When the highly paid professionals at Myth News Network report the latest happenings in Israel, they invariably talk about “occupied Arab East Jerusalem.” They usually mean the Old City and its surroundings. The idea planted in our minds is that the Arabs have been living in East Jerusalem for centuries, but the Jews, who are recent arrivals, forced them from their homes. What are the facts?

My wife and I have had the great privilege to take tour groups to Israel for twenty five years. The most exciting part of the tour is when we walk into the Old City of Jerusalem. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the history, the people, and the spiritual connection to Jerusalem are an experience the people never forget. You cannot explain Jerusalem, you experience Jerusalem.

We share how the wonderfully exciting Old City is divided into four quarters. These are: 1) the Jewish Quarter, 2) the Arab Quarter, 3) the Armenian Quarter, and 4) the Christian Quarter. But it was not always so divided, nor has it ever been “occupied Arab territory.” How did this “myth” become a “fact?”

The Jewish people have had an unbroken presence in the land for 3,000 years. There is archeological evidence of their presence in Jerusalem since 438 CE. The only time they were not allowed in Jerusalem was under Byzantine rule (135-438 CE) and during the Crusades (1099-1187 CE). When the Crusades ended, the Jews returned to Jerusalem where they had lived as the majority population since the 1820’s.

Prior to the British Mandate from 1917 to 1948, the Old City was populated by various religious and ethnic groups. While they had a natural tendency to live next door to their own kind, and dominated their neighborhood, they also lived in different parts of the Old City, which was not divided as it is today.

In 1920, the British established the “mythical Arab quarter” of the Old City. At that time, the Jews were the majority population, followed by Christians, and then Arabs. There were so few Arabs living in the Old City, they did not need a separate quarter for themselves. There was a Jewish Quarter, a Christian Quarter, an Armenian Quarter, and a Mixed Quarter.

In 1914, seventy percent of the residents of the Mixed Quarter were Jews, not Arabs. This means that the Arabs represented less than ten percent of the population of the Old City. The main street in the Mixed Quarter housed 22 synagogues, not mosques, two Jewish learning centers, the printing press for the Hebrew-language newspaper, and other normal institutions to support Jewish life.

The British expelled the Jews from the Mixed Quarter and renamed it the Arab Quarter. The Arab riots in the 1920’s forced the Jews to flee their homes. The pro-Arab British governing Jerusalem kept the Jews from returning while assisting the Arabs to take possession of the deserted Jewish homes. The Arabs occupied East Jerusalem and the Jews, not the Arabs, became refugees.

When Jordan attacked Israel in 1948, the Jordanian army expelled the Jews from their homes in the Jewish Quarter, forbade Jews to enter the Old City, and destroyed any evidence of Jewish life. Jordan illegally occupied “Jewish East Jerusalem” from 1948 to 1967 at which time they attacked Israel. Israel defeated Jordan and Jerusalem was liberated from the occupying Arab power.

Dr. Richard Booker is a pioneering Christian Zionist and the author of 40 books and numerous courses many of which are on Israel and Jewish-Christian relationships. He is considered a spiritual father to many. To learn more about his ministry and teaching resources, see his web site and online bookstore at: