“Jerusalem is a shared gift for humanity”.

Jerusalem: My Favorite City in the World!

By Yael S. Aronoff

*Published in Saliba Sarsar and Carole Monica C. Burnett, eds. What Jerusalem Means to Us: Jewish Perspectives and Reflections. North Bethesda, MD: Holy Land Books/Noble Book Publishing Incorporated, 2023.

**Dr. Yael S. Aronoff holds the Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Endowed Chair in Israel Studies and serves as the director of the Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel at Michigan State University, and a professor of Political Science at James Madison College at Michigan State University. Her primary research and work focus on Israeli politics and foreign policy, Israeli society and culture, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts to resolve it, and Israel’s asymmetric wars. She is particularly interested in peace negotiations and the conditions under which wars end, as well as the means and limits of war. Among Aronoff’s publications are the book, The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard Liners Opt for Peace, and the co-edited book, Continuity and Change in Political Culture: Israel and Beyond. Her current book project is titled, The Dilemmas of Asymmetric Conflicts: Navigating Deterrence and Democratic Constraints. Dr. Aronoff has published in Foreign Policy, Israel Studies, Israel Studies Review, and Political Science Quarterly; she is past President of the Association of Israel Studies and has given over 100 public lectures.


Jewish Connections to Jerusalem Through the Lens of Personal Connections to Jerusalem

Jerusalem, to Jews in Israel and across the world, is the most holy city. According to the Torah, Josephus, as well as modern scholarship and archeology, King David took over what was a small Canaanite town in the ninth century BCE and made it the capital of his kingdom. King Solomon, King David’s son, built the first Temple on Mount Moriah, the site where tradition has it that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaak. The Temple stood for 410 years before it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Second Holy Temple was completed by Ezra, Nehemiah, and the returnees from the Babylonian exile in 350 BCE; it stood for 420 years until, in 70 CE, it was destroyed by the governor Titus and the Roman legions.[1]

In the innermost chamber of the first and second Temples, in the Holy of Holies, was the Holy Ark. In the second Temple period, hundreds of thousands of Jews would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times a year – for Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.[2] After the Temple was twice destroyed, the presence of the divine indwelling or shekhinah was thought to remain in the ruins, and thus Jews yearned to be as close as possible to where G-d’s sacred name could be called upon.[3] It is for this reason that synagogues are built facing the East, facing Jerusalem.

Thus Jerusalem, the site of the destroyed Temple, has been the center around which Jewish ritual and thought has centered for 2000 years. Over 150,000 Jews are buried on the Mount of Olives, across the valley from the Temple Mount (as the remaining platform upon which the Temple once stood is now known), partly due to the tradition stating that when the Messiah comes, resurrection will start there. For over 700 years, Jewish weddings have included the breaking of the glass, so that even on the happiest of days Jews will remember the destruction of the Temple. This also carries out the vow in the book of Psalms: “If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy” (Psalm 137). Many of the Jewish holidays are expressions of yearning for the return to Jerusalem and lament the destruction of the Temples. At the end of Passover seder and at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, Jews say “L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim—Next year in Jerusalem.” On Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av, many Jews mourn the destruction of both Temples, and go to synagogue to read the Book of Lamentations. Religious Jews pray three times a day facing Jerusalem and recite this prayer: “Return to Your city Jerusalem in mercy and establish Yourself there as you promised…Blessed are you, Lord, builder of Jerusalem.”

During the Crusades, Jews and Muslims fought together, but were unsuccessful and were expelled from the city. In 1265, Rabbi Nachmanides (Moses Ben Nachman) arrived from Spain and established a synagogue that still exists in Jerusalem, around which the Jewish Quarter grew.

While the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish religion, to the history of the Jewish people, and to contemporary Jewish life, cannot be overstated, it is certainly too long and complex to capture in a short essay. This, then, will not attempt to be any comprehensive look at the deep history, complex present, and tragic conflicts that entangle the city.  Instead, I was invited to reflect on what Jerusalem means to me personally, as well as to Jews as a people. My associations with and reflections on the city will be one thread in a tapestry, and through that tapestry of personal reflections one might attain a broader view of what Jerusalem means to a variety of diverse Jews.

