World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel has made a deliberate attempt to erase historical buildings in Jerusalem, with Muslim and Christian sites removed off maps off tourists guides for the Old City. Instead it has placed sites that are run by Zionist settlers who run a private organisations that remove Palestinians from their homes in an effort to resettle settlers, illegally.
"There are a bunch of sites that are not only historically unimportant, but that are run by settlers," said Betty Herschman, director of international relations and advocacy at Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights NGO that gives tours of East Jerusalem to diplomats and other parties.
"That is to the detriment of historically relevant Christian and Muslim sites, which you would think would be far more prioritised on a map of the Old City, the hub of the three major monotheistic religions."
One licensed Jerusalem tourist guide, who chose to remain anonymous said that the map favoured Jewish sites regardless of their touristic value and appeared religiously skewed.
The map does not have any place for the a list of numbered sites for the Church of St Anne or the Church of the Redeemer, although the latter is on the map with a tiny, hard to find name.
Aziz Abu Sarah, a Jerusalemite who cofounded Mejdi Tours, speaking to Al Jazeera, said that the exceptions do not make sense from a business perspective. "I think that a lot of Israeli tour operators and tour guides, even right-wingers, would agree with me that a touristic map should show the treasures of the city," said Abu Sarah.
"I grew up in Jerusalem. St Anne's Church, which I think is one of the most amazing places, is not on the map. There are many Christians coming to Jerusalem, and they are going to get a map that doesn't identify their holy sites. It's not a smart decision."
The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has defended the decision saying it reflected the tourism "demand".
However, Abu Sarah said that it seemed that the inclusion of certain sites inside and outside the Old City walls seemed to promote a Jewish nationalistic representation of East Jerusalem.
"Politically speaking, it adds sites that are controversial, like the settlements in East Jerusalem, and I think that makes it political and one-sided. In many ways, there is a national narrative, and perhaps this is where the national narrative is going."
Palestinian neighbourhoods have been competely ommitted with Jewish-only settlements are represented on the map.
"This map, in addition to erasing important Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City, completely erases entire neighbourhoods around the historic basin, supplanting them not only with Hebrew names but with the names of settlements," Herschman told Al Jazeera.
"The map is legitimising private settlement around the historic basin," Herschman told Al Jazeera.
"This is a form of consolidating Israeli control of arguably the epicentre of the most critical point of Jerusalem - which is itself the epicentre of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. So there are extremely important political consequences involved."
source: Al Jazeera