Bethlehem in a Utopian Green Future
Bethlehem is a golden city -- golden in terms of spirituality. It is held to be the sacred birthplace of such divine figures as Lachama, the Canaanite God; David, the King of Israel, and Jesus Christ, the son of the Christian God.
Control of Bethlehem has shifted around throughout its three-thousand year history. Once the domain of the Canaanites, then Judea, then Rome, then Persia, then an Arab Caliphate, then part of Egypt, then claimed by Christian crusaders, then the Ottomans, and then governed in the 20th Century by Britain, Jordan and Israel. Since the 1990s, Bethlehem has been part of Palestine.
Bethlehem’s potential for future Green Utopian status is profoundly linked to its increasing independence from Israel. Compared to many other parts of Palestine, Bethlehem is less reliant on Israel for water, for trade, or for security. With this comparative liberty, Bethlehem utilizes its golden status in spirituality to appeal to a broad base of international tourists from which most of its citizens can derive a healthy living.
To preserve this economy, Bethlehem 2121, as pictured here, banishes industrial zones as unsuitable for the city’s character. Instead, only small craft and cottage industries such as olive-oil and date products are approved.
Bethlehem 2121 will stand in stark contrast to the rest of Palestine which has become a hodgepodge collection of industrial estates set up by foreign firms to take advantage of the cheap labor and lax regulations there. For some Palestinians, these industrial estates are classed as zones of prosperity because the new industries offer jobs to locals.
However, all too often they end up being zones of environmental injustice, populated by dangerous and polluting industries. In contrast, Bethlehem has clean air and clean water, its people are healthier and happier as a result. And as long as the economy remains based on tourism, handicrafts, and small-scale agriculture there’s not much pressure on infrastructure from population influx.