Rachel’s Tomb and the Security Perimeter
The security perimeter is ever present, encircling in a curvilinear fashion, a highway’s overpasses, in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
Outside Bethlehem is Rachel’s Tomb, the third holiest site in Judaism, the traditional burial place of the wife of the biblical patriarch Jacob, completely encircled by the security perimeter, resembling a tube of toothpaste with a check point in and out. Most amazing thing I ever saw at a religious site, or any site, really. A carve out into the West Bank.
Rows and rows of Jewish owned, identical four story townhouses, on the hilltops and high ground, strategically overlooking the Arab villages below. Housing abounds on both sides of the security perimeter. The Israeli apartment buildings are on-line with utilities, etc. and the Arab apartment buildings are not on-line with the Israeli controlled utilities. Every townhouse and apartment building has solar panels.
The Arabs mostly ignore the Building Department and build somewhat irregularly, compared to the Israelis. Some Arabs maintain mansions on the hilltops in the West Bank. Like the Arab haute bourgeoisie, the Israelis like to build on the highest ground, overlooking the valley. Security outposts are visible a short distance into the West Bank from Israel.
The land is partly rocky and barren and partly terraced and cultivated. Palestinian olive trees and groves occupy the hills and valleys. The Jews and the Arabs are building. It is rumored that the Jerusalem Building Department is slow to process building permits for new Arab owned construction projects.
It was remarked by our guest from IR AMIN (http://eng.ir-amim.org.il/ ) that the distance between Bethlehem and the Jewish towns and neighborhoods is greater than the distance between the Jewish neighborhoods and New York City. In the age of the internet, why this should be the case, I’m not sure.