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A VISIT TO A NATIONAL PARK OR A SETTLEMENT?

The common visitor to the City of David begins his tour on cobbled floors in a closed compound guarded by armed personnel. The tour continues into a closed construction that in part emulates a tunnel. In this fashion the tourist is denied contact with Silwan, a lively Palestinian village with a pastoral past and a troublesome present. Village life – and the residents – are concealed from the visitors as if they have no significance. From the site guide or the film, the tourist learns that he is in the historical City of David.

The park’s design represents a choice to value the interests of the past over those of the present inhabitants. The separation between the residents and the tourists fosters feelings of alienation and bitterness in the locals. The residents have become a disturbing element in the City of David – foreigners in their own village.

Wadi Hilawh’s streets are closed off during Jewish holidays

In contrast, settlers’ houses in Silwan are strongly connected to the tourist site. Security arrangements are shared between settlers and site, and tours sometimes include private settlers’ compounds. However unintentionally, visitors to the City of David have become an active part of the settlement of East Jerusalem in the eyes of the local residents.

Soldiers enter a settlers compound as part of their tour in City of David
PERSONAL AREA
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