the locals, a fact .hich e"plains that se%eral families bear Cree1 names Afor instance, the =Chattas= familyB -espite the tourist trade, the to.n basically continued to subsist on its agriculture and animal husbandry E%ery family had a plot of land in the surrounding hills and an animal to carry the products to to.n 0he hills .ere terraced in order to pro%ide the animals .ith graEing land and to create storage places .here .ood could be 1ept for burning and other purposes 0he little stones of .hich the small .alls bordering the terraces ha%e been built up ( the business of doing so a craft in itself, in .hich some families .ere specialiEed ( still grace the countryside and lend the area a pictures?ue aspect e%o1ing the pastoral image of little Bethlehem -uring the summer months .hole families .ent to accommodate themsel%es in small =castles= in the countryside, guarding the products against robbery and hungry animals, and celebrating the har%est .ith songs and storytelling during the brightly starred e%enings 4ome of the castles can still be admired in the Bethlehem countryside3 a %ery old one, commemorating the =0o.er of the &loc1= .here according to the boo1 of Cenesis the patriarch >acob camped on his .ay to 9ebron, can be found in the %icinity of the Cree1(!rthodo" monastery in Beit 4ahour In this idyllic yet insecure setting, late(1$th century Bethlehem reached a number of +,''' inhabitants

C9AP0ER 6: 09E 1909 A8- *'09 CE80:R; 0he 19th century .as a time of momentous changes 0he &rench re%olution of the late 1$th century promulgated the principles of freedom, e?uality and fraternity 8apoleon applied them to ser%e e"pansionist European .ars -ue to the introduction of ne. forms of organiEation and technology in .hat .as called the =industrial re%olution,= the European po.ers built up enormously po.erful centers of production in the main cities of Britain, &rance and Prussia 8e. means of transport ( trains and steamships ( facilitated communication and tra%eling As part of their industrial dri%e, the European po.ers searched for ne. mar1ets to purchase ra. materials and sell their products In the decades to come, this economic need .ould decisi%ely influence the European po.ers2 attitude to.ards the !ttoman Empire, no. fast becoming the =sic1 old man= of Europe 0hree maDor aims .ould go%ern European beha%ior: &irstly, the European po.ers .ished to e"tend the system of Capitulations that dated from centuries ago, to the point that @estern merchants could act completely independent from !ttoman Dudiciary, ta" regimes and other policies 4econdly, the European po.ers once again started to co%et the religious minorities as pa.ns in their attempts to ac?uire a foothold inside the !ttoman Empire Each po.er chose some fa%orite group for protection, such as the 5aronites and :niate Cree1(Catholics A&ranceB, the Cree1 !rthodo" ARussiaB and, to some e"tent, the >e.s, Protestants and -ruEes ABritainB 0hirdly, .hile the European states .ere certainly po.erful enough to bring about the disintegration of the Empire, ri%alry bet.een them as .ell as 1no.ledge about the potentially disastrous conse?uences of such an e%ent for the military balance inside Europe made the European states deeply .ary of any unilateral attempt to control the !ttoman Empire from outside 5ohammed 2Ali @ith his campaign in Egypt at the turn of the century, 8apoleon .as the first to get a territorial foothold in the Empire -ue to Britain2s concern about its 5iddle East land route to India, a combined British(!ttoman force stopped the campaign in Palestine But despite its relati%ely short, three( year duration, it had a po.erful effect upon the consciousness of the peoples li%ing in the !ttoman areas In addition to their military po.er, the &rench brought in a superior organiEation, scientific approaches and modern political ideas 0he physical European presence on Egyptian territory sho.ed that the !ttoman .orld .as lagging behind in all aspects of life Both among the common people and the rulers, locally and in Istanbul, a feeling sprang up that something had to be done to come to terms .ith the ne. times A first attempt .as made by 5ohammed 2Ali, an !ttoman officer of Albanian origin, .hose forces dro%e 8apoleon out of Egypt 5ohammed 2Ali imposed himself on the !ttoman 4ultan as an independent ruler of Egypt, and introduced a range of @estern modernist reforms in the local administrati%e and economic system :nder the leadership of his son Ibrahim Pasha, Palestine .as con?uered and brought under Egyptian control for a period of 1' years A1$61(,'B As in Egypt, a modernist dri%e .as introduced in Palestine .ith the purpose of ma1ing all citiEens e?ual under secular la. 0he Christian millets especially gained in freedom and rights 0hey .ere allo.ed to buy ne. lands and e"pand old properties, including religious places of .orship, and to set up institutions such as schools, con%ents, clinics, orphanages, and clubs 0he Bedouin incursions in the countryside .ere curtailed and ta"es strictly imposed All this deeply disturbed the local po.er balance -uring 1$6,, as a result of ne. ta" policies and forced conscription, the inhabitants of the 5oslem ?uarter of Bethlehem, as .ell as neighboring Christian to.n Beit >ala, Doined a larger rebellion against Ibrahim Pasha, but .ere ruthlessly crushed or uprooted 0he 5oslem ?uarter in Bethlehem .as destroyed Aalthough rebuilt later onB It .as a difficult time for Bethlehem In the same year of 1$6,, an earth?ua1e damaged the haraat of the to.n as .ell as the Church of the 8ati%ity Eight years later, the Cree1 !rthodo" gained the right to do restoration .or1 on the roof and floor, and to plaster the .alls 4ince then the interior of the Church has essentially remained unchanged E"ternal meddling 0he years of 5ohammed 2Ali .itnessed the introduction of European consulates in >erusalem .hich too1 care to protect and e"pand the freedom of merchants from the countries they represented &oreign clergy established themsel%es, too, 1een to pro%iding leadership to local religious communities and bringing them under the aegis of a foreign church In 1$61 the &rench attained a diplomatic %ictory .hen the 0ur1ish 4ultan accepted a ne. Cree1(Catholic or 5el1ite millet in the system 0he Russians, from their side, persuaded the 4ultan to gi%e them special status as protector of the t.el%e million Cree1(!rthodo" Christians in the Empire &rom their side, the British chose local Protestants as their natural protOgOs but, gi%en the small number of Protestants in the 5iddle East, the British go%ernment also flirted .ith the idea of ta1ing the >e.s under its .ings In 1$69 the British established a consulate in >erusalem .ith this purpose in mind A proselytiEing effort .as started to turn >e.s into Protestants, as part of a larger %ision to restore ancient Israel along Christian /ionist lines 0here .ere also the first signs of a British interest to encourage >e.ish immigration into Palestine 0he general atmosphere remained one of deep ri%alry among the po.ers InternationaliEation of the holy places became a fa%ored option primarily to 1eep them out of each other2s hands In the 1$,'s the &rench played up the ?uestion of the holy places once again, mainly for the sa1e of internal European politics Athe manipulation of relations .ith !rthodo" Russia and Catholic AustriaB By then the relations bet.een the Cree1(!rthodo" and the &ranciscans at the Church of the 8ati%ity had reached a lo. point3 there .ere conflicts about the o.nership of the 1eys for the main doors as .ell as a ?uarrel about the disappearance of a star located at the place .here >esus .as born 0he mingling of religion .ith politics .as perhaps ine%itable gi%en the larger conte"t of European ri%alry but seemed an astounding disgrace to many %isitors 0he s1eptical 5ar1 0.ain, a famous American .riter, remar1ed: =0he Priests and the members of the Cree1 and 7atin Churches cannot come by the same corridor to 1neel in the sacred birthplace of the Redeemer, but are compelled to approach and retire by different a%enues, lest they ?uarrel and fight on this holiest ground on earth = Crimean @ar -ue in part to this local conflict manipulated from outside, the &rench, English and Russians .ere Dointly dra.n into the Crimean .ar A1$+,(+B @hile this .ar, .hich mainly too1 place on the northern and .estern borders of the !ttoman Empire, did not lead to the Empire2s disintegration, the %ictorious po.ers ( the &rench and English ( could e"pand their foothold inside the holy places 0he !ttomans .ere on the side of the &rench and the English Athe .innersB, but they paid a hea%y price as a result of European pressure 0he !ttomans .ere forced to allo. Christians and >e.s to buy

estates and o.n lands It .as then that in >erusalem, 8aEareth and Bethlehem a great many ne. institutions and orders established a presence In Bethlehem %arious churches, monasteries and other religious buildings .ere founded outside the haraat, along the main entrance streets to the to.n 0he introduction of @estern institutions .as facilitated by administrati%e reforms 0he !ttomans introduced moderniEing measures that made it easier for the @estern po.ers to function in the Empire Import and e"port trade .as gro.ing As for the religious places, the Crimean @ar led to an arrangement, called the =status ?uo=, .hich minutely detailed the relations bet.een the different churches at the holy places, including the demarcation of territories, the possession of 1eys, and cleaning arrangements 0his status ?uo has henceforth been confirmed by the successi%e po.ers in Bethlehem 8e%ertheless, ?uarrels, especially bet.een the &ranciscans and the Cree1, e"acerbated once again by foreign po.ers and manipulated by the !ttoman 4ultan, .ould periodically affect the holy places -uring the mid(19th century the population of Bethlehem numbered about +,''' inhabitants: *,+'' 7atin, 1,+'' Cree1 !rthodo", ,'' Armenians and #'' 5oslems !pening up to the .orld 0he second half of the 19th century .as one of economic prosperity for Bethlehem 0he e"pansion of the Capitulations in the .a1e of the Crimean @ar connected its inhabitants to lucrati%e .or1 opportunities as merchants, agents, guides or money traders Bethlehemites, such as the -abdoub, 9andal and >acir families, established an increasing number of trade connections .ith the Christian @est International e"hibitions held in the :nited 4tates played a pioneering role in attracting Palestinian merchants from Bethlehem 0hey %isited the Philadelphia E"hibition A1$)#B, the Chicago E"hibition A1$96B, and the 4t 7ouis E"hibition A19',B, carrying .ith them 9oly 7and products such as mother(of(pearl, oli%e .ood and car%ed 8abi 5usa AProphet 5osesB stone articles 4ome of these pioneers, such as Ceries and Ibrahim 4uleiman 5ansour 9andal, settled permanently in 8e. ;or1 .hile 5ishel and Cabriel -abdoub, .ho recei%ed a medal of honor in the Chicago E"hibition, returned to Bethlehem !n the other hand, 9anna <halil 5orcos left the Chicago E"hibition for 5e"ico and settled do.n there .hile Ciries Anton Abul(2ArraD, along .ith his .ife 4arah -aoud, left Chicago for the Republic of Cuatemala .here both made a fortune selling 9oly 7and products 0emporary or permanent migration patterns to Catholic countries in 4outh America, an important mar1et for religious products, became common 0here .as also a %ery large increase in the number of pilgrims %isiting the 9oly Places @hereas Bethlehem already boasted &ranciscan(supported artisanry intended for pilgrims and tourists, it .as the middle of the 19th century that brought the number of pilgrims that made mass production profitable Christmas became an international e%ent .ith Bethlehem attracting .orld attention during the last .ee1s of -ecember International Dournals such as the =8ational Ceographic= portrayed local Arab culture as reflecting Biblical customs 0he international attention had a positi%e affect on the local economy 4mall artisanry .or1shops gre. into factories for mass production 4ou%enir shops .ere opened @ith the arri%al of schools sponsored by the ne.ly established orders and con%ents, students, especially Christians, became able to learn foreign languages 5any came into contact .ith European %alues, tastes and consumption patterns 0e"tile and embroidery crafts .ere another gro.ing economic sector Bethlehem e"panded3 the historical center .ith its haraat became surrounded .ith ne. houses and %illas of the successful In order to construct these and other buildings, stone ?uarrying and masonry ABethlehem and Beit >ala stone is of especially good ?ualityB became a lucrati%e business Around the turn of the century, no less than thirty percent of the .or1ers2 force of the Bethlehem area .ere employed in the building trade, many of them .or1ing in .hat .as called the =8e. >erusalem= ( the ne. ?uarters built by foreign po.ers and institutions outside >erusalem2s old city, only ten 1ilometers a.ay from Bethlehem An A.a1ening 0he changes brought about by the arri%al of the foreign .orldly and religious institutions .ere not limited to the economic As other areas in the Arab .orld, Palestine .as profoundly affected by the European moderniEation 5ohammed Ali2s regime and the subse?uent reforms in the !ttoman administration reflected admiration for concepts of @estern science, e%olution theory, progress, e?uality, human rights, and the separation of church and state 0he last aspect .as especially important for the Christian groups It encouraged a %ie. of religion as a pri%ate affair @hile their status as millet ga%e the Christians some protection and rights, the ne. concepts of citiEenship and nationhood outside the religious community .ere felt as opening .indo.s to.ards the outside .orld In part through the establishment of Christian schools, Christian Arabs became instrumental in translating European .ritings and dispersing them to.ards the .ider Arab .orld 0hey rendered .ritings about European philosophy, medicine, la. and politics directly accessible In doing so, Christian Arabs and Palestinians participated in an =Arab a.a1ening= .hich did not yet ha%e a clear direction and agenda but .hich reflected a gro.ing con%iction that a change in the mentality of the Arabs .as %ital to be able to confront the modern, no. European(centered .orld Arab identity Ci%en that the Christian and other religious groupings in the !ttoman system gradually left their isolation, it became imperati%e for them to define not Dust their rights and personal status but also their .ider relations to.ard society 9o. to relate to the rules of the Islamic community, .hich still go%erned the daily life of the masses throughout the !ttoman(controlled areasF 4ince inclusion into an Islamic community .ithout the protection of the millet system .as not an attracti%e option, some Christian Arabs loo1ed for fresh approaches to.ards the ?uestion of identity By the 1$+'s, both Christian and 5oslem thin1ers, especially in 4yria, started playing .ith the idea of a shared Arab cultural identity It should be noted that Arab nationalist thought in its formati%e stages .as born and de%eloped in the 5ashre? AArab EastB en%ironment 0his %ein of thought, originating in geographical 4yria, raised the banner of secularism in order to unite the many religious sects in the aftermath of the 1$#' massacres of 5t 7ebanon and -amascus AIn Egypt, a much narro.er form of Egyptian nationalism rooted in ancient Egyptian history appeared 0he Arab nationalist idea began to crystalliEe in Egypt only in the late 196'sB In Palestine, many ne. schools adopted Arabic rather than 0ur1ish as a main language of instruction 0here .as a flourishing of ne. printing houses, first under the auspices of the missionary orders but later also independently, of ne. cultural and literary societies, and, around the turn of the century, of ne. publications In Bethlehem the first e"periment in Dournalism, =Bayt 7ahm= ABethlehemB, monthly re%ie., began in 4eptember 1919 by ;uhanna <halil -a11arat and Issa Basil Banda1

Arab nationalism It should be 1ept in mind that the ne. Arab renaissance .as restricted to a part of the intellectual and literary classes only It .as still remote from the life of the masses, .hich then un?uestionably adhered to the ethos of Islamic community identity 5oreo%er, the proposals being made .ere not re%olutionary3 they pleaded for more space for the Arab identity .ithin the larger !ttoman system A %ery fe. thin1ers, primarily in 4yria and 7ebanon, introduced a more political form of nationalism based upon a shared Arab identity of language, culture and fate Christian thin1ers .ere among them 0hey came to ha%e a disproportionally large influence on the subse?uent ad%ent of Arab nationalism An e"pression of an early nationalism .ere the first Palestinian Arab protests in 1$91 against the immigration of >e.s to the country and the ne.s about the Basel conference of 1$9) in .hich 0heodor 9erEl announced the official aims of the /ionist mo%ement /ionism stro%e to.ard the establishment of a >e.ish home in Palestine yet .ithout ta1ing into account that 9'P of its inhabitants .ere Arabs 0he disproportionate role of the Christians at the initial stages of Arab nationalism must be placed in the conte"t of the time 8e. structures of identity and belonging .ere coming for.ard .hile not yet finding definite shape Christian influence could gro. at a moment .hen the maDority of Islamic Arabs .ere uncertainly groping for a compromise bet.een Islam, .hich .as basic to their identity and beliefs since ages past, and the ne.ly @estern(inspired .a%e of moderniEation A ?uantum leap in the spread of national a.areness too1 place .hen 5oslem Arabs gradually Doined their Christian brothers in large numbers in the aftermath of deteriorating Arab(0ur1ish relations as a result of the ruling ;oung 0ur1s2 policies A19'9( 191+B Emigration -uring the turn of the century Bethlehem counted some.hat less than 1' ''' inhabitants 0here .as an emigration mo%ement at the end of the 19th century as a conse?uence of the ne. opportunities for mar1eting the 9oly 7and products in the Americas, but usually the people stayed there only for a brief time It .as po%erty and the large scale recruitment into the !ttoman army before and during the &irst @orld @ar .hich induced many families to lea%e, or to con%ince their sons to lea%e 4ince the beginnings of the moderniEation of the !ttoman state, in the 1$+'s, Christians .ere recruited into the army3 yet unli1e the 5oslems, they could still get e"emption by paying a fee AIt has been reported that se%eral .ealthy 5oslem families in the Bethlehem countryside con%erted to Christianity in order to e%ade conscriptionB 9o.e%er, from 19'9 on, this became much harder to do, e%en though it is documented that at the time Christian families could still get e"emption if they contributed trees ( %ital for their agriculture ( to fuel the !ttoman .ar machine 0he &irst @orld @ar .as a time of bare po%erty !lder Bethlehemites still recount stories of themsel%es or their family eating the e"crements of horses to stay ali%e during a particularly harsh and cold .inter 5any young Palestinian Christian men from Bethlehem and Beit >ala decided to ?uic1ly find a Palestinian bride and to lea%e for countries li1e 9onduras, Boli%ia, Brasil and Chile, .here relati%es had already e"plored the possibility of earning a li%elihood 5any smuggled themsel%es out of the country illegally, using their imagination and persistence Afor instance, teenagers .ere smuggled out of the country in a nun2s habitB -uring @orld @ar I, 16P of the Christians of Bethlehem left the to.n Contradictory promises @orld @ar I shoo1 the e"isting po.er configuration and .ould ha%e unforeseen conse?uences for the future of the 5iddle East In general, the Arab nationalist circles and modernist reformers supported the @est 0he nascent Arab nationalist mo%ement started to entertain hopes to establish independency in the Arab districts of the defunct !ttoman Empire 0he British 9igh Commissioner of Egypt, 5c5ahon, made a promise to 4herif 9ussein of 5ecca to that effect In e"change, 4herif 9ussein launched an Arab re%olt out of the Arabian Peninsula into >ordan and 4yria in support of the British .ar effort Athe re%olt .as famously associated .ith the figure of 7a.rence of ArabiaB 0hen a classic e"ample of =British perfidy= too1 place In 191# the British and &rench secretly annulled the promise by agreeing to split the !ttoman 5iddle East up amongst themsel%es Athe 4y1es( Picot agreementB 0he 9oly Places, including Bethlehem, .ere thought to come under an international administration !ne year later, another contradictory promise .as made 0he British issued the Balfour -eclaration, granting the >e.s a homeland in Palestine e%en though they constituted less than 1'P of the population at the e%e of the .ar A#',''' >e.s %s o%er #'',''' ArabsB Essentially, the British had curried fa%or .ith the Arabs by promising an independence they .ould ne%er get After the .ar, the defeated !ttoman Empire .as di%ided at the 4an Remo Conference, April 19*', bet.een the English and the &rench in accordance .ith the 4y1es(Picot agreement and disguised under the =mandate= system issued by the 7eague of 8ations 0he @estern po.ers decided that the British mandate o%er Palestine should bear a clause in .hich the Balfour -eclaration .as confirmed Bethlehemite solidarity .ith their fello. Palestinians .as deeply entrenched 0hus, .hen an American commission of en?uiry, <ing(Crane, arri%ed in Bethlehem on 1) >une 1919 to ascertain the .ishes of the local inhabitants about their future, they found that =in that old Biblical city all the delegations sho.ed a %ery careful agreement concerning the unity of 4yria and Palestine, .anted complete independence if possible, and .ere opposed to /ionism and >e.ish immigration = British mandate 0he British 5andate authorities fa%ored the employment of Christians in the lo.er and middle higher echelons of the administration as officials, interpreters and ad%isors ( some.hat in the same manner as @estern po.ers had recruited the ser%ices of local Christians during the regime of Capitulations 0hrough their contacts .ith the @estern .orld, many local Christians had ac?uired a @estern taste and life style3 they .ere better educated, and spo1e @estern languages :p to ,'P of the administrati%e posts .ere occupied by Christians e%en though their proportion of the general population .as not higher than 1' P It e%en seems that the British brought in 5aronites and 4yrian Catholics from 4yria and 7ebanon to ser%e in the administration 0his may partly account for the presence of a community of 4yrian Catholics in Bethlehem up to the present(day 5any elderly people li%ing in Bethlehem can still tell stories about ho. they admired British efficiency in organiEational matters 0his does not mean that the Christian population accommodated the British presence After the .a%e of emigration prior to and during the &irst @orld @ar, an emigration pattern established itself among the Christian population, and many people contacted their relati%es to find out about the economic chances of staying temporarily or permanently abroad -uring the 19*'s and 196's the emigration pattern continued, to some e"tent Doined

by the 5oslem population @ith the competition of the >e.ish economy in Palestine, some professions faced a difficult time 0his .as especially so for stonemasons and ?uarriers After the >e.s introduced the use of cement, many people in Bethlehem and Beit >ala lost their Dobs and Doined the OmigrOs 5igration .as a %ery difficult decision, and not Dust because of the segregation from one2s family and community and the uncertain economic prospects 5any of the OmigrOs lost citiEenship because of the Palestinian CitiEenship 7a. of 1# 4eptember 19*+ @hen the British announced that those .ho .ere absent during the .ar .ould forego their right of citiEenship, a Bethlehem area =Committee for the -efense of Arab Emigrants2 Rights for Palestinian CitiEenship= .as established to protest restrictions against returning It .as pointed out that >e.ish immigrants into Palestine .ere hardly confronted .ith any restrictions 9o.e%er, the committee did not succeed in influencing British policy significantly

4uccessful emigrants 5any OmigrOs had a hard time yet some .ere successful abroad and sent bac1 payments so that their relati%es at home could build spacious houses -uring the 19*'s and 196's mansions arose in Bethlehem, usually at some distance from the historical center of the to.n 4ome emigrants became famous indeed 0he 5oslem 4human family, at the moment of departure in possession of ten pounds of gold, later on earned a fortune in 7atin America to come bac1 home as the founder of .hat .ould be one of the largest ban1s in the Arab .orld, the so(called Arab Ban1 0he Christian 7ama brothers from Bethlehem de%eloped an interest in photography and cinematography !n their .ay bac1 to Bethlehem they decided that they .ould ha%e better opportunities in Egypt to start a film business 0hey made the first silent mo%ie in Arabic and later established one of the largest film houses in Egypt -espite their connections .ith the British, those Arab Christians .ho stayed behind .ere destined to become part and parcel of the national mo%ement in Palestine At the beginning of the century a second =aliya= AimmigrationB .a%e of >e.s too1 place, to be follo.ed by other and larger .a%es in the 19*'s and 196's Increasingly, Arab land .as bought for >e.ish agriculture @hereas the >e.ish presence on the land, organiEed centrally through a comple" of institutions, .as able to press their claims upon the British, the Arab cause primarily rested upon the po.er of a fe. leading 5oslem families from >erusalem .ho .ere .ea1ened by internal ri%alries 0he Arabs also possessed less diplomatic and lobbying s1ills 0hey essentially fell bac1 upon the impact of disturbances that originated in the streets of >erusalem .here conflicts around holy places spar1ed conflagrations that reached out to.ards the .ider Palestinian countryside

Palestinian nationalism In the 196's, especially 196# through 1969, Bethlehem .itnessed much uphea%al including a si"(month general stri1e to force Britain to stop >e.ish immigration Public protests .ere staged by students, and men and .omen of Bethlehem 5any .ere arrested and sent to detention camps Armed resistance against British forces, .hich began in 196#, .as spearheaded by Bethlehemites Ibrahim <hulayf and 2Issa Abu Jaddum, .ho .ere an integral part of Palestinian resistance led by 2Abd Al(Jader Al(9usayni and 4yrian Arab military leader 4a2id Al(2Aas <hulayf, Abu Jaddum and Al(2Aas .ere 1illed in British military ambushes A >e.ish 4tate After each disturbance or protest, the British installed a commission to find out the reasons behind the unrest and to propose a solution that usually satisfied neither Arab nor >e. -uring the 4econd @orld @ar, >e.ish armed groups pressed the English to grant the >e.s more immigration ?uotas and land 0he /ionists also openly stated their desire for statehood 0heir desire .ould become reality after the shoc1ing e%ent of the annihilation of the >e.s in the 8aEi Cermany death camps @orld public opinion, learning about the horrors of the camps, sided .ith the /ionist goal 0he Arab Palestinians .ere .ea1 and their numbers d.indled, from 9'P in 19** to )'P in 1961 and #'P in 19,$ As the large maDority of the country2s inhabitants and o.ning 9' P of the land, they could not absorb the idea that they .ould ha%e to pay for the European crimes committed against the >e.s 0hey stuc1 to the diplomatically ineffecti%e attitude of refusing any other solution than an Arab state in the .hole of Palestine In 19,) the :nited 8ations, .ho recei%ed the authority to decide about Palestine2s future after the British had ac1no.ledged their inability to control the unrest, decided to di%ide the country into an Arab and a >e.ish state, .ith the 9oly Places, including >erusalem and Bethlehem, to come under international administration

8a1ba -espite the political unrest, the period of the 4econd @orld @ar .as a time of economic e"pansion Indi%idual Bethlehemites found employment and the to.n gre. some.hat 0he real shoc1 for Bethlehem .ould come .ith the .ar of 19,$, a .ar .hich led to independence for Israel but a =na1ba= AdisasterB for the Palestinian Arabs as hundreds of thousands had to flee their country and hundreds of %illages, including Christian ones, .ere destroyed Immediately after the :8 partition plan, fighting started bet.een armed /ionists and Arab guerrilla groups set up by locals .ho .ere aided by %olunteers from the neighboring countries A lo.(scale .ar continued up until April 19,$ .hen, due to a massacre in the >erusalem %illage of -eir ;assin e"ecuted by a /ionist band, many Palestinians started to flee their homes !n 5ay 1,, 19,$ the British administration left 0he ne"t day the /ionist leader Ben Curion announced the declaration of independence for the ne. state of Israel 0hereupon the Arab armies entered the country, and, as the Israeli army cleared the countryside from many Palestinian %illages, the /ionists gained the upper hand due to their greater organiEational and military competence Israel e"panded the territories allotted to it by the :8 proposal .ith some *'P, occupying @est(>erusalem as .ell >ordan occupied East(>erusalem and the @est Ban1, including Bethlehem Bethlehem did not escape the uphea%als of 19,)(19,$ In 5arch 19,$, a Bethlehemite member of Palestinian >ihad resistance, Anton -aoud, .ho .as the chauffeur of the American Consul Ceneral in >erusalem, .as belie%ed to ha%e placed the e"plosi%es .hich ble. up the head?uarters of the

