Israeli tourism officials have been caught in the act of trying to rewrite history by trying to deny – or largely reduce – everything that is not Jewish in Jerusalem while excessively exaggerating the city’s Jewishness.
Israel’s actions were outlined recently when the Tourism Ministry, which is led by right-wing figure Yair Lavin from the Likud Party, put out a distorted map of the old city of Jerusalem. The map highlights 57 locations in the old city of which only one Muslim and five Christian locations are identified. The map also includes 25 so-called Jewish locations, about which Israeli tour guides know nothing about.
Despite rich Islamic heritage existing in Israel, officials are eager to banish or veil the influence of the religion upon the country. The only Muslim location mentioned in the Israeli tourism map can hardly be missed. Nearly a quarter of the old city is dominated by the Haram al-Sharif or al-Asqa mosque.
The Haram-al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary includes Islam’s third holiest mosque as well as an abundance of religious and historical locations that resonate 1,400 years of continuous Islamic presence. Historic locations throughout the city also highlight graves and other references to the plentiful Islamic heritage of Jerusalem.
According to the official Institute of Israeli studies statistical yearbook, of the 38,700 people living in the old city of Jerusalem in 2014 only 3,350 were Jewish Israelis. There were 29,090 (75%) Palestinian Muslims, while Palestinian and Armenian Christians were represented doubly in comparison to Israeli Jews with their population amounting to 6,260.
However despite this combined 91% population and between 14 and 21 centuries of history, Christian and Muslim holy places are relegated to a diminutive minority of named locations in the Israeli tourism map.
The Israeli map was totally rejected by Palestinian and Jordanian officials, as well as by Christian and Muslim religious leaders.