Tourism Ministry defends map of Jerusalem's Old City omitting Arab landmarks

"The right-wing wants to expel Palestinians from the Old City, and if they can’t expel them, then at least they will ignore them," says Margalit.

April 5, 2016 20:36
2 minute read.

A copy of the map in question.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Tourism Ministry on Tuesday defended its official visitors’ map of Jerusalem’s Old City, which omits numerous historic Arab and Christian landmarks, while featuring dozens of Jewish sites.

The map in question, which has the ministry’s logo affixed to it, highlights only one Muslim site, the Dome of the Rock, and five Christian sites, among its 57 locales of primarily synagogues, yeshivas, and numerous other Jewish sites, Haaretz initially reported. While there is an image of the Temple Mount’s al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, it is not named.

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Moreover, the daily accused the ministry of contributing to the “Judaization” of Jerusalem by noting “all the buildings occupied by Jews in the Muslim Quarter.”

“Of the 57 sites marked by number on the map, no less than 25 are such buildings, along with synagogues and yeshivas that even experienced tour guides have never heard of,” the report stated.

“The bias toward the settler narrative continues outside the Old City walls,” it continued. “On the Mount of Olives the Ma’aleh Zeitim neighborhood of some 100 Jewish families is illustrated and marked, while no mention is made of the thousands of Palestinian families living in the area.”

Asked to respond to the allegations of egregious impropriety, the ministry defended the map, which it confirmed was produced with the oversight of several experts from a private organization named the Atir Maps and Publications Company.

“The Tourism Ministry of the State of Israel stands behind the displayed map,” the statement said. “The map was produced in collaboration with experts, who provided their recommendations based on vast experience to create a useful and convenient map detailing the main tourist sites.”

Since the document was distributed, the ministry added, it “has served as an excellent map” which has satisfied “hundreds of thousands of tourists” who visited the Old City.

The map reinforces the arguments made by numerous left-wing architectural NGOs, including Emek Shaveh, which has repeatedly contended that the government is complicit in “Judaizing” the capital at the expense of Muslim history.

Indeed, former east Jerusalem Portfolio head and Meretz city councilman Dr. Meir Margalit said on Tuesday that the map is “part of a political agenda of ignoring the Palestinian presence in east Jerusalem.”

“The right-wing wants to expel Palestinians from the Old City, and if they can’t expel them, then at least they will ignore them,” he said by phone. “But it’s clear that this will not work because the Palestinians are here to stay and nobody can ignore them.”

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