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Download Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City fb2, epub

by Bernard Wasserstein

Download Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City fb2, epub

ISBN: 0300091648
Author: Bernard Wasserstein
Language: English
Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2001)
Pages: 432
Category: Middle East
Subcategory: History
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 898
Size Fb2: 1899 kb
Size ePub: 1693 kb
Size Djvu: 1519 kb
Other formats: doc lit txt mobi

In this timely book, Bernard Wasserstein offers the first authoritative history of the fraught diplomatic relations surrounding the Holy City of Jerusalem. Jews, Muslims, and Christians have all claimed the city as their own over the centuries--as have a dizzying array of foreign nations. In the period between the founding of the city and its capture by Israelis in 1967, Jerusalem has been conquered at least thirty-seven times. "No other town," wrote Arthur Koestler in 1948, "has caused such continuous waves of killing, rape, and unholy misery over the centuries as the Holy City." Today, Jerusalem lies at the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is the most deeply divided capital city in the world: its Arab and Jewish residents inhabit different districts, speak different languages, attend different schools, read different newspapers, observe different holy days-- live, in almost every significant respect, different lives. Against the background of renewed violence in and around Jerusalem, this book explores the complicated origins of the current diplomatic impasse. Why is the question of Jerusalem so intractable? Why has it outlasted almost every other political dispute as a focus for diplomatic wrangling and collective violence? And what are the prospects for resolution? Meticulously researched, and written with humanity and elegance, this book offers an illuminating contribution to the effort to achieve a lasting negotiated settlement of a tragic conflict that affects us all.


This book is a study of the `question of Jerusalem' in international diplomacy, a matter that is bound up with the question of Israel-Palestine relations. It presents a very detailed history of the city's troubled past and present.
Unhappy Palestine, so near to Europe, so dear to God! For millennia, three intolerant monotheisms have fought over the Holy Land, and the more religion has flourished, the less the chance of resolution. More recently, outside colonial forces, the Vatican particularly, have fomented trouble. As Lord Palmerston warned, "Religious protections pave the way for political dismemberments." Nowadays, religious fanatics are a large part of the problem, whether ultra-Orthodox New York Jews creating illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, or Hamas leaders promoting terror tactics against Israeli workers.
In June 1967, Israel seized and annexed east Jerusalem. In July, the UN General Assembly resolved that the Israeli government's measures there were invalid and called on it to rescind them. In May 1968 the Security Council made a similar Resolution; the US government abstained both times. The USA has consistently used its veto to support the Israeli government's building of illegal settlements.
On 31 October 1995, an agreement was reached between Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Yossi Beilin, and a close colleague of Chairman Arafat, Abu Mazen. They agreed that there should be a Palestinian state within agreed boundaries, in which Israeli settlements would be dismantled, and to which Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return. Israel would recognise eastern Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and Palestine would recognise western Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is a far better basis for agreement than the 2000 Camp David offer, whereby Jerusalem was to be the `eternal and unified capital of Israel'.
The solution has to be in terms of two states, not the Bush-Sharon refusal ever to countenance an independent Palestine, nor (the mirror image) Hamas' refusal ever to recognise Israel.
There is some history of Jerusalem here. But it isn't all that good. And the author's conclusions are dubious at best.

Suppose we were to see a history of Vilnius. We'd discover that the capital of Lithuania could be claimed by Russia, Belorus, or even Poland. Of course, these places have their own capitals. But why not steal someone else's? We could make up a story that some Russian Czar once dreamed of Vilnius. That ought to give folks a right to swipe it!

And there is a demographic argument! Lithuania doesn't have as many people as Russia. Surely, we ought to bow to reality and let Russia have it. Or at least internationalize it!

The problem with the demographic argument is that the Russians have a huge land while the Lithuanians have a small one. Unless Vilnius is stolen from the Lithuanians by force, the Lithuanians are very likely to keep it.

Now, let's see if we can do a little better than Wasserstein, and apply this reasoning to Jerusalem.

The author admits that in 1910, there were about 45,000 Jews in Jerusalem as opposed to 12,000 Muslims and 12,900 Christians. Jerusalem had been the capital of the Jews for millenia, since the time of King David. And even in the mid-1870s, before Modern Zionism began, Jerualem's Jews were a majority of the population.

In 1910, we see that Jews were well over 60% of the population. They still are. Unless violence is used to get rid of them, the Jews will keep Jerusalem.

Now, it is true that we could make up a story about Mohammed dreaming about Jerusalem. Hey, we could make up a story about Mohammed's horse being born in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, exactly 600 years to the day after the birth of Jesus. But would that suffice to justify swiping the Church of the Nativity?

I'm a Pagan who would be happy to see the Temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva restored in Aelia Capitolina. But I can see who really lives there now. The Jews do. And the Muslims are a big minority. And the Christians have been fleeing the place, but there are still a few left. There aren't too many Polytheists around. We don't own the place. And that is what counts.

Wasserstein wants to come up with a politically correct solution that will give Muslims a right to at least share Jerusalem (oops, I mean al-Quds) equally with the Jews, or with the Jews and Christians. Well, before I consider this, I want to see a politically incorrect proposal to share Medina (oops, I mean Yathrib) equally with the Jews. Israel is not a large nation. But it has over 6 million people, including over 5 million Jews, and Jerusalem is its capital.

The author does discuss the politics of Jerusalem being Israel's capital. And he does mention the fact that every candidate for President of the United States in the past few elections has promised to move America's Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem. None have done so. This would have been an opportunity for him to advise candidates to carry out that promise or stop making it. But he didn't really do that. Instead, he implied that it would somehow be unfair and unwise for the United States, which has all its other embassies in the capitals of nations, to put its Israeli embassy in the capital of Israel.

Right now, many Muslims are happy to say that what is theirs is theirs and theirs alone, while what is not theirs is negotiable and must be shared with them or given to them outright. And there are books like this one which imply that they are being reasonable and wise to say this. But eventually, reality will catch up to them.

I don't recommend this book.
Stylish Monkey
Lacking all sensitivity. How can Jerusalem be so misunderstood by an otherwise responsible, careful author?!

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