>e.ish Agency in retaliation for /ionist terrorist acts such as the blo.ing up of the <ing -a%id 9otel .here many Palestinians .ere 1illed !n 5arch *), 19,$, a /ionist military en%oy .as ambushed at Bethlehem2s -heisheh suburb in .hich *+ settlers .ere 1illed 0his 6'(hour confrontation .as concluded .hen 1,9 sur%i%ors .ere escorted to safety by British forces 9o.e%er, as a direct result of the fall of the strategic Al(Jastal %illage and the death of Palestinian military leader 2Abd Al(Jader Al(9usayni, as .ell as the gruesome massacre of -eir ;assin, all ta1ing place in early April 19,$, the uprooting and transfer of large segments of Arab population from the >erusalem area began 0he Bethlehem area =Central Committee to Aid the Refugee= estimated that at this period +',''' refugees arri%ed in the Bethlehem area before they mo%ed to other places in Palestine and >ordan 9o.e%er, by 4eptember 19,$, the official number .as estimated to be *1,'6' Relief .or1 at this Duncture .as organiEed by the Red Cross, t.o years before the :nited 8ations Relief and @or1 Agency A:8R@AB stepped in to o%ersee the setting up of three refugee camps in Bethlehem: -heisheh, AEEah and 2Aydah camps As a result of the .ar many .ealthy Bethlehemites lost houses along or in the %icinity of the 9ebron(>erusalem road inside >erusalem that they had pre%iously built or bought but .hich .ere no. in the Israeli(controlled part of the city !f greater influence for Bethlehem2s de%elopment .as the afore(mentioned influ" of refugees, in part from Christian to.ns but primarily from the 5oslem countryside In one year Bethlehem2s population gre. from 9,''' to 6+,''', .ith additional refugee camps near its borders Bethlehem2s Christian population and charitable institutions did the most they could do to pro%ide hospitality to the incoming refugees 0he castles in the countryside .ere handed o%er to refugees for temporary shelter 5any of the refugees attempted to find home in the historical hara area, in small cellars or terraces, .here%er they could find a place 0he people had to li%e in cro.ded and cramped conditions, .ith ne. houses built upon or alongside the e"isting ones 0hose Bethlehemites .ho could afford to do so rented their houses to the ne.comers at lo. rates and left for the areas around the to.n 0he >ordanian regime 0he >ordanian presence in the @est Ban1 and East(>erusalem .as .elcomed by a segment of the Palestinian higher classes In 19+1 nationalist Palestinians assassinated <ing Abdallah of >ordan near Al(A?sa 5os?ue in >erusalem In subse?uent years the >ordanians, ruled by the young <ing 9ussein, tended to fa%or the de%elopment of the East Ban1 rather than the Palestinian side of the >ordan >erusalem and Bethlehem also became neglected 4ince it .as complicated for tourists to pass through Israel into >ordan, the tourist industry suffered &oreign tra%elers had to enter the 5andelbaum Cate in >erusalem and cross a no man2s land Eone in order to reach the >ordanian side of the cease(fire line 0he neglect of the @est Ban1 had political o%ertones as .ell 0he presence of a large number of Palestinian refugees across the >ordan created an inherent lac1 of stability inside the <ingdom, .hich made the >ordanian monarchy particularly sensiti%e about anything that could disrupt the <ingdom2s balance !ne such threatening element .as the establishment of nationalist, leftist or communist(inspired mo%ements in the @est Ban1 5any Christians Doined such mo%ements, in part for reasons of identity 8ationalism, socialism and communism emphasiEed the commonality of 5oslems and Christians as e?ual members of a suppressed class or nation &or Christians, such an approach .as more attracti%e than seeing themsel%es as members of a Christian religious minority subser%ient to a larger Islamic community In Bethlehem too, secret nationalist and leftist societies sprang up, especially among the Cree1(!rthodo" community 0he >ordanian authorities outla.ed many of them Israeli occupation After 19,$, the 19#) .ar .as a second shoc1 for the Palestinians and the Arab .orld 8ot only .ere the lost lands not reco%ered, but the Israelis also became the occupiers of the @est Ban1 and the CaEa 4trip 0hey came in control of the .hole of British mandated Palestine, and, .ith the occupation of 4inai and Colan, additional Egyptian and 4yrian lands as .ell In Bethlehem people still remember ho. Christians and 5oslems Dointly floc1ed for shelter into the Church of the 8ati%ity after hearing the fighter planes clea%ing the s1y 4ome stayed for .ee1s in the Church, others hid in the countryside, afraid of retaliation 0he 4ilesian Con%ent near Beit >ala as .ell as other Christian places offered refuge 0he Israeli army distributed leaflets in the .estern parts of the to.n, encouraging people to flee the area and cross the >ordan :nli1e 19,$, fe. people succumbed to this propaganda But it .as a %ery difficult time for the Palestinians As high as hopes .ere in ad%ance of the .ar ( the Egyptian president 8asser .as proclaimed to be the coming liberator ( Dust as deep .as the disillusionment that subse?uently san1 in Immediately after the .ar Israel anne"ed East(>erusalem and e"panded the city2s boundaries 8o less than 1# s?uare 1ilometers .ere confiscated from Bethlehem lands In the coming years, ne. >erusalem suburbs .ould arise on former >ordanian lands Politically, the Palestinian people .ere disoriented @ith the Arab armies and countries discredited after the lost .ar, the guerrillas of the Palestine 7iberation !rganiEation AP7!B filled the political %oid and 1indled the nationalist hope of the Palestinian population Especially in the P7!2s more leftist groupings Christians too1 leadership positions It is in part to their influence, as .ell as that of their fello. secular 5oslems, that, at the end of the 19#'s and the beginning of the 19)'s, the P7! mo%ement opted for a secular %ision of a democratic state in Palestine rather than an Islamist state :ne%en de%elopment &or a long time, up until the end of the 19)'s, the administration of Bethlehem too1 care to .al1 the fine line bet.een loyalty to the national Palestinian cause and a special relationship .ith >ordan <ing2s 9ussein combined .ith a certain co(e"istence .ith the Israeli occupation 0he .ell( 1no.n former Bethlehem mayor, the late Elias &reiD, culti%ated this policy 9is maDor consideration .as the need to protect the tourism industry and the symbol of the Church of the 8ati%ity from political contro%ersy -espite this, the tourism and de%elopmental profile of Bethlehem .as not a happy one Although indi%idual sou%enir shops .ere able to e"pand their income .ith the arri%al of tourists coming through Israel, the de%elopment .as distinctly one(sided Israeli buses made a stop in front of the Church, brought the tourists or pilgrims into the Church accompanied by an Israeli guide, and then made another stop at a sou%enir shop on the .ay bac1 to >erusalem 0his all 1ept the %isit as short as possible 5ost .or1ing class Bethlehemites sa. their family income increasing, yet the community did not de%elop under occupation !ne important e"ception .as the establishment of Bethlehem :ni%ersity in 19)6 &ormerly the &rFres 4chool, it .as opened at the encouragement and .ith the financial support of the Gatican as .ell as contributions from foreign donors and indi%idual tuitions It represented one broad light in the educational field In general the le%el of education at elementary and secondary le%els declined 5any less educated people outside the ser%ice sector

earned their income in Israel as day laborers, but there .as no .ay to in%est such income into de%elopment proDects benefiting the city or the region as a .hole !n the international le%el, the Palestinian cause seemed to mo%e for.ard for a time Bethlehem .elcomed the increasing international legitimacy that the P7! gained after the mid(19)'s and the 19$'s, especially in the 0hird @orld and Europe 9o.e%er, the facts on the ground did not impro%e3 institutions .hose pupils or students participated in political demonstrations .ere often faced by oppressi%e measures such as temporary closures, and the prospects for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state loo1ed remote 0he le%el of ser%ices in the Bethlehem area slo.ly declined @ith a ne. economic crisis in the mid(19$'s, and people starting to become desperate about a national solution, the time became ripe for something more drastic Intifada At the end of 19$) the Palestinian people embar1ed upon a massi%e uprising, the Intifada 7iterally e%ery to.n and %illage in the @est Ban1 and CaEa 4trip participated ;oungsters too1 to the streets and thre. stones at Israeli soldiers 0here .as an immense amount of solidarity among the people 0hey organiEed daily life through neighborhood committees and other decentraliEed structures Israel reacted .ith shoc1 and brutality3 the .ide(scale beatings and collecti%e punishments made headlines throughout the .orld As many schools .ere forced to close, teachers .ere in%ol%ed in =illegal education,= conducting their classroom Dobs at pri%ate places or at local institutions A .ell(reno.ned episode of the uprising .as the ta" re%olt initiated by the people of Beit 4ahour in 19$9 0hey refused to pay ta"es e%en .hen the ta" officers under the guidance of the Israeli army confiscated all their possessions 5any local organiEations too1 up the national cause, including church(related institutions In fact, the local churches sho.ed acti%e support for the essentially peaceful and moderate aim of the Intifada3 the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel .ith AEast(B >erusalem as its capital 0he Catholic Church recei%ed its first Palestinian patriarch .ith the dedication of 5ichel 4abbah from 8aEareth in 19$) 0he Cree1 Catholic and Anglican bishoprics, too, adopted Palestinian heads 0heir declarations in support of the human, collecti%e and religious rights of the Palestinian people .ere robust and caught .orld.ide attention 9o.e%er, this did not mean that religion .as played up by the politically acti%e among the Christians As in the >ordanian time, the leftist secular organiEations .ithin the P7! had a particularly strong follo.ing among the Christians in the Bethlehem area 0he same moti%es .ere pre%alent no. as then, .ith one additional element3 the deep ambiguity felt by the Christians to.ards the rising of Islamicist(oriented mo%ements after the beginning of the Intifada 0hese mo%ements openly ad%ocated the establishment of a 5oslem state in Palestine, .ith the Christians apparently relegated once more to a second(class millet status In the course of the years the leftist groups did not fare .ell :nder the influence of the fragmentation and decline of the Communist mo%ement after the do.nfall of East(European regimes, the leftist mo%ement in Palestine appeared on the defensi%e, too In the .a1e of the Intifada they had a hard time de%eloping a strategic ans.er to the .ell(entrenched Islamist trend 0he !slo Peace Accords :nfortunately, the Intifada did not lead to more than a broad international acceptance of a t.o(state solution to the Israel(Palestine conflict as en%isioned in the Palestinian declaration of Independence of 1+ 8o%ember 19$$ 0he situation on the ground did not de%elop in a positi%e direction By lac1 of political follo.(up, the mo%ement lost momentum -uring the 199's, the Palestinians longed for peace but lac1ed political strength and inner self(confidence A significant part of them accepted the !slo Agreement of 1996, .hile the secular leftist parties and the Islamist mo%ement opposed it 0he !slo Agreement represented an ambiguous turn of e%ents -espite the high e"pectations and the positi%e media co%erage, the peace .as in subse?uent years felt at a symbolic le%el only3 on the ground the reality became more difficult than e%er 0he ne.ly established Palestinian 8ational Authority AP8AB had a %ery limited po.er E%en under the go%ernment of Israel2s Prime 5inister Rabin, signatory of the !slo Accords, the settlement process e"panded e"ponentially Israel2s closure policy after the desperate attac1s by Islamic militants in Israel2s cities made thousands of Palestinian laborers Dobless &rom 199# on, .ith the ad%ent of the Israeli 8etanyahu go%ernment, the peace process remained in a stalemate After ha%ing lost 1# s?uare 1ilometers of lands immediately after the 19#) .ar, Bethlehem suffered further land e"propriations to accommodate the establishment of a series of settlements .hich, together .ith their connecting roads, literally surrounded the to.n and robbed it from any space left for future e"pansion or agricultural de%elopment An international outcry accompanied Israel2s announcement in 199) of the building of a >erusalem settlement that .as %irtually at Bethlehem2s doorstep 7ando.ners from Bethlehem and Beit 4ahour Doined a series of marches to protest the 9ar 9oma Aor, in Arabic, Abu ChneimB settlement but in subse?uent years its infrastructure .as slo.ly built up As yet there are no signs of cessation of the building acti%ities After the !slo Agreement, economic conditions in the Bethlehem area .itnessed a steep decline &or some years the unemployment ratio reached le%els ne%er felt before in the @est Ban1, up to ,'P Bethlehem .as especially affected since closures pre%ented laborers to lea%e the to.n for their .or1 in Israel .hile, con%ersely, tourist buses .ere often pre%ented from entering the to.n 5oreo%er, the !slo Agreement defined the @est Ban1 into different Eones, some of them fully under control of the Palestinian Authority, others, the large maDority, under Israeli authority, and still others under a combined Palestinian ci%il authority and Israeli military rule 0his artificial arrangement led to a fragmentation of the @est Ban1 and made it possible for Israel to announce so(called =internal closures= .hereby Palestinians .ere not permitted to cross from one into another Eone 0he Bethlehem area, including the to.ns of Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour, .as itself split up in Eones As a conse?uence, during =internal closures= some institutions could hardly be reached by locals .or1ing or studying there All these problems e?ually affected Christians and 5oslems @hile o%er the years Christian Bethlehemites used to be disproportionally represented in .hite(collar professions Adoctors, teachers, la.yersB as .ell as in tourism(related Dobs, there is no. a tendency among 5oslems to close the socio( economic gap Christians ha%e 1ept up an emigration pattern responsible for their declining numbers in the society 0he o%erall proportion of Christians in the @est Ban1 and CaEa is no. * P, do.n from about 1'P at the beginning of the century If .e compare the censuses of 19** and 199), .e find in 19** a total population of Bethlehem of #,#+$ including +,$6$ Christians, and in 199) a population of 61,9$, including 9,+9+ Christians 0he urban conglomeration of Bethlehem(Beit >ala(Beit 4ahour still incorporates +'P Christians 0he maDor factors affecting emigration are the economic and political insecurity @ithout 1no.ing about their future Dobs and career perspecti%e, it is still common that Christian Bethlehemites contact their family members abroad or follo. ad%anced studies else.here and decide to stay 4ince the maDority of OmigrOs are males, the emigration has also negati%ely affected the gender balance in the Bethlehem area, .ith around ++P Christian .omen left .ith ,+P men @ith the ne. Israeli go%ernment under Ehud Bara1 the conditions remain uncertain In preparation for the Bethlehem *''' celebrations roads ha%e been rene.ed, hotels built, and the beginnings of a Palestinian tourist infrastructure set up 0he ne. dynamism, accompanied by a certain economic

reco%ery, has emanated a spar1 of hope ;et almost all Bethlehemites feel that .ithout a solution to the o%erall Palestinian issue a real secure future is not li1ely to come soon 7oo1ing bac1 into history 5any Bethlehemites loo1 bac1 to.ards history .ith a certain nostalgia !ne of them is 5r 4arras of Beit >ala, a former stonemason, .ho has nine children and .ho is no. pensioned 9ere he gi%es a fe. facts and %ie.s of Bethlehem life as it .as before 19#) @or1: Before 19,$ there al.ays used to be .or1 0he stones .ith .hich 4arras built .ere thic1er and therefore more protecti%e than they are today Building a house .as re.arded by *' >ordanian piaster, building an arch by 6' piaster Peasants used to .or1 and sleep on the land 7ife .as simple: people .or1ed, ate and slept 0he people of the Bethlehem area .ere dependent on agriculture, there .as no industry 7eisure: Instead of .atching 0G, one dran1 and told stories in the large courtyard in front of the house together .ith the e"tended family All the family li%ed in one house 0he grandfather .as the head and family members paid mutual respect :nli1e no., people in the neighborhood .ere used to seeing and %isiting each other and ha%ing fun together 9ome: 0here .as no electricity, lamps .or1ed on oil and later on 1erosene As a result, all bodies .ere co%ered .ith the remains of smo1e -rin1ing and food: E%ery house had cisterns in .hich rain .as stored @omen .ent to local .ells, often .ith animals, to bring .ater 0hey coo1ed on an o%en made of mud and .ood !ne used .heat mills to grind the .heat Bread and coo1ies .ere made from flour mi"ed .ith oil &or lunch and dinner, people too1 a diet of .heat, lentils, rice, figs and oli%es 0hey too1 their share from one big plate @ashing: People put .ater in a big bo.l and .ashed themsel%es .ithout soap 4olidarity: People used to li%e together in solidarity, until economically moti%ated emigration started to fragment the community At present three ?uarter of the 4arras family li%es in Chile 0raditionally, people in Beit >ala resisted to selling land to /ionists despite attempts by intermediaries 5en and .omen: 5en dared not to spea1 to .omen .hom they did not 1no.3 other.ise, they .ould get a se%ere beating Clothes: A .oman used to co%er all her body till the an1le .ith a =ta1hsira,= and to also co%er her head Clothes for men .ere usually .hite .ith a long Dac1et and .ide pants 0he bride .ore a special headdress A=shat.eh=B, and the man a 0ur1ish =tarbush = E%erybody had only t.o sets of clothes: one for occasions and another for all the remaining days 5en did not ha%e under.ear -espite the po%erty, there .as taste and respect 5arriage: 0he groom2s family .ould as1 the bride2s family for her hand 0he groom2s family .ould pay the =?is.eh,= sharing in the costs of the clothes, mattresses, and furniture in the ne. house 0he .edding .ould be celebrated .ith horseriding and rhythmic dances and songs 8e. couples .ould start .ith only a fe. mattresses and blan1ets in a room, and perhaps some primiti%e tapestry 0ransportation: People used to .al1 on foot or on don1eys After 19#) transportation impro%ed, cars came into %ogue but people also tra%eled on camel to >ordan

C9AP0ER ,: 09R!:C9 PEA4A80 E;E4 Culture has shaped Palestinian Christianity in a distincti%e .ay Perhaps more than else.here, religion in Palestine and the 5iddle East is intert.ined .ith people2s history, li%elihood and en%ironment 0he stories of the Bible are here not Dust illustrations of uni%ersal truths but close to people2s culture 5oreo%er, the fact that Palestinian Christians li%e in the %ery same geographical and cultural area .here the Biblical narrati%e originated ma1es it easier for them to imagine the e%ents of the Bible in a concrete .ay &or that reason .e .ill pay attention to some aspects of the culture of Bethlehem and Palestine and their relation to Biblical e%ents 4acraments in daily life @e can illustrate the closeness of Palestinian religion to the surrounding culture by ha%ing a loo1 at the meaning of the sacraments @esterners may feel that religious rites are beyond the mundane concerns of daily life People in the 5iddle East do not feel so 0he main elements of the sacraments ( .ater for Baptism, bread and .ine for the Eucharist, oil for confirmation and the sic1 ( are not mere symbols here Bread is traditionally held precious, and young children used to be .arned not to thro. a.ay pieces of bread 5any %illagers are a.are of the %alue of bread as they prepare it in the traditional o%en A=tabun=B 0he same goes for .ater, .hich has a special %alue beyond drin1ing, .ashing or cleaning In an area close to the desert, .ater is ob%iously scarce and essential to sur%i%al In the 5iddle East, people are careful in using .ater -rin1ing a small cup can be a symbolic act of highlighting the %alue of .ater, for instance, at the occasion of brea1ing a fast 0he grapes from .hich .ine is made grace the Palestinian country hills Arab fol1lore is full of stories about the %irtues of this fruit Aalthough .ith some reser%ations, under the influence of the 5oslem prohibition of drin1ing alcoholB 0his is e%en more true for the oli%e, .hich is the main crop of the area 0he oli%e tree, in local tradition held to be the most sacred tree, is essential for the economy 9o.e%er, oli%e oil is not only used for consumption In the past it .as also employed for special purposes such as lighting the .ic1s of church candles and ointment Anotice that Christ means =the anointed one=B In practicing the first fruit tradition, .hich is .ell 1no.n from the Bible, Palestinian Christians used to gi%e the first har%ested oli%es, grapes and .heat to the church In doing so, they e"pressed the preciousness of creation 8ature as cultural repertoire Although many of such traditional practices and associated fol1lore are no. on the decline, some of the plants .hich feature in the histories, hymns and parables of the Bible are still celebrated in Palestinian fol1tales and songs 0he lyrical !ld 0estament 4ong of 4ongs is full of e"pressions that resemble Arab fol1 song traditions, and scholars ha%e detected close parallels by studying the Biblical te"t sentence by sentence Palestinian fol1 songs are still sung today, and ha%e been re%i%ed by modern fol1lore troupes 7i1e in the Bible, traditional Palestinian peasant life too1 its .isdom from connecting the human uni%erse .ith the flora and fauna of the land 0he body, relationships, and human %irtues and %ices .ere gi%en meaning through the prism of the surrounding nature Consider the follo.ing pro%erbs: =I .ould rather eat bread .ith po.dered and prepared thyme than sleep in anger3 nor .ould I eat fat meat and follo. it by eating deceit and cheating = !f a house full of children it .as said: =0he house is full li1e the pomegranate = Peasant society .as seen through the characteristics of plants: =0he %ine is a to.n lady, the oli%e an Arab and the fig a peasant .oman = 0he last pro%erb is from the boo1 on Palestinian plant fol1lore =&rom Cedar to 9yssop,= .ritten by the ladies Baldensperger and Cro.foot .ho li%ed in the %illage of Artas in the beginning of the *'th century 0hey e"plain the last pro%erb in the follo.ing .ay: =0he %ine is delicate and re?uires care, the oli%e gro.s out on the mountains and can protect itself, .hile the fig tree, .hich is hardly less important to the fellah LpeasantM than the other t.o, is homely and is planted near the %illage = A traditional peasant society does not loo1 at nature as a mere metaphor or symbol to illustrate an abstract principle Rather, nature is the 1ey repertoire through .hich they understand themsel%es and their society Religion and nature Palestinian religion has al.ays been close to nature 0he ancient nature of Palestine .as dotted by sacred places, high abo%e the ground Athe =high places= in the Bible, often mar1ed by holy treesB, or do.n under the ground, in ca%es -uring the dry season rain processions .ere conducted in order to beg the di%ine for .ater -uring centuries of Christianity, .orried peasants carried in front of them images of Canaanite Cods and later on the image of the Girgin 5ary Peasants prayed before so.ing, li1e the peasants in Artas: =! 7ord feed us, !h 7ord feed others from us, 0hou .ho feedest the birds In the dar1 of the night, 0hou .ho feedest the .orm In the dar1 stone = -ue to the beautiful .eather most of the year3 it .as common to ha%e agricultural festi%als in the open air 0he @estern feast of 0han1sgi%ing can be traced bac1 through the 9ebre. feast of 4uccoth to the than1sgi%ing celebrations that the ancient peasantry of Palestine held in the open air during or immediately after the har%est -uring such feasts, .hich used to ta1e place near a castle A?asrB in the countryside, it .as common to listen to story

