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Unwind

Two tales of a city: Jerusalem tour guided by a Palestinian and an Israeli

Updated : 2019-02-13 19:45:04

On a Jerusalem plaza looking up at the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, a crowd gathers in front of two guides, listening attentively, a common sight in a city packed with pilgrims and tourists visiting its religious landmarks.

What is unusual is that one of the guides is Palestinian, one is Israeli, and they are taking turns to give their perspectives on the city known to Jews as Yerushalayim and to Arabs as al-Quds.

"We are in Jerusalem, which is the capital of the Jewish state. We are in one of the holiest places in the world for Christianity. And the keys are held by Muslim families," said Israeli guide Lana Zilberman Soloway, who spoke first as the group reached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is believed to be buried. "And all three coexist at the same time."

Her counterpart, Noor Awad, from Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank just a few km (miles) away, took a different view of the status quo, noting that Muslims and Christians from the West Bank or Gaza need Israeli travel permits to worship here.

"For Palestinians, this is the capital of Palestine and the capital of their country," said Awad, 28. "If you don't get that permission, you can't come actually here to pray. So the place is being used, and plays a lot into the two narratives and the conflict we have today."

The two guides heard each other out politely, with the occasional quip or raised eyebrow.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital. The Old City and holy sites lie in the mainly Arab eastern half, captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians say the eastern half is occupied land and must become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

At the heart of Old City, the tour came to the hill known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

A general view of Jerusalem's Old City shows the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in the foreground as the Dome of the Rock, located on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, is seen in the background, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
A general view of Jerusalem's Old City shows the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in the foreground as the Dome of the Rock, located on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, is seen in the background, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tour guide Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, holds a map of Israel as he stands next to his colleague Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, during the Dual Narrative tour in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tour guide Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, holds a map of Israel as he stands next to his colleague Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, during the Dual Narrative tour in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
The tour guide, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, speaks to tourists, during the Dual Narrative tour he leads together with his colleague Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, next to the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem's Old City February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
The tour guide, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, speaks to tourists, during the Dual Narrative tour he leads together with his colleague Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, next to the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem's Old City February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, speak to a group of tourists during the Dual Narrative tour they lead in Jerusalem's Old City February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, speak to a group of tourists during the Dual Narrative tour they lead in Jerusalem's Old City February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
The tour guide, Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, speaks to tourists, during the Dual Narrative tour she leads together with her colleague Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, as they stand next to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
The tour guide, Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, speaks to tourists, during the Dual Narrative tour she leads together with her colleague Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, as they stand next to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
An employee of Mejdi Tours holds up a placard advertising the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student before it begins near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
An employee of Mejdi Tours holds up a placard advertising the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student before it begins near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tourists take part in the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, walk down steps near the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tourists take part in the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, walk down steps near the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tourists take part in the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, stands next to the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
Tourists take part in the Dual Narrative tour lead by tour guides, Noor Awad, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lana Zilberman Soloway, a Jewish seminary student, stands next to the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem's Old City, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files
An aerial view shows the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City October 10, 2006. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte/Files
An aerial view shows the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City October 10, 2006. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte/Files
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