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Remembering the Mamila Quarter


 

Miri Davidovitz, photographs

 

The Mamila Quarter was built near Jaffa Gate at the end of the 19th century, and later became a Jewish-Arab commercial center. On December 2nd 1947, following the UN resolution on the partition of Palestine, a mob of Arab demonstrators stormed the center, destroying it and setting it afire.

During the 1948 War of Independence the quarter became a battle zone. After the war, the border with Jordan crossed through the neighborhood and a thick concrete wall separated between the two parts. On the Western Israeli side, impoverished new immigrants settled, and workshops, garages and small businesses were set up. From time to time the residents suffered the harassment of soldiers of the Arab Legion. The Jordanian Eastern side became no man's land.

When Jerusalem was reunited in 1967 the concrete wall was torn down and Mamila became part of the preferred urban renewal project. In 1980 the residents were evacuated from the area, accompanied by vociferous demonstrations by the Blank Panthers, and arguments about the maltreatment of weaker populations. Buildings of historical and architectural importance were demolished and the quarter was leveled.

When studying in Jerusalem in the early 1980s, Miri Davidovitch photographed the deserted and deteriorated Mamila Quarter between its evacuation and demolition. It was clear to her that the neglected and crumbling quarter, with its tall buildings and urban façade, was once vibrant with people and commerce.

She said that the buildings were almost entirely abandoned - except for one or two shops in the once beautiful neighborhood. Several small children were playing outside and besides them not a soul could be seen. Davidovitch documented the atmosphere of neglect and sense of distress.

The exhibition immortalizes a somber moment in the history of Jerusalem, a moment when a neighborhood with unique values and historical depth disappeared.

Curatore: Kineret Palti

Opens: June 17, 2013