telling, to share the meal, and to sing and clap in rhythmic harmony .ith nature Religion .as a modest re?uest for recei%ing the life(gi%ing elements that peasants needed for their sur%i%al After har%est, religion allo.ed for an abundant celebration of the gifts Christmas and peasant culture 0he Christmas narrati%e has many aspects in common .ith this ancient Palestinian peasant life 0he %ery name of Bethlehem, the place .here >esus .as born, means in 9ebre. =9ouse of Bread,= or in Arabic =9ouse of 5eat= and represents a house or community of abundance and hospitality &ertility, the coming of ne. life, is e?ually important in some other elements that carry symbolic force in Christian theology Consider the symbolic meanings of the elements of light, .ater, ca%es and music 7ight 0he element of light is important in 7u1e2s and 5atthe.2s description of the birth of >esus 0he star of Bethlehem pointed the .ay to the 9oly &amily, .hile the shepherds .itnessed the glory of the angels after the s1y bro1e open E%en the date of Christmas is associated .ith an ancient appreciation of light symbolism In the Roman calendar, Christmas day .as set at .hat .as thought to be the @inter solstice .hen the nights become shorter again -uring that day the sun god used to be %enerated :nder the influence of the Cree1s and Romans, light emerged as a central symbol in the Bible >esus 9imself said that 9e .as the =7ight of the @orld = In the peasants2 o.n popular =liturgy= the lighting of fire used to play a dramatic role &or instance, during the &east of 0ransfiguration, .hen >esus2 glory shone in front of 9is disciples, Christians used to 1indle fires on the mountains of 7ebanon, .hile Palestinian peasants had them on the roofs of their houses Go. ma1ing at tombs or sites of saints is traditionally accompanied by the burning of candles, a practice common in the churches of Bethlehem It is still use to light a candle in a ne.ly built house At Christmas, Christians from Beit 4ahour carry torches of fire .hile .al1ing in procession near the 4hepherds2 &ield -uring Easter, it is customary that the Cree1(!rthodo" clergy bring the 9oly &ire, representing the resurrection of Christ, out of the Church of the 9oly 4epulcher, and transmit it from belie%er to belie%er so that it finally reaches all homes 0here are other e"amples Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem, among them many boys and girls, celebrate the birth of 5ary on August *9 by ma1ing a night .al1 from Bethlehem to >erusalem during .hich many of them carry torches 0he .al1 through the military chec1point bet.een Bethlehem and >erusalem ends at the Church of the 0omb of 5ary .here the participants climb do.n through a sea of candles spread out o%er the hundred(or(so steps that lead to the tomb2s ca%e 0he procession is a festi%e e%ent that ta1es some fi%e hours to complete It is shared by many young participants ( not in the least to escape the military closure for one day and to meet freely .ith the other se"Q A .onderful e"ample of light symbolism is the Palestinian peasant tradition .hich says that at Epiphany the oli%e tree, traditionally called =the tree of light,= bo.s in %eneration and humility so as to a%oid seeing the di%ine light that then comes out of hea%en @ater As mentioned pre%iously, another important sacred element is .ater Ci%en the significance of .ater to Palestinian life it is no surprise that all the maDor .ells in the Bethlehem area carry some popular religious narrati%e related to the Christmas e%ents 7i1e light, .ater is life gi%ing and symbolic of life in general !n the .ay from >erusalem to Bethlehem, near the hill of Abu Chneim Aor 9ar 9omaB is a .ell .here the 9oly &amily .as said to ha%e ta1en a rest At that place some ByEantine churches ha%e been built and later destroyed3 some of the remainders can still be seen Bethlehem2s neighboring %illages, Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour, ha%e .ells .here 5ary is remembered for as1ing for a drin1 and performing .ater(gi%ing miracles .hen the local people refused to gi%e her hospitality &urthermore, there .as said to be a .ell at the place of >esus2 birth .here the @ise 5en detected the guiding star in the .ater2s reflection !n their .ay bac1, in a%oidance of <ing 9erod, the @ise 5en rested at still another .ell near the edge of the desert, a site in commemoration of .hich the 5onastery of 0heodosios near 2:beidiyyeh .as established 4e%eral of the stories about .ells re%ol%e around the ?uestion of .hether the people li%ing close by or guarding the .ell .ere .illing to pro%ide .ater or not 0he gift of =li%ing .ater= ( that is, .ater that comes out of a .ell, not the .ater from a cistern in .hich the .ater is considered =dead= ( such precious .ater is a gift, .hich can sa%e li%es 0he ?uestion of gi%ing .ater, yes or no, is presently used as an educational dilemma at Bethlehem schools At the &reres 4chool some hundreds of children, gathered in the auditorium, .ere recently as1ed .hat they .ould do .hen they .ere in the desert and .ould meet thirsty settlers ( the %ery people students associate .ith the occupation of Palestinian lands @ould they gi%e .aterF 0his is a ?uestion that re%erberates bac1 to many of the sayings and parables of the Bible 7i1e light, .ater is sometimes physically brought out of the church into the religious community -uring Epiphany, .hen >esus2 baptism in the ri%er >ordan is celebrated, the priests pass by the Bethlehem houses to sprin1le the homes, their residents and the Christmas trees .ith blessed .ater Ca%es A some.hat special, mysterious element that is connected .ith the Christmas narrati%e is the ca%e 7i1e the .ater(gi%ing .ell, the ca%e or grotto is a site for refuge, rest and nourishment >esus .as born in it3 not according to the Cospels, but according to early traditions told by the church fathers Emperor Constantine ordered his mother Jueen 9elena to establish churches on the main holy sites of >esus2 birth, resurrection and ascension It is li1ely that she .as directed by the church father Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea at the time, .ho, although in general a rather cerebral theologian, had a special re%erence for the three =mystical ca%es= associated .ith these sites Parado"ically, e%en the place of ascension .as seen to be a ca%eQ 0he interest in ca%es .as not accidental 0he ca%e has uni%ersally been considered a site pregnant .ith religious meaning In ancient religion it .as the place that ga%e access to the under.orld and the depths of the earth .ith its mysteries far remo%ed from the human eye People buried their dead in ca%es 0he ca%e also symboliEed the enclosure and protection of the female .omb, and became therefore associated .ith fertility In Christian symbolism, the ca%e did not gi%e access to an under.orld but rather the re%erse3 it encapsulated the birth of 7ight coming out of the dar1ness 0his theological meaning has some precedents in Palestine2s ancient religions Both in the Bethlehem area and in the Carmel, in northern Israel, there used to be ca%es .here the Cree1 and Canaanite god Adonis .as %enerated Adonis Aor in the regional dialect 0ammuEB .as the Cod of beauty and fertility Each year he died by being o%ercourageous in his dealings .ith the forces of nature, but .ould come once again bac1 to life .hen the ne. agricultural season began Peasants seasonally %enerated the resurrection of Adonis out of the ca%e !ther saints later on %enerated in Palestinian

popular culture, 4t Ceorge and 4t Elias AEliDahB, represent, li1e the Christmas e%ergreen tree, eternal life3 according to fol1lore traditions they ne%er die 4t Elias especially is %enerated at ca%e sites !f course, >esus2 resurrection did not symboliEe the cyclical forces of nature but .as a uni?ue historical e%ent for the purpose of the redemption of human1ind 4till, the ca%e has remained a potent symbol and certainly so in the Bethlehem area, .here ca%es abound In addition to the Ca%e of the 8ati%ity, one may find there the 5il1 Crotto, .here a Crusader tradition says that the Girgin rested and nourished her child A drop of the mil1 fell upon the bottom of the ca%e, coloring it .hite &or hundreds of years a piece of the grotto chal1 is considered to be a source of fertility for pregnant .omen 0he &ranciscans .ho ta1e care of the Crotto can tell many stories of .omen .hose %isit to the Crotto made them concei%e a baby 8e"t to the Ca%e of the 8ati%ity there are ca%es commemorating the 5assacre of the Innocents and the moment .hen >oseph .as .arned by an angel to flee to Egypt 0he 4hepherds2 &ield hosts a ca%e .here the burial site of the shepherds .ho .itnessed >esus2 birth is traditionally located 0he ca%e tradition e%en became part of institutional religious life -uring ByEantine times, the mon1s .ho too1 refuge from the .orld of the city searched for ca%es in the desert to remind themsel%es of the simplicity of >esus2 birth and life 5any monasteries, including 5ar 4aba and 0heodosios, ha%e been built upon tomb ca%es or sacred grottos 5usic 0he elements of .ater, light and ca%es can be seen as standing in a direct, enabling relation to creation, the coming or gi%ing of ne. life Another Christmas symbol, hea%enly music, is considered some.hat different It is said that music is li1e life itself, and that e%ery art aspires to the condition of music Perhaps more than anything else ( e"cept silence ( musical rhythms can help to disco%er Cod2s mysteries Again, contrary to the modern .ays of e"periencing music some.hat out of conte"t, music in peasant life .as %ery much integrated in daily life &ol1 music reflected nature2s rhythms and melodies Peasants used to sing fol1songs .hen building a house or collecting the har%est 4inging .as a celebration of .or1 doing or being done, and it .as shared at other occasions of happiness such as a .edding or at the hearing of a Doyful tiding Bethlehemite .omen still chant formulaic sentences .ith trills, for instance: A(yee ( 0han1 Cod, my heart .as patient and did not fail A(yee ( 0he rope of estrangement has loosened after its tautness A yee ( By the 7ife of 9im to .hom the night stars are e"plained A(yee ( 5y heart has been an"iously .aiting for this day @hen a son .ould return home after a long departure, %illage .omen used to come in procession carrying torches and singing trills gladly in front of the house 0his sense of celebration in the open air is also present in the Bible .hen the angels raised the =Cloria in E"celsis -eo= out of hea%en to announce the good tiding of >esus2 birth, or .hen 5ary sang the =5agnificat= upon hearing EliEabeth2s supporti%e .ords Bethlehem as symbol of simplicity and humility 0he connection .ith peasant life is also rele%ant for touching .hat is perhaps the essential meaning of the birth of >esus in Bethlehem If anything, Bethlehem is a symbol of simplicity and humility >esus2 birth happened, according to the prophecy of 5icah, in the smallest of settlements 0he ca%e .as symbol of a home located at the edge of the community, close to the desert .ilderness >esus .as born from a man of humble profession 9e .as %isited not only by the @ise 5en, but also by those considered the humblest in society, the shepherds 5oreo%er, 9is birth .as attended by animals and he slept in their manger 9e .as persecuted by the po.erful, represented by <ing 9erod As if to emphasiEe 9is smallness and %ulnerability, 7u1e describes baby >esus as being s.addled in clothes3 an ancient 4emitic tradition, .hich until not long ago .as still practiced in the Bethlehem %illages 0he theological message seems clear >esus2 birth .as not being imposed by Cod or demanded as a right by the people on earth It .as a precious, generous and %ulnerable gift of ne. life, an act of lo%e If .e .ould loo1 =through peasant eyes= Athe title of a boo1 of <enneth Bailey in .hich he argues to consider 7u1e2s parables through the eyes of the Arab peasant cultureB, Cod2s becoming flesh resembled the precious appearance of life at its %ery smallest A careful peasant .ould choose seeds of good stoc1, and patiently bring in the nourishing elements of light and .ater 9e .ould remain in harmony .ith nature &e. things appear so much to be a gift of life as a plant, animal or human being at the moment of inception @hen a baby is born, Bethlehemites e"tend their best .ishes by saying that the ne.born is a treasure and a blessing for all Among the local Eastern churches it is common to offer a .oman the blessing of roses after deli%ery, and to sing in the church a song of praise to the Girgin 5ary 0here is a beautiful old tradition associated .ith the =Rose of >ericho,= also called the =Resurrection plant= or =Girgin 5ary2s hand = 0he plant, .hich opens up in a particularly generous and graceful .ay, has been used in the Bethlehem region and else.here as a charm before and during deli%ery It .as soa1ed in .ater and held to.ards the .oman in the hope that as the plant opens the deli%ery .ould come about 0he .omen .itnessing the deli%ery .ould belie%e that at that %ery moment hea%en .as opened, .ith the angels ascending and descending, saying: =@hom shall .e bring, the mother or the childF= 0he charm .ould protect them both 0he celebration of ne. life can be brought to a theological plane as .ell 0ogether .ith the ecumenical platform Al(7i?a2, the Bethlehem re%erend 5itri Raheb has argued for a conte"tual theology, a theology that ta1es into account the situation and culture in .hich the @ord became flesh 9e too stresses the need for incorporating the ancient Palestinian culture in understanding the holy te"ts !nce he pleaded ho. important it is to de%elop, out of the Palestinian conte"t, a theology of creation in .hich it is commemorated that human beings are created in the image of Cod, and therefore e?ual to each other and holy 4uch a theology .ould ha%e a crucial message for any understanding of peace3 peace can only be reached by sustaining the creation of life !nce again, .e may thin1 about pre(Biblical forerunners for such a theological notion 0he =planting of peace,= an agricultural custom of creation dating bac1 to pre(Biblical times, and alluded to in the Bible, has particular rele%ance to the Palestinian situation today !ne school in the area, the 7utheran school in Beit 4ahour, has =planted peace= by planting an oli%e tree in the schoolyard as a concrete e"pression of solidarity bet.een their school and a school abroad Both in peasant life and in the Bible, the preciousness of .hat is small and patiently ta1en care of is cherished and celebrated It is %ery typical to read in Palestinian fol1lore about people .ho ta1e care of not to .aste the smallest bread crumbs, and any of the seeds of a fruit li1e the pomegranate Ait is said that there is al.ays one seed in the pomegranate .hich comes from paradiseB 0he parable about the mustard seed and the <ingdom of Cod %ery much appeals to a peasant2s ears

4tories 0here are many sayings and stories in Palestinian fol1lore that testify to the preciousness of the small 4tories tend to illuminate the difference bet.een the =small,= precious gesture and the =big,= empty one 0he shei1h .ho gi%es Dust one of his old, gray and %aluable hairs as credit for a loan is more reliable than the shei1h .ho gi%es a.ay his .hole beard 4imilarly, the old peasant .ho promises the 1ing to culti%ate a fig tree o%er many years so as to be able to gi%e the 1ing a fe. precious figs is gracefully than1ed and re.arded .hen the occasion arri%es !n the other hand, the one .ho, upon hearing this old man2s fortunes, ?uic1ly handed o%er bas1ets of figs to the 1ing in the e"pectation of being re.arded e%en more is being pelted by his o.n fruits 0he di%ersity of Bethlehem2s church communities has an underlying distincti%e ?uality .hich is associated .ith the culture of the land3 in other .ords, .ith a peasant2s culture In the coming chapter .e mo%e a.ay from the land to describe the features of the church communities themsel%es

C9AP0ER +: C9:RC9E4 I8 09E BE097E9E5 AREA 9o. to distinguish the different church communities in the 9oly 7andF Ci%en its history, there is no escaping from the fact that much of the differences ha%e to deal .ith politics, either of an ecclesiastical or a secular nature @hen one .ould as1 a Palestinian Christian to tell .hy he or she belongs to a particular church, it is ?uite li1ely that he or she .ould not del%e into the dogmatic differences bet.een the church communities In fact, there is a .idely shared feeling that e%en Christians and 5oslems, by the %ery fact of belie%ing in one Cod, ha%e more in common than their cultural or religious differences .ould suggest 9o.e%er, after %arious Churches seceded from ConstantinopleIByEantium because of a dogmatic matter or an issue of Church hierarchy or administration, they de%eloped their o.n distinct cultural and liturgical characteristics 4chisms After the earliest beginnings of church history, se%eral national churches came to coe"ist or .or1 loosely together under the umbrella of the church of ByEantium &rom the beginning of the fourth century on, this church organiEed ecumenical councils, .hich decided on serious disputes of a dogmatic nature A maDor church di%ision dates from the Council of Chalcedon A,+1B, .hich proclaimed the dual but indi%isible nature of >esus Christ as human being and Cod 0he Council2s decision .as at the time an e"tremely contested one, and many of the mon1s and belie%ers in Bethlehem and >erusalem .ere deeply in%ol%ed in the debate 5on1s .ho .ere pro( and anti(Chalcedon proclaimed their o.n local bishops or leaders, and roamed the countryside in order to find sympathiEers and bolster their forces 0hose national churches .ho felt that >esus had only one nature Athe so(called =monophysite= churchesB decided to split off from the ByEantine mother church 0hey included the Armenian, 4yriac, Coptic and Ethiopian churches 0ogether they .ere called the =!riental churches= as opposed to the =Eastern= or =!rthodo"= churches, .hich accepted Chalcedon 7ater on, church leaders on both sides of the di%iding line .ould feel that the schism .as in part a linguistically(based misunderstanding, and in part a political challenge of the authority of Constantinople by some of the regional churches It is still common to hear representati%es of the !riental churches saying that Christianity in the East .ould ha%e ta1en a different and more influential course if it .ould ha%e maintained its cultural roots and .ould not ha%e subordinated itself to the =foreign capitals= of either Rome or Constantinople Councils 0he ByEantine churches, also named Cree1 or in Arab =Rumi= A.hich means =of Rome= (( ByEantium being called the =second Rome=B, gained in coherence by endorsing all the edicts of the first se%en councils, the last one being held in 8icea at the end of the eighth century All the councils dealt in one .ay or another .ith the nature of >esus Christ, the central mystery of Christianity -uring the councils the archbishop of Rome stayed in communion .ith ByEantium, although there .as .hat seemed to be a minor dogmatic difference bet.een Rome and Constantinople about the meaning of the 0rinity 4cholars consider it unli1ely that it .as any dogmatic difference .hich caused the final schism bet.een @est and East, represented by Rome and ByEantium 0he dogmatic difference .as rather 1ept ali%e by the political differences Rome increasingly ac?uired centraliEed authority at a time .hen the @estern(European po.ers fought in%asions from the East and needed central leadership At the end of the first millennium Rome2s papal authority became a challenge to the church of ByEantium 0he final schism too1 place in 1'+, At the time of the 4econd Gatican Council in the 19#'s, the Roman pope and the Patriarch of ByEantium .ould concede that, had the leaders of Rome and ByEantium 1no.n at the time that their mutual e"communication .ould result in a schism of a thousand years, they .ould li1ely ha%e refrained from ta1ing such a decision @hate%er that may be, .hen the Crusaders sac1ed Constantinople some decades after the schism, the gap .as further deepened by a resentment that still continues to burden the relations bet.een the church hierarchies :nionate churches A third schism concerns the mo%ing of some of the Eastern and !riental churches a.ay from their mother church to.ards the Roman or 7atin church 0his happened in a period, from the 1#th century on.ards, .hen there .as no 7atin Patriarch in the 9oly 7and or the 5iddle East 0he Catholic orders represented the church hierarchy, as the &ranciscan Custodios did in the 9oly 7and 0he orders undertoo1 missionary attempts and, gi%en the political comple"ities .e described earlier, se%eral of the churches from the East decided to ally themsel%es .ith Rome as =:nionate= churches .hile preser%ing their traditional Eastern liturgies and rites In this .ay a Cree1(Catholic Aalso called =5el1ite=B church split off from the Cree1(!rthodo" church, an Armenian(Catholic church from the Armenian(!rthodo" church, a 4yrian(Catholic church from the 4yrian(!rthodo" church, and a Coptic(Catholic church from the Coptic(!rthodo" church 0hese are the di%isions as defined by their moments of origin !ther differences are more of a cultural(national or liturgical nature, li1e the order of the mass, the language used, and the interior church design 9ere .e .ill pay e"tra attention to the !rthodo" and :nionate churches, since their liturgies are li1ely to be less familiar to the @estern Christian %isitor Cree1(!rthodo" and Cree1(Catholic 0he !rthodo" church is the largest in the Bethlehem area and is especially present in Beit 4ahour and Beit >ala 0he liturgical en%ironment of the Cree1(!rthodo" church shares some distinct ?ualities .ith the Cree1(Catholic or 5el1ite church 0hey are in line .ith an understanding of the church as a material place .here human1ind and hea%en meet 0he church helps to bring the belie%ers from the normal time of daily life into the time of Cod A<airosB 5any of the local, especially Eastern churches emphasiEe that Cod came to earth in order to allo. human beings and the natural .orld to gain a di%ine aspect, to become li1e the image of Cod @hile it is not possible to comprehend Cod in a direct .ay, as Cod2s essence is an un1no.able mystery, it is possible to e"perience Cod2s radiation or energies ( the 9oly 4pirit ( in an indirect .ay, through the di%ine reflection in human life According to this theology Cod is not e"clusi%ely spiritual or on a distant plane 0hus, Cod can be e"perienced in places that are touched by the sacred E"amples are the church areas or those places .hich .itnessed a history of sacred life In these places, especially the churches, the first thing

a %isitor detects upon entering are the many icons on the .alls 0he images of >esus2 life and of the saints that are ubi?uitously found in !rthodo" or !riental Palestinian churches as .ell as in homes, are also belie%ed to be sacred 0hese icons .ere once, in the eighth century, contro%ersial to the point that they ga%e rise to an iconoclastic mo%ement .ithin Christianity It .as thought, in part under the influence of the emerging Islamic creed, .hich prohibited the use of religious images, that icons attempted to imitate Cod 9imself, and that they therefore ga%e rise to idolatry At the second Council of 8icea the use of icons .as, ho.e%er, reinstituted A maDor defender of icons at the time .as the mon1 >ohn of -amascus .ho li%ed most of his life in the 5ar 4aba monastery 9e argued that icons .ere an important %isual means to instruct belie%ers about theological concepts 5ore so, icons, .hich do not imitate the mundane reality but rather create, through a particular code of painting, their o.n reality, are able to gi%e access to the di%ine It is a .orth.hile effort to closely study the icons in an !rthodo" church As described in some detail in the boo1 =7i%ing 4tones Pilgrimage= published by the 5iddle East Council of Churches, the icons refer to each other in a theologically meaningful .ay 0hus, an icon of the birth of >esus may refer to another icon depicting the Resurrection of >esus Both scenes ma1e =connections from manger to coffin, from s.addling clothes to shroud, from ca%e to tomb and from birth to death and the ne. birth of Resurrection = 0he iconostasis, usually a .ooden panel graced by icons on its front, is at the center of the church and separates the na%e from the place of consecration @hile its =Royal -oor= remains closed during most of the time of a ser%ice, it is opened by the priest .hen he spea1s the Cospel to the community and .hen he brings the .ine and bread for distribution In other .ords, it is opened .hen the di%ine reaches the community either by te"t or by sacrament 7i1e the church itself, the iconostasis mediates access to the di%ine Prayers and songs Prayers ha%e a similar purpose As characteristic for the !rthodo" Church in general, the material and the physical are not seen as an obstruction for coming close to Cod Rather, any access to the di%ine occurs precisely through the physical and the material In deifying the .orld through 9is Incarnation in >esus, Cod also deified the en%ironment, including the relics, icons and bodies present in the church Praying is therefore not a .ay to separate oneself from the body It is a psychosomatic acti%ity in .hich the body and the soul come into full harmony 0he hauntingly beautiful songs that are sung in the !rthodo" churches ( all their masses ha%e long moments of singing ( are performed .ithin a restricted range of tones and in a cadence and rhythm that in%ites deep meditation Again, >ohn of -amascus, in de%eloping the liturgy of the earlier church father >ohn of Chrysostom, contributed greatly to the ByEantine hymns and poetry Incense, spread out by a carrier that usually follo.s the rhythm of the music, completes an !rthodo" liturgy that is said to appeal to all the human senses At other rites, too, the !rthodo" honor the sacredness of the body and the senses In 1eeping .ith an ancient practice, Baptism is administered by a three(time full immersion of the baby or child into the .ater Informality 0he !rthodo" ser%ice is some.hat fle"ible and informal of character It is not uncommon to see belie%ers coming and going Aa custom to a lesser e"tent shared by other local churches, including the 7atin onesB 0his is facilitated by the absence of pe.s It is not obligatory to stay for the comparati%ely long duration of the mass, sometimes more than t.o hours @hen entering or lea%ing the church, the indi%idual belie%ers customarily touch and 1iss the relics or icons that are present, or burn a candle in front of them Also, ma1ing a cross Afrom left to right, not the re%erse as in the 7atin riteB is performed more often than during the 7atin liturgy and can also be done at moments of indi%idual choice In most of the !rthodo" ser%ices the language is Arabic, .ith perhaps some Cree1 :ntil the end of the 19th century Cree1 .as the only liturgical language 0he Cree1(!rthodo" community counts some *,+'' belie%ers in the Bethlehem area3 the Cree1(Catholic, .ith the Arab bishop 7utfi 7aham, some *'' Armenian liturgy 7anguage is the maDor element that distinguishes the Cree1(!rthodo" and Cree1(Catholic from the Armenian and 4yrian liturgies 0he Armenian church .as the first national Christian church A6'1 A-B, .hich e"isted e%en before Constantine proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire It traces its ecclesiastical history bac1 to the first Apostles, to >ames, brother of /abadee, .ho .as the first bishop of >erusalem 4ince then the Armenian church continued to ha%e a presence in the 9oly 7and 5any of the ByEantine mon1s li%ing to the east of Bethlehem and >erusalem .ere Armenian, such as Euthymius .ho initiated se%eral other desert fathers li1e 4aba 0he Church of the 8ati%ity prides an Armenian altar for 5ary, and another one commemorating the @ise 5en dismounting from their horses, as .ell as a large con%ent, .hich one can see on the right before entering the lo. door to the Church 0he Armenians ha%e suffered a history full of persecutions, and it is therefore no surprise that their national religion, and the Armenian language still used in their ser%ices, has helped to forge a strong bond bet.een the communities that are dispersed all o%er the .orld 0hroughout the ByEantine and Islamic periods the Armenians maintained a siEeable presence at the holy places, a presence confirmed by the inclusion of the Armenian church, alongside the Cree1(!rthodo" and the &ranciscan Custodios, as guardians of the holy places 0he Armenian(!rthodo" arri%ed in Bethlehem during and after the massacres in Anatolia and other regions that .ere conducted by the ;oung 0ur1s at the time of the &irst @orld @ar At present the Armenian community in Bethlehem is small and comprises Dust a fe. doEen families 9o.e%er, it is remar1able to .hat e"tent the Armenian community in >erusalem and Bethlehem has raised generations of superb artists and craftsmen 0he music and images in an Armenian Church li1e 4t >ames2 in >erusalem are, according to many, %irtually unparalleled among the Eastern churches Characteristic for the Armenian liturgy is also the great number of lamps, manufactured by Armenian goldsmiths @hile not much different from the atmosphere of !rthodo" ser%ices, the Armenian liturgy prescribes an altar that is not enclosed by an iconostasis but closed by a curtain at solemn moments of the ser%ice Remar1able are the triangular hoods .orn by the clergy, symboliEing the dome of the typical Armenian church 0he custom suggests the priests to be li1e .al1ing churches 4yrian(!rthodo" community

