In the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Compared to the huge area of the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish, Armenian and Christian Quarters are relatively small. The Jewish Quarter may even be called “tiny”. The Old City of Jerusalem is dominated by the Muslim Quarter due to it’s size.
Tourists love going to the Muslim Quarter because people like to shop. They go into the Arab Shuk (Market) where traders usually rip them off. Palestinian salespeople offer you all kinds of useless things but claim that all items are handmade. Thus, they totally overcharge you. When you come home and check your new purchase, you may find out that it was “Made in China or Taiwan”. 🙂
Visitors who are not only interested in shopping but also in learning some history, should do a bit of research. It is interesting to realize that until the pogroms carried out by Arabs in 1929, Jews, Muslims and Christians were all living together in the Old City. Not divided into sections but a vast amount of Jews was living in today’s Muslim Quarter. In particular many frum Jews.
Until today, many Jews own houses in the Muslim Quarter but are not able to claim ownership. Sometimes the Israeli Supreme Court makes it impossible for the Jewish owners, as the judges are left – wing and thus on the Arab side. The same, by the way, happens in the Old City of the Jewish part in Hebron.
An additional reason is that there are buildings or apartments which are under the Israeli “Dme’i Mafteach” system. The system is dying out but decades ago, Dme’i Mafteach used to be a very common practice. It is hard to explain and I don’t even really understand it myself: The owner of a building or apartment cannot just sell his property but is bound to various regulations. The tenant, on the other hand, has many rights and even his grandchildren can live in the house but there is hardly any chance for the landlord to get rid off the tenants due to the Dme’i Mafteach rights.
This is happening in the Muslim Quarter today. There are Jewish owners who are unable to throw out their Arab tenants. On the other hand, more and more Jews start settling in the Muslim Quarter. Years ago, the national religious Yeshiva Ateret Cohanim started buying Arab property from Palestinians and, once they succeeded in another purchase, Ateret Cohanim is putting young Jewish families into those buildings. Of course, the Arabs don’t like that and are threatening Palestinian owners who are willing to sell their property to Jews. If they found out, the Palestinians who sold their property are finding themselves with their throats cut.
However, I could not live like these young national religious families moving into the Muslim Quarter. They live under tight security with cameras, guards and machine guns.
Surveillance cameras all over the Old City. The Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza has the most cameras in town.
In the Muslim Quarter
Avoid buying kitsch in the Arab market. The salespeople are always smiling and offer you a cup of tea but, in the end, they only want your money. In return you receive cheap products “Made in China”.
Until today: Jews in the Muslim Quarter.