House of Meat
Bethlehem means House of Meat in Arabic and House of Bread in Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible identifies it as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned the king of Israel. The New Testament identifies it as the birthplace of Jesus.
Population is 25,000 and rapidly shrinking due to bad economic conditions. Unemployment stands at 75% with tourism being its main industry. The Church of the Nativity is the main tourist attraction amongst Christian pilgrims.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the influx of refugees transformed the city's Christian majority into a Muslim one. In 1947, Christians made up 75% of the population, today it is about 20%. More Christians than Muslims are emigrating because of a minority situation.
The mayor and the deputy mayor are required by municipal law to be Christians. However the 15-member Municipal Council, including the mayor and deputy mayor, are dominated by factions from the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) and Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement).
Bethlehem, West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel (Saturday 27 November 2010 @ 3:59pm).
ISO200 | f/8 | 1/200 sec | 24-70mm @ 70mm | AWB | raw
Click on image for a look at this shrinking city