Palestine, West Bank, Bethlehem, Dusk, 2005. Photograph by Mark Power, Magnum Photos.

The “little town” of Bethlehem is significant to three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For Judaism, it marks the birthplace of King David. Christians recognize it as the birthplace of Jesus. Since 637 C.E., when the Mosque of Omar was built, it has been a place of Muslim veneration and worship. Today Bethlehem is a small city with a population of around 30,000. The community is majority Muslim, with a large but dwindling Palestinian Christian population. Modern control of the city has been a game of political football. After World War I, the British seized control of the city from the Ottoman Empire. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jordan annexed the city, and in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel took control. Since 1995, the Palestinian Authority has administered Bethlehem.  

Bethlehem Rooftops

A broad, diverse group of nations ruled by the government of a single nation.

The religion and culture of Jews. It emerged as the descendant of ancient Israelite Religion, and is characterized by monotheism and an adherence to the laws present in the Written Torah (the Bible) and the Oral Torah (Talmudic/Rabbinic tradition).

(adj.) Of or related to the empire founded by Turks at the turn of the 14th century C.E. and lasting into the early 20th century. (n.) One from that empire.

Another name often used for the area of Israel and Judah, derived from the Latin term for the Roman province of Palaestina; ultimately, the name derives from the name of the Philistine people.

Belonging to the ancient region of Israel and Judah, derived from the Latin name for the Roman province of Palaestina.

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