The creative city approach, already one of the most popular urban development models in recent years, continues to spread to new destinations. When urban scholars explain how ideas become canon, including the particular case of the creative city approach, they usually focus on political‐economic mechanisms, the role of global elite networks, and the interests of local economic growth coalitions. These explanations are insightful but miss the political‐cultural projects that cities pursue concurrently to the creative city approach, two aims that sometimes reinforce each other and sometimes contradict. Using interviews and fieldwork, I follow the importation of the creative city approach to the contested city of Jerusalem, and argue that the drive to adopt the creative script cannot be explained only by political‐economic forces, but also by the local political‐cultural projects of preserving Jerusalem as a Zionist city. Moreover, I suggest three directions for interpreting the role of local forces in the adoption and translation of urban ideas.