In this issue, Nazmi Ju'bah analyzes the historical presence of Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem in his article "The History of Jewish Settlement in the Old City". Since the article is in Arabic, the Jerusalem Quarterly File has provided a brief English summary, included below.
Through tracing the history of Jewish presence and settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem, Nazmi Ju'bah provides a condensed "lineage" of one group of people living amongst others, as well as an analysis of the colonialist / settler ideology at the root of the current tension in Jerusalem and beyond.
Jewish presence in Jerusalem is enmeshed with the historical circumstances of the city, as well as its existence alongside other cultural groups - which may be the strongest counter to the extreme Zionist view of exclusive control over Jerusalem or any of its areas. Furthermore, the study emphasizes the difficulty in tracing a history along racial lines and makes special note of the cultural production that has accompanied the colonization of Jerusalem.
By initially providing the reader with a broad historical summary, the article demonstrates the instrumental role in the production of one history at the expense of others. The most interesting thing about the article is its revelation that overall, Jews made up a small and relatively weak minority in Jerusalem. However, by the turn of the 20th century, with the growth of Zionism, a flood of immigration saturated the Jewish Quarter, and caused the build up of severe tensions between the different religious and cultural groups.
The final section of the article deals with the colonial settler movement in the Old City of Jerusalem since 1967, and up to the post - Oslo period. The time immediately following the 1967 war resulted in the destruction of the harat al mugharibah (the Moroccan Quarter), which was home to around 650 people, along with many historical buildings in the area. Another consequence of the Israeli occupation was the "emptying" of the Jewish Quarter of its Palestinian inhabitants, who were replaced by incoming Jewish immigrants.
The article also refers to the way history and archeology played a role in constructing and supporting the myth of a dominant Jewish presence in Jerusalem, and undermining the city's vast and rich ties to its Arab population. There is also an emphasis on the institutional creation of "facts on the ground" in its practice of settlement construction, as well as its effects on the Palestinian population. Settlement activity was accompanied by governmental policy which orchestrated the transformation of the Old City through confiscation of property, maintaining a heavy military presence, and imposing discriminatory rules on the city's non - Jewish population.
This study takes a historical view of the study of the Jewish people and their settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem, but it differs from its ideologically infused Zionist counterparts. To summarize it best, Ju'bah refers to the "new" Jewish Quarter as "nothing more than a Jewish ghetto built for Jews by Jews".