However, as Simone Ricca details in this fascinating book, the aesthetics of the Jewish Quarter were deliberately planned and executed by Israel after it was occupied during the 1967 war. Secular-nationalist as well as religious politicians agreed that it should be turned in to the capital of the Jewish nation, and that it should be excavated and developed irj such a way as to create a sense of continuity with the Jewish people’s historical claims to the land. Zionist ideology was thus translated in to bricks and mortar as modern civic amenities were constructed around historic sites, such as the Wailing Wall and the Hurva Synagogue. Ricca examines the politics of heritage conservation, and shows that the Old City’s reconstruction did not so much preserve the past as inscribe an identity on to the future. The way that sites such as the Wailing Wall and the Hurva Synagogue were developed not only provided symbolic legitimation for Israeli rule over all of Jerusalem, it also justified the establishment of new Jewish communities in the city’s suburbs in the West bank.
Ricca’s account of these processes demonstrates the ideological dimension of the seemingly technical practice of heritage conservation, as well as offering a new perspecitve on the history of this ancient city.
Simone Ricca is an architect who has worked throughout the Middle East on UNESCO heritage and reconstruction projects. He has a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Exeter


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