Bethlehem in Danger

• Holy Site deemed to be in danger from Israeli extremists
• Bethlehem city officials plead with UN for urgent help

By Peter Strahl

On June 29, 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and Pilgrimage Route to be a “cultural world heritage site in danger,” according to reports from Catholic websites, German news agency and the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Bethlehem, of course, is the birthplace of Jesus and is home to the oldest Christian communities on Earth.


The UN action has great meaning for the local population, who consider that the world should protect the holy site from the constant ravages wrought by extremist Jews and the Israeli Defense Forces.

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Thirteen of 21 UNESCO member nations, including the Palestinian Autonomous Authority, voted in favor of the declaration. Israel and its vassals, including the United States, Germany and three other countries, voted against the measure, while two other members abstained.

UNESCO’s action was requested as “urgently necessary” by Bethlehem’s city officials, many Christian and Muslim organizations and thousands of inhabitants, including priests, professors, artists, students and workers. The petition, according to, declares: “States, like the member-nations of UNESCO, could make a clear difference and invest in peace, by recognizing the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders and supporting our efforts for the preservation of our city of Bethlehem, by placing the city on the list of endangered cultural world heritage.”

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According to the letter, “The old city of Bethlehem, with its churches, repeatedly has been a victim of Israeli military attacks—as in the year 1967 and again in 2001 and 2002.” In one of the 2001 attacks, Israeli soldiers fired rockets unprovoked into a children’s hospital, in an act of wanton destruction and murder.

The mainstream media in the United States refuses to cover these atrocities or the ongoing genocide committed by the Israeli occupation government and its Jewish citizens against Palestinians. In addition, most Christian charities fail to acknowledge the suffering of Christians and Muslims, with a few notable exceptions such as the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Peter Strahl is a freelance translator for AMERICAN FREE PRESS and The Barnes Review. He is also the author of “Stroke of Luck Saves Europe,” which appeared in the July/August 2012 edition of TBR.