This is the story of the cultural and political struggle between Christians and Muslims, and of the rapid Islamicization of Nazareth - the birthplace of Christianity - ironically, under the rule of the Jewish State of Israel. Until the creation of Israel in 1948, Christians formed the majority in the township of Nazareth. However, as Muslim refugees fled adjoining villages for the safety of the city during Israel's War of Independence, the demographic balance began to shift. By the year 2000, Christians had been reduced to a mere 30 per cent of the city's population of 60,000. Nazareth has always been the political hub of Arab politics in Israel - especially for the Communist Party. But, with the arrival of Zayyad - the immensely charismatic and forceful poet who was the first Muslim leader of the Party, and mayor of Nazareth for 20 years - the marginalization of the Christian community was finally achieved. During these decades, the Islamic Movement began to burgeon among Israeli Arabs; and 1988 was a turning point, when local elections brought six Muslim mayors to power.So, when the communists were discredited on the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the death of Zayyad made way for the Christian Mayor Jeraysi, the Muslim population of Nazareth knew they could use their demographic edge to influence local politics. In late 1997, Islamists claimed the land as Waqf, and demanded the right to build a large mosque on the site, overshadowing the city's Christian features. Running on that platform, the Islamists won a majority on the city council in 1998, and the city became paralyzed as the Muslim councillors, the Christian mayor, and Israeli authorities, tried to gain control over the situation. The national elections held in May 1999, brought some concessions to the Islamists; but the issue is still far from being resolved.
Green Crescent Over Nazareth by Raphael Israeli was published by Taylor & Francis Ltd in May 2002. The ISBN for Green Crescent Over Nazareth is 9780714682365.