Another anti(Chalcedonian church, the 4yrian(!rthodo" church, is also present in Bethlehem 7i1e the Armenians, they trace their origins bac1 to the >erusalem and Antioch churches .here the first bishops >ames and Peter .ere instituted 5oreo%er, their language 4yriac is considered close to the Aramaic that .as the lingua franca at >esus2 time 0heir liturgy is therefore considered to be one of the most authentic in the .orld 0he language is still spo1en in a fe. 4yrian(!rthodo" %illages in northern Ira? and eastern 0ur1ey but has been gradually replaced by Arabic in other communities 9o.e%er, the mass is still, at least in part, conducted in 4yriac 0he 4yriac church al.ays retained some rights in the holy places that .ere 1ept subordinate to the Armenian Church 0he Bethlehem 4yriac community counts a thousand belie%ers and is larger than the community in >erusalem Both of them arri%ed, li1e the Armenians, in the middle 19th century, and s.elled their ran1s during the &irst @orld @ar because of persecutions in the 0ur1ish regions 0he Bethlehem 4yriac community prides their o.n social club 0he scouts are reno.ned for their musical performances and discipline during Christmas day 0he 4yriac hosh AcourtyardB some hundreds of meters from the Church of the 8ati%ity is a remar1able comple" of t.isting and turning alley.ays, staircases and bridges3 it still a.aits reno%ation A :nionate 4yriac(Catholic community in Bethlehem, sharing the same liturgy and rites as .ell as club and school, counts a fe. doEen families 4maller churches 0he Ethiopian and Coptic Churches ha%e both small chapels alongside the 5il1 Crotto 4treet but do not ha%e a nati%e community in Bethlehem 0he Ethiopian church shares many rituals .ith the >e.ish religion and dates its connection .ith the 9oly 7and bac1 to the coming of the Jueen of 4heba from Ethiopia to 4olomon2s <ingdom 0he Coptic church, .ith millions of belie%ers in Egypt, is particularly proud of the hospitality e"tended to the 9oly &amily .hen it too1 refuge in Egypt at the time of the persecution of 9erod All the Eastern churches, but especially the Coptic church, ha%e elaborate fasting prescriptions, .hich go bac1 to the monastic influence of the desert fathers Apart from the Eastern churches, Bethlehem hosts communities of belie%ers .ho follo. @estern liturgies 0he 7utherans date their arri%al from the mid(19th century .hen the Anglican and 7utheran churches decided to ha%e a combined presence in >erusalem 0he 7utherans are particularly acti%e in social .or1, among them schools in Bethlehem, Beit >ala and Beit 4ahour, and in interfaith dialogue efforts Both 7utherans and Anglicans ha%e Palestinian bishops based in >erusalem 0he Baptists, .ho arri%ed in the first decennia of the *'th century, are, from all churches, perhaps the most remote from the intricate liturgies and rites that characteriEe the ancient churches 0heir ser%ice is rich in songs designed for both the daily liturgy and the feasts In choosing to be close to the Biblical te"ts, they incorporate traditions to a considerably lesser e"tent 0here are no specific restrictions as to fasting 0he Church %enerates saints but do not celebrate their days 0he church allo.s the belie%ers to maintain traditional practices such as those related to the life cycle Abirth, .edding, and burialB 0he Roman Catholics 0he largest community of belie%ers in Bethlehem are the Roman Catholics Aabout 6(,,'''B 0he liturgy of the =7atin,= although in Arabic, is ?uite similar to the @estern model and does not therefore need comment here 0he church, .hose patriarchate in >erusalem .as originally established during the Crusades and only reinstituted in the mid(19th century, is presently headed by Patriarch 5ichael 4abbah 0he patriarch is a nati%e of 8aEareth .ho graduated from the Catholic 4eminary in Beit >ala and studied at uni%ersities in Beirut and Paris 9e .as installed as the first Palestinian Catholic Patriarch in >anuary 19$$ In Bethlehem, the Catholic churches and orders ta1e care of many charitable proDects in the locality, some of .hich .e .ill mention later on 5ost special for the community are the Christmas proceedings on the *+th of -ecember Christmas celebrations Christmas is of course the defining e%ent in Bethlehem -ue to different calendars used Athe >ulian calendar and t.o %ersions of the Cregorian calendarB, Christmas is celebrated on -ecember *+ by the Catholics and Protestants, on >anuary ) by the Cree1 !rthodo", and on >anuary 1$ by the Armenians In all three instances, the patriarch from >erusalem arri%es in the company of clergy and police Ano. PalestinianB at 5anger 4?uare .here they are greeted by religious functionaries and dignitaries .ho Doin the procession into the church 4ince 199+, the Palestinian Authority is at all Christmas celebrations represented by president Arafat Catholics pray the nine(day =no%ena= before the starting of the traditional entrance of the 7atin Patriarch of >erusalem into the Church of the 8ati%ity 0his entrance in%ol%es an intricate protocol, full of traditions and special arrangements .hich go bac1 hundreds of years, and .hich ha%e been detailed in the religious status ?uo decreed by the !ttomans in 1$+* All the go%ernments in%ol%ed stic1 to the tradition and try to preser%e it -ignitaries and representati%es of all religions and social mo%ements meet and .elcome the Patriarch near Rachel2s 0omb, .hich is controlled by the Israeli military &rom thereon the Palestinian police ta1e o%er and horsemen on the bac1 of their horses accompany the Patriarch2s car 0he ceremonial entrance goes through the old 4tar 4treet of Bethlehem, then to 5anger 4?uare 0here the priests, consular representati%es of the go%ernment, and other dignitaries .elcome the Patriarch 0he s?uare is cro.ded by thousands of local Christians and tourists from all o%er the .orld .ho .ant to attend this special occasion 0he procession enters the church amidst songs, carols and prayers 0he clima" of this proceeding is the midnight mass, transmitted %ia satellite all o%er the .orld, and attended by the diplomatic representati%es residing in >erusalem 0he Patriarch deli%ers a speech and gi%es the message of Christmas, =Clory to Cod in hea%ens and Doy to those .ho ha%e peace = 0he end of the religious festi%al comes the ne"t day, the *+th of -ecember, .hen masses and ser%ices continue throughout the day, especially in the grottos or ca%es of the church In the afternoon people go to the 4hepherds2 &ield in nearby Beit 4ahour to celebrate ser%ices 0he church of the Cree1(Catholic community in Bethlehem, 4t 5ary2s, celebrates the feast of the Girgin 5ary on the *#th of -ecember in the presence of other church leaders and dignitaries, compensating, in a .ay, for the Cree1(Catholics2 lac1 of rights at the Church of the 8ati%ity Christmas and the local community 0he feast of Christmas has established strong bonds among the local community 4couts from many religions .ho come from all o%er the @est Ban1 are present .ho play instruments li1e the bagpipe to heighten the festi%e atmosphere3 recently the music corps of the Palestinian police has Doined

them 0he churches cooperate in sharing the scouts and the bands during each other2s feasts 0here is an atmosphere that is distinctly Palestinian and .hich is not obstructed any longer by the pre%ious Israeli military presence opposite the Church People feel Christmas has become more and more =their= feast E%en 5oslems come together in great numbers to attend the festi%ities -ancing and singing accompany the Patriarch2s entrance In the middle of 5anger 4?uare a big e%ergreen tree, symbolic of eternal life, is decorated by colored electric lights instead of candles as in the past 0here is a municipal council tradition of gi%ing a dinner party in the honor of those .ho celebrate Christmas 0he mayor gi%es a speech and .ishes all a 5erry Christmas and a 9appy 8e. ;ear 0he singing of carols is still a tradition, and groups of children go from house to house People present each other gifts in remembrance of the @ise 5en .ho presented gifts .hen >esus .as born 0he ne"t day, people e"change greetings and .ishes .ith one another A most important tradition is the decoration of the e%ergreen tree in each house 0he gifts to the children surround the tree, and cribs and mangers stand nearby 0here is also a tradition of gi%ing gifts to charitable societies, such as s.eets to orphanages and gifts for poor and needy people Church mo%ements and .omen2s groups go from one house to another to collect such gifts 4pecial Christmas dishes contain stuffed Eucchini AcourgettesB and stuffed grape lea%es, a meal .hich is ?uite laborious to ma1e but of e"?uisite taste 4pecial s.eets and ca1es are prepared and offered to %isiting family members !ften Christmas is a difficult occasion for lonely or berea%ed people It is customary among Palestinian Christians to %isit people .hose lo%ed ones are deceased in order to console them and share their sorro.s At such occasions bitter coffee is ser%ed, as a sign of sadness !ther feasts Besides Christmas, other feasts too are mar1ed by special celebrations All churches ha%e elaborate celebrations or pilgrimages during Epiphany Acommemorating both the coming of the @ise 5en and the Baptism of >esusB, 4t 5ary2s -ay, 4t Barbara2s A.hen colorful bonbons are ser%edB, and the saint days of 5ar A4aintB Elias and 5ar >iryis A4t Ceorge or Al(<haderB !n Palm 4unday, the scouts and bagpipe players of different churches Doin together in marches through Beit 4ahour and Bethlehem Easter has t.o celebrations, one for the 7atin and Protestants and another for the !rthodo" and Armenians 0hey are celebrated .ith customs and festi%ities .hich are .ell(1no.n e%ery.here, li1e the coloring and hiding of eggs ( the chic1en come out of the egg is li1e Christ2s resurrection from the gra%e !ne church father told us that it sometimes happened that boys sitting or standing at the far end of the church thre. eggs at the girls in front of them, to the latter2s great consternationQ 5ore specific for the area are the special drin1s and coo1ies that are ser%ed to the members of the family .ho congratulate each other People prepare copious meals such as stuffed lamb Aalthough no.adays, due to the difficult economic situation, it is common to ser%e small piecesB 7i1e the 5oslems, Christians prepare =1ae1= and =ma2mul = According to tradition, the shape of these ca1es refers to the sponge .ith acid gi%en to >esus .hile carrying the cross Another s.eet has the shape of the cro.n made up of thorns that >esus .ore A red li?uor is offered during the %isits to e%o1e the blood of Christ &asting &easts and fasting are connected, being t.o sides of the same coin 4ome of the desert mon1s in the Bethlehem and >erusalem hills used to fast from >anuary on up to Easter time, roaming the desert and eating .ild plants and animals till the time of Palm 4unday .hen they .ould .al1 to Bethany to the east of >erusalem and from there, in procession, to the 9oly 4epulcher 8o.adays, the Christian fast occurs during the forty days before Easter to obser%e >esus2 fast in the desert and his sacrifice for man1ind 0here are some differences bet.een Catholic and !rthodo" belie%ers @hereas the !rthodo" 1eep the traditional rules, the Catholics tend to adapt themsel%es to the re?uirements of daily life -uring the forty days of fasting, the !rthodo" abstain from eating meat and dairy products e%ery @ednesday and &riday 0here used to be a practice of fasting three full days before recei%ing the Eucharist but this is no. only done by the elderly and the %ery de%oted 0he Catholics refrain from eating meat during the forty(day fasting period but they do eat dairy products Catholic customs are also more personal A person ma1es his or her o.n decision ho. to fast 4omeone .ho is used to eating ca1e after dinner might decide to abstain from doing so for the duration of the fast In this .ay, fasting becomes a personal deed of the indi%idual belie%er -uring fasting belie%ers prepare %egetarian meals li1e stuffed eggplant .ith tabuleh 0he Christian communities in Bethlehem and Palestine, the li%ing stones, ta1e pride in e"tremely rich histories, liturgies and customs that go far beyond the mere =stones= of their churches

C9AP0ER #: C9RI40IA8 @A;4 !& 7I&E

0he to.n of Bethlehem has al.ays been a source of inspiration for Christian belie%ers, and o%er time it has attracted many to come and %isit In the first centuries after Christ .as born it .as primarily %isitors from abroad .ho too1 residence in Bethlehem 7ater on the %illage .ould also become a focal point for a gro.ing Christian Arab population ser%ed by foreign churches and orders @hat did it mean for Christians to %isit Bethlehem, or to stay and li%e thereF In this chapter .e .ill loo1 at three eras .hich, although differing considerably in duration, represent %arious .ays of Christian .itnessing &irst, the monastic mo%ement .hich occurred during the ByEantine and early Islamic period3 secondly, the charity(oriented .or1 of orders .hich .as established in Bethlehem from the mid(19th century on.ard, and, thirdly, the %oice of local Arab Christianity .hich .as present during and after the Palestinian :prising, the Intifada In each case Christians attempted to define their presence and practice in relation to the circumstances in .hich they li%ed and in relation to .hat they held to be the message of Bethlehem or the 9oly 7and @e .ill pro%ide a glimpse of some of their li%es ( li%es of saints as .ell as common people ( through the stories told by them or .ritten about them After the arri%al of Emperor Constantine2s mother Jueen 9elena .ho found the 0rue Cross in >erusalem and .ho established the first Palestinian churches in the beginning of the fourth century, Palestine became a focus for thousands of pilgrims coming from all corners of the .orld -uring feast days >erusalem and Bethlehem .ere truly international meeting points .ith liturgies held in many tongues Pilgrims came to imagine the life of >esus in the natural setting in .hich 9e had li%ed 0hey sa. and touched the places .here according to the early church fathers or local traditions the happenings of the !ld and 8e. 0estament had ta1en place A 9oly 7andF 0he arri%al of so many de%out pilgrims created a %e"ed ?uestion for the church If Christ2s message .as that Christianity .as not related to a place but .as intended for e%ery human being in the .orld, ho. then to Dudge a practice .hich considered the land and its relics as holyF Early church fathers had different, sometimes rather parado"ical .ays of dealing .ith the ?uestion 0a1e >erome, the most reno.ned %isitor of Bethlehem .ho is presently commemorated by an imposing sculpture in the courtyard of 4t Catherine2s Church nearby the place .here he .or1ed on the 7atin translation of the Bible >erome had arri%ed to establish himself in Bethlehem at a time, in 6$# A-, .hen he .as considered the leading theologian in the Christian .orld 9e .as accompanied by t.o Roman ladies, Paula and her daughter Eustochium, .ho .ould employ their considerable .ealth to establish monasteries and a hostel in Bethlehem @ith their help he de%oted himself to a life of study and translation until he died in Bethlehem nearly eighty years old !n the theological le%el, he did not encourage Christian belie%ers to ma1e a pilgrimage to the 9oly 7and for its o.n sa1e3 rather, he ad%ocated that Christians should follo. the Christian .ay of li%ing ;et his %ery presence in Bethlehem Dust meters a.ay from .here >esus .as born suggested ho. important the concept of holy place .as for him, at least pri%ately Cregory of 8icea, another leading scholar at the time li%ing in Constantinople and one of the most influential theologians in the !rthodo" church, said that =Cod had left a trace of 9imself in Palestine= and that the land had thus recei%ed =the footprints of 7ife itself = By recounting Cod2s incarnation on earth, Christian teaching made it possible to thin1 about the physical as sacred Applied to the 9oly 7and, it .as as if the land itself someho. bore the effects or ( in the !rthodo" manner of saying ( the =energies= of the di%ine ;et Cregory of 8icea .as later on also fre?uently ?uoted by those Christians .ho held reser%ations .ith respect to the idea of pilgrimage In Cregory2s opinion, one could do mass, perform one2s ministry or mission, or conduct a Christian .ay of li%ing any.here in the .orld .ithout feeling guilt for not ha%ing %isited the holy places of >esus Pilgrimage as learning e"perience 8ot all opinions on the matter .ere informed by theological reasoning only 0here .ere also mundane considerations that directed these and other Church fathers to.ards allo.ing or encouraging pilgrimage &or one thing, they surely recogniEed that memories .hich are purely mental do not last It is a .ell(1no.n pedagogic principle that one has to see, imagine and touch things in order to de%elop and sustain 1no.ledge 0his applies to belie%ers too 0he pilgrimage .as a learning e"perience that could be remembered for o%er a life and .hich allo.ed others to share in it through communication bac1 home In this .ay pilgrimage helped to root and spread Christianity Church authorities li%ing in the 9oly 7and itself could not be e"pected to do.nplay such an important contribution to the .orld church 5ost %isibly, many pilgrims sho.ed themsel%es being transformed by parta1ing in a pilgrimage 8ot only .ere they able to imagine >esus2 life against the physical bac1ground of the land, they also seemed to trespass the limitations of time by imaginati%ely participating in the e%ents of >esus2 life itself 0heir ecstatic e"perience could not but lea%e a deep emotional impression on the participant as .ell as the obser%ers @hen >erome accompanied Paula on her pilgrimage Dourney across the land, he unconditionally admired her dramatic %eneration of the sites In his %ie., the sites .ere li1e momentary channels of recei%ing Cod2s grace Another reno.ned church father of the time, Augustine, similarly seemed to ha%e accepted, despite theological reser%ations, the practice of pilgrimage 7i%ing in 8orth Africa at the other end of the 5editerranean, he had little patience .ith the idea that a particular piece of land .as holier than another 9o. could Cod limit 9is possession to a small part of the earthF ;et at one point he met a pilgrim .ho had Dust returned from the 9oly 7and, and .ho brought .ith him some earth from >erusalem 0he pilgrim as1ed Augustine if he could build a small shrine abo%e this earth so as to chase e%il spirits a.ay Augustine ans.ered in the affirmati%e !ne is tempted to as1: If e%en the earth .as holy, ho. then could the land itself not beF 5onasteries In the course of the follo.ing centuries Christian pilgrimage to the 9oly 7and became a .ell(defined practice, and a number of fa%ored holy places and associated itineraries became accepted and encouraged by the church 0hose pilgrims, .ho, li1e >erome, chose to stay, faced another, more principled ?uestion: .hat .as the right .ay of li%ing in the 9oly 7andF 0he ans.ers .ere %aried 5any mon1s stayed in monasteries in >erusalem and Bethlehem and follo.ed a de%out monastic life not so different from that occurring in other con%ents of the time 9o.e%er, ne. models attracted follo.ers, too 4piritually, monastic life in Bethlehem .as influenced by

the life of the earliest desert fathers in Egypt, primarily Anthony @ritten by the mon1 Anastasios in the mid(fourth century, =0he 7ife of 4t Anthony= became an instant bestseller in the Christian .orld and .as copied and translated in many languages 0housands of religious persons and mon1s tra%eled to Palestine and stayed there inspired by Anthony2s e"ample In loo1ing for a place to li%e, some early monastic leaders chose for remote ca%es in the desert east of >erusalem and Bethlehem, and li%ed there on .ild plants and .ater from the .ells that .ere 1no.n by the Bedouins @hen the pioneers .ere subse?uently follo.ed by other groups of mon1s, they adopted Egyptian forms of monastic organiEation that .ere in their turn inspired by the communal model of the early church !ne of the first pioneers seems to ha%e been a mon1 named Chariton .ho in the early fourth century established monasteries in @adi <ilt alongside the >ericho( >erusalem road and in @adi <hreitoun to the east of Bethlehem ( =<hreitoun= being the Arabic name for Chariton Presently, it is still possible to obser%e the remainders of the monastery in @adi <hreitoun, including the =hanging ca%e= of Chariton himself, to be reached by ladder or rope, as .ell as the ca%es in .hich the mon1s used to li%e their 4partan li%es At the time this particular monastery .as called a =sou?a = 4ou?a may refer to the Arabic =su?= or mar1et Indeed, Chariton organiEed the d.ellings of the mon1s according to the design of a mar1et, .ith path.ays along the %alley ridges leading to %arious cell(ca%es or =shops= in the roc1s .here the mon1s li%ed a solitary life !n 4aturdays they assembled in the central monastery to collect their products of a .ee1, often ropes or bas1ets ( products of handicrafts that allo.ed continuous praying 0here they also did mass on 4undays, and ate and mingled 0he common center included a ba1ery house, cisterns and a church !n the 4unday e%ening they returned to their hermit2s ca%es, ta1ing .ith them palm(blades for a .ee12s .or1, as .ell as .ater, bread and dates 0he @adi <hreitoun monastery continued to function up until the 16th century 5oti%ation @hat e"actly moti%ated these mon1sF Although from the distant %ie.point of a society affected by consumerism and materialism it may seem puEEling to gi%e up family, .or1 and possible lu"ury, many of these mon1s single(mindedly follo.ed the radical call of >esus: =Co and sell all that one has, and gi%e to the poor, and follo. me = 0hey .ere often specifically attracted to li%e in the 9oly 7and, li1e Abraham follo.ing ;ah.eh2s call: =Co from your country and your 1indred and your father2s house to that land I sho. you = Both >ohn the Baptist and >esus pro%ided po.erful models By going into the .ilderness, the mon1s .anted not Dust to purify themsel%es from sin, but also from any thoughts, passions, concerns or fears that could hinder access to Cod 0he desert and countryside of Bethlehem and >erusalem pro%ided the needed tran?uility 8e"t to Chariton, a second early pioneer .as the Armenian Euthymius, about .hom there are more reports 9e established no less than 1+ monasteries in the desert east of Bethlehem and >erusalem, some of these located do.n all the .ay to 5asada at the southern part of the -ead 4ea According to his biographer, the nati%e Palestinian Cyril, he and other desert fathers .ere used to annually ta1e a fasting retreat in the desert immediately after the feast of Epiphany on >anuary # 0hey too1 .ith them tro.els for digging food such as the =.ild honey= eaten by >ohn the Baptist -uring such retreats, the pioneer(mon1 .ould point out a suitable place for erecting a monastery 0he most daring mon1s stayed in the deep desert for the full time of 7ent, .al1ing the hills alongside the -ead 4ea and the ri%er >ordan from the south to the north and bac1 4ometimes they seemed to be lost, to re(appear later on -espite its harshness, the desert allo.ed mon1s li1e Chariton and Euthymius to reach a golden age of o%er $' or 9' years Apparently desert conditions .ere compatible .ith a healthy physical lifestyle 8o doubt, the mon1s had fre?uent contact .ith the local Bedouins .ho sa%ed them from star%ation or thirst !nce, after healing the illness of a Bedouin man, Euthymius con%erted to the Christian faith the tribe to .hich the man belonged Its leader .ould ultimately become a bishop and head of a local monastery in .hat is no. the Israeli settlement 5a2aleh Adumim northeast of >erusalem 0he desert a city At the height of the monastic mo%ement there .ere no less than 6,''' mon1s in the desert of BethlehemI>erusalem ( =the desert a city= in the .ords of one author 0.o later contemporaneous mon1s from Cappadocia had a special share in this e"pansion 7i%ing in the desert east of Bethlehem, the mon1s 4abas and 0heodosios each represented a different style of monastic life As t.o of the most important saints of the Christian East, they are depicted on adDacent columns in the Church of the 8ati%ity .ith the follo.ing .ords added to 4abas2 picture: =@ho shall subdue the belly and tongue shall also be sa%ed,= a motto .hich .ell applies to the li%es of hermits in general 4abas, born in ,69, follo.ed Anthony2s and Euthymius2 e"amples, and continued to e"plore the desert After being instructed by a %ision, he stayed for fi%e years in a ca%e in @adi <idron assisted by local Bedouins .ith bread, .ater and dates !nce he heard, during full moon, the hoofs of a don1ey trampling upon the ground 9e too1 a tro.el, .ent to the place, and dug the earth a.ay to disco%er the li%ing .ater of a .ell 0here he built a church and assembled mon1s .ho stayed in his =laura = 7i1e Chariton they li%ed solitary in ca%es during the .ee1, and in community during the 4aturday and the 4unday 4ince then, the monastery =5ar 4aba= AAramaic for 4t 4abasB has 1no.n an unbro1en monastic presence :p till this day, the mon1s li%e an austere life there, .ith one meal a day Aincluding bread, ba1ed once a .ee1, soup, boiled %egetables, and no meatB and .ithout the modern lu"ury of electricity 4abas sa. the =coloniEation of the desert= as a .ay of precipitating the -ay of >udgment and the redemption If .e may belie%e the modern tra%el .riter -elrymple, the mon1s in 5ar 4aba still point to @adi <idron, sna1ing do.n in front of them, as the place .here, during the -ay of >udgment, the sinners .ill float to hell -uring his lifetime, 4abas .ould disappear in the desert for .ee1s or months and people feared for his life At the same time he could authoritati%ely inter%ene in dogmatic discussions or represent the mon1s or local inhabitants of the 9oly 7and in dealings .ith the ByEantine Emperor !nce he arri%ed in rags at the Emperor2s palace in Constantinople and .as forbidden to enter, as the guard did not recogniEe him @hen in the late fifth century Emperor Anastasios too1 sides .ith the 5onophysites (( the Christian streaming .hich did not recogniEe the dual nature of >esus Christ as Cod and human being (( 4abas .as appointed by the local mon1s to represent the case of the !rthodo" in front of the court 7ater on, after the 4amaritans burned the Church of the 8ati%ity in +*9 A-, he .as sent on a successful errand to Constantinople to plea for the church2s rebuilding and for other practical issues concerning the local Churches 7i1e the other monastic leaders he established a symbolic presence among the belie%ers through the many stories, miracles and sayings attributed to him 4uch charisma no doubt added to the attracti%eness of the mon1 According to his biographer, during one %isit to the Emperor he .as approached to stay the night .ith the Emperor2s .ife, a re?uest he politely declined Coenobium &or the desert hermits, meditation and prayer .ere the essential fulfillments of life 9o.e%er, the hermit2s lifestyle .as not suitable for all ne.comers, certainly not in the initial stages 4ome mon1s .ere e%en mentally inflicted by the desert or by ill(Dudged or e"cessi%e fasting 0here is

one report that says that there happened to be some =stylobates= in front of the Church of the 8ati%ity, mon1s .ho stayed all day on a pillar, li1e the 4yrian =4imon the 4tylobate = 8ot many mon1s could bear such hardships 0here once .as a special con%ent to recuperate from problems resulting from an e"treme lifestyle 0hrough a learning process, the mon1s found out that a more communally organiEed monastery, the =coenobium,= .as an essential complement to the demanding laura 0he coenobium resembled the present(day monastery: the mon1s li%ed, .or1ed and prayed together all days of the .ee1 4abas2 colleague, 0heodosios, .as the leader of this type of monastery organiEation 9e came in ,+1 to Palestine After a period of li%ing in the desert he loo1ed out for a place to build 7i1e 4abas and other pioneers he .as informed by a miracle @hile .al1ing .ith a charcoal holder at the edge of the desert near present(day 2:beidiyyeh to the east of Bethlehem, the charcoal started to 1indle at a particular spot 0his spot he mar1ed as the right place for the monastery It .as at that place, according to 0heodosios, that the @ise 5en .ho had %isited the 9oly &amily had circum%ented >erusalem to a%oid meeting 9erod Presently, the monastery is located near the @adi 8ar road, the .ay .hich Palestinians .ho do not ha%e a permit to enter >erusalem are obliged to ta1e in order to tra%el around the city 0heodosios built the largest monastery in the 9oly 7and of the time 0hrough the communal form of the coenobium it .as possible to set up other .or1 than small handicraft 9e especially focused on charity 0hus, the monastery not only contained a refectory and church, but also a hospital, a hostel for mon1s and other %isitors, a home for the elderly, and a separate monastery for the mentally affected mon1s about .hom .e spo1e earlier -uring times of draught and famine, no less than 1'' tables .ith food ser%ed the poor and needy !%er ,'' mon1s li%ed in the place 0he monastery2s ser%ices .ere part of a more general social infrastructure located at the edge of the desert Among those ser%ices, there .as a hospice and hospital in >ericho, established by a relati%e of 4abas, .hile the .ife of the fifth(century Emperor 0heodosios, Eudochia, built a leper hospital near 9erodion 7egends sho.ed the miraculous healing of the sic1 and the multiplication of loa%es ta1ing place once again -esert life and imagination Indeed, legends abounded -esert life in%ited di%inely inspired imagination Any %isitor of the desert, e%en today, can testify to the po.erful effect the desert can ha%e on one2s mind 0he star1 beauty inspires and o%er.helms In such a setting it is possible to e"perience the redeeming lo%e of Cod2s creation By implication, the people li%ing in the desert could be seen as li%ing prototypes or icons of such redemption @e ha%e many so(called hagiographical .ritings about the life of the desert fathers 4uch .ritings tend to embellish the li%es of the mon1s, not for the purpose of entertainment but rather to articulate %arious sacred concepts !ne e"ample is the image of the Carden of Eden in .hich men and beasts li%e peacefully together 0he mon1s, in establishing a simple =primiti%e= pattern of life, seemed to ha%e yearned to someho. reach the state of Eden before the &all, the .holesome peace of Paradise 0he .ritings about the desert fathers are full of stories in .hich the mon1s sho. themsel%es establishing a peaceful relationship .ith the animals in the surroundings, e%en predatory ones li1e the lions, .hich then roamed the hills of Palestine @e meet saints .ho encounter a lion in the desert, .hose .ounds they heal, or .ho is instructed to share the saints2 accommodation peacefully 4ome of such images may ha%e loo1ed attracti%e to the ne.comers and .ould perhaps ha%e been an incenti%e to Doin the mo%ement Giolence ;et .e should ta1e care not to romanticiEe the mon1s2 .ay of li%ing, and certainly not life in the desert 0hey .ere regularly attac1ed by .ild animals and affected by plagues Reality .as also burdened by %iolence 0he monasteries .ere buttressed .ith castles and .alls to protect the inhabitants not Dust against thie%es and marauders but also against unruly bands of mon1s embracing a ri%al theology 5oreo%er, mon1s .ere sometimes acti%ely engaged in %iolence against non(Christian groups 0hey .ere said to raid popular festi%als to demolish pagan practices 0hey also disturbed >e.ish pilgrimages @hen the empress Eudochia allo.ed >e.s in ,6$ to enter >erusalem more often than permitted at the time, there .ere Christian protests :nder the leadership of one mon1 named Barsauma a massacre .as conducted among the %isiting >e.s After.ards, .hen the sur%i%ing >e.s testified to the empress, then residing in Bethlehem, stormy demonstrations by the mon1s pre%ented her from ta1ing any puniti%e action 4ince almost all the mon1s2 .ritings naturally tended to ad%ocate the monastic .ay of life, .e 1no. little about negati%e e"ceptions ;et there .ere serious cases &or instance, after the 4amaritans rose in re%olt against Emperor >ustinian in +*9, and, among others, the Church of the 8ati%ity .as damaged, it seems that a high mon1 named Photion .as sent by >ustinian to administer punishment, resulting in, according to some sources, a toll of tens of thousands of massacred 4amaritans 4uch e%ents sho. that generaliEations about monastic life should be done carefully Cosmopolitan outloo1 !n the positi%e side of the balance, one lasting aspect of the mon1s2 li%es that is especially .orth mentioning is their cosmopolitan outloo1 5any mon1s led an inspiring tra%eling life E"amples are >ohn 5oschos, .hose boo1 =4piritual 5eado.s= pro%ides one of the best 1aleidoscopes of ByEantine daily life, and Peter the Iberian, .hose 5onophysite beliefs led him to a%oid the established !rthodo" pilgrims2 places and to tra%el by night Peter2s dedication still allo.ed him to build churches, including one at the hilltop north of Bethlehem, Abu Chneim, the ruins of .hich can presently be seen among the infrastructure built for the ne. Israeli settlement .hich emerges there 0he cosmopolitan outloo1 is especially clear from the .or1 of the resident mon1s in Palestine as .ell as Egypt, 4yria, present(day 0ur1ey and the Bal1an 0he mon1s studied, copied and translated manuscripts in the %arious ancient languages that .ere practiced, such as Armenian, Ceorgian and 4yriac, .hich is, as .e sa., close to Aramaic, the popular language at >esus2 time 4ome monasteries and churches held special ser%ices for language communities 0hey hosted e"cellent composers of hymns and prayers 7ater on, after the ad%ent of Islam, Arabic .ould become the maDor lingua franca in the area According to <enneth Bailey, due to the Eealous .or1 and study of the mon1s of the 5iddle East, the Christian teachings and .ritings in Arabic outnumber those in any other language, e%en 7atin Present(day scholars consider it a huge challenge to translate and edit e%en only the main Arabic Christian .or1s .ritten at the time >ohn of -amascus

