Islamization of East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule

An Arab Legion soldier in ruins of Hurva Synagogue.

East Jerusalem was Islamized during the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank between 1948–1967, as Jordan sought to alter the demographics and landscape of the city to enhance its Muslim character at the expense of its Jewish and Christian ones. At this time, all Jewish residents were expelled, and restrictions were imposed on the Christian population that led many to leave the city. Ghada Hashem Talhami states that during its nineteen years of rule, the government of Jordan took actions to accentuate the spiritual Islamic status of Jerusalem.[1] Raphael Israeli, an Israeli professor, described these measures as "Arabization".[2]

Treatment of Jews and Jewish holy sitesEdit

Arab Legion soldiers at the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue after conquering the city.

While Christian holy sites were protected, and Muslim holy sites were maintained and renovated,[3] Jewish holy sites were damaged and sometimes destroyed.[4] According to Raphael Israeli, 58 synagogues were desecrated or demolished in the Old City, resulting in the de-Judaization of Jerusalem.[5][6][7] Oesterreicher, a Christian clergyman and scholar, wrote, “During Jordanian rule, 34 out of the Old City’s 35 synagogues were dynamited.” [8] The Western Wall was transformed into an exclusively Muslim holy site associated with al-Buraq.[9] 38,000 Jewish graves in the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives were systematically destroyed (used as pavement and latrines)[10][11], and Jews were not allowed to be buried there.[5][6] This was all in violation of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement Article VIII - 2 "...; free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives;...."[12] Following the Arab Legions expulsion of the Jewish residents of the Old City in the 1948 War, Jordan allowed Arab Muslim refugees to settle in the vacated Jewish Quarter.[13] Later, after some of these refugees were moved to Shuafat, migrants from Hebron took their place.[14] During the 1960s, as the quarter continued to fall into decay, Jordan planned to turn the quarter into a public park.[15]

Treatment of Christians and Christian holy sitesEdit

In 1952, Jordan proclaimed that Islam was to be the official religion of the kingdom, and according to Israeli professor Yehuda Zvi Blum, this was applied in Jordanian-held Jerusalem.[16]

In 1953, Jordan restricted Christian communities from owning or purchasing land near holy sites, and in 1964, further prohibited churches from buying land in Jerusalem.[4] These were cited, along with new laws impacting Christian educational institutions, by both British political commentator Bat Ye'or and the mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek as evidence that Jordan sought to "Islamize" the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.[17][18]

In order to counter the influence of foreign powers, who had run the Christian schools in Jerusalem autonomously since Ottoman times, the Jordanian government legislated in 1955 to bring all schools under government supervision.[19] They were allowed to use only approved textbooks and teach in Arabic.[19] Schools were required to close on Arab national holidays and Fridays instead of Sundays.[19] Christian holidays were no longer recognised officially, and observation of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath was restricted to Christian civil servants.[16] Students, whether Muslim or Christian, could study only their own religion.[19] The Jerusalem Post described these measures as "a process of Islamization of the Christian Quarter in the Old City.[20]

In general, Christian holy places were treated with respect,[21] although some scholars say they suffered from neglect.[22] During this period, renovations were made to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was in a state of serious disrepair since the British period due to disagreements between the many Christian groups claiming a stake in it.[23] While there was no major interference in the operation and maintenance of Christian holy places, the Jordanian government did not allow Christian institutions to expand.[21] Christian churches were prevented from funding hospitals and other social services in Jerusalem.[24]

