I’m still been gathering my thoughts about the “City of David” museum and settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, but I thought I’d jot a few things down. Elad, a private settler organization, runs the museum and inserts Jewish settlers into the area – a problematic combination to say the least. Elad runs the “City of David” based upon a private agreement with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, a governmental authority. Some Israeli MKs are trying to amend the National Parks Law to further aid Elad.
Silwan’s Palestinian youth regularly use rocks to challenge the settlement. (see this dramatic photo) When I visited recently, one could see the chain of private security guards deployed to ensure settlers were able to remain and deepen their foothold. More than 400,000 foreign and Israeli tourists now visit the site annually, including youth tours like the Young Judea group of North American teens walking through a day I was there; I had to wonder if the current political controversy was part of their curriculum.
Ir Amim is one Israeli non-governmental organization that has challenged this cozy relationship. The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement has leafleted outside the site and asked The Lonely Planet to make mention of the controversy in the next edition of its Jerusalem tourist guide. Meanwhile, the archaeological digging is sparking fears of the tunnels among Palestinians; some of the fears relate to the al-Aqsa mosque.
I’ll have more thoughts on this soon.