9ere .e must mention one name in particular A to.ering figure among the mon1s of the early Islamic period .as >ohn of -amascus Born in #)+ A- as a son of the finance minister and director of Christian affairs of the Islamic state in -amascus, he gre. up in the tolerant atmosphere of 5oslem(Christian dialogue characteristic of the period 7i1e other theologians at the time, he de%oted much of his .or1 to defending Christianity against Islam, a ne. religion that had succeeded, in a period of only a fe. decennia, to reach out to millions of belie%ers Arri%ing in Palestine in )1#, he resided in the 5ar 4aba monastery .here he .rote the maDor .or1s of his life, including the =&ountain of <no.ledge= and a .or1 in .hich he defended the practice of ma1ing icons 0here is a separate ca%e in 5ar 4aba monastery .hich sho.s the .or1place of >ohn @ith its lo. ceiling, it .as said to instill a sense of humility on the great .riter 5ar 4aba2s library, .hich has largely been transferred to the library of the Cree1( !rthodo" Patriarchate in >erusalem, is a treasure of old theological .ritings and a .itness to the immense .isdom and de%otion of the mon1s li%ing there @omen 0he mon1s .ere geographical and social border(crossers .ith a uni%ersalist although sometimes dogmatic mind(set 0hey often li%ed harsh li%es, especially .hen they stayed in the desert It is a puEEling ?uestion to .hat e"tent they represented a masculine .orld 0he famous pioneering mon1s .ere men 9o.e%er, any reader of the period2s history .ill be surprised to .hat e"tent monastic life .as also shaped by .omen 5any .omen follo.ed the e"ample of the Girgin 5ary .ho .as a prototype of motherly .armth and lo%e, and more than any other saint a source of inspiration for common people It seems that Jueen 9elena2s pilgrimage inspired .omen li1e Paula and her daughter to %isit the 9oly 7and 4till many .omen in the Bethlehem area bear the name of =9elena= 0here is also the case of the famous Egeria, the 4panish nun .hose report of her pilgrimage at the end of the fourth century .ould become the first piece of tra%el .riting 1no.n in the @est 5oreo%er, many .omen of the time stood at the forefront of charity efforts by building hospices and hospitals 0here is one thing that demands attention here, .hich .e neglected due to a lac1 of sources: the presence of indigenous Christian belie%ers in Bethlehem and >erusalem In her tra%el .ritings, Egeria ta1es special care to describe the liturgies, processions and other practices in .hich common local belie%ers .ere in%ol%ed &rom her .ritings one gets a sense that the belie%ers did not only include foreigners but also local .orshippers .ho too1 part in .itnessing >esus2 life and teachings Contrary to the many ad%enturous %isitors .ho seemed to ha%e shunned the mundane daily life around them, Egeria gi%es an ( admittedly general ( account of the common .orshippers in >erusalem and Bethlehem, many of them locals 4he held not only the holy places and the land in high esteem but also the Christian people li%ing there And, in paying tribute to the .omen2s role, let us finally not forget that .ithout the de%oted Paula and her financial and organiEational contributions, .e .ould not ha%e 1no.n anything of >erome2s .ritings In his daily life, he completely depended upon her, her daughter and her nuns 19th century !ne author ARubensonB dealing .ith early monastic life in the Palestinian desert, states =it is difficult for us today, .ith modern national states and emphasis on ethnicity to imagine the cultural e"change in and natural cosmopolitan character of Palestine in the early Christian centuries 0he plains and the >udean hills .ere plotted .ith monastic settlements .hose inhabitants had no other national identity than their hea%enly ci%itas or polis It seems as if it is only .ith the Crusades in the 5iddle Ages and .ith modern European e"pansion in the 19th century that the idea de%elops that people of different races, of different religion and different bac1ground are unable to li%e together = It may be a tremendous leap to shift focus from early monasticism to the de%elopments of the 19th century ;et the shift pro%ides some interesting contrasts in the perception of pilgrimage and .hat people considered e"emplary .ays of Christian li%ing Remember that during 5oslem times Bethlehem emerged from a small %illage in%ol%ed in %arious local feuds, but .ith a constant Christian presence o%er the ages, to becoming a fledgling little to.n that could significantly profit from the interest sho.n by the international po.ers of the day 0he industrial re%olution too1 place across Europe, and steamship, rail.ay and mass media brought a ne. appearance to modern life Pilgrimage .as similarly influenced @esterners abroad read about the 9oly 7and in mass papers and magaEines 0ra%el agencies, li1e the famous 0homas Coo1 Company in Britain, sold pac1aged tours in .hich belie%ers could Doin groups, e?uipped .ith large tents, to .al1 and stay in the 9oly 7and Again the ?uestion comes up: .hat moti%ated those pilgrimsF Although the 19th century pilgrimage .as not li1e the ad%enture of ByEantine times, the ne. pilgrims had to sa%e a large amount of money in order to %isit the 9oly 7and 0he Dourney too1 normally no less than si" months, including boat trips -ifferences in moti%ation 0here .ere in fact great differences in moti%ation bet.een the pilgrims of the 19th(century 0he national churches entertained %ery different conceptions of pilgrimage 0he Russian and Anglican Christians especially e"pressed the broad range of de%otions In a re%ealing comparison, Ruth and 0homas 9ummel e"plain that, on one end of the scale, Russian pilgrims preser%ed the ancient tradition of pilgrimage as an almost mystical e"perience 0hese pilgrims, .ho from the mid(19th century on arri%ed e%ery year by the thousands, .ere usually o%er fifty 5any had completed their .or1ing life By %isiting the locations of >esus2 birth, baptism, death and especially resurrection, they prepared themsel%es for life after death 0he %arious churches in the 9oly 7and offered them an almost physical entrance to the di%ine, facilitated by the !rthodo" icons, shrouds and liturgy 0his mystical e"perience .as remote from the rationalist ethos of the Anglicans .ho, on the other side of the scale, could not see any intrinsic holy merit in the land, earth or relics of Palestine ;et they understood the pragmatic ad%antages of a pilgrimage 0hey considered pilgrimage a suitable .ay of bringing bac1 to life >esus2 mission A %isit to the 9oly 7and pro%ided a uni?ue opportunity to %isualiEe the life and .or1s of >esus in the mind2s eye 0his pragmatic attitude coincided .ith a certain interest in the customs of the local population in so far as these reminded them of Biblical times In the second half of the 19th century, pilgrims as .ell as .riters and photographers started to document such customs It .as done in an amateurish .ay and .ith the sole purpose of establishing a dramatic cultural setting for the %isitors2 imagination Indi%idual e"ceptions aside, there .as little interest in the indigenous Christians2 .ay of life 4tereotyping

0he cities of >erusalem, 8aEareth and Bethlehem pro%ided scenes of e"otic interest In Bethlehem the local Palestinian .omen, often fair(haired and considered =beautiful= by the .estern %isitors, .ere photographed in a style and in settings that ine%itably reminded the %ie.er of Biblical times 0he pictures suggested that o%er *,''' years life had not changed at all 7ater on, .ith the ad%ent of /ionism and the coloniEation of the land, the pictures and descriptions of customs started to contain an element of ambiguity Ancient customs .ere =regretfully= being intruded upon by modern lifestyles 0he %isitors2 imagination tended to categoriEe the local inhabitants in a schematic .ay =Christian= Bethlehem .as for instance pitted against =5oslem= 9ebron, the first being pictures?ue, pastoral, friendly, .ith signs of ci%iliEational de%elopment3 the second threatening, dangerous, and stagnant due to =fatalistic= Islam 4uch imagination .as clearly tinged .ith imperialist notions of @estern, Christian supremacy In fact, %arious national churches urged to con%ert, in the name of progress and ci%iliEation, the !rthodo" Palestinian Christians to @estern forms of Christianity 5oreo%er, national states had an interest in using the Christians in the 9oly 7and as pa.ns in the complicated imperialist game then fought out o%er the slo.ly dying !ttoman Empire !rders After the Crimean @ar had opened up the land for the presence of orders, Bethlehem2s appearance changed radically !n the one hand, %arious orders arri%ed in Bethlehem .ith the bac1ing of political po.er and often .ith little respect for the indigenous forms of Christian .orship practiced by the population !n the other hand, the orders2 and churches2 practical influence .as immense and de%elopmentally positi%e A ?uic1 loo1 at the orders that entered Bethlehem, in chronological se?uence, sho. the follo.ing institutions they established: ( 0he &ranciscans A0erra 4anctaB: A school and an institution for %ocational education Adating bac1 to the 1,th century but e"panding in the 19th centuryB ( 0he !rders of the 8uns of 4t >oseph: A school A1$,$B ( 0he 7atin ACatholicB Patriarchate 4eminary: A Christian school in Beit >ala to prepare locals for priesthood A1$+#B ( 0he Carmelite 4isters: A con%ent A1$)+B ( 0he Catholic !rder of 4t >ean Baptiste de la 4alle: 0he &rRres 4chool in 1$)# Athe predecessor of Bethlehem :ni%ersityB ( 0he Rosary 4isters, the first indigenous Catholic !rder: 5edical and social .or1 and teaching A1$$+B ( 0he &ranciscans ( Immaculate 9eart of 5ary A@hite 4istersB: !rphanage, 1indergarten and handicrafts A1$$+B ( 0he <nights of 5alta: 0he 9oly &amily 9ospital A1$$9B ( 0he 4isters of Charity: 0he CrRche A1$$9B ( 0he 4ilesians: Gocational training, orphanage and .inery A1$#6(19'+B ( 0he Antonian Charitable 4ociety, founded by Palestinians: A house for elderly .omen A1916B &or the Bethlehem community, the institutions and ser%ices .ere a maDor step for.ards in more than one respect 0hey pro%ided a much(needed infrastructure in the fields of education and health At a time that Bethlehem and larger Palestine gradually opened up to the outside .orld, the schools contributed to the process called =nahda= Aa.a1eningB Education and contacts abroad helped building a cadre of nati%e Palestinians .ho themsel%es could help building future society In the course of the 19th and *'th century, the institutions .ould gradually include more nati%e clergy and laity 0o get a sense of the times, it may be useful to focus on t.o human e"amples of Palestinians in%ol%ed at an early stage in this process of de%elopment3 the founder of the Carmelite Con%ent in Bethlehem, =7ittle 5iriam,= about .hom e"ist many documents, sho.ing her a true representati%e of the peasant culture described in Chapter ,, and, more briefly, the founder of the nati%e Rosary 4isters !rder, 5ary Alphonsine 7ittle 5iriam In 4eptember 1999, the Cree1(Catholic or 5el1ite community in Palestine came to celebrate in Bethlehem the lustrum of the beatification of the 2little 5iriam2, the founder of the imposing Carmel Con%ent there Bishop 7utfi 7aham spo1e about her po%erty, suffering, tra%eling and lo%e for the land ( a life in .hich e%ery Palestinian could recogniEe his or her o.n plight After the mass, the community, especially the .omen, 1issed the place .here 5iriam2s s1ull .as on display @ho .as sheF 5iriam Ba.ardy, the =7ittle 5iriam,= came from a poor family in the Calilee .ho .as struc1 by the misfortune of ha%ing to .itness each of their t.el%e sons dying in infancy After the t.elfth, the parents decided to follo. 5ary and >oseph2s e"ample and to go by foot from 8aEareth to Bethlehem, a Dourney of 1)' 1ilometers In 1$,# their .ish .as fulfilled 0he ne.born girl .hom they called 5ary stayed ali%e 5ary had a difficult youth At an early age she .as destined to marry a cousin but she refused after recei%ing a %ision telling her that she needed to de%ote her life to >esus 4he li%ed a roaming life .or1ing as a ser%ant3 tra%eling from Ale"andria in Egypt, to >affa and Beirut, then on pilgrimage to >erusalem 4he could neither read nor .rite !ne patron made it possible for her to go to 5arseille in &rance, and subse?uently to the Carmel of Pau, .here she stayed for some years Bac1 in the Calilee, she Doined the Carmelites in 9aifa .here she recei%ed the name of 5ary of >esus Crucified A great many different miracles or =charisms= seem to ha%e occurred to her, li1e the =stigmata,= the blood flo.ing from hands and feet, reminiscent of >esus 4he .ould later help to found Carmelite con%ents in India, and, at the end of her life, in Bethlehem 0here she died in 1$)9 at the age of 66 4ome hundred years later, on 16 8o%ember 19$6, Pope >ohn Paul II proclaimed her beatification

5ary sho.ed a remar1able closeness to the land, .hich she e"pressed in the many poems, hymns and sayings she .rote 0he land and its creatures come ali%e in a %isual and narrati%e .ay @hen she .as still a child and sitting on the shore of the 5editerranean, a %ision of >esus came to her: =;ou see this immense seaQ Gery .ell, you should use only the amount of its .ater that you need E%en though the sea cannot be drained, use only as much of it as is necessary 0his is to gi%e you an e"ample of the po%erty you ought to practice = At another moment she obser%ed a .inged ant and a giant in a dream 0he ant, symbol of humility, carried .ithout problem the .eight of a house, .hile the giant, symbol of pride, .as crushed under the load of a fe. stra.s A %oice said to her: =I lo%e this ant, because it is little3 that is .hy I .ill build a large house o%er it = After this %ision, she came to be called the =7ittle 8othing,= or the =7ittle 5iriam = 8ature rendering glory 5any other %isions of nature occurred to her, such as the follo.ing: =I sa. a field of .heat that bo.ed before me, as if to greet its Creator, and in this .heat field I sa. .ritten in large letters: 20his is my body2 0hen there .as a %ine encircling it and on the %ine .ere these letters: 20his is my blood2 I sa. a tree that had its roots planted deep in the damp ground3 it bore much fruit and seemed to reDoice in rendering Clory to the Creator by bearing its fruit I sa. the sun, the moon, the stars, e%erything that is in the s1y and on the earth, rendering Clory to Cod And each thing .as singing a canticle more beautiful than any I ha%e e%er heard It .as not as I e"press it, I 1no., but it .as so beautiful, so beautifulQ And I sa. .hat .as li1e a high .all, that fell to dust, and let me see my Creator = 9er biographer tells that she =.as a %isual obser%er and painter All of springtime Calilee comes to life again in her metaphors: flo.ers, birds, fish, perfumes, songs, springs, gardens, flo.er(beds, trees, grottoes, light and day, dar1ness and night, earth and s1y, seas and ri%ers In their humble pastoral life, the fellahs LpeasantsM and Bedouins of Palestine are the unconscious guardians of the legends, the rhythms and traditions of the Biblical East 5iriam .as a daughter of the fields, a little peasant girl In her, the Palestinian dances and cadences mingled .ith the austerity of the Carmel of Pau = 9er lo%e for the land .as not possessi%e but contemplati%e 4he .rites about her being tempted =2;ou tempt me against faithF2 as1ed the 27ittle !ne2, 2but I ha%e Cod .ith me3 I fear nothing ;ou tell me there is no CodF I go to the garden and contemplate Creation3 I see the little trees becoming full( gro.n3 this sight increases my faith ;ou tempt me against the ChurchF I go to the garden again3 I find a fruit and I open it3 I loo1 at this open fruit and I see the seed in the fruit I go into a church, I open the tabernacle and I find the Eucharist ;ou tempt me against charityF I go do.n to the garden, I consider the animals, I see the lambs, the chic1s, I see them all together, united among themsel%es 2= In 1$)+, on her entrance to Bethlehem, 5ary pointed out a flight of pigeons that settled on a desert hill to the .est of the to.n 4he indicated the place as .here the 7ord .anted Carmel 0he con%ent .as set up to honor the po%erty of infant >esus in the stable It .as therefore designed as a plain and bare monastery .here the nuns .ould li%e .ithout comfort =8o moldings, no ornamental trees in the garden, only fruit trees = 4he o%ersa. the building of the Con%ent 4he sometimes .or1ed herself .ith lime and sand 0he .or1men adored her, she settled differences and ?uarrels, and recei%ed the tradesmen !nce, .hile she carried .ater to the .or1ers, she fell and bro1e both legs 4ome .ee1s after that incident, she died of gangrene At her funeral Catholic, !rthodo" and 5oslem Arabs from all around Bethlehem .ept for her It is said, according to the Cree1( Catholic father Elias Chacour .ho ser%es in her birthplace Ibilin, that .hen she died, the bells rang in Bethlehem, Ibilin and many other places

5ary Alphonsene 5iracles also happened to another Palestinian nun, the founder of the Rosary 4isters !rder, sister 5ary Alphonsene Born a fe. years before sister 5iriam, in 1$,6, she Doined the 4t >oseph 4isters in her adult life 4he had a special relationship .ith 5ary, the mother of >esus, .ho appeared to her se%eral times !nce she prayed to 5ary and a %oice told her: =4ultani Lmy masterM, .a1e up, somebody is .aiting = 4he found mother 5ary sitting in front of her 4ister 5ary 1neeled and put her head in the Girgin2s lap 5other 5ary told her: =I .ant you to form an order, the Rosary 4isters = 4he .as then 6) years old &irst she hesitated, but 5ary appeared to her repeatedly as1ing the same ?uestion In her plans, the order .ould ta1e a.ay the e%ils of society and help the needy 4he called the help of a father from 8aEareth, ;ousef 0annous A;ousef is Arabic for >oseph, 0annous refers to the ancient Canaanite name for the god AdonisB &ather 0annous said, =;ou ha%e a good heart, you are the right one to do it = 0he father rented a small house in Bethlehem .here they started social acti%ities for the poor, teaching young .omen se.ing Bethlehem2s inhabitants ga%e food and helped them in %arious .ays 4tep by step they e"panded the ser%ices to the community 4ister 5ary Alphonsine shared the modesty and humility of 4ister 5iriam 4he did not .ant to become director of the order Aher sister did soB, nor did she .ant to ta1e a special Dob 4he stayed a regular nun and fe. people 1ne. that she .as the order2s founder @hen she .as forty she obser%ed t.o girls ?uarrelling .ith each other !ne of them fell in a .ell 0he girl screamed3 there .as no rope People came and .ent, not 1no.ing .hat to do 0he sister prayed and 5ary appeared to her, as1ing her to thro. the rosary at the nec1 of the girl 0here appeared a .hite light and the girl became %ery calm 0hen she .as carried out of the .ell by an in%isible po.er 0he .hite light 1ept sister 5ary blind for three days !ther miracles happened to her 4ome ha%e heard about the follo.ing story from 19'9 4ister 5ary %isited the Bethlehemite >ibreel -abdoub .hen he .as ill of typhus and about to die 0he priest ga%e him the sacrament and his sisters prayed @hen he died, the .omen started screaming, as is the traditional custom !ne of -abdoub2s sisters opened his cloth But 5ary Alphonsine prayed and as1ed, =Can you please .ait a moment = 4he too1 her rosary, .etted the beads in .ater, and put some drops in his mouth 0he man accepted the drops A silence fell o%er the room 0he sister continued and added fruits, one by one, .hich he too1 9e .as ali%e again 4he continued praying and he stayed ali%e 7ater on, the Rosary 4isters .ould e"pand their acti%ities to reach out to Palestine, Israel, >ordan, 7ebanon, the Culf 4tates, and Rome 0hey .ere officially recogniEed as an !rder of the Roman Catholic Church in 19+9 0he Rosary 4isters no. pride the largest order in the 9oly 7and, .ith only Arab nuns ser%ing 0hey run se%eral schools of a %ery good reputation !%er the years the charitable .or1 has continued to gro., .ith an increasing number of .or1ers and administrators being Arab 0he .or1 is done outside the spotlights, in humility Gariety @hen learning about Bethlehem Christians, one is astonished to hear the great %ariety of life stories Although suffering is .ithout e"ception part of them, the .ays in .hich the community is ser%ed can differ much As .e sa. before, the *'th century brought political calamities to the Palestinians 5any Christians .ere in the %anguard of political mo%ements during the time of the British mandate bet.een the @orld @ars and after the P7! .as founded in the 19#'s An e"ample .as former mayor 2Issa <houry Basil Banda1 A199$(19$,B .ho .as a leading Palestinian from Bethlehem 4ome chose to ta1e part in resistance, .ith all the ris1s in%ol%ed

@hen searching for some Christian .omen2s stories in the Bethlehem region, .e .ere pointed to the life of 4u2ad 5itri Abu Chattas, nic1named by the Biblical name =Eli = After 4u2ad finished her matriculation e"am in the 19#'s and follo.ed a training course in nursing, she stayed three years in >ordan to subse?uently come bac1 to Palestine in the year of the >une @ar, 19#) 4hoc1ed by the effects of the .ar, she started to become politically in%ol%ed, Doining the &atah faction of the P7! 4he left the country but came bac1 later in the year for a secret spying mission Arafat2s brother &athi ga%e her directions for operating a .omen2s net.or1 in Israel !ne day the hospital .here she .or1ed .as closed and surrounded by military 4he .as ta1en to prison and condemned to four years of .hich she ser%ed t.o after buying off the rest of her sentence 4he had a rough time in prison 4ometimes she .as hit and pressured to re%eal the names of her comrades, in the same .ay as others had been pressured to re%eal her o.n name 9o.e%er, she .as trained not to spea1 0he girls in prison ga%e each other ad%ice about, for instance, .ho among the inmates could be an informer !f course, her family .as .orried 0hey thought that the guards might se"ually abuse her 9onor is an e"tremely serious issue in Palestinian society, and although her father had secretly encouraged her before in her political acti%ities, he no. regretted that he had done so @hen she left prison, she caught rheumatism and her eyesight diminished 4he could not ha%e children for a long time but at the age of forty she ga%e birth to a son 8o. she is not acti%e in politics anymore and .ants to solely ta1e care of her family -id she ha%e any specific religious moti%ation in Doining a guerrilla groupF 4he denies so 9er social en%ironment and family .ere politically nationalist, and for them it .as natural to sacrifice one2s life for the good of the community or nation 0he moti%ation is couched in terms of ser%ing the people @hile miles apart from each other in types of .or1 and outloo1, it is this moti%ation that establishes a lin1 bet.een 4u2ad and the nuns about .hose life .e spo1e of earlier All of them denied the needs of their o.n life 0hey .ere not interested in their o.n personal de%elopment, but de%oted themsel%es completely to the needs of the community as defined by the tragic circumstances in .hich they li%ed It is this lin1 that ma1es it possible for Bethlehemites, .hile recogniEing the great differences in the life choices of these .omen, to admire all of them

