The Israeli Ministry of Tourism is removing Palestinian culture from the map, in the most literal sense.

Last month, a new English-language guide to Jerusalem’s Old City was published, featuring fifty-seven tourist sites. Among them, only one was Muslim, five were Christian, while a whopping fifty-one were Jewish. Distributed for free at tourist offices, the map undermines Palestinian political claims to Jerusalem through a deliberate cultural whitewash that re-imagines the historically multi-ethnic and multi-religious city as exclusively Jewish.

According to a report from Haaretz, the map refers to the Dome of the Rock, the one Islamic site it mentions, by the Israeli, Hebrew terms of Temple Mount, Har Habait, and Mount Moriah. More alarmingly, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam and an important symbol of Palestinian nationalism, is labeled Solomon’s Stables.

These are paltry and distorted offerings, given the nearly 1,000 years of Islamic rule over Jerusalem.

Among the map’s many omitted Christian sites is the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, whose bell tower is one of the most recognizable features of the Old City’s skyline. The fourteen stations along the infamous Via Dolorosa – the path Jesus walked before his crucifixion – are also unlisted, even though they are a major tourist attraction.

Similarly, St Anne’s Church, built around 1138 and a striking example of medieval architecture, is not featured. The church, which is a testament to the city’s layers of religious heritage, was converted into an Islamic school after Saladin conquered the city in the 12th century before again becoming a church during Ottoman rule. This amalgamated history is marked by an Arabic-language plaque above the church’s front door.

Ignoring these centuries of diversity, the map lists a number of Jewish sites that are either of no interest to foreign visitors or that have a decidedly political (rather than religious) meaning. This includes multiple Jewish settler homes in the Muslim Quarter, which were appropriated from their Palestinian inhabitants with the help of Ateret Cohanim – a group that works to create a Jewish majority in the Old City. It also includes various illegal Israeli settlements, such as Maale ha-Zeitim and Beit Orot in the Mount of Olives, that have no meaningful religious significance.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian neighborhoods of Ras al-Amud and al-Tur have been altogether excluded from the map, and replaced with green fields. This erasure of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian inhabitants, who make up 40% of Jerusalem’s population, and a large majority in the Old City,  is further reflected in the font sizes used to mark various landmarks. According to Haaretz, larger fonts have been used to mark the Jewish Quarter while smaller ones have been used for the Christian, Muslim, and Armenian Quarters.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has defended the map and rejected calls to revise its content, saying it serves as an “excellent” guide for international tourists. This erasure of 2,000 years of non-Jewish history is, however, little more than a thinly veiled attempt to bolster Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, in an on-going battle of narratives over the city’s identity.

Read more like this in Muftah's Weekend Reads newsletter.

Advertisement Advertise on Muftah.

  • Arnt_T

    Is there really that many muslim attractions in Jerusalem? Of course there is the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, but if you are not a muslim, you are not allowed to enter them, and because of that, they are not so interesting. Can you give a list of 10 muslim attractions in Jerusalem? On Trip Advisor, 3 out of 152 attractions are muslim sites…

  • Dennis

    Israel’s intentions towards land theft are quite clear.

  • Tomas Kubin

    Charlie Hoyle, what about this? Is that OK for you?

  • Tomas Kubin

    I asked author what is he thinking about this: Why are you not permitting it? Do you fear the truth?

  • Tomas Kubin
  • Arnt_T

    I’m still waiting for a list of muslim attractions in Jerusalem… I’m going there from time to time, so it would be nice to know 🙂 It would also be nice to know if there is som point in this article, or if it is just complaining.

  • Arnt_T

    Thanks 🙂 Interesting… History ends in 1917 😉 I will save this for my next trip. If I have this one and the jewish one, everything should be cowered 😉 A little bit funny that this one is as biased as the jewish one.

  • Jaynell Gudsell

    I am a Christian.There is definitely a map of the Christian sites and the Muslim Dome over the earlier Temple Mount site somewhere. It is funny that I read this article from you,as your writing is like calling the kettle black-:or,.. you need to take the wood out of your own eye before you can see properly.This story of the map,if true (and I must say I never can tell what is true or not from your site) will be a reaction from the Jews because they( and I and a lot of other people) have had enough of you airbrushing out the Judeo Christian history of Israel and especially the Biblical Jerusalem.Even Bethlehem was not immune to your influence,changing even the historical names of jesus’s birthplace to suit the Palestinians agenda-try to now make out that he was from Palestine,you knowing full the Bible has always stated he was born a jew(Mary was his birth mother) and that he was born in Bethlehem, Judea ,a part of Israel,the name was changed at a later date through the spite of the Romans. They,modern day Jews, I suspect have had enough of the fawning by you to ( and deceipt of) the UN,UNESCO and the got all your gang buddies to drive the Jews to their limits and they have had enough of you-they just want to live in peace and quiet and want to some space so as they can keep in tune with God..Previous to this time,the Moslems wanted nothing to do with this name of Palestine-they left it to the scaggle of the Jews and the few Arabs and others that were left in this poor,dilapadated place,our Bible Lands-‘our’ being my spiritual historical significance of the place as I live in another country .I have my Bible and I can talk to the Lord God wherever I am,he saved me from my sins and I can go forth washed clean by his sacrifice.I suggest you just get on with your life.We all know that the Moslems invaded later,well after the Jews had been carted off again by some invaders and the Christians either slaughtered or moved on as well.That is what your Mosque is about.You guys put up Mosques wherever you go,then claim the place as if everywhere is yours.I will tell you that this Golan heights was part of Ancient Israel as well as was Jordan.As fro the Golan Heights if the Arab nations had not decided to try and destroy the state again,then they perhaps would not have needed to take the area for their own safety.they will never trust the surrounding nations again so get use to the idea.Same goes fro Jerusalem,you would not let them be near their Temple,to them it is important,it had the greatest significance to them.Even though it is now just part of the is still significant to them.You have been cruel to them for too long…they have had enough of your treatment.Now you get a little of your own medicine..although they will never deliberately try to kill you as you have done to them.There may be an odd incident from an unhinged individuals but is never in their policy as you do to them .