National Geographic : 2007 Dec
Aglow at dusk, church spires punctuate Bethlehem's old quarter. The distant hill marks the site of the fortress of Herod the Great, ruler ofJudaea in thefirst century B.C. A sign of today's dominant faith, the unlit minaret of Omar Mosque rises from Manger Square. a clean collection of bleached stone houses capped with red-tiled roofs, double strollers parked on several porches. Fifteen hundred peo ple live here. From the north side of Tekoa, Fro man can view all of Bethlehem; the Muslim call to prayer drifts over the settlement five times a day, steady as a train schedule. To the south are the bald brown knolls of the Judaean wilderness, where Jesus is thought to have fasted for 40 days, and the deep ravines that tumble down, down, down, falling below sea level-even the terrain here seems to defy reason-and then plunging still, to Earth's lowest point, the Dead Sea. "This is not just land," says Froman, his long white beard spilling from his chin, unruly as a river rapid. "This is the Holy Land. There's no oil, no gold, no diamonds. It's a desert! But this is God's palace." Froman is 62 years old; he can count back 17 generations of rabbis in his fam ily. He's the 18th. His son is also a rabbi. Michael Finkel reported on malariain the July 2007 issue ofNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. ChristopherAnder son was named 2006Magazine Photographerof the Year for his work in Gaza, Venezuela, andLebanon. 66 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * DECEMBER 2007 He was born in what is now Israel but was then, during World War II, known as the British Mandate for Palestine (the British began gov erning the region in 1922, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire). After World War II, in the wake of the Holocaust, the United Nations voted to partition the region into two states one Jewish, one Arab. Jews accepted the plan, Arabs did not. Fighting between Arabs and Jews began even before Israel declared independence, in 1948, and the ensuing war resulted in about 750,000 Palestinians fleeing their native villages, many of them forced to do so by the Israeli army. Many relocated to the West Bank of the Jordan River, administered by Jordan, or the Gaza Strip, governed by Egypt. These were the first Pales tinian refugees. Then, in 1967, Israel defeated the military forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon in six chaotic days and occupied, among other lands, the West Bank, a place many Israelis refer to by its biblical name, Judaea and Samaria. This initiated the settlement movement-Jews establishing homesites throughout the newly won territory.