An Air-Smelling Event: The Metamorphosis of Simon the Just and His Shrine
Special Feature: 
Simon’s shrine
religious festival
nationalist ideology
pilgrimage sites
Shaykh Jarrah

The appropriation of Simon’s shrine as an exclusively Jewish site of worship marks a progression of national-religious claims over several sites that used to be shared (as well as celebrated) by multiple religious communities. These include Rachel’s Tomb (at the northern entrance to Bethlehem), Nabi Samwil (northwest of Jerusalem), and Nabi Rubin (south of Jaffa), a particularly important shrine, whose festival brought revelers from the central and southern townships of Palestine every August. The promotion of Jewish claims over joint communal shrines did not take place until two decades after the Israeli occupation of 1967. It coincided with the ascendance of nationalist ideological hegemony over religious parties (Degel haTorah, Shas, and other Mizrahi movements).

Author biography: 

Salim Tamari is a sociologist and a research associate at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah. His most recent book is Camera Palaestina (with Stephen Sheehi and Issam Nassar, University of California Press, 2022). The author is indebted to Yazan Kopty for making available the unpublished photographs of Maynard Owen Williams in the National Geographic Archive (1927), and to Alex Winder and Arpan Roy for their generous reading and helpful comments on the earlier draft of this essay.