This scarce and curious ephemeral map was issued in September 1965, when the Jerusalem’s Old City and East Jerusalem were under Jordanian Administration. Between 1949 and the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967), Jordan controlled all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Old City. While Jordanian sovereignty was not internationally recognized, during this period these territories were de facto parts of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. While seemingly anodyne on the surface, the present map is rhetorically loaded due to what appears – and perhaps even more, what does not appear – on the map. It was drafted and published in Amman by the licensed surveyor, Abdul Rahman Rassas, and is noted as being ‘Recommended & approved by the Tourism Authority’ of Jordan.
Jordanian maps of Jerusalem from the kingdom’s 18-year long reign over much of the city appear only very rarely on the market. They are fascinating snapshots of a brief, yet distinctly melodramatic, period in the long history of the holy city. It is also worth nothing that the nature of the artistry and the printing of the present map are distinctly different from that of contemporary maps of Jerusalem printed in Israel or Europe.
The title side of the composition features 2 maps of the Old City. The map on the left-hand side is a street map, with numbers relating to a key that gives the names of all the streets, lanes and archways in their “Arabic Pronunciation”. The map to the right depicts Jerusalem’s innumerable holy sites, including churches, mosques and seminaries, etc., many of which are amongst the very most important locations to the Christian and Muslim faiths.
Importantly, a startling omission is that the map makes no mention whatsoever of Jewish sites, which had been a prominent presence in the city for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Under Jordanian rule all Jews were expelled from Old Jerusalem and virtually any signs of the ancient Jewish presence were suppressed or destroyed. Synagogues were torn down and the existence of the Western Wall was suppressed.
The verso of the composition features 3 maps. The largest map a general map of Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem (essentially the Old City and East Jerusalem), with an index identifying major sites of interest to tourists. Israeli-controlled West Jerusalem is simply left off of the map, as if a void. The other (small) maps include an overview of Jordan, as well as a map of the region around Jerusalem. Both maps show Jerusalem and the West Bank as effectively being a part of Jordan, while the name Israel appears nowhere, its territory simple referred to as the ‘Occupied Part of Palestine’. On the far right is a list of diplomatic missions of various nations, as well as lists of bus routes and rest houses.
Historical Context: Jerusalem Divided
The conflict between the Jewish and Arab residents of the Holy Land is long and highly complicated, far too much so to explore here. Tensions had been rising between the two communities while Palestine was governed as a British Mandate, from 1918 to 1948. Upon Britain’s hasty and ill-planned withdrawal in 1948, it was planned that Palestine was to be divided between the Jews and the Arabs, with the Holy City of Jerusalem being an ‘International Condominium’, under a United Nations mandate.
On May 14, 1948, the Jews declared their lands to be the independent State of Israel. However, the Arab League did not accept the existence of Israel and attacked the fledgling republic, seeking to make all of Palestine an Arab state. Israel, facing the armies of several nations, was totally out-manned and out-gunned; however, amazingly it managed to repel the opposition, and then some. Israel defeated the Arab forces in the north and in the south, conquering Palestinian territory. However, the Royal Jordanian Army, led by the British veteran fighter, Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb (1897 - 1986), known as ‘Glubb Pasha’, proved resilient. While Israeli forces managed to defend Israeli territory from the Jordanians, they were unable to defeat the well-trained Jordanian Legions. While Israel took West Jerusalem (which it soon annexed and declared to be the capital of Israel), her forces failed to take the sacred Old City (the most holy place to the Jewish faith), while Jordanian forces also retained the West Bank. While the Jordanian-controlled parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank were supposed to have formed the basis of an independent Palestinian state, this was ‘delayed’ indefinitely by the Jordanians who essentially treated these territories as de facto parts of Jordan.
For 18 years, between 1949 and 1967, Jerusalem was a divided city. This situation was far more hostile than the environment that existed in divided Berlin at the height of the Cold War, and could best be likened to the relationship between North and South Korea today. Israeli and Jordanian soldiers stared at each other, across barbed wire, while the residents of each side of the city formed totally separate societies for the first time in millennia. Only a small number of diplomats and aid workers were ever allowed to cross the border between the two zones, while a constant air of tension prevailed, under the acceptance that all-out war could breakout at any time. Tensions were especially high during the 1956 Israeli-Egyptian War, as while Jordan did not end up joining the conflict, it came very close to doing so. The uncertain political situation placed a damper on development in both sides of the city, as business was often redirected to Tel Aviv and Amman, respectively.
During the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967), Jordan joined the Arab League coalition again Israel. Israel completely crushed all of its opposition, conquering all of Jerusalem and the West Bank (from Jordan), the Golan Heights (from Syria) and the Sinai (from Egypt). Israel subsequently annexed all of Jerusalem, making the city their ‘indivisible capital’, an act that has since never received formal international acceptance. Jewish sites in the Old City were restored and reopened, while Muslim and Christian sites were permitted to continue under their traditional ways, once again making Jerusalem the sacred city of three faiths.
References: Library of Congress: G7511.E635 1965 .J6.