DemonstratorsIn this century, Jerusalemites have lived under four different colonial rules: Ottoman, British, Jordanian and since 1967, Israeli. Palestinians in East Jerusalem have come to realise how dangerous their status is under this latest ruler, since they have no citizenship and no recourse when they are refused building permits. Demolitions vary widely, from small rooms added to existing houses, to huge mansions, and blocks of flats. But what all demolitions have in common is they are always done to Palestinians. Jerusalem City Council would say, ‘Israelis in West Jerusalem get demolition orders too.’ But only on minor structures like sheds, balconies and staircases, never on whole homes that people live in.

And yet you can come to Jerusalem and not be aware of any of this. Or you may be aware and think ‘good, that’s how it should be.’ If you join the tourists at the archeological dig in the City of David National Park beside the Old City, you can ‘walk in the footsteps of the kings and prophets of the Bible’ as the brochure says, and have a great time on thematic tours of ancient Judean Jerusalem. And why not? Every country has historical theme parks. Except that this isn’t an ordinary dig. In 2002, the rights to manage the park were handed over to the settler organisation Elad. And Elad’s agenda is political. To emphasise the link between the state of Israel and its Judean past, it ignores the histories of the many other peoples who have inhabited this hillside over the centuries: the Canaanites and Jebusites before them, and after them the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, and for the last 1300 years the Muslims.

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