Next stop on our Palestine tour was Bethlehem. My mother wanted to visit the nativity church and the place where people believe Jesus was born. Mahmoud suggested that we also see the Banksy art on the wall and around – it was a great set up for both of us.
Outside the church, we met the very stylish Yasminn and Hiba from Nablus who were there to visit The Nativity Church as well, as it’s a holy place not only for Christians. We walked around to look at the different parts of the church and then we came back out and went to the wall. “Make Hummus not Walls” was written on the wall by graffiti artist Banksy, next to impressive pieces of art and statements by activists – but beyond the beauty and the creativity of it all – it was terrifying: A huge gate was cutting through the middle of what used to be a 15 minute straight drive from Jerusalem to Bethlehem – the ancient road was now obstructed by the wall, checkpoints, additional 40 minutes of detour travel and closed access for Palestinians.
We got on the bus for the road back, Mahmoud couldn’t drive us since he can’t cross the check point. “On the way from Jerusalem you had no problems, I know – there isn’t even a check point on the way here – but you will see on the way back to Israeli territory how different things will be” And it was different indeed, as all Palestinians were asked to get off the bus when we approached the check point. Elderly ladies, young people, young men in leather jackets. It was very cold, and they were all asked to stand in line outside of the bus while the “border control” teenagers calmly went about checking our passports and asking some people questions on where they had been and where they were going. It all took much longer than what was necessary and the Palestinian people were waiting outside all curled up – each holding on to their 400€ entry passes or legal working permits from their employers in Jerusalem. All of this so obviously just to make a disgusting point on who Israel thinks is worth more on a scale of deserving humane treatment. All just to show who’s the boss. All of it to nurture angry young Palestinians who will continue giving the Bibi team vague reasons to make sure status quo is maintained.
If baby Jesus was here, he would be crying his face off. Also, he wouldn’t have made it to Bethlehem. Modern day Apartheid is very much real.