Jerusalem Folklore Between Development and Judaization

كتاب مصري: الفلكلور المقدسي بين التنمية والتهويد

Taking a cursory look at a book “Jerusalemite Folklore between Development and Judaization” written by Dr. Iman Mahran, a faculty member at the Academy of Arts in Cairo, an artist and an activist in the field of human rights, Dr. Mahran sees the UNESCO Convention that supports cultural diversity as applicable to the city of Jerusalem where diverse cultural communities have coexisted in lived exchange of many aspects of life long before the occupation, adding that Jerusalem is the right city to live humanitarian peace and that it should remain a cultural heritage and property of all humanity and a capital of all religions, but certainly not a property of the zionist occupiers who have subverted and usurped the cultural and demographic composition of the city since June 1967.

Dr. Mahran as an example that Muslim Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu’minin) and who was keen that Jerusalem remained the capital of all religions and that freedom of worshipping applied to all religions there. The Caliph refused an invitation by Patriarch Sophronius to pray in the Church of the Resurrection during his visit to Jerusalem, because this would have incentivated the Muslims, whom he represented, to convert that church into a mosque. Instead, Ibn al-Khattab prayed on his mantle in an area near to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Later, a Mosque was built in that place. That mosque is named the Umar ibn al-Khattab mosque.

In her short, 95-page book written in Arabic language, Dr. Mahran stresses the importance of documenting the popular folklore traditions of Jerusalem in order to to develop and maintain the Palestinian identity of the city. She also stresses the importance of participating with dance and song performances as well as exhibitions in international cultural forums for the purpose of underscoring the Palestinian cultural identity of Jerusalem. She also sheds light on the organized operations and scenarios of the zionist occupation of which have the purpose of converting and deforming the city’s Palestinian identity, and of isolating it from its true cultural and civilizational roots. What the zionist occupiers are doing can unreservedly be labelled cultural genocide.

In her book, Dr. Mahran reviews the manifestations robbery and destruction of the Jerusalemite Palestinian inheritance. The methods for subversion, destruction and and erasure of the Arab cultural roots of Jerusalem incude among others the continuous demolition of old homes, the arbitrary closure of whole parts of the city, of roads, shutting down of cultural foundations, charities, theatres etc, the neglect of education, imposition of arbitrary restrictions on the daily life of the population, arbitrary and unjustified increases of taxes, arbitrary confiscation of Palestinian IDs, the continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestinian neighbourhoods, forcing the peopleto leave the city and replacing them with radical and extremists colonists who come from the EU and other Western countries. What Dr. Mahran does not mention in her book is the vast illegal market and trade of drugs such as Marihuana, Heroin, DMT, Valium derivatives and Alcoholic beverages (among others) which is sustained and supplied by the israeli military as a means for the destruction of the Palestinian youth.

On methods to maintain the Palestinian cultural heritage in Jerusalem, Dr. Mahran recommends the establishment museums specializing in various aspects of the Palestinian traditional heritage, and the establishment of research centres run by experts in the of folklore and culture, the establishment of a laboratory for the restoration of old exhibits of cultural heritage that need to be restored, as well as the establishment of an archive for Jerusalemite folklore.

Dr. Mahran presents a number of recommendations in her book related to the preservation of the Jerusalemite cultural heritage, from maintaining the Arabic language in the city as the main language spoken in the city through maintaining the Arabic names of Jerusalemite neighbourhoods, streets, lanes, roads and alleys in the city, to the creation of websites in different languages about the folklore of Jerusalem and the popular definition of the arts in the city, holding a forum for academics aimed at monitoring and documenting the development of Jerusalemite folklore.

lastly, Dr. Mahran proposes activating the UNESCO’s paragraphs on cultural diversity and establishing a link between these paragraphs and the political situation of Jerusalem as an input towards establishing insurmountable obstacles for the judaization of the city.

Dr. Mahran concluded our conversation by calling on Arab countries to protect the city of Jerusalem from (further) zionisation and judaization. She proposed that each Arab country proceed to purchase a number of poor Arab homes which are threatened by the zionist colonists in Jerusalem in order to protect them from judaization. Jerusalem must stay an Arab city, a holy town and a capital of culture, folklore and all religions.

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