In the wake of these restrictions, many Christians left East Jerusalem.[21][25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ghada Hashem Talhami (February 2002). John V. Canfield (ed.). The Middle East in turmoil. Nova Publishers. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-59033-160-6. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  2. ^ Raphael Israeli (2002). Poison: modern manifestations of a blood libel. Lexington Books. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7391-0208-4. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  3. ^ Yitzhak Reiter (2008). Jerusalem and its role in Islamic solidarity. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-230-60782-8. Retrieved May 24, 2011. According to Jordanian government sources, Jordan has spent about a billion dollars since 1954 on al-Aqsa renovations and maintenance.
  4. ^ a b J. D. Van der Vyver; John Witte (1996). Religious human rights in global perspective: legal perspectives. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 380. ISBN 978-90-411-0177-8. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Raphael Israeli (31 January 2002). Jerusalem divided: the armistice regime, 1947-1967. Psychology Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-7146-5266-5. Retrieved 2 June 2011. The destruction by the Jordanians of the Jewish Quarter and its many synagogues, including the beautiful ancient synagogue of the Old City known as Khurvat Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid, went a long way to de-Judaize much of the millennia-old Jewish holdings on Jerusalem.
  6. ^ a b "L. Machaud-Emin, Jerusalem 1948–1967 vs. 1967–2007: Comparing the Israeli and Jordanian Record, in GLORIA Center, The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, 2007.
  7. ^ “Jerusalem,” Teddy Kollek, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Jul., 1977), pp. 701–716.
  8. ^ Mark A. Tessler (1994). A History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indiana University Press. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-253-20873-6. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  9. ^ Simone Ricca (2007). Reinventing Jerusalem: Israel's reconstruction of the Jewish Quarter after 1967. I.B.Tauris. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-84511-387-2. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  10. ^ Shragai, Nadav (July 2009). "The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital".
  11. ^ Balfour, Alan (2019). The Walls of Jerusalem: Preserving the Past, Controlling the Future. John Wiley & Sons. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-119-18229-0.
  12. ^
  13. ^ John M. Oesterreicher; Anne Sinai (1974). Jerusalem. John Day. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-381-98266-9. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  14. ^ Ghada Hashem Talhami (2003). Palestinian refugees: pawns to political actors. Nova Publishers. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-59033-649-6. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  15. ^ Shepherd, Naomi (1988). "The View from the Citadel". Teddy Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem. New York City: Harper & Row Publishers. p. 20. ISBN 0-06-039084-0.
  16. ^ a b Yehuda Zvi Blum (30 November 1987). For Zion's sake. Associated University Presse. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8453-4809-3. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  17. ^ Bat Yeʼor (2002). Islam and Dhimmitude: where civilizations collide. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 235. ISBN 9780838639436.
  18. ^ Annelies Moors (1995). Discourse and Palestine: power, text and context. Het Spinhuis. pp. 57–. ISBN 978-90-5589-010-1. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  19. ^ a b c d Kimberly Katz (2005). Jordanian Jerusalem; Holy Places and National Spaces. University Press of Florida. pp. 97–99. ISBN 0-8130-2844-2.
  20. ^ "The Churches Anti-Christian Crusade". Jerusalem Post. 4 October 1992. ProQuest 321064675.
  21. ^ a b c Mark A. Tessler (1994). A History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indiana University Press. p. 328. ISBN 978-0-253-20873-6. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  22. ^ Whither Jerusalem?: proposals and positions concerning the future of Jerusalem, Moshe Hirsch, Deborah Housen-Couriel, Ruth Lapidoth, Mekhon Yerushalayim le-ḥeḳer Yiśraʼel, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1995, p. 159.
  23. ^ Kimberly Katz (2005). Jordanian Jerusalem; Holy Places and National Spaces. University Press of Florida. pp. 99–106. ISBN 0-8130-2844-2.
  24. ^ Sharkansky, Ira (1996). Governing Jerusalem: Again on the world's agenda. Wayne State University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8143-2592-6. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  25. ^ Yael Guiladi (1977). One Jerusalem, 1967-1977. Keter Books. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7065-1580-0. Retrieved 3 June 2011. It is worthy of note that between 1948 and 1967 the Christian population of Jordanian-ruled Jerusalem dwindled rapidly, partly as a result of the systematic bans and restrictions imposed upon it on religious grounds.