In Bethlehem

It is exceptionally easier than you might think to enter the West Bank. At Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, catch bus #21 (or was it #28?). Done. Now you’re in Bethlehem. What used to be a suburb of Jerusalem, is now on the other side of a giant concrete wall that is more than two times taller than the Berlin Wall.

In Bethlehem, I…

saw the supposed exact spot of the birth of baby Jesus at the Church of Nativity,
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walked the halls of Bethlehem University, 

ate a falafel sandwich in Aida Refugee Camp,

spoke with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh (professor, activist, genius) at the first Palestine Museum of Natural History (and watched Majd feed an owl, and saw hedgehogs for the first time),
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strolled along the monstrous Separation Wall,
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ate dinner down the street from gun towers of the Separation Wall, decorating the bullet holes in their windows with Christmas ornaments (how festive!),
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saw the largest illegal settlement in Bethlehem on a hill that used to be forest,

watched Palestinian Santas protest for peace,

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and watched the Bethlehem community come together at the Shepherd’s Nights Festival.