M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentFuhrmann-Naaman Yael
SubjectConservation and the Construction of the National Space
1948-1967 - The Case Study of Old Acre
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
PROF. Alona Nitzan-Shiftan
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Acre is a unique city that allows in-depth examination of state administration in the fields of conservation and planning, and of tensions arising between the two disciplines.  Focusing on Old Acre in the period between 1948 and 1967, this research aims to shed light on the beginning of urban conservation in Israel and its links with the planning apparatus.

       The research materials have been examined in order to mediate between three bodies of knowledge - nationalism, conservation, and planning. Thus, this interpretive study comprises three aspects of the found documentation. Firstly, it includes knowledge of the Israeli state administration; secondly, it describes how this administrative system was mediated between conservation and development; and lastly, it shows how the Israeli national narrative is embodied in planning documents in order to construct a legitimate national space and to affirm the country’s standing vis-a-vis the Western world.   

      The crystallization of state mechanisms based on the British Mandate precedent, and the establishment of the Israeli Department of Antiquities, created an opportunity for integrating past heritage into the national agenda. The rise of conservation in Israel is also indebted to the common recognition of the Antiquities Department and the authorities in charge of tourism in the contribution of Acre’s antiquities to the expansion of the Israeli economy. However, the heritage of the recent past, embodied in the Ottoman image of Old Acre, challenged the national focus on biblical archaeology. It therefore played an important role in the debate about heritage conservation in Israel.

     Examining this heritage in the context of planning, the research reveals two complementary concepts. One views the historic legacy as a planning resource. The other either appropriate or disregard the legacy of the recent past in new cities.

     The preoccupation with planning in the second decade of the Israeli state has promoted the registration of Acre as a museum city, where the importance of the subterranean Crusader edifices eclipses that of the living Ottoman city. This preference illustrates the tension between the Jewish national identity as a modern entity linked to the Western world, and the association of Acre’s Arab identity with the Oriental traditions of the Arab world.   

     The declaration of Acre as a World Heritage City expresses an efforts to set in motion the wheels of conservation and development of the Old City, a goal that has not been previously attempted in the sixty years of the State’s existence.