Summary

I had a fantastic summer researching, and this will be my final post! I can’t wait for the Summer Research Showcase. It has been a great experience, and I am, again, extremely grateful to all who made this opportunity possible.

Through my research, I came to the conclusion that graffiti in Israel is more prominent among marginalized groups in Israel, and can be used as a means of cultural preservation and political expression. The clearest instance I found of graffiti being used in this way was in the Muslim quarter. Many people in this quarter feel oppressed by Israel, and much of the graffiti calls for a free Palestine. Much of the graffiti also expresses the religious character of the quarter. In a time when Jews are slowly moving into the neighborhood, the proliferation of Muslim themes in graffiti can be seen as a a reinforcement of the community’s culture, which they wish to preserve.

The Christian quarter, populated mostly by Arab Christians, also exhibited similar graffiti trends, especially the presence of pro-Palestinian pieces. However, Arab Christians are, in many ways, favored by the Israeli government over Arab Muslims, especially in the restoration of lands taken in 1967, when East Jerusalem was recaptured. Because of this, the Arab Christians of the Christian quarter have less cause for political dissidence, and this is reflected by the fact that, proportionally, the Christian quarter has less graffiti that the Muslim quarter.

Lastly, the Armenian and Jewish quarters have very little graffiti, and it is mostly limited to tags, which are personal and apolitical. This is because the people of the quarters have little reason for political statements, especially in the Jewish quarter. To live there, next to the Temple Mount, the most important site in Judaism, has been the dream of Zionists for many years, and was only made possible by the actions of the Israeli state. Similarly, the Armenians are a very small sect, and the government does not really interfere with them. In fact, all the land in the Armenian quarter is owned by the Armenian Orthodox patriarchate, and most residents are descended from refugees, or are refugees themselves. While they may be in a bad position, they have no cause to blame Israel, and so, any graffiti is apolitical. Also, they would not want to damage the residences where they live, because it is only through the generosity of their benefactor, the church, that they are able to live there, and it would be ungrateful to vandalize the church’s property.

This project allowed me to explore the complex factors effecting the graffiti in Israel, and the Old City was, I think, the perfect place to do conduct my research, as it offered four very distinct ethnic quarters in such a small, walled-off area. It was an amazing experience, and I could not have asked for a better introduction to research.