The Saga of the Siege

The inside story of the Church of the Nativity standoff, and how the deal was struck to get the Palestinians out

The Church of the Nativity, one of the world's oldest working churches, has never been an especially peaceful place. The holy men who run it--Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic clerics--bicker over who gets to clean which piece of sacred wall, who can walk in which aisle. The theft in 1847 of the silver star that was meant to mark the precise place where Jesus was born is thought to have helped start the Crimean War. Seized and besieged by a host of armies over the centuries, the church has even inspired bickering among scholars, who argue about whether Jesus...

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