Jerusalem is, simply put, my favorite city in the world. While shaped by religious and historical ties, my own attachment to Jerusalem can best be described as a sense of “secular sacredness” – a sense of the special quality of life in Jerusalem, made up of my experience of and memories of the vibrant life being lived there here and now, but shot through and suffused with the aura of the centuries of Jewish life that still permeates the city. As I ride up the hills from the direction of Tel Aviv, I always feel a sense of anticipation and elation – an anticipation that echoes, in a personal register, the concept of aliyah, of “going up” to the city, physically and spiritually, which Israelis now attach to the process of coming to the State of Israel as a whole. I love the ancient Jewish history that is embedded there; I love the current Jewish life that is there (mainly in West Jerusalem within the pre-1967 borders); I love that the city is so important to all three monotheistic religions, that it is diverse and multicultural, that millions of people throughout the world visit it. I love the Jerusalem limestone buildings, I love the vegetation, I love the layers of history, and I love walking every inch of it. My soul feels free in Jerusalem; I feel at home there.

This sense of home might seem surprising, given that I lived there only a total of three years, starting with a year as a young person. I spent much of my early youth growing up in Herzliyah, a town south of Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean. Our family then moved to New Jersey, but we returned to live in Jerusalem during my dad’s sabbatical in 1992-1993. I was a first-year student in The Gymnasia Haivrit, a top Israeli high school in the Rahavia neighborhood in West Jerusalem. It was founded in 1909 in Jerusalem’s Bukharan neighborhood and moved to the location in Rehavia in 1929. As Arieh Saposnik eloquently writes, discussing the establishment of Jerusalem’s Bezalel art school and museum in 1906, these efforts led to a “series of reconceptualizations that ultimately blur the distinctions between the sacred and the secular.”[4] We also lived in Rahavia. We did not have a car that year, but I felt a sense of great liberation living in Jerusalem: in contrast to the New Jersey suburbs, where one needed to be driven everywhere, one could walk everywhere in Jerusalem, and we did. Our family probably joined every available educational walk to almost every corner of Jerusalem. I was also on the cross-country team and ran every day through many of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods and hills. Throughout that year, I developed a deep connection to Jerusalem’s geography, vegetation, diverse peoples, and multi-layered history. I loved running through the different neighborhoods and parks, each with its own character, yet united by the beautiful limestone buildings everywhere. We walked every inch of the Old City: along the top of the old Ottoman wall and on the roofs of houses, through its many alleys. Hearing the many church bells pealing, and the Muslim calls to prayer beautifully echoing across the valleys, and knowing the deep, continuing meaning for the Jewish religion and history…it is so moving to be grounded in a place that has so many layers of different peoples’ histories, including deep meaning for Jewish history, and to make your own history there as well.

Archeologists continually find Jewish history in so many places in Israel, including in Jerusalem. Of the 13 subjects taught each year in the Gymnasia, one was the Bible. It was not taught as a religious text, but as a historical text with which one could and should argue. For example, we discussed what environmental conditions at the time might have contributed to the “parting of the sea” when Moses fled with the Israelites to escape slavery in Egypt to Israel. This way of teaching the Torah in secular schools in Israel – as a non-literal, broad history of the Jewish people grounded in the actual geography of Jerusalem and Israel more broadly – is made “alive” by the constant archeological discoveries that back up this view. Just as I am writing this chapter, 2,731-year-old inscriptions thought to have been authorized by the eighth century BCE Judean King Hezekiah have been discovered in the Siloam Tunnel in the City of David and seem to represent the earliest manuscripts of the Bible.[5] I am moved by the way I can touch that history. I wear a necklace with an authentic ancient Jewish coin found in archeological digs around Israel, dating back to 132-135 CE, minted by Jewish rebels during the third and final revolt against the Romans. On one side, a palm tree; on the other, an inscription calling for the redemption of Jerusalem.