Intifada 0he mo%ement that brought a maDor impetus to the de%elopment of an articulate Palestinian(Christian approach .as, ho.e%er, not an armed one 0he Intifada at the end of the 19$'s, although born out of despair for a political solution to the Palestinian ?uestion, spar1ed a genuine grassroots mo%ement in .hich Palestinians .ithout religious distinction participated 0he mo%ement .as essentially non(%iolent and gained its impact primarily from the broad media attention it attracted Palestinians from the @est Ban1 and CaEa spo1e .ith mounting self(confidence, and this reflected upon the Palestinian churches .here the lay belie%ers as1ed for solidarity from the leading clergy 0he %arious Christian churches in Palestine Doined common platforms of dialogue and spo1e .ith one %oice about the Palestinians2 suffering and oppression At the same time, Christian Palestinians felt compelled to spea1 out themsel%es as Christians 0hey .ere confronted .ith se%eral misrepresentations of their life and role 4ome Christian fundamentalists attempted to con%ert Palestinian Christians to sects .hich defined /ionism as %ital to Biblical fulfillments, an understanding .hich .as opposed to the Palestinians2 definition of their reality as one of suffering inflicted by Israeli policies Also, Palestinian Christians felt hurt by the comparison bet.een their position and that of the Biblical Canaanites and Philistines .ho opposed ancient Israel, as if their present(day demands .ere in some sense anti(Biblical Another image they resisted .as the presupposition, sometimes propagated in Israel and abroad, that Christians formed a minority in Palestinian society persecuted by a 5oslem maDority 5oreo%er, long(term problems appeared .hich had to do .ith the position of Palestinian Christians in society, and .hich demanded concerted action on their part A maDor problem .as the appearance of religious tendencies in the course of the Intifada Islamicist mo%ements tended to impose conser%ati%e standards especially on .omen2s dress and beha%ior in society Another maDor problem .as the emigration of the Christian minority discussed before Palestinian theology 0hrough the participation of clergy and laity in discussion platforms, conferences, and %isits abroad, there appeared a mo%ement for a ne. Palestinian(Christian theology that .as alternati%ely dubbed =0heology of 7iberation= or =Conte"tual 0heology = 0he Christian(5oslem =Al(7i?a= Center in Bethlehem and later on the >erusalem(based institute =4abeel= hosted the emergence of this ne. theology 7iberation theology .as of course a familiar term from other conte"ts of suffering and resistance, li1e 7atin America, .here Catholic priests had de%eloped a theology geared to the situation of oppressed peasants and coloniEed peoples 7iberation theology demanded action by and in support of the oppressed Conte"tual theology .as a term designed by Al(7i?a Center to emphasiEe that the Bible should be read in a historical, social and cultural conte"t !ne should be a.are of that conte"t to gain a real understanding of the Biblical message @hat .ere the main elements of this theology as applied to the Palestinian circumstanceF &irst of all, the conte"t in .hich Palestinian Christians li%ed .as considered to be the broader Arab culture and its main religion, Islam In a letter from the Patriarchs of the Catholic Church of the East Athe so(called Cree1(Catholic or 5el1ite churchB, issued at Easter 199*, the cultural conte"t .as summariEed in this .ay: =@e L5uslims and ChristiansM dra. on a single heritage of ci%iliEation Each of us has contributed to its formation according to his o.n genius !ur 1inship of ci%iliEation is our historical patrimony Christians of the East are an inseparable and integral part of the cultural identity of 5uslims In the same .ay, 5uslims of the East are an inseparable part of the cultural identity of Christians = In emphasiEing the bond bet.een Eastern Christianity and Islam, the bishops implicitly opposed any 1ind of religious fundamentalism Else.here in the letter, the role of Christians in society is compared, not to the segregated dhimmi status as during the !ttoman times, but ( in characteristically natural metaphors ( as =light= in the house, =salt= in the food, or =lea%en= in the dough =@hen .e are no longer light, salt and lea%en, .e become an inert, solid entity, a dead .eight, for oursel%es and our society = Empo.erment A second emphasis .as grassroots empo.erment through solidarity and dialogue 0his choice reflected the e"perience of the Intifada Biblical teachings should be made rele%ant to people2s common circumstances and their concerns, and should help the de%elopment of an autonomous popular %oice, also .ithin the churches 0he theological base for this emphasis .as a focus on the life and teachings of >esus .ho addressed the poor and oppressed &ollo.ing >esus, Palestinian relations .ith Israel .ere to be based upon the principle of a Dustice for all combined .ith %alues of reconciliation and peace, an ethic not of %engeance but lo%e 8on(%iolent models of resistance found else.here in the .orld pro%ided models

A special theological point .as related to the important issue of the land and the peoples li%ing on it Conte"tual theology .arned against a static and ahistorical interpretation of the !ld 0estament, as if Israel or the >e.ish people2s election in the !ld 0estament could be the basis for political claims brought for.ard by Aa part ofB present(day Israel Rather, the !ld 0estament should be read from the reference point of >esus2 teachings and deeds, and set against the bac1ground of the pre%alent societal con%entions of the time Cod2s teachings could only appear through the cultural limitations of .hat .as understood and practiced at a particular period &or instance, in dealing .ith Dustice, the Bible sho.ed a progressi%e ci%iliEational de%elopment from the principle of disproportionate %engeance to proportionate retribution A=an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth=B, to the principle =treat others as you yourself .ants to be treated= and finally to neighborliness and lo%e 9ospitality 0he Bible pro%ided not only stories of con?uest but also inspiring narrati%es of hospitality and neighborliness Abraham, forefather of the three monotheistic religions, .as hosted .ith bread and .ine by the Canaanite A>ebusiteB 5elchiEede1, nati%e of >erusalem In his turn Abraham e"tended hospitality to the t.o %isiting angels .ho accompanied Cod 9imself Abraham also dealt .ith the nati%es of 9ebron in an agreeable .ay &ollo.ing the !ld 0estament e"amples, >esus bro1e bread and ga%e .ine to the apostles, an act in .hich 9e offered his body and his blood to sa%e the .orld In their turn, the Apostles baptiEed and bro1e bread .ith non(>e.s Essentially, Palestinian Christians feel culturally comfortable .ith notions of neighborliness and hospitality, .ith gi%ing and sharing, rather than .ith possessi%e claims In his boo1 =I am a Palestinian Christian,= 5itri Raheb, re%erend at the 7utheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, gi%es some cases of conte"tual or liberation theology during the stormy times of the Intifada 8o Christmas celebration =0he follo.ing sentence .as spray(painted on the .all of our 7utheran school t.o days before Christmas: 2E"cuse us, dear Christ, unfortunately .e cannot celebrate your birthday this year, for .e are an occupied people .hose children are denied lifeQ2 I L5itri RahebM used that sentence in my Christmas sermon I told the congregation that .e really felt .e could not celebrate the birthday of a child prodigy descended from hea%en 0hat .ould indeed be a bit much 8or did .e feel li1e greeting 4anta Claus and opening gifts 2But .e could really do .ithout that for a .hile3 there is no mention of any of it in the Bible Instead, 9oly 4cripture relates the story of a refugee child .ho has no.here to lay his head It is a truly human child, one .ho is not born into a beautiful, rosy, peaceful .orld but into a cruel .orld Dust li1e ours 0he biblical Christmas story tells of the birth of a child .ho .as denied life too and .ho .as forced to fear for his life A child born at the time of 9erod the Creat .ho had ordered the slaying of all the children in the %icinity of Bethlehem A child .ho became a refugee %ery early in his life 2= 4imilarly, 5ounir &asheh, until recently director of the Palestinian community de%elopment center =0amer,= said that =the fact that Christ .as born in a ca%e, in a manger, is not a call to idoliEe or glorify the ca%e or the manger but a reminder to us of the absurd and e%il conditions in the .orld It is a call to action so that babies .ill not ha%e to be born in a cold and unhealthy ca%e Christ being born in a ca%e might be e"otic to @estern tourists, but for us Palestinians, it is a reminder that the inhuman conditions under .hich Christ .as born Aincluding his flee .ith his parents to a%oid being 1illed by soldiersB do still e"ist in the .orld and, in particular, in the %ery place .here Christ .as born = 4ermon of the 5ount In a situation of oppression and resistance, Christians are commonly 1no.n to cite the 4ermon of the 5ount, .ith its praise for the do.ntrodden 0he Palestinian priest Elias Chacour 1no.s Aramaic, the language spo1en at >esus2 time 9e says that .hat is translated as =blessed= in the te"t of the 4ermon of the 5ount is in the Aramaic te"t an acti%e %erb meaning =to set yourself on the right .ay for the right goal3 to turn around, repent3 to become straight or righteous = 9e translates the 4ermon in the follo.ing .ay: =Cet up, go ahead, do something, mo%e, you .ho are hungry and thirsty for Dustice, for you shall be satisfied = =Cet up, go ahead, do something, mo%e, you peacema1ers, for you shall be called children of Cod = 7i1e the child in the ca%e, the 4ermon on the 5ount is thus considered to be a call for action 0he Intifada sho.ed such forms of action At one point, the people of Beit 4ahour, the to.n adDacent to Bethlehem, refused to pay ta"es 0hey said: =As long as you occupy us, don2t allo. us representation, .e .ill not pay ta"es = 0he Israeli army came in the to.n to confiscate goods from those shops and households .ho refused to pay Coods up to an amount of 1 $ million dollar .ere confiscated from the 1',''' inhabitants of Beit 4ahour 8obody complied .ith the army2s demand to pay e%en Dust a small amount in order to brea1 the stri1e 5ounir &asheh relates the follo.ing story: =!ne .oman from that to.n, after the army too1 e%erything from her house and got to the 1itchen, said to the officer, =@hy don2t you lea%e the refrigerator I ha%e small children and the mil1 .ill rot outside = 0rying to tempt her, the officer said, =! < , pay +' she1els as ta"es Labout S *+M and I .ill return e%erything = 4he said, =I am not bargaining .ith you I am appealing to you as a human being .ho probably has children = 9e said: =!ne she1el = 4he said, =0a1e the refrigerator = &asheh: =0his is Christ in action = In commenting upon the ta" re%olt, 5itri Raheb says that it pro%ides an illustration of 5atthe. +:,', the passage containing the demand: =And if anyone .ants to sue you and ta1e your coat, gi%e your cloa1 as .ell = @hen one house .as completely emptied by the soldiers, the soldiers =turned to bid fare.ell to the elderly o.ner, a Christian 0he old .oman loo1ed at the young soldier sadly 9er glance contained suffering, pain, and rage 9er lips mo%ed, but not to curse, not to cry out not e%en to scold 2;ou forgot the curtains Please do not forget to ta1e them do.n too and remo%e them 2 An eerie silence descended on the room 4hamed and guilty, the soldiers left 0hey too1 e%erything e"cept the curtains At that moment the old .oman had achie%ed dignity At that moment the triumphant Israeli army had lost the battle An old .oman had defeated them = Reconciliation

!ne can see from these stories that the Palestinian(Christian register of e"periencing the Intifada .as action(oriented, liberation(minded, ethically raEor(sharp, challenging At the same time it contained openings of reconciliation, and many Christians .ere acti%e in dialogues .ith the Israeli peace mo%ement, such as in the Beit 4ahour platform =Rapprochement= .hich often hosted Israelis and Palestinians together 0he follo.ing story from a Bethlehem .oman ser%es to reflect this spirit of reconciliation: =-uring one of the Intifada days, a young Palestinian .oman .as trapped bet.een t.o groups of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone thro.ers Cas grenades .ere thro.n and the .oman had to close the .indo.s of her car 4he .as four months pregnant 4he felt about to suffocate but managed to go home 9o.e%er, her pains increased and at night she .as admitted to the hospital 0he ne"t day she had an abortion and sa. her four(month(old baby boy dead 4he .as terribly depressed since it .as the second abortion she suffered during the last three years A .ee1 later she %isited a medical doctor in >erusalem for a chec1 up @hen coming out of the doctor2s clinic, she sa. nearby on top of an electric staircase an Israeli child .ho .as rec1lessly playing and about to fall do.n 0houghts rushed through her mind 4hould she lea%e him and let him die the .ay the Israeli soldiers let her boy die a .ee1 ago, or should she ma1e a desperate attempt to grab himF All of a sudden, she felt an impulse that made her hurry for.ards 0hro.ing herself in front of the boy she pre%ented his fall = Christian action no.adays 0imes are changing 0he Intifada has ceased, although up until this day there are regular s1irmishes bet.een Palestinian boys and men and Israeli soldiers, and e%en sometimes large(scale outbursts at Rachel2s 0omb in Bethlehem ;et the peace process and the arri%al of the Palestinian Authority has changed life and the nature of the relations bet.een Palestinians and Israelis as .ell as bet.een Palestinians themsel%es @hat does it mean no.adays, a Christian .ay of life in Bethlehem and the 9oly 7andF It .ould be pretentious to suggest definite ans.ers 0he conte"ts are different 0he emigration of Palestinian Christians from the Bethlehem area has continued due to the uncertain circumstances and the e"isting family net.or1s in the Americas, Australia and other places 0here are fears that the presence of the community itself is at sta1e At the same time, due to increasing globaliEation, the influence of @estern mass media, indi%idualiEation and consumerism, some young Christians do not feel a strong relationship .ith either the Christian community in Bethlehem or .ith Palestine in general 0here hides a certain alienation behind the phenomenon of Christian emigration &or a considerable number of young people, the stories of Palestinian and Arab life are less rele%ant than they .ere for their parents and grandparents !ther members of the Christian community are concerned about this and are trying to formulate an ans.er in .hich a Christian contribution to Palestinian national life is less defined by the numbers of Christians present in the country and more by the constructi%e roles Christians fulfill in society 0hese roles are redefined to meet modern demands yet remain rooted in the traditional cultural identity of Christian Palestinians 0he follo.ing areas seem especially salient 0hey all ha%e to do .ith community building Education -ue to the presence of ?uality Christian schools, Christians still ha%e a great sta1e in the formation of future Palestinian leaders and cadres Cradually, a number of themes come for.ard that may gi%e ne. impulses to Palestinian education 4tudents learn more about the en%ironment and the di%ersity of cultures in their country, allo.ing them to ta1e pride in the life of their ancestors Also, education helps Palestinians to meet other Palestinians Presently a doEen of schools in the Bethlehem(9ebron area cooperate to re%i%e the shared 5oslem(Christian culture of Palestine, an e"perience of social and geographical border crossing -emocracy programs are found at se%eral educational institutions Israeli( Palestinian peace encounters are promoted 4uch initiati%es in the long run add to a climate of openness and tolerance, e%en though .ithout a fundamental change in the political and economic conditions of li%ing, educational efforts .ill meet their limitations 0ourism Christians ha%e been traditionally in%ol%ed in the de%elopment of local tourism and they .ill undoubtedly play a central role in de%eloping the tourist sector in the Palestinian Autonomy In doing so, they are in a good position of communicating the Palestinian culture to.ards %isitors In %ie. of the e"istence of %arious stereotypes of Palestinians, tourism may be the maDor channel through .hich Palestinian Christians can help to restore a fruitful, open e"change .ith the outside .orld Presently %arious tra%el agents operate =alternati%e=, =cultural= or =authentic= programs for tourist %isits, including pilgrimages 0he %isitors do not Dust attend the traditional sites, but also %isit the =li%ing stones,= the nati%e Palestinians, or .itness traditional Palestinian cultural places 0o ta1e one e"ample, during the millennium year, a tra%el agency organiEes .al1ing Dourneys from 8aEareth to Bethlehem, in the footsteps of 5ary and >oseph, not Dust to get a better feel of .hat such Dourneys meant in the old times, but also to ha%e an opportunity to %isit Palestinian %illages, to stay the night there and to tal1 .ith locals about their conditions of life 4ocial and charity .or1 &inally, there is the social .or1 of the many institutions in Bethlehem .ho .itness >esus2 life by .or1ing in health and other sectors @ith a staff that is increasingly ArabiEed, they pro%ide hope for Christians and 5oslems ali1e, in an open atmosphere Galues of democracy and human rights are increasingly propagated @e mention here some of the maDor institutions, and add some Islamic and secular ones: ( 0he Antonian 4ociety: 9ome for the female elderly ( 0he Arab 4ociety for Rehabilitation of the Physically 9andicapped ABeit >ala, originally BethlehemB ( Ihsan Charitable 4ociety ABeit >alaB ( 0he Arab @omen2s 4ociety ABethlehem, Beit >ala and Beit 4ahourB ( 0he 8ational !rthodo" Charitable 4ociety ABethlehemB ( 0he !rthodo" Arab Club ABeit 4ahourB ( 0he Islamic Charitable 4ociety ABethlehemB ( 0he Islamic Club ABethlehemB ( 4couts and Cirls2 Cuides 5o%ements ( Popular Committees: 9ealth, Agricultural and @omen2s acti%ities 0he social and charity institutions contribute to .hat can be called a =theology of ser%ice= ( a theology that Bethlehemites consider an essential complement to the theology of liberation prompted by the political e%ents of Palestinian nationalism, and to the theology of meditation and reflection de%eloped in the monasteries of Bethlehem from ancient times on

C9AP0ER ): 5!47E5(C9RI40IA8 7IGI8C 0!CE09ER :p until this point .e ha%e loo1ed upon the Christian heritage of Bethlehem from a Christian perspecti%e But .e should not forget that the land of Palestine is inhabited by a maDority of 5oslems .ho, li1e the Christians and the >e.s, %enerate many of the patriarchs and prophets of the !ld 0estament, and .ho also feel a special relationship .ith Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Prophet >esus Aor 2Isa in ArabicB !f all the Christian saints, 5oslems %enerate especially 5ary, the mother of >esus, to .hom a full sura Achapter 19B in the <oran is dedicated 5oreo%er, since the beginnings of Islam, Bethlehem .as included in the 5oslem pilgrimage route that follo.ed the road from >erusalem, .ith its -ome of the Roc1 and Al(A?sa 5os?ue, to 9ebron, .ith the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and >acob, and their .i%es 4arah, Rebecca and 7eah 0he 5oslem(Christian li%ing together in Palestine indeed goes bac1 to the beginnings of Islam E%en though there ha%e been periods of proselytiEing and, at tragic moments of history, cases of oppression and discrimination, the general picture is one of a 5oslem(Christian li%ing together in daily peace, respect and cooperation It is common to hear Palestinians saying that it does not matter .hether one is 5oslem or Christian3 both belie%e in the same Cod, spea1 the same language and share the same Arabic culture Culture of the land @hat has sustained this li%ing togetherF A maDor element is .hat .e pre%iously called the =culture of the land,= stretching bac1 thousands of years 7i%ing in an area that is fertile but %ery much dependent on rain, the Palestinian peasants sa. the .orld and nature as a precarious gift 0hey in%ented or re(adapted creation stories in .hich bene%olent deities shaped nature and ga%e it life, .hereas e%il gods represented the destructi%e forces that threatened to thro. life bac1 to primordial chaos Essential to sur%i%al .as the ability to in%o1e the good gods2 mercy 0he Canaanite inhabitants of the land of Palestine therefore loo1ed for material symbols and signs that could gi%e them access to the di%ine .orld 8ot surprisingly, they searched for spots in nature that could fill human beings .ith a.e and .onder, such as high places and old trees, ca%es and gro%es, .ells and fountains 0here they prayed, made sacrifices and recei%ed blessings In the course of time, such places .ould become associated .ith holy persons or =a.lia= Aplural of =.eli=B .ho .ere seen as mediating bet.een the people and the gods !ne could recogniEe such places by a sudden appearance of light, the smell of incense, or the sound of religious music or prayer In due time those places .ould become imbued .ith more circumscribed religious meanings @onder stories celebrated one or another healing property of the site or of the .eli li%ing there Essentially, such places .ere icons, small representations, of the larger sacred .orld According to peasant belief all creation is infused by the sacred 5ore than anybody else the peasant 1ne. that the gift of life should not be ta1en for granted It .as the fruit of a hard(.on struggle, the success of .hich depended not Dust on peasant labor but on supernatural grace Adoption of ancient practices @hen the =9apiru= or 9ebre.s appeared in the history of Canaan, they shared this local culture :p until the Babylonian period of the #th century BC, the 9ebre.s regarded ;ah.eh as co(e"isting .ith se%eral other deities associated .ith the land 5ost 9ebre. leaders considered it folly to estrange those neighboring gods @ith fe. e"ceptions, the 9ebre. <ings too1 care to include local .orship practices in their social .orld 5uch later on, Christianity and Islam did the same E%en though the ne. religions bro1e .ith the earlier polytheistic traditions and de%eloped a distinctly ne. morality and di%ine understanding of their o.n, a great many of the e"isting popular practices .ere ta1en o%er &or instance, Canaanites thought ancient trees, located on a high place or near a .ell, as being fa%ored by the a.lia or saints 0he peasant hung rags of clothes on such trees to sho. humility3 he also prayed there and used the fruits for healing purposes 7ater on, Christianity and Islam .ould emphasiEe the symbolic potential of trees and plants 0he main trees of the land, such as the oli%e, fig and grape, are fre?uently mentioned in Biblical and <oranic parables, .hile the popular fol1lore of the ne. religions came to include many tree stories 0hus, Christians used to say that all trees 1neel do.n in %eneration of Cod during the feast of Epiphany A>anuary )B and the feast of the Cross A4eptember *6B 5oslems belie%e that during the *)th of Ramadan, .hen the hea%ens open their doors for Cod to appear, the trees bo. so as to a%oid .itnessing 9im 0his is but one e"ample of the influence of the ancient peasant culture on the stories and customs that came to be shared by Islamic and Christian belie%ers in the area 0.o =inter(religious= customs call for special attention because of their influence up until the present(day: %o. ma1ing and festi%e religious celebrations Go. ma1ing Go. ma1ing is a religious custom in .hich a belie%er promises to perform a pious act or some form of labor in e"change for help from a .eli or saint In the @est, %o. ma1ing is sometimes practiced .hen prayers are directed to 4t Anthony for the purpose of reco%ering something precious that is lost In Palestine, li1e else.here in the 5editerranean area, %o. ma1ing practices ha%e traditionally been much richer than in the @est In %isiting a common place of .orship, such as the tomb of a local saint, 5oslems and Christians offered oli%e oil, burned incense, put on a candle, conducted an act of fasting, promised to gi%e an amount of money for the maintenance of the shrine, or presented another material or symbolic gift In e"change, the saint helped them to get a child, to o%ercome an illness, or to 1eep a family member out of prison, among other things 5any saints possessed special healing po.ers 0here .ere saints for the mentally disturbed, for the deaf, for the blind, for childless .omen In case one could not tra%el to the shrine or holy place, because of an illness for instance, it .as possible to perform the %o. through the mediation of another person Alternati%ely, a priest could %isit the homes to collect contributions for a %o., such as .hen first fruits .ere collected during the oli%e, grape or fig har%ests3 a community practice ?uite familiar in Palestine before the 19+'s In a traditionally Christian area li1e Bethlehem, it .as common up until recent time, that 5oslems %enerated Christian saints and places @hen 5oslem or Christian .omen .ished to ha%e a child, they %isited the 5il1 Crotto close to the Church of the 8ati%ity, too1 out some chal1 from the .all or ground, rubbed it in .ater and too1 a drin1 from it According to tradition, it .as at that place that 5ary fertiliEed the ground .hile breastfeeding >esus Go. ma1ing .as shared across the religions 5oslem .omen promised to gi%e their baby a Christian name if their childbearing .ish .as fulfilled In the Bethlehem and 9ebron areas still many 5oslems bear the names of =Ceorge= or =Elias = It e%en happened that childless 5oslem families .ho .ished to ha%e a baby %o.ed that they .ould baptiEe their child if their .ish .as fulfilled In such cases, the Christian priest as1ed the 5oslem parents .hether they .ished their child to become Christian :sually they said no, and the priest then baptiEed the child .ith .ater but not .ith the oil Athe sacrament of confirmationB, .hich meant that the child, follo.ing the parents2 .ish, did not become a Christian

Another popular e"ample of 5oslem .orship at Christian sites .as the scratching of inscriptions at .ells de%oted to 5ary, as those in Bethlehem2s neighboring to.ns Beit 4ahour and Beit >ala A particularly artistic practice here .as the use of henna, a reddish natural material traditionally used to beautify the bride at a .edding 0he henna .as smeared on the .ell as to1en e%idence of gratitude for the help by the saint Badriyyeh2s shrine 8ot only 5oslems %o.ed at religious shrines .hich .ere not their o.n In their turn, Christians performed %o.s at 5oslem places &or instance, the Christian .omen of Beit >ala used to %isit the tomb of Badriyyeh Aor =moon=B to the .est of to.n in the %illage of @aladDeh Badriyyeh .as a female .eli 1no.n for her effecti%e intercessions 0he Palestinian fol1lorist 0a.fi? Canaan pro%ides an e"tensi%e account of the stories connected .ith the famous sultan Bader, her father, .ho came from Persia in the )th century to roam the countryside .est of Bethlehem and help the 5oslem armies in their siege of >erusalem 9e .as said to ha%e been able to multiply loa%es of bread and to create a series of .ells on the hills by brea1ing a .ater Dar and dispersing the shreds all o%er the ground Religious fol1lore often borro.s from older narrati%es to ser%e a ne. conte"t At Badriyyeh2s shrine, the Christians follo.ed the old practices of putting candles and hanging pieces of clothes on iron bars3 they e%en ga%e their De.elry Rain processions @hereas %o. ma1ing .as a personal or family matter most of the time, it also happened that in case of a draught or during critical political conditions the people, 5oslems and Christians, collecti%ely came together to in%o1e the di%ine -uring a rain procession the people implored the saints to deli%er life(gi%ing .ater It .as ancient practice in the Bethlehem region that 5oslem and Christian peasants marched together carrying a stic1 in front of them on .hich a ragged puppet .as attached, .hich represented 5ary or another rain(bringing saint As lac1 of rain .as considered to be Cod2s punishment for the .ic1ed deeds of men, the peasants %o.ed that they .ould better their life 0hey sometimes .al1ed in bare rags to demonstrate their humility in the face of Cod 0he .al1 could lead deep into the countryside ( a reminder of the ancient past .hen prophets and mon1s %isited the Biblical .ilderness in order to purify themsel%es from sin 4ometimes children .al1ed in front of the adults As children .ere naturally not responsible for the sins of their parents, their presence .as supposed to soften Cod2s .rath -uring the rain processions people sang or chanted songs li1e the follo.ing one in Beit >ala .hich is directed at the local patron, 4aint 8icholas: @e ha%e come to you, 4t 8icholasQ ! stream of rain, I implore youQ @e are today your ser%ants, 9ea%en2s 1ey is in your hand ( Bring .ater, !h bring .ater, Put the bread beans in the Dar, And .ait for Cod2s mercy, 4t 8icholas, ! our neighborQ ! friend of our young and old, Intercede Afor usB .ith our Cod, 4end rain, ! our 7ord, on our landQ ! our 7ord, ! our 7ord Because of the scarcity of rain on our land A@e implore youB ! 4t 8icholas to intercede Afor usB .ith our Cod @e are coming to you, 4t 8icholas, @e are young and .e submit to you, @e are today under your protection3 4end us AthereforeB rain, ! our 7ord Palestinian feasts 5any present(day Palestinian feasts, too, ha%e deep roots in the Canaanite culture of the land @hile %o. ma1ing usually happened in times of need, celebrations mar1ed moments of gratitude and Doy 5oslem and Christian families used to come together for the purpose of har%esting or performing a collecti%e .or1 li1e building a house 4uch moments of .or1ing together reflected a community spirit that .as often gaily e"pressed in group chanting and singing -uring the e%ening all people, including hired .or1ers, .ould come together under the trees in the field to share food, drin1s and story(telling In a .ay, the celebration e"pressed the balance of a peasant2s life oscillating bet.een the hard .or1 of the day and the celebration of Cod2s creation during the night 5oon and stars cast a setting that inspired a feeling of community After all the an"ieties and misfortunes of daily life, such celebrations brought bac1 a sense of .holesomeness In the course of time such ancient festi%e celebrations .ould be appropriated by the monotheistic religions and brought in connection .ith themes and narrati%es central to their o.n 0hus, the present >e.ish feast of 4uccoth in 4eptemberI!ctober goes bac1 to the Canaanite autumn agricultural celebrations in .hich the %ictory of Baal, the life(gi%ing Canaanite Cod, o%er 5oot, the Cod of -eath, .as celebrated 7ater the Canaanite feast .ould be connected .ith the 9ebre. E"odus 4till later on, the har%est feast .ould inspire the secular feast of 0han1sgi%ing no. popular in the @est 0his process of borro.ing is characteristic for many religious customs As .e sa., Christmas too is a feast celebrated at a moment in time that .as pre%iously associated .ith the ancient pagan celebration of the solstice, the coming of ne. light and life 0his celebration of nature has left its mar1 e%ery.here 0he Palestinian peasant calendar, 5oslem and Christian, used to be punctuated by feasts associated .ith the agricultural cycle Pentecost .as the feast of the beginning of the har%est .hen the people left their houses to stay in the open fields, .hile the &east of the Cross, 4eptember *6, heralded the end of the har%est celebrations .hen people returned home 4t Elias2 feast on >uly 9 signaled the coming of the first pac1s of clouds 8ature and community(building .ere so central to the spirit of those feasts that the ?uestion .hether they .ere 5oslem, Christian or pagan in origin did not matter much to the peasants .ho .ere in any case not .ell(%ersed in the dogmatic differences bet.een the religious beliefs

