Grassroots AlQuds sees mapping as a way to preserve the Palestinian identity of Jerusalem, put Palestinian realities on the map of Jerusalem and to facilitate coordination across communities.
The occupation policies aim to erase the Arab Palestinian identity of Jerusalem, and work towards the judaisation and zionisation of the city. One way this is carried out is through the changing of neighbourhood and street names from their Arabic origin to Hebrew names. For example, the name of Talbiyyeh, a neighbourhood in the west of the city occupied in 1948, has been changed into â€œKomemiyout,â€ while AlMalha village whose Palestinian residents have been displaced during the Nakba is now called â€œManhat.â€ Even the neighbourhood of A-Sheikh Jarrah, which is still populated by its Palestinian residents, is now called â€œShimâ€™on HaTsadikâ€ according to the occupation authorities.
Grassroots mapping is a tool in the hands of Palestinian Jerusalemites to resist the deletion of their cityâ€™s identity, and to keep its Arab one. It utilises maps and geographic information systems (GIS) in creative ways to challenge the status quo of occupation in Jerusalem. Our process involves open source software and data to illustrate that this technology can be used by anyone at little to no cost. Open source technology complements our dedication to a grassroots approach in which information is gathered from the bottom-up, highlighting the perspectives and interests of Jerusalemites.
An additional goal of our mapping is to facilitate networking across Jerusalem by creating maps that visualise communitiesâ€™ experiences (accomplishments and struggles). Using these images, community leaders can bridge the gap between communities by networking and identifying opportunities where they can help each other. Jerusalem is under attack via divide-and-conquer, and thus our maps are a way to visualise Jerusalem as a Palestinian metropolitan centre. For this reason, we purposefully avoid dividing Jerusalem into east/west, and we emphasise Jerusalemâ€™s centrality to Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Recently, Grassroots AlQuds published a series of advocacy and community-created maps.
The Jerusalem Map, which can be found here, is the first community-based map published of Jerusalem. The rest of Grassroots AlQudsâ€™ maps can be found here.