While I believe that G-d is everywhere, and feel especially closer to G-d when contemplating nature, it is also special to put one’s hands on the Western Wall – the 2000-year-old retaining wall of the Temple Mount – see the doves often perched in its masonry seams, say a few prayers (always including a prayer for peace in Jerusalem), and write some prayers on paper and put them into the cracks. One can feel a deep historical connection to the place itself, and its sacredness. I witness the many people praying fervently at the wall, with some crying as they pray. They include Jews (and non-Jews) from all over the world, as well as many Jewish Israelis who come there regularly to pray. As the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox have the most influence over the governance of the site, it is segregated by gender, and the men have a much larger section. On top of that, the ultra-Orthodox do not want to be distracted by the singing and praying of women, who are therefore supposed to do so very softly. This has given rise to a movement in Israel, which I fully support, to provide for integrated prayer, whereby women can pray as they like at a section of the wall. I have also thoroughly enjoyed going to the many beautiful churches and mosques in Jerusalem, from which prayers rise just as fervently.

The connection between my classmates, largely from secular or traditional families, was not necessarily a primarily religious one, but rather a historical, cultural, ethnic, and national one that was also infused by a sense of pride and belonging to the city. We took bus rides for a week-long field trip that included many great hikes across the country, and in the bus, everyone would sing, “Yerushalayim, anachnu me Yerushalayim, anachnu Yerushalmim, Hashir shelanu rak matchil…” This refrain – “Jerusalem, we are from Jerusalem, we are Jerusalemites, our song has just begun!” – was repeated with enthusiasm and joy. I had classmates whose families had lived in Jerusalem for many generations, and others who were second- or third-generation Israelis whose families came from Yemen, Morocco, and Egypt, as well as a variety of different European countries. One of my classmates and friends was the son of Aharon Appelfeld, a famous Israeli novelist who was a Holocaust survivor. Other famous Israeli novelists who have attended this school include Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, the former President of Israel’s Supreme Court, Miriam Naor, and former Israeli Presidents Ephraim Katzir and Reuven Rivlin.

In 1996-1997, my husband and I lived in Jerusalem once again while we were graduate students and I was a Lady Davis Fellow at the Hebrew University, conducting research on the political psychology of Israeli prime ministers for my dissertation research. This time we lived in the German Colony neighborhood and walked almost every inch of the city, having no car. The political context was quite different from that of my childhood memories: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had come to power in 1996 by the thinnest of margins – 29,457 votes – helped by the waves of suicide bombings during the Oslo process, and then especially by a spike in suicide bombings against Israeli civilians near the election, partially motivated by the desire to destroy the peace process promoted by Shimon Peres and his Labor Party. Hamas was opposed to (and officially still opposes) the Oslo Accords, to direct negotiations with Israel, and to a two-state solution.[6] Rather than having Peres carry through Israel’s commitments to Oslo, the late 1990s saw Netanyahu try to delay and obstruct the process, claiming that he would carry out Israel’s commitments only if the Palestinian Authority upheld its own. Part of Netanyahu’s plan to obstruct the future establishment of a Palestinian capital of al-Quds in East Jerusalem was building new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, such as Har Homa (between Jerusalem and Bethlehem). My husband and I joined Peace Now protests against the building of this settlement and lamented the spoiling of the initial period of post-Oslo hope at the hands of Hamas, Netanyahu, and new settlers in the West Bank.

We have made many additional trips to Jerusalem since then, including one with our 4-month-old baby in summer 1998 to conduct research interviews, as well as the leadership of study abroad programs at the Hebrew University in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017. I love to share my love of Jerusalem with my students, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. During each trip, I intentionally live in a different neighborhood of Jerusalem, to savor its variety, and enjoy bringing the students to different neighborhoods to speak to the residents. They converse also with analysts and academics in various think tanks, research centers, and universities, as well as leaders of NGOs and political parties. They have seen heated debates in the Knesset, court sessions in the High Court, and stimulating discussions at the Israel Democracy Institute and at the Truman Center for Peace. They have met with leaders of Peace Now and with the Parents Circle, a group composed of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost relatives to the conflict and who send their children to common summer camps, call each other “brother” and “sister,” and speak at each other’s schools to fight against demonization. Guided by archeologists, my students also can step through the many layers of Jerusalem’s history and its many religious sites.