0he 5amre festi%al In connection .ith the festi%e celebrations on the land, .e may briefly pay attention to the ancient festi%al at 5amre in 9ebron, a to.n located only half(an hour dri%e from Bethlehem to the south -uring the early centuries after Christ the annual fair at the sacred !a1 of 5amre attracted %isitors from not Dust the local area but from all o%er the 5iddle Eastern region In 5amre Abraham .as said to ha%e met the three angels, one of them a hidden appearance of ;ah.eh It .as no coincidence that Abraham .as commemorated by so many, including pagans, Christian, >e.s, and 5oslems &or Palestinians, Abraham is the =&riend of Cod= or Al(<halil, .hich is the Arabic name of 9ebron Abraham has al.ays been the symbol of hospitality and, because of his tolerant attitude to.ards the Canaanites in the country, he has come to symboliEe, up until the present(day, the possibility of accommodation bet.een different peoples and cultures Gisitors came together at 5amre for celebrations, %o. ma1ing and offering of sacrifices 0he 5amre cult represented a %eneration of pagan deities side by side .ith monotheistic .orship It is interesting to notice, ho.e%er, that the festi%al did not encourage the promiscuity often associated .ith Canaanite religious practices All people, pagan or monotheistic, abstained from intercourse in ad%ance of and during their attendance At the same time, the camping by people around the terrain, the music, the hustle and bustle, and li%ely con%ersations e%o1ed a gay open(air e"perience that many people no.adays .ould consider a holiday highlight Al(<hader or 4t Ceorge All of the abo%e elements of %o.(ma1ing and celebrations are also rele%ant to the practices de%oted to a saint .ho, apart from the Girgin 5ary, is the most popular among the common people of the Bethlehem area and perhaps Palestine at large: 4t Ceorge for the Christians, Al(<hader Athe Creen !neB for the 5oslems 0he different religious and popular stories about this saint gi%e some interesting clues about the intricate .ays of li%ing together of 5oslems and Christians in the past, .hile also pro%iding a glimpse into the future possibilities for an understanding =across religious borders= Athe e"pression is from an ongoing proDect of schools .ith 5oslem and Christian students from the Bethlehem area .ho, among other things, study the stories of Al(<hader for the purpose of community(buildingB In the @est 4t Ceorge is 1no.n as the patron saint of England .ho sle. the dragon 0his tradition dates bac1 to the Crusaders, .ho too1 o%er Palestinian forms of .orship and brought them to their homelands 4t Ceorge is said to ha%e li%ed at the end of the third, beginning fourth century during the time of the anti(Christian persecutions conducted by the Roman Emperor -iocletian 9e .as supposedly born and buried in 7ydda, bet.een >erusalem and 0el A%i%, .hile li%ing most of his life in Anatolia or Armenia -ifferent monasteries and churches claim to be the site .here he fought the dragon3 the sites include 7ydda, Beirut, and places in 0ur1ey 0he saint2s mother .as said to li%e in a house nearby Bethlehem in the %illage that no. bears his name, Al(<hader 0here the Romans .ere thought to ha%e imprisoned him 5any Cree1(!rthodo" churches or monasteries throughout the 5iddle East claim to possess the saint2s tomb or bones 4t Ceorge is fre?uently depicted in a sculpture on the door lintels of Bethlehem houses, especially, but not only, Christian ones 0he Cree1(!rthodo" %enerate the saint in the afore(mentioned 5oslem %illage of Al(<hader .hich is located to the south.est of Bethlehem 0he local priest there, father 5ethodios, is the only Christian in to.n 9e super%ises the mass and also the regular %o. ma1ing conducted in e?ual numbers by local 5oslems and %isiting Christians Gisitors bring not only small items but also large sheep, .hich are slaughtered in the church courtyard 0he blood is ta1en home and put upon the door to protect the family @hen a 5oslem enters the church, he or she may find the right prayer direction by facing the large picture of 4t Ceorge .hich points to the south, to 5ecca 0he church also contains an iron loc1 .hich one may put around one2s nec1 to pre%ent mental illness :ntil the end of the 19th century there used to be a house for the mentally ill .hich .as connected to the monastery 4t Ceorge, a saint to .hom is attributed special po.ers for helping the mentally ill, .as 1no.n to appear there 4t Ceorge2s feast day is 5ay # 0he e%ening before 5oslems and Christians gather for a picnic under the trees around the church A5any of the trees ha%e lately been cut to ma1e .ay for an Israeli bypass roadB Early in the morning the ne"t day, Cree1 !rthodo" Christians from Beit >ala and Bethlehem .al1 in procession to.ards the church -uring the day people ma1e %o.s in a festi%e atmosphere 0hroughout the year, but especially on the saint2s day, local people are said to e"perience appearances and .onders of 4t Ceorge At the time of the oli%e har%est, a priest .ith a car .ith an image of Al(<hader in the front used to pass by the fields to collect oli%e oil People 1issed the image .hen gi%ing the oil !n the e%e of their .edding 5oslem and Christian couples .ent to the Church of Al(<hader for the groom to be sha%ed, an act in preparation of a ne. stage in life Rainbringer @hat are the reasons for the saint2s popularityF 7i1e the other popular Bethlehem saint .ith .hom he is sometimes identified, 4t Elias Aor EliDahB, 4t Ceorge is a rainbringer and therefore precious to a population in an area .hich regularly faces a lac1 of .ater <hader or =green= refers to fertility @hen thunder comes, one hears 4t Ceorge on his galloping horse -uring rain processions, the peasants used to carry his picture As a youth he is said to ha%e drun1 from the fountain of life and so he became =e%ergreen = 9e usually chooses fertile, green places to stay, but he also ma1es dry sites green by sitting on them !nce he emptied his .ater Dug on a pric1ly pear that since then stayed green: the cactus 7i1e so many other saints and a.lia, he is present at special places across Palestine .here people %enerate him 9o.e%er, it is also his peculiar characteristic not to be bound by place and time 9e is e%er mo%ing and a pro%erb says that a .atchful and e%er(present man is li1e 4t Ceorge3 or, .hen one meets somebody .ithin a short period at se%eral different places, the other person is =li1e 4t Ceorge = A spo1esperson of the Al(<hader community inter%ie.ed at the beginning of the *'th century contended that 4t Ceorge .as an e%er(present saint3 right at the moment of tal1ing he could feel his presence and as1 for his protection In homes, too, he might be in%isibly present @hen during a meal some loa%es of bread fall do.n the table or .hen bread is pushed to.ards the table edge, Christians said that 4t Ceorge .as present and .as ta1ing his share of the meal 4imilarly, up until this day some >e.ish families 1eep one table place open for EliDah during the dinner of a maDor feast li1e Pesach As for 5oslems, tradition says that during the night bet.een 0hursday and &riday Al(<hader %isits se%eral .ells that bear his name 0he saint mo%es as fast as he .ants As people say, he is the only saint =.ho is not dead=3 that is .hy people can see him galloping on his horse in the s1y Concrete and general Interestingly, the image of a saint .ho is beyond time and space neatly parallels the Palestinian peasant2s basic appreciation of nature as inspiring a.e for the sacred !n the one hand, 4t Ceorge refers to a %ery concrete historical person .ho is %enerated at special holy places, and .ho is seen as assisting particular persons in need !n the other hand, he is also the personification of a generaliEed e"perience of sacredness .hich is to be found

e%ery.here and .hich is felt perhaps especially by those people .ho are recepti%e to the beauty and fragility of the gifts of nature and life Pre%iously .e sa. to .hat e"tent Christianity, especially its Cree1(!rthodo" tradition, allo.s for an understanding of the .orld around us as being infused by the sacred 5oslems agree 0hey too %alue the art of being sensiti%e and open to the surrounding .orld as a .ay to gain access to the di%ine By becoming open to the ApotentialB beauty of nature and life, people learn to be grateful for .hat they o.e to Cod According to Christian thin1ing, Cod is, although not %isible, e%er(present around us It is possible to connect .ith 9im through the energies of the di%ine that are seen at special occasions as radiating from people and nature &or 5oslems too, it is essential to stay .atchful, to be in touch .ith the imminent life(gi%ing sacredness around us, and to open up the senses, including the imagination, in reaching out to the Cod(gi%en .orld 9ere 5oslems and Christians ha%e a shared approach to.ards a truth that the Palestinian peasants had already taught themsel%es since time immemorial >e.s too, share this understanding of the sacred and, incidentally, used to ma1e pilgrimage to Al(<hader before the *'th century pitted >e.s and Palestinians against each other 0here is an additional reason for 4t Ceorge2s traditional popularity, .hich also accounts for the popularity of another saint, 4t Elias, .ho has %ery similar traits 4t Ceorge is 1no.n as the patron saint of the tra%elers and the salesmen 9e .atches o%er the desert and the sea and protects the tra%elers .hen they face predicaments According to tradition, the 4t Ceorge monastery in Al(<hader .as founded by a rich tra%eler .ho, being decei%ed by his tra%el companions and forced to continue his Dourney .ithout money, in%o1ed 4t Ceorge2s support As a %o. the tra%eler promised to erect a monastery 4t Ceorge pointed out the right place for the building and helped him in his needs In other stories, 4t Ceorge guides people in finding their .ay in life In one story a peasant assisted by 4t Ceorge directed Jueen 9elena in finding the 0rue Cross and, fairytale(li1e, ended up marrying the ?ueen2s daughter Al(<hidr 0here is here an interesting connection .ith Islamic belief 0he role of 4t Ceorge as guide and protector is li1ely related to the story of Al(<hidr in the <oran Al(<hidr is the guide of 5usa A5osesB on his .ay to ac?uiring maturity and .isdom In a passage 1no.n for its moral comple"ity, Al( <hidr says that 5usa .ill not be able to bear him as a companion ( ho. can he bear .hat is beyond 1no.ledgeF 9e as1s 5usa not to ?uestion him, and 5usa promises to do so 9o.e%er, 5usa cannot restrain his surprise .hen Al(<hidr bores a hole in the bottom of the ship in .hich they sail &or one time, Al(<hidr bears 5usa2s impatience although he does not ans.er his ?uestions @hen they Dourney on, Al(<hidr slays an innocent man 5usa rebu1es him, and again Al(<hidr 1eeps patient 0hey tra%el on @hen they as1 some people to pro%ide food, it is refused Al(<hidr then helps to restore a .all of the house that belongs to the %ery same inhospitable people Again 5usa protests, and as1s .hy Al(<hidr did not as1 for payment After this rene.ed sho. of impatience, Al(<hidr says it is time for him to depart 9e e"plains his deeds, saying that the ship belonged to poor fishermen .ho .ere follo.ed by a <ing .ho .anted to rob them of their possessions By damaging the ship, he helped them to escape As for the youth, Al(<hidr says, his parents .ere true belie%ers and, since the youth .ould corrupt them, Al(<hidr sle. him 0he 7ord .ould grant them another child in his place, a son more righteous As for the .all: it belonged to t.o orphan boys .ho had their treasure buried beneath it 0hey .ould be able to dig up their treasure .hen gro.ing up to manhood 0his episode of the <oran has been a base of inspiration for se%eral stories in .hich 4t Ceorge or Al(<hidr appears doing astonishing deeds that beg e"planation 0he 5oslems of Al(<hader %illage .ere said to ha%e told the follo.ing tale at the beginning of the *'th century: =5usa, in need of guidance, as1ed Allah to enlighten him Allah told him to meet his instructor at a certain place 5usa did .hat he .as told to do and found a %enerable der%ish .ho re?uested from him not to ma1e any remar1s or ?uestions concerning anything he might see him doing .hen they Dourneyed together 5usa promised to do so At sunset they reached a %illage and .ent to the house of a shei1h .ho pro%ided generous hospitality At bedtime they .ere led to a large, .ell( furnished room 0he %essels for ceremonial absolution .ere of sil%er and set .ith De.els 5usa fell asleep, but at daylight his companion .o1e him up, saying that they must lea%e at once 5usa obDected 2Remember the terms of our contract2, said the der%ish, and he coolly slipped the sil%er %essel into the bosom of his robe 5usa rose in silence and they left the house 0hat e%ening they reached another %illage and .ere once more the guests of a shei1h, this time a stingy one &or sleep, he directed the guests to.ards a ca%e behind the stable @hile 5usa could not eat from the bare crumbles he .as offered, his companion seemed to ha%e a good meal and could not .a1e up ne"t morning 5usa, hungry, .ished to lea%e immediately, but his companion preferred to sleep longer 5usa barely could hide his amaEement .hen the der%ish, in apparent gratitude for the slim meal, offered his host the sil%er %essel 5usa ho.e%er, mindful of his promise, did not say a .ord 0he third day2s Dourney .as through a barren region, .here 5usa .as glad to ha%e the scraps of bread .hich but for the der%ish he .ould ha%e thro.n a.ay 0o.ards the e%ening, they came to a ri%er, .hich the der%ish did not .ant to cross 0hey stayed the night in a miserable hut .here the .ido. of a ferryman li%ed .ith her orphan nephe., a boy of thirteen 0he poor .oman did e%erything in her po.er to ma1e them comfortable 4he sent her nephe. to sho. them the .ay o%er a part of the bridge that had collapsed in the .ater 4he shouted instructions at the boy to guide the %isitors safely @hen they .ere half.ay the bridge, the der%ish seiEed the boy by the nec1, flung him into the .ater, and dro.ned him 25urdererQ2 5usa e"claimed 0he der%ish then said, 2!nce more you ha%e forgotten the terms of our agreement, and no. it is time for me to depart2 2All that .as done .as predestined by -i%ine mercy !ur first host .as too ostentatious 0he loss of the %essel taught him a lesson 0he second host .as stingy 8o. he .ill begin to be hospitable in the hope of gain, but the habit .ill gro. upon him 0he dro.ned boy .ent to Paradise, .hereas had he li%ed but t.o years longer, he .ould ha%e 1illed his benefactress, and in the follo.ing year he .ould ha%e 1illed you 2= 4ufis 0he message of these stories does not easily sin1 in 4ome of the decisions made by Al(<hidr clearly appear inhuman and ris1 to be understood as di%ine %indication of cruelty But the stories also sho. that the .orld, follo.ing the course of human beings inclined to.ards particular deeds, is open to impro%ement and change by di%ine efforts Cod2s inter%ention through Al(<hidr teaches that reality is not al.ays .hat it loo1s 0he <oran( based stories of Al(<hidr point to a transcendent reality behind the superficial reality .e 1no. It ta1es a special effort to open oneself up to this reality In fact, it may be impossible for a normal human being to fully bear the di%ine 1no.ledge .hich Al(<hidr confides 0his reminds of a basic problem of daily life3 all people ha%e moments that they are unable to grasp the meaning of e%ents around them ;et the %ery fact that .e learn that there is a different reality behind .hat .e 1no. is ele%ating It teaches us to consider the possibility of loo1ing at reality in a critical or imaginati%e .ay

&ascinated by the stumbling communication bet.een 5usa and Al(<hidr, many 4ufi mystics consider Al(<hidr as their special guide In the same .ay as Al(<hidr .arned 5usa to be patient, and to restrain his spontaneous passions3 4ufis taught themsel%es and others to master their passions in order to reach a transcendent .orld through inner meditation, in a similar .ay as mon1s practiced their de%otion in the desert .ilderness @e may add here that se%eral 1no.n 4ufis used to li%e in the Bethlehem countryside In the %illages of Battir and 2:beidiyeh inhabitants still 1no. sacred places associated .ith 4ufis &rom the abo%e .e can see that each religion has its o.n uni?ue interpretations of the sacred 9o.e%er, in the li%ing practice of belie%ers these interpretations came to be intert.ined 0he anthropologist Clenn Bo.man, .ho recently studied the .orshiping practices at the sites of 4t Ceorge and 4t Elias in the Bethlehem region, says that the interfaith forms of .orship practiced there may ser%e as a broader model for pilgrimage in the 9oly 7and According to him, present pilgrimage is too often conducted in religious seclusion In his opinion, future pilgrimage should in%ol%e encounters and e"changes bet.een people from different religions .ho share the holiness of the sites By doing so they =come to see the miraculousness of a land .hich enriches people2s li%es by mirroring bac1 to them as a gift .hat they un1no.ingly bring to it = !ther forms of interfaith .orship 0he intert.ining of Palestinian religious practices also happened in churches and mos?ues or at home :p until recently, 5oslems used to %isit the Church of the 8ati%ity and pray in the southern apse A4t Ceorge2s chapelB that faces 5ecca In their turn, Christians .ere accustomed to %isit the 5os?ue of 2!mar opposite the Church of the 8ati%ity As .e sa. before, this mos?ue .as erected there to commemorate the presence of 2!mar in Bethlehem at the beginning of the 5oslem era .hen he offered the church authorities a co%enant in .hich the Church of the 8ati%ity .as spared and Christian .orship tolerated Perhaps most re%ealing are the touching stories of 5oslems and Christians .ho, befitting a culture characteriEed by mutual borro.ing, adopted each other2s .orshipping customs Elham 9amed is a 5oslem principal of the go%ernment school in 2:beidiyeh, the %illage to the southeast of Bethlehem located not far from the con%ent of 0heodosios 4he says that as a young girl she studied at a Christian school =At home, I used to pray before dinner and e%erybody .ould .ait until I finished my prayer 4ometimes %isitors as1ed my mother: 2@hy is she doing thisF2 4he then ans.ered them: 25y daughter only than1s Cod for gi%ing her this food 2= !ther common 5oslem(Christian customs are not so much rooted in shared forms of .orshipping but are rather part of the practice of adopting cultural items Dust for the pleasure of it &esti%e customs help to color a daily life that due to the hard political and social circumstances is in urgent need of some uplifting 0hus, it is no.adays common to see 5oslems in the Bethlehem region ha%ing a Christmas tree, or to color and hide Easter eggs Con%ersely, the moon(shaped panca1es sold in a festi%e atmosphere during Ramadan are also consumed by Christians at special occasions li1e Epiphany A 5oslem(Christian dialogueF 0here is a message underlying all this 5any Bethlehemites protest against the use of an e"pression such as =5oslem(Christian dialogue= because this presumes that there e"ist t.o .ell(circumscribed groups .ho in some .ay need to be reconciled .ith each other &or Bethlehemites, such an approach distorts reality 0he li%es of Palestinian 5oslems and Christians are entangled in a myriad of .ays 0hey share place, language, culture, and history Christians and 5oslems .ere pitted against other 5oslems and Christians in the feuds characteristic of a social system that used to be based, and to some e"tent is still based, on the po.er of tribes or e"tended families rather than on the influence of religion As .e sa. in the history chapter, Christians contributed to.ards the de%elopment of Arab nationalism and the formation of protests during and after the British mandate in the urge to protect Palestinian lands Bethlehemites still cherish reminiscences of the mutual help e"tended by Christians and 5oslems during the critical moments in their history .hen the community of Palestine .as fragmented due to the uprooting of 19,$ 0he best .ay to catch the atmosphere bet.een Christians and 5oslems during those and later days is again through some personal stories collected from members of school communities in the Bethlehem region 4tories A 5oslem .oman of -heisha refugee camp near Bethlehem, Rabiha, tells about the time .hen her family .as forced to lea%e their %illage in 19,$ =@e arri%ed in Beit >ala .here the AChristianB community came out and greeted us .ith open arms @e .ere forty refugee families .ho .ere gi%en shelter, food and drin1s by the people of Beit >ala 0hey .ould not accept any money e%en for bread @hene%er the meals .ere coo1ed .e .ere al.ays included !n the day of my .edding, I .as ta1en from our Christian friend2s house as if it .as my o.n house 0heir sons escorted me as if they .ere my o.n brothers 5y fa%orite e%ents too1 place during the religious holidays .hen .e all .ould %isit one another 0he Christian boys from the Abu 4aba family .ould fast .ith us during Ramadan @e ne%er felt any obstacles bet.een one another as 5oslems and Christians I remember at one occasion, .hen my young son suffered from dehydration, that he .as admitted to hospital for treatment A local Christian nurse .ho treated him too1 him into her arms as if he .as her o.n son 4he breastfed him into health @e became best friends and both our sons, too = -uring the 19+'s and 19#'s 5oslems and Christians helped each other during the har%est A local family from Beit >ala named 4arras o.ned large tracts of land in the Assioun region to the south of the to.n 0he 5oslem refugees %olunteered to help their friends In return the 4arras family .ould not let them lea%e .ithout fruits and %egetables as compensation for their hard .or1 5others 0here .as a strong relation bet.een a .oman called Imm Lmother ofM 5ohammed and Imm 5itri 7ocal people immediately recogniEe both names as being 5oslem and Christian respecti%ely 5ohammed refers to Islam2s main prophet .hereas 5itri is Arabic for A4aintB -emetrius Imm 5itri used to o.n the oldest house in Bethlehem and she possessed large tracts of lands 4he had t.o sons .ho both li%ed in the :nited 4tates 0he t.o

ladies .ere the best of friends, regardless of their religious affiliation @hene%er Imm 5itri .ould coo1, they .ould sit together to eat Imm 5itri .ould as1 Imm 5ohammed2s children to collect old .ood to 1indle a fire for heating up the 0ur1ish coffee they dran1 together -uring the oli%e season, they .ould all har%est oli%es together !nce the oli%es .ere pressed into oil, Imm 5itri .ould distribute bottles of oil to friends and poor families, both 5oslem and Christian As a religious gesture, she al.ays sent a bottle of oli%e oil to fi%e different churches, each associated .ith a different saint At times, Imm 5itri felt lonely and afraid to sleep alone at night Imm 5ohammed .ould then ta1e her to sleep amongst her children so that she felt secure -uring one occasion, Imm 5ohammed2s son Ahmed found Imm 5itri had cut her hand and .as bleeding se%erely 0hey immediately too1 her to hospital .here she .as treated Imm 5ohammed brought her home and loo1ed after her until she .as .ell again Another story of friendship across religious borders is about Imm 4abri and Imm 4hamsi, both of Bethlehem As neighbors they spent a lot of time together Imm 4abri is a 5oslem .ho prays and fasts during Ramadan Imm 4hamsi is a de%out Christian .ho has a statue of the Girgin 5ary in her house, and .ho regularly lights a candle in front of it to bless both families 0he t.o .omen used to play cards .ith one another all night long and coo1 and eat together during the day @hene%er one of them had fallen ill, the other lady .ould ta1e o%er the chores of her friend and loo1 after her Both .omen .ould rather help one another than as1 help from their families @hen Abu 4hamsi, the husband of Imm 4hamsi, died in &ebruary 19)', Imm 4abri supported Imm 4hamsi in her moment of sorro. 4he e%en prepared Abu 4hamsi2s funeral, and cleaned his corpse for burial !n that same day, Imm 4abri recei%ed the ne.s that she had been longing to hear for a long time: her only son ga%e birth to a baby boy But since she .as so upset from the death of her best friend2s husband, she did not sho. any sign of Doy &rom her side, .hen Imm 4hamsi heard the ne.s she .as %ery e"cited and pleased for her friend 5oslem(Christian politics Ci%en such close bonds as a result of friendship, neighborliness and family or tribal alliances, it comes to no surprise that the political Palestinian scene, too, has been characteriEed by strong Christian(5oslem bonds As .e sa., the political misfortunes had thro.n 5oslems and Christians in the same boat Especially during 7abor go%ernments, Israel did its best to establish a form of cooperation .ith the Christian churches in >erusalem, in the process aiming to pre%ent a Doint stand of 5oslem and Christian representati%es 9o.e%er, throughout the time of occupation the different religious institutions regularly cooperated .ith each other &rom the beginning of the 19$'s on ( perhaps in response to a gro.ing Islamic trend at the time ( there appeared more calls for 5oslem(Christian cooperation made by indi%idual churches and organiEations that arranged 5oslem(Christian meetings In Bethlehem it .as the interfaith association Al(7i?a A=the meeting=B .ho too1 the initiati%e -uring the Intifada, the local heads of the churches as .ell as the Islamic 5ufti of >erusalem, issued statements e"pressing concern for the fate of their communities and support for the national Palestinian rights Both the Palestinian leadership in the @est Ban1 and CaEa, as .ell as the P7!, appealed to Christians for fulfilling important posts 4ince the establishment of the Palestinian 8ational Authority on the Palestinian lands in 199,(199+, Christians ha%e been included in its hierarchy In the elections for the 7egislati%e Council of the Authority, t.o of the four seats for the Bethlehem district .ere assigned to Christians Although there are %oices here and there .hich plead for more acceptance of Christians in some of the bodies of the Authority, such as the police force, there is little doubt that the P8A sincerely stri%es to 1eep misconduct to.ards Christians in chec1 0hat the P8A .as guilty of persecution of Christians, as the Israeli go%ernment contended in 199)(199$, .as pro%ed to be totally baseless by Palestinian 9uman Rights !rganiEations Ignorance 0his does not mean that Christian(5oslem relations are al.ays and e%ery.here as they should be 0here ha%e been s1irmishes bet.een local people on some sensiti%e cultural topics such as the dress of Christian girls or a pro%ocati%e pronouncement by a local shei1h But it is important here to 1eep a fe. aspects in mind &irstly, it is certainly not al.ays 5oslems .ho should be blamed3 Christians too ha%e their o.n habits of =fundamentalism= and ignorance 4econdly, conflicts are almost al.ays not connected .ith religious tensions, but rather .ith cultural, family, %illage or tribal problems .hich may Aalthough often do notB follo. religious lines 0hirdly, until no. conflicts ha%e not led to the formation of specifically Christian or 5oslem institutions .hich preach separation of identity formation along =7ebanese= lines &or instance, the idea of separate Christian parties as opposed to 5oslem parties has ne%er been on the agenda in Palestine !ften frictions are based on ignorance A .oman from -heisha refugee camp told the follo.ing stri1ing instances: =!nce there .as a young 5oslem boy called 5ohammed <hader .ho attended the 4ilesian -on Bosco 4chool in Bethlehem 9e played bas1etball in the school2s team !nce they played a match in CaEa .ith a local team -uring the game, some players approached 5ohammed as1ing .hy he played .ith =Israelis= as they .ere the Palestinians2 enemies 0he boys from CaEa presumed that some of the Bethlehemites .ere Israelis because of their names, li1e Elie and Ceorge 0he CaEan boys .ere %ery surprised that there .ere Christian Palestinians .ith such names = 0he .oman .ho ga%e the story abo%e spent si" years at the 0alitha <umi 7utheran 4chool in Beit >ala .here she .as 1no.n to be a studious and polite student =!n one occasion I .as .ith a group of girls .ho obser%ed a group of boys doing inappropriate things 0his led one of the girls to comment: 2!h loo1 at those dirty 5oslems2, not realiEing that I .as a 5oslem too I told them that I .as a 5oslem too and that they could see that I .as not dirty 0hey .ere shoc1ed to learn that I could be a 5oslem = -i%ersity and unity In general, Palestinian history and sociology is characteriEed by t.o broad tendencies 0he first is one of di%ersity in .hich people of all .al1s of life sho. the art of li%ing besides each other, sometimes due to need, sometimes due to preference In the relati%ely small Bethlehem area .e can obser%e a surprisingly broad spectrum of cultures and customs 0hey differ according to .hether one has a %illage or to.n bac1ground, .hether one is a refugee or not, .hether one is from 9ebron or Bethlehem, .hether one is 5oslem or Christian 0his di%ersity has engendered among many a certain .isdom in dealing .ith others Bethlehemites are s1illful in =identity negotiation = 0hey ha%e learned .hen and ho. to bring for.ard different aspects of their multidimensional identity !f course, there is also the gossiping and Do1ing behind one2s bac1 but the stereotypes are usually not of a de%ious nature Essentially, Palestinians are, although often emotional, rather good(natured and tolerant in dealing .ith the tensions and frustrations of daily life

