I had never been to Nazareth before so when the tour guide Samuel Green offered me the opportunity to get a free tour around the city I jumped at the chance. The main attraction is the Basilica of the Annunciation. The place where the angel Gabriel is said to have appeared to Mary to tell her that she was carrying the Messiah (or a very naughty boy depending on your views).
Right next to the church is the grave of the nephew of the famous Muslim warrior and general Saladin. The building that houses his grave isn’t a mosque. It is a holy site in Islam. On that building sits the following message:
I can’t imagine that it is possible for a single pilgrim to miss this sign. It is located adjacent to the entrance to the Basilica. And just in case you thought the Jews had been left out. This sign was underneath it:
Seems like Christians are having a hard time in Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories.
Having said that I heard from the journalist Matt Hill that;
Just this week a Christian Israeli Palestinian friend of mine emigrated to become a doctor in New York. Fortunately she was able to get a Green card. I know a major reason she left was that she was sick of being treated like a second-class citizen in her own country. And I know many of her (Christian and Muslim) friends wish they could leave so easily.
The bad feeling between Christians and Muslims in Nazareth stretches back quite some time. Among other things was the attempt to build a mosque the same size as the Basilica of the annunciation right next door. A plan that was ultimately prevented by the government.
On a personal note it amazes me how little I knew about this situation before actually going there. I guess it’s the problems between Jews and Arabs that tend to make the headlines more than anything else.