Friday, August 18, 2006

Wall in Bethlehem


The "entrance" to the Bethlehem checkpoint, from Bethlehem. Jerusalem is a couple of miles down the road on the other side.

Note the ID's in hand, ready to present to soldiers (sorry no pictures of the soldiers, they don't like being photographed. they probably don't like mirrors either).

Both Bethlehem and Ramallah are adjacent to Jerusalem (Bethlehem to the South, Ramallah to the north). Normally a 15 minute drive, it now takes an hour for Palestinians from either city to enter Jeursalem.

But that's if you have a permit. As you can see, there is very little pedestrian traffic in these photos (and private Palestinian vehicles are, of course, not allowed to pass at all). Only a handful of Palestinians currently have permits to travel to or work in Jerusalem. Many many Palestinians had jobs there before, but have now lost them.

And as far as getting from Bethlehem, past Jerusalem to Ramallah... well, that's allowed for many Palestinians, but you have to go AROUND Jerusalem - so rather than 1/2 hour it takes 1.5 hours (I will post more about this) and a crazy drive through the desert mountains and narrow neighborhood streets.

Remember, of course, that Jerusalem, or at least East Jerusalem, is a Palestinian city. Why?

1 - Palestinian Muslims and Christians lived throughout East and West Jerusalem and surrounding villages before the ethnic cleansing of 1948.

2 - Palestinians constitute nearly half of East Jerusalem residents today, in spite of Israel's best efforts. Israel seldom gives Jerusalem Palestinians permission to build houses and buy land, and meanwhile constructs huge Jewish-only settlements to tip the population balance unnaturally toward the settlers. Hebrew University is in East Jerusalem (see the earlier post, "Settler Stoplight" below) and continues to expand on Palestinian property.

3 - Jerusalem is the heart of the Palestinian economy, and Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem are all one metropolitan area. The wall has effectively ripped that heart from the body of Palestine... sorry for the unpleasant metaphor.

4- Even the US does not recognize Israel's illegal annexation of East Jerusalem (it was annexed after Israel conquered it in 1967). Thus the US only keeps a consulate in East Jerusalem; the embassy remains in Tel Aviv, even though Israel claims Jerusalem as it's capitol.

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