Oh Little Town of Bethlehem: Photos of the Palestine Wall

Barbed Wire Fence in front of the wal

During our stay in Jerusalem, we took a day trip to the West Bank to visit the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron. Although I had been really looking forward to Hebron, the most moving part of the day ended up being the city of Bethlehem – home to the wall between Palestine and Israel.

The wall separates the Palestine territory from the rest of Israel. It looms almost twice as large as the infamous Berlin wall which once separated East Germany and West Germany. But, much like the Berlin Wall, the concrete barrer in Bethlehem has been decorated to express the feelings of those whose lives the wall has impacted.

Personification of Palestine with hands tied

Almost every inch of the wall is covered with paintings and murals. The art depicts many different feelings and emotions. Most are highly political – depicting the personification of Palestine being abused or images of picturesque Bethlehem being walled off from the rest of the world. Bethlehem is well known as being the birth place of Jesus, so many illustrations show walls blocking off Christmas or the nativity scene.

Christmas behind the wall

Some pictures show scenes of hope, illustrating times after the wall has fallen. Peace doves are common themes.

The wall after it falls

Issac’s knife can cut away all the poisoned yesterdays

Many of the illustrations call out the US for their involvement or lack there of – USAID, an organization of international aid is often depicted with a juxtaposition of tanks and weapons. Oftentimes these pictures will draw parallels with the Berlin Wall, Apartheid and the Holocaust.

“It cam down in Berlin – it needs to be removed here”

Statue of Liberty holding the personification of Palestine

“Israel, have you become the evil you deplored?”

The illustrations on the wall are in many languages expressing their hope for peace in Palestine.

“Pope, you are welcome in Palestine

“A country is not what it does, but what it Tolerates”

 Some of the art isn’t political at all – some illustrations are humorous or at times random…

 Some local businesses have even taken advantage of the free wall space to advertise….

Overall, a trip to the wall is a very powerful experience. Although there are some risks associated with visiting the West Bank, its something that I think is very important for anyone visiting Israel.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth”

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14 Responses to Oh Little Town of Bethlehem: Photos of the Palestine Wall

  1. Audrey says:

    Great photo essay. I really like the one shot depicting what the city would look like when the wall falls.

  2. Suzy says:

    Powerful photo essay on Bethlehem's wall. I was in Belfast a few months ago and walked through its wall of murals and political art. It is fascinating to see how these places comment on barriers politics have constructed.

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      I think that graffiti can be one of the most interesting things to see when visiting a new country. I’d love to see your pictures of Belfast.

  3. Stephen says:

    Thanks for posting about this art. It't powerful, thought-provoking, and beautiful. The world needs to learn more of this situation.

  4. Sabrina - Country Skipper says:

    Great photo essay! Really, really interesting pictures. I can't believe people put actual ads there too :)

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      I know the menu and the ads were really funny. Right next to the political murals. I guess if its there they might as well take advantage.

  5. Merna - Impact Journeys says:

    Amazing photos Liz! It really captures the spirit of the Palestinians and despite all they've endured, their hope continues. I've been to Palestine many times – both before the wall, during the build and aftewards – and I must say they are the most amazing, wonderful, warm, giving people I've met any where in the world. I hope you were able to make it north of Jerusalem into the West Bank as well.

  6. memographer says:

    Great set of photos! thanks for sharing!
    For a long time I was hoping to go to Berlin and take photos of Berlin wall murals… Unfortunately, they all destroyed by now. So wired fence is not a bad idea at all.

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed them. Visiting the wall was a really powerful experience. I highly recommend that anyone who goes to Israel takes a chance to visit.

  7. Farris says:

    I am a Palestinian. Thank you for putting together this photo essay. One thing it neglects to demonstrate is the extreme hardships this wall causes on the people who live and work in the West Bank. Large swaths of Palestinian land ended up on the “Israeli” side as a part of another land grab imposed by the Jewish state to expand its settlements. Many farms were destroyed in the northern West Bank when this wall sliced through their fields, separating them from their crops. Going to school, work, etc is a huge ordeal that can take hours to travel only a few miles.

  8. Pingback: Border Crossing: Reconciliation through the Cross | Lingua Divina

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