For two November days, pilgrims were turned away from major Christian shrines throughout Palestine-Israel. Church doors were closed to protest Israel's decision to allow construction of a mosque next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
William Dalrymple is a gifted travel writer who skillfully draws on church history, theology, Middle East politics and comparative religions to tell the story of Middle East Christians. His journey begins on Greece's Mt. Athos ("the holy mountain") and follows the route taken by the monk John Moschos in 587 CE, a time when Middle Eastern Christianity was at its peak.
There will be no Christmas celebration in Bethlehem’s Manger Square this year. The annual festivities have been canceled because the organizers have deemed it inappropriate to celebrate in the midst of the conflicts and violence.
The drive from Afula in Israel south to Jalame in the West Bank takes only minutes, but these two towns are worlds apart. Afula is a relatively affluent suburb with ATMs, tree-lined streets and pleasant neighborhoods.