Dr. Doron Bar
"Muslim Sanctity under Israeli Sovereignty – the Fate of Sheikh Tombs in the State of Israel, 1948-Present"
The purpose of the suggested historical-geographical-cultural research is to investigate the fate of Muslim holy sites (Sheikh tombs) in Israel's countryside, following almost 70 years of Israeli rule. In doing so, I will compare the map of hundreds of Muslim holy places (most of them Sheikh Tombs) before 1948, to the same map and same places in the following generations.
In a recent study, I discovered that before 1948 hundreds of Muslim holy sites existed in the different parts of Palestine. What happened to those holy places after the war, when the original Muslim population left or were expelled from the areas? Were these tombs preserved and integrated in the Israeli landscape? Or were they destroyed or left to disintegrate? Was there an official Israeli policy towards these holy places that were, in many cases, all that remained of the Arab villages? Was this policy different than the way in which the new Jewish settlers who settled these places and areas acted towards these Muslim symbols?
In my initial research, I arrived at the conclusion that at least some of the Muslim holy places were preserved after 1948. Some of them were adopted by Israeli Muslims, while others were protected by different Israeli agents: the IDF; the Antiquity Authority, the Ministry of Religion (with its Muslim and Druze department) or Israel's Nature and Park Authority. Other holy sites were incorporated in Kibbutzim, Moshavot, Development towns and Israeli cities and saved by the local authorities. Some of the Muslim holy sites were preserved when they were adopted as Jewish holy places, venerated now by Jewish worshipers.
It is my intention, by collecting and analyzing archival and cartographical material, to evaluate the mechanism that created this reality when part of the Muslim holy places disappeared while others were preserved. I want to examine the manner in which the Israelis related to these Muslim historical remains and what was their attitude towards them. I will do so by comparing the Israeli case to other places in the world where military and political change influenced the cultic map (Cyprus, Turkey, the Balkans etc.).