Tuesday May 21, 2013
The Day Combat Ops Cleared the Birthplace of JesusStory by Tim King Photos by Dexter Phoenix Salem-News.com
Ever see photos of the place where Jesus was born, crowd free?
(BETHLEHEM / SALEM) - The Church of the Nativity; birthplace of Jesus, is a place you can visit, did you know that?
Dexter Phoenix, our news photographer from London based with our team here in Salem, had the most amazing opportunity to visit the place where our modern Western culture truly begins.
Ironically, Dexter's visit to this most special birthplace of one of history's greatest peace leaders, came at a time when guns were firing and missiles were flying, and most of the people who live in and visit this place, wisely... were nowhere to be seen.
But Dexter ventured out as the Israeli military was busy pounding Hezbollah fighters nearby, in this deadly, hotly contested ancient Biblical land.
These photos taken during the heavy fighting in 2006 represent just a small look at the vivid and memorable collection of images Dexter has shot in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and many other places.
With no crowds and no sounds except for the Christian monk lighting candles in the spot where Jesus is specifically said to have been born, Dexter was in photographer's Heaven, a place most war photographers only end up seeing from a vastly different perspective.
There is a certain breathtaking quality to the photographs of this highly sacred place. Regardless of the religion you are talking about, the essentials of this story, that Jesus Christ lived and died two thousand years ago, is fairly undisputed. Exactly who and what he was, here on earth, is a matter less easily agreed upon. Muslims recognize Christ as a prophet.
It is widely accepted that while the buildings have risen around it, this spot, below ground level, is the manger where Christ was born.
The Bible states:
"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:4-7"
Bethlehem is located in the central West Bank, approximately 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem's population is about 30,000.
This ancient city has been attacked, occupied, destroyed and rebuilt, again and again in the course of history. Today it is the capital of the Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority, and considered to be a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism, especially around Christmas, when many Christian pilgrims head for the Church of the Nativity.
Most Christians believe that Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. It is small according to Wikipedia, and members of this community continue to move away in increasing numbers.
Jesus taught people to live without hate and war, and if slapped, to turn the other cheek. Jesus did not seek retribution, nor was he possessive. In today's world, Jesus would be branded by the right wing talk show hosts as a "raving liberal" and scorned.
Israel's Military State
Dexter's experience in Bethlehem, and what he saw outside of the Church that day, is nothing unusual in Palestine or Israel. Heavily supported by the U.S. taxpayers' hard earned contributions, God's Chosen People as they refer to themselves, use their military might on a semi-regular basis to kill their neighbors in sometimes alarming numbers, in ways that I don't think God would hand select anybody for.
The most recent serious incident happened exactly one year ago, during Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead', which has come to be known today as the Massacre of Gaza, and the Gaza Holocaust.
During this siege, between 1400 and 1500 Gaza residents, including several hundred children, were killed during a ferocious attack that many world leaders say involved a multitude of war crimes.
The U.N.'s GoldStone Report confirmed the war crime charges from a very unbiased source. Richard Goldstone is Jewish, and known for his work in resolving world conflict.
His report that cast a shadow on Israel's slaughter of over 1400 Gazans at a cost of 14 Israeli's, several among that number killed by friendly fire, was fought tooth and nail by the Jewish lobby and by the U.S. government itself.
Americans all need to open their minds on Christmas day, to the slaughter taking place in the Middle East in the name of religion.
God did not instruct people to always take away from others, so how can he approve of Israel's death machine that deals out retribution on a 100 to 1 level, and it is only that low if you include Israel's friendly fire casualties?
Israeli's continue to colonialize the last remaining land that belongs to the Palestinians, they do it willfully and forcefully and they do it because they believe that their people and only their people have a right to that land. If you aren't Jewish, you are out of luck in Israel, and your rights are limited.
If you are an American, this might seem like a really negative concept.
If I heard that a Jewish person was being denied a right or mistreated in a racist manner, I would run to their aid, I would do it for anybody. If Jews or Muslims were not allowed the same actual rights as Christians, I would fight for them.
Yet these are the things the Israeli's do in this modern world society that we all share.
The Apartheid comparisons are dead on target; the Palestinians deserve to live in peace, and as human beings on the face of this earth they are just as important as the Israelis.
It is always important to note that Israel's desire to take all Palestinian land is known as the Zionist movement, and by no means does the term describe every Jewish person. Salem-News.com is quickly becoming more familiar to and with these groups and we will continue to cover this topic as a matter of priority, with hope that education can lead to peace.
This is Bethlehem, and the actual place where Jesus Christ is said to have been born. In the slideshow, you can hit the pause button (found by hovering your mouse ofer the top right corner) and walk through the photos one by one if you choose to. There are monks who appear to be caretakers. One is photographed in the series.
They are part of the ancient Christian population that still inhabits this place.
Consider the purpose of people on this earth; nobody has a right to indiscriminately kill others over an entitlement problem based on a Biblical prophesy, which is precisely what Israel does.
As Americans we should be strongly against it, regardless of our personal faith.
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