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Sharing the right to Jerusalem's past
an article by Yonathan Mizrachi, excerpted from Common Ground News Service

Jerusalem - The Palestinian village Silwan in East Jerusalem is situated about a hundred metres from the Temple Mount/Haram el Sharif. It is home to 40,000 Palestinians and almost 400 Jewish settlers. The village also hosts a large archaeological site called the "City of David" . . .

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

click on photo to enlarge

Despite the diversity of cultures and histories in this area, the central story told to those who visit the City of David excavation site is that aspect of Jerusalem's history which is meaningful primarily to Jews. Stories about artefacts found at the site that testify to the existence of other cultures and religions, some of which are particularly meaningful to local Palestinian residents are omitted.

Sadly, local Palestinian residents, who have always felt proud of living in one of the places where Jerusalem first emerged, have been excluded from the story. This is all the more lamentable considering that Jerusalem is considered a holy city for all Abrahamic faiths.

In response to this reality, a group of Israeli archaeologists and social activists established Emek Shaveh, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting the idea that the past belongs to everyone - regardless of their religious or national affiliation.

Any archaeological artefact tells a complex story that is independent of contemporary traditions and beliefs. Listening to the stories and what they tell us about the history of Jerusalem could enrich our present-day culture and promote tolerance and pluralism. The cultural riches of archaeological sites are inseparable from the cultural wealth of the land and belong to all communities, peoples and religions who share it. . .

To preserve Jerusalem's heritage, all sides must strive to make antiquities accessible to everyone and remember that alongside one’s own heritage there are others that are no less important. Recognising this is important for the Palestinian residents of Silwan, Israeli society and anybody who desires a better future for the parties in conflict.


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How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?,

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This report was posted on April 19, 2011.