0he second tendency is one of unification 0he political situation has put Palestinians under hea%y pressure, both politically and economically Ci%en that Israel has historically attempted to di%ide Palestinians from each other, there is a strong urge among them to unify, either under the banner of national identity, or, more problematically for Christians, under the religious banner of Islam Education 0he challenge for many Palestinian Christians is no. to accommodate the tendencies in a fruitful manner -i%ersity should not hurt unity, .hile unity should not suppress di%ersity It is this philosophy that guides some of the 5oslem(Christian proDects that are presently being implemented in the Bethlehem region &or instance, Al(7i?a2 as .ell as local schools in the region organiEes celebrations in .hich 5oslems and Christians both participate Al(7i?a organiEes a traditional annual 5oslem(Christian Christmas celebration 4ays one head teacher .hose son is at the &reres 4chool: =-uring Ramadan my son brought me an in%itation from his school to prepare and bring my Iftar meal Athe meal after a day of fastingB and share it .ith Christian families It .as a lo%ely e%ening 0his .as a simple and easy lesson that established a real practical dialogue = Education is the prime channel to combat ignorance Community leaders presently stress that Christians should learn about 5oslem beliefs, not from a Christian but rather from the 5oslem point of %ie.3 con%ersely, 5oslems should learn about Christianity in the same manner 5oreo%er, 5oslems and Christians should not only learn about each other2s beliefs and dogmas, but also %isit each other2s holy places and share each other2s stories and celebrations 4uch initiati%es may help to create an intimate feeling of each other2s religions rather than Dust bare 1no.ledge At the same time, Christian and 5oslem customs and stories are part of the broader Palestinian heritage, and may thus help to strengthen this heritage in an open, enriching manner

C9AP0ER $: CRA&04 @hether it is the ByEantine mon1 .ho .or1s on bas1ets or the nati%e artisan, crafts are a %ital source of income for the Bethlehemites At the same time, Bethlehem2s uni?ue products ha%e also been a source of pride to its inhabitants 4ome crafts are indeed uni?ue for Bethlehem, li1e the oli%e .ood sculptures and mother(of(pearl products !thers, such as embroidery, represent a broader Palestinian or Arab culture !li%e .ood sou%enirs 0he maDor craft in Bethlehem is the ma1ing of oli%e .ood sou%enirs !li%e .ood crafts .ere practiced and taught by the earliest mon1s .ho came to Bethlehem in the fourth century 0hey instructed the indigenous population .ho transmitted their 1no.ledge to future generations @hy oli%e .ood as a ra. materialF As .e sa. before, the oli%e is a sacred tree in Palestine about .hich stories and legends abound, and is therefore, from a popular(religious point of %ie. a meaningful choice E?ually important, oli%e .ood is readily a%ailable in the en%ironment and it is suitable for being cut and shaped by a sharp obDect 0he appearance of the .ood, .ith its %arious colors, lines and te"tures, is ?uite beautiful After the oli%e har%est in !ctober and 8o%ember, and the subse?uent pruning of the trees, the oli%e branches are set apart and sold to .or1shops 0here the craftsmen may cut a great many figures, most of them reminding of the 8ati%ity or >esus2 life and death E"amples are stables, camels, crosses and rosaries -uring the 19th century, .hen the influ" of pilgrims reached ne. heights due to better transport, the craft flourished E%en during the uphea%als of the *'th century the number of artisans and .or1shops initially e"panded After an apprenticeship period needed to gain e"perience, .or1ers started a .or1shop themsel%es A maDor influence on the trade .as the introduction of mechaniEation, first in the 19+'s .ith the electrical sa., and then in the 19)'s .ith the copy machine 8o.adays about se%enty percent of the shaping is done through the copy machine .hile the remaining .or1, such as the elaborate car%ing of faces, is done manually 0he appearance of the sculpture is still uni?ue, although one does not find the artistically brilliant products of the past 0he 19)'s .itnessed a decline in the industry and a concentration of the production in larger .or1shops 0his is due to, firstly, the sudden increase in sculptures brought onto the mar1et and the concomitant fall in prices, and, secondly, to the decreasing number of pilgrims as a conse?uence of the political situation At present there are some #' oli%e .ood .or1shops in the area, many of them barely able to sur%i%e 5other(of(pearl 0he other maDor sector of sou%enir production is mother(of(pearl 0his trade also has a long history In the course of the 1,th to the 1#th century the &ranciscan friars introduced mother(of(pearl in Palestine, bringing in craftsmen from Cenoa, and using ra. materials from the Red 4ea or the &ar East Rosaries, De.elry bo"es, crosses, and many other obDects are made manually 0he craft has similarly e"panded as the oli%e .ood production, but although there are no.adays still more than +' .or1shops, the trade faces a precarious future due to the products2 high prices coupled .ith the orientation of present(day2s pilgrims to.ards cheaper products In %ie. of Bethlehem2s international outloo1, it comes at no surprise that %arious old crafts and arts reflect a broader culture, especially the culture of the Christian East In Christian churches the surrounding physical or material culture is %ital to creating an appropriate en%ironment for .orshipping in beauty and ?uietness All churches in Bethlehem pride artistic paintings, sculptures, and car%ings made to enhance the religious(aesthetic e"perience of the belie%ers and pilgrims Icons 7et us ta1e icons as an e"ample since they are central to the Eastern Christian church &rom the %ie. of craftsmanship, it is not only the icon .hich counts but also the artisan2s attitude during and in preparation of the .or1 Icons are holy in the sense that they reflect the .or1ings or energies of the di%ine Indeed, the pilgrim or belie%er may consider the icon as an entrance to hea%en Beautiful art in a .ay redeems creation and allo.s the belie%er to engage in an act of restoring the original harmony and beauty of man1ind before the fall Creating such art cannot be .ithout di%ine inspiration 0he artist should ha%e an attitude of special de%otion, and momentarily become one .ith the product It is common that icon artists fast and meditate before starting to .or1 0hey should not feel li1e the artist .ho is putting his or her o.n indi%idual stamp upon a .or1 of creation3 rather, they should feel as fulfilling a ser%ice made possible by Cod In Christian theology, the icon is ultimately not a human but a di%ine product It therefore suits the artisan not to emphasiEe indi%idual forms but to meticulously follo. the established orthodo"y of painting, li1e .or1ers do in a trade gild 5oreo%er, the contents of the painting must be functionally beautiful, and must clarify the message of Christianity Islamic calligraphy practiced by Islamic artisans fulfils similar demands 8o copy of reality 0hese demands ha%e left their influence upon the nature of the iconic representation itself 5otifs and style ha%e largely remained unchanged to emphasiEe continuity and orthodo"y in the art2s tradition @hen .atching an icon, one does not see a copy of reality In most icons, there is no natural li1eness, no illusions of real space and %olume, no shado.s or special light effects, and no indi%idualiEed beings .ith special characteristics 0he image is often slightly alienating, as if it is beyond time It is intended to refer to and to share in an original state of harmony, representing the real image of human1ind as Cod .anted it At the same time, the images ha%e a clearly didactic purpose, and it is common to see in one icon different religious scenes being merged or interlin1ed, such as the birth and death of >esus 0hus, the manger can be painted li1e a gra%e, .hile baby >esus is simultaneously depicted as the adult >esus rising up from the tomb -espite the orthodo"y, icons are ine%itably affected by cultural con%entions and conte"ts3 for instance, the physiognomy, dress, and en%ironmental representations may some.hat change o%er time E"perts ha%e said that local artisans may ha%e crafted the mosaics in the Church of the 8ati%ity since they are products of the Eastern, Cree1 or 4yrian, culture In some modern paintings and sculptures one may detect the local artisan2s hands, or at least hands sensiti%e to the local culture &or instance, in the &ranciscan church of the 4hepherds2 &ield the paintings represent shepherds modeled

on indigenous Palestinians .ho come from families li%ing in Beit 4ahour In the 5il1 Crotto church, the e"terior sculptures ha%e been made by local artisans sponsored by Palestinian Christians .hose names are engra%ed in the stones @ith the ad%ent of Bethlehem *''', many churches ha%e been reno%ated, sometimes under considerable time pressure In 4t Catherine2s church, .here the Christmas night mass is broadcast all o%er the .orld, professional craftsmen ha%e been .or1ing almost round the cloc1 to ha%e the church ready before the celebrations start at Christmas 1999 4culpturing Ibrahim Anastas, )' years old and still .or1ing, has helped to build se%eral churches in Bethlehem and >erusalem 9e no. .or1s .ith his sons in the latest reno%ation proDect of 4t Catherine2s church 9e relayed to us ho. in the past the .or1ers used to sing and pray .hile .or1ing, and ho. they also used to tal1 about religious issues 5r Anastas is proud that his sons ha%e ta1en o%er the craft 9e belongs to a guild of professional creati%e diggers .ho mould statues and ma1e paintings 5r Anastas began in 19+' building and reconstructing the columns and the heads of the columns in 4t >erome2s courtyard in front of 4t Catherine2s 9e also independently ma1es designs and participates in e"hibitions .ith statues and sculptures of saints and other subDects, li1e the Biblical animals lion, tiger, eagle and lamb Among other things, he crafted a sculpture that .as gi%en as a present to the Pope, a >esus(figure from sil%er and red stone 4ome Bethlehemites ha%e perfected their art, as in &a.Ei 8astas2 .or1shop, .hich is famous .orld(.ide All statues are manufactured from red and .hite stone brought from the Bethlehem area &or a long time the stones .ere cut by hand, re?uiring much time and effort 8o. the process is mechaniEed, although still lea%ing room for artistic perfection 0he main problem is to find the pure 1ind of stone that does not ha%e any defect @omen2s crafts !li%e .ood car%ing, mother(of(pearl, painting and sculpturing are predominantly masculine professions conducted in .or1shops or at building sites !n the other hand, .omen2s crafts are primarily practiced at home !ne such craft is the ma1ing of special religious cards >eanette 4leibi is )' years old and has eight children Apart from ma1ing rosaries from oli%e pits, most of her 6'(year .or1ing life has been filled .ith the ma1ing of special postcards to .hich 9oly 7and flo.ers are attached 0ogether .ith her daughters and in(la.s, she plants %arious 1inds of flo.ers in her garden or home, .hich pro%ides beauty and a fresh smell to the house 4he pic1s them gently and di%ides them in small pieces, arranging them one by one, and puts them in a ne.spaper or schoolboo1 do.n under the mattress 0he flo.ers are 1ept separate, glued onto the cards, and dried .ith cloth 9er income has al.ays been modest: no. she recei%es a little more, )' she1els for the ma1ing of 1,''' cards @hile she used to greatly enDoy the craft, she presently feels little satisfaction 4ome crafts seem to fight against the currents of time, and postcard flo.er(ma1ing loo1s li1e one of them 4ome other crafts that enhance family and community life ho.e%er still ha%e a future Embroidery should be mentioned first A craft .hich dates bac1 ,,''' years bac1 into the Canaanite period, embroidery .as practiced primarily in %illages but the to.ns, too, had their o.n style In areas li1e the Calilee, .here .omen needed to in%est considerable time in agricultural .or1, and .here they thus did not ha%e enough time to do the labor(intensi%e embroidery, one finds the craft only sparingly 9o.e%er, in the RamallahI>erusalemIBethlehem region it used to be possible to guess a .oman2s home to.n or %illage from the traditional embroidery dresses she .ore 7ocalities and regions had their o.n indi%idual style 0he reddish Bethlehem dresses are still reno.ned for their beauty and, although the popular craft has lately declined due to the increase in other .or1 inside and outside the home, presently te"tile cooperati%es are once again %igorously e"panding the craft .ith an eye on re%italiEing the traditional Palestinian fol1lore In Palestinian embroidery one still obser%es the typical motifs deri%ed from nature such as images of the sea, moon, sna1es, pomegranate and %ine Palestinian .omen feel it is a special tas1 to enhance family and community celebrations li1e Christmas and Easter by .earing beautiful dresses and preparing special foods A famous local combination is the =1a2i1= and =ma2moul= date coo1ies .hich are shaped so as to e%o1e Christ2s thorns, and .hich are ser%ed .ith red and yello. li?ueur, reminders of Christ2s blood and the %inegar he dran1 on the cross 0he Bethlehem !ld 9ouse, a fol1lore museum close to 5anger 4?uare, sho.s a %ariety of Bethlehem dresses .orn during special occasions as .ell as many traditional instruments and tools used in the household 0here is little doubt that the traditional crafts .ill continue to form a %ital part of Bethlehem2s economy, especially .ith the e"pected e"pansion of cultural tourism It is no e"aggeration to say that .ithout their crafts, the Bethlehemites .ould lose a maDor part of their distincti%e cultural identity

7I40 !& 7I0ERA0:RE C9AP0ER 1: BE097E9E5 I8 BRIE& Ciries ElAli, =Bethlehem: 0he Immortal 0o.n = Bethlehem, 199' Applied Research Institute, =En%ironmental Profile for the @est Ban1 = Golume 1: -istrict of Bethlehem Bethlehem, 199+ PACE 0our Cuide of the @est Ban1 and CaEa 4trip =Palestine = Ramallah, 1999 4a.san and Justandi 4homali, =Bethlehem *''': A Cuide to Bethlehem and its 4urroundings = @aldbrol, 199) C9AP0ER *: A8CIE80 9I40!R; !& BE097E9E5 <aren Armstrong, =>erusalem: !ne City, 0hree &aiths = 8e. ;or1, 199# >ulia -abdoub, =7es :sages de la 5aison = In: Philippe Re%ault, 4erge 4antelli et Catherine @eill(Rochant, =5aisons de Bethleem = Paris, 199) 9annah Ciacaman, =&amilles et Juartiers = In: Philippe Re%ault, 4erge 4antelli et Catherine @eill(Rochant, =5aisons de Bethleem = Paris, 199) 4idney 9 Criffith, =Christians, 5uslims, and 8eo(5artyrs: 4aints2 7i%es and 9oly 7and 9istory = In: Arieh <ofs1y and Cuy 4troumsa Aeds B, =4haring the 4acred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the 9oly 7and = >erusalem 199$ Eugene 9oade, =Cuide to the 9oly 7and = >erusalem, 19$, R 9amilton, =0he Church of the 8ati%ity Bethlehem: A Cuide = >erusalem 19,) Anthony !25ahony, =Church, 4tate and the Christian Communities and the 9oly Places of Palestine = In: 5ichael Prior and @illiam 0aylor Aeds B =Christians in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199, 5aria 0eresa PetroEEi, =Bethlehem = >erusalem, n d 5ichele Piccirillo, =0he Christians in Palestine during a 0ime of 0ransition = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ Catherine @eill(Rochant, =9istoire et E%olution :rbaine = In: Philippe Re%ault, 4erge 4antelli et Catherine @eill(Rochant, =5aisons de Bethleem = Paris, 199) C9AP0ER 6: 09E 1909 A8- *'09 CE80:R; 8ancy 7 ConEaleE, =-ollar, -o%e, and Eagle: !ne 9undred ;ears of Palestinian 5igration to 9onduras = Ann Arbor, 199* Roger 9eacoc1, =>erusalem and the 9oly Places in European -iplomacy = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ >ad Isaac, 5aria 4chrader and 4uhail <halilieh, =0he Colonisation of Palestine = In: 8aim Atee1 and 5ichael Prior Aeds B, =9oly 7and, 9ollo. >ubilee: Cod, >ustice and the Palestinians = 7ondon, 1999 Anthony !25ahony, =0he Religious, Political and 4ocial 4tatus of the Christian Communities in Palestine, c 1$''(196' In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ Adnan 5usallam, =Christian Arabs and the 5a1ing of Arab 8ationalism = In: Al(7i?a2 >ournal, Gol #, &eb , 199# Adnan 5usallam, =0he &ormati%e 4tages of Palestinian Emigration to the Americas :ntil the E%e of the 19,$ Catastrophe = Al 7i?a2 >ournal, Gol *, -ec , 199* Bernard 4abella, =4ocio(Economic Characteristics and the Challenges to Palestinian Christians in the 9oly 7and = In: 5ichael Prior and @illiam 0aylor Aeds B =Christians in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199, Justandi 4homali, =Palestinian Christians: Politics, Press and Religious Identity 19''(19,$ = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ Inter%ie. .ith 5r 4arras, Beit >ala, in >uly 1999 C9AP0ER ,: 09R!:C9 PEA4A80 E;E4

<enneth E Bailey, =Poet and Peasant and 0hrough Peasant Eyes: A 7iterary(Cultural Approach to the Parables in 7u1e = Crand Rapids, 19$6 0 Canaan, =Plantlore in Palestinian 4uperstition = In: >ournal of the Palestine !riental 4ociety, Gol GIII, 19*$ 0 Canaan, =@ater and 20he @ater of 7ife2 = In: >ournal of the Palestine !riental 4ociety, Gol IG, 19*, Crace 5 Cro.foot and 7ouise Baldensperger, =&rom Cedar to 9yssop: A 4tudy in the &ol1lore of Plants in Palestine = 7ondon, 196* > E 9anauer, =0he 9oly 7and: 5yths and 7egends = 7ondon, 19') Issa 5assou, =4tories of Places and Persons Connected .ith Religious &ol1lore in the Bethlehem -istrict = In: Bethlehem :ni%ersity >ournal, n d C9AP0ER +: C9:RC9E4 I8 09E BE097E9E5 AREA Alison 9illiard and Betty >ane Baily, =7i%ing 4tones Pilgrimage .ith the Christians of the 9oly 7and: A Cuide = 7ondon, 1999 8orman A 9orner, =A Cuide to Christian Churches in the 5iddle East: Present(day Christianity in the 5iddle East and 8orth Africa = El1hart, 199$ 4a.san and Justandi 4homali, =Bethlehem *''': A Cuide to Bethlehem and its 4urroundings = @aldbrol, 199) -aphne 0simhoni, =Christian Communities in >erusalem and the @est Ban1 since 19,$: An 9istorical, 4ocial, and Political 4tudy = @estport, 1996 0imothy @are, =0he !rthodo" Church = 9armonds.orth, 199) Inter%ie. .ith &ather Espiro 4amour, Bethlehem, >une 1999 Inter%ie. .ith &ather >acob Abou 4a2ada, Bethlehem, >une 1999 Inter%ie. .ith &ather >oseph 4haheen, Beit >ala, >une 1999 Inter%ie. .ith &ather >acob Abdel 8ur, Bethlehem, >une 1999 C9AP0ER #: C9RI40IA8 @A;4 !& 7I&E Amedee Brunot, =5ariam the 7ittle Arab, 4ister 5ary of >esus Crucified = !regon, 199' Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the 5iddle East, =0he Christian Presence in the 5iddle East: @itness and 5ission = Pastoral 7etter, >erusalem 199* <enneth Cragg, =0he Arab Christian: A 9istory in the 5iddle East = 7ouis%ille, 1991 -er.as > Chitty, =0he -esert A City: An Introduction to the 4tudy of Egyptian and Palestinian 5onasticism :nder the Christian Empire = !"ford, 19## @illiam -alrymple, =&rom the 9oly 5ountain: A >ourney in the 4hado. of ByEantium = 7ondon, 199$ 5unir &asheh, =0o.ards Reclaiming !ur Identity and Redefining !ursel%es = 5anuscript, n d Ruth and 0homas 9ummel, =Patterns of the 4acred: English Protestant and Russian !rthodo" Pilgrims of the 8ineteenth Century = 7ondon, 199+ Rafi? <houry, =Christian(5uslim Relations(Past, Present and &uture = In: 8aim Atee1 and 5ichael Prior Aeds B, =9oly 7and, 9ollo. >ubilee: Cod, >ustice and the Palestinians = 7ondon, 1999 Annelies 5oors, =!n Appearance and -isappearance: Representing @omen in Palestine under the British 5andate = In: 0hamyris, Gol 6, Autumn 199# 7orenEo Perrone, =5onasticism as a &actor of Religious Interaction in the 9oly 7and during the ByEantine Period = In: Arieh <ofs1y and Cuy 4troumsa Aeds B, =4haring the 4acred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the 9oly 7and = >erusalem 199$ 5ichael Prior, =Pilgrimage to the 9oly 7and: ;esterday and 0oday = In: 5ichael Prior and @illiam 0aylor Aeds B =Christians in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199, 5itri Raheb, =I am a Palestinian Christian = 5inneapolis, 19$9 5itri Raheb and &red 4tric1ert, =Bethlehem *''': Past and Present= Afore.ord by ;asser ArafatB Bethlehem, 1999 7A@, =0he 5yth of Christian Persecution by the Palestinian Authority = >erusalem, 199$

4amuel Rubenson, =0he Egyptian Relations of Early Palestinian 5onasticism = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ 5ichel 4abbah, =Reading the Bible 0oday in the 7and of the Bible = Pastoral 7etter, >erusalem, 1996 Bernard 4abella, =Palestinian Christians and their Churches: &rom A.a1ening to 8ation Building = In: Bernard 4abella, Albert AghaEarian and Afif 4afieh, =Christian Goices from the 9oly 7and: !n the E%e of the 5illennium = 7ondon, 199$ Peter @al1er, =>erusalem and the 9oly 7and in the ,th Century = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ Robert 7 @il1en, =0he 7and Called 9oly: Palestine in Christian 9istory and 0hought = 8e. 9a%en, 199* Inter%ie. .ith 4yl%ana Ciacaman, Bethlehem, August 1999 C9AP0ER ): 5!47E5(C9RI40IA8 7IGI8C 0!CE09ER <aren Armstrong, =A 9istory of Cod = 7ondon, 199$ Clenn Bo.man, =Contemporary Christian Pilgrimage to the 9oly 7and = In: Anthony !25ahony .ith Coran Cunner and <e%or1 9inthian Aeds B =0he Christian 9eritage in the 9oly 7and = 7ondon, 199+ Clenn Bo.man, =8ationaliEing the 4acred: 4hrines and 4hifting Identities in the Israeli(occupied 0erritories = In: 5an: 0he >ournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, NNGIII A6B 0 Canaan, =5ohammedan 4aints and 4anctuaries in Palestine = @illiam -alrymple, =&rom the 9oly 5ountain: A >ourney in the 4hado. of ByEantium = 7ondon, 199$ Ead(series nr 6, =0he 5oslem(Christian -ialogue in -aily 7ife: Educational E"periences for Community Building = 0he 9ague, 199$ Chad & Emmett, =Beyond the Basilica: Christians and 5uslims in 8aEareth = Chicago, 1991 Rafi? <houry, =Christian(5uslim Relations(Past, Present and &uture = In: 8aim Atee1 and 5ichael Prior Aeds B, =9oly 7and, 9ollo. >ubilee: Cod, >ustice and the Palestinians = 7ondon, 1999 Arieh <ofs1y, =5amre: A Case of a Regional CultF= In: Arieh <ofs1y and Cuy 4troumsa Aeds B, =4haring the 4acred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the 9oly 7and = >erusalem 199$ >oan 0aylor, =Christians and the 9oly Places: 0he 5yth of >e.ish(Christian !rigins = !"ford, 1996 Inter%ie. .ith 5ohammed <hader, Beit >ala, >uly 1999 Inter%ie. .ith Imm 4hamsi, Bethlehem, >uly 1999 Inter%ie. .ith 5rs Rabiha, -heisheh Camp, >uly 1999 C9AP0ER $: CRA&04 Rana Anani, =Palestinian Embroidery 5a1es a Comebac1 = In: 0he >erusalem 0imes, 4eptember +, 199) Alison 9illiard and Betty >ane Baily, =7i%ing 4tones Pilgrimage .ith the Christians of the 9oly 7and: A Cuide = 7ondon, 1999 9ind <attan 4alman, !li%e @ood Industry in the Bethlehem Area = In: Bethlehem :ni%ersity >ournal Inter%ie. .ith Ibrahim Anastas, Bethlehem, 4eptember 1999 Inter%ie. .ith >eanette 4leibi, Bethlehem, 4eptember 1999