Communities Living Alongside One Another

One of the things I love most about Jerusalem is the great diversity of cultures, subcultures, religions, and nations. These are at times a source of celebration, but also are infused with cleavages, tensions, and sadness.

One such tension is between ultra-Orthodox Jews on the one hand, and secular and traditional Jews on the other. There are some mutual implicit and explicit biases among the communities. The secular/traditional Jews often feel as if they have a “live and let live” attitude but believe the ultra-Orthodox want to impinge on the freedom of secular Jews to live as they wish. In polls, 70 percent of secular Jews said they are worried that they will be unable to maintain their preferred lifestyle because of the increasing power of certain other groups in Israeli society; that concern was shared by only 46.5 percent of those defined as traditional with a non-religious tendency, 34 percent of traditional Jews with a religious tendency, 22 percent of national religious and 19 percent of ultra-Orthodox.[7] In Jerusalem, this means there is no public transportation on Shabbat, most of the restaurants are closed, and at times if cars go through an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, they risk getting stones thrown at them for violating religious laws against driving on Shabbat. As the ultra-Orthodox have many more children, they also have expanded the Jerusalem neighborhoods in which they live, leading some secular/traditional Jews to feel this infringement on their freedoms, and causing some to move to other cities such as Tel Aviv. There is also the resentment of their tax dollars going to the large ultra-Orthodox families when most of the males do not work outside the home but dedicate themselves to the study of the Torah, and of the fact that most ultra-Orthodox men do not serve in the military.

The biases go both ways. Even in high school I remember students applying the derogatory term of “Dossim” to the ultra-Orthodox, and some even muttering something like that under their breath as they passed. However, when I was young and my grandparents came to visit, they made the mistake of sitting next to each other to eat on a stoop in Me’a She’arim, and had hot water thrown on them. Likewise, one summer, when we took our young kids to a playground that was adjacent to an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, one of the kids spat at them and all the mothers looked disapprovingly at us, as if we might pollute their world by encroaching on it.

Despite my own secularism, and my mild resentment of the ultra-Orthodox dictating through their influence things like no public transportation in Jerusalem on Shabbat, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of Shabbat in Jerusalem. The city is clothed in a quiet, special aura, with far fewer cars and buses; families walk the city, getting together, and many going to synagogue. It produces a special, and even sacred, feeling of peace, making the day a real break from the ordinary routine. The shops close early on Friday, and people bustle about to do their shopping before Shabbat. Going to places like Mahane Yehudah, an outdoor market dominated by Mizrahi Israelis (Jewish Israelis from across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia), is a special experience. It is wonderful to taste and pick one’s olives, choose from among the wide selections of Halva, and enjoy the chats and atmosphere.

Another obvious cleavage is that between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis in the city, who largely live in different neighborhoods. The Palestinian and Jewish Israeli identities intersect with day-to-day political realities in ways that make the tangle even denser and more complex. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem currently have ID cards that allow them to work in Israel, but most have rejected the option to take Israeli citizenship as legitimizing Israeli rule. Over time, Israel also made it increasingly difficult to attain Israeli citizenship for those who elected to have it. Many Palestinians have also boycotted municipal elections, thus causing negative influences on day-to-day services in Palestinian neighborhoods. However, many do want to vote for elections that the Palestinian Authority will hold in the future. From 2000 to 2005, over 1,000 Israelis were killed in the Second Intifada, two thirds of whom were civilians. Many buses and restaurants, including a cafeteria at the Hebrew University, were blown up in Jerusalem. Almost every Israeli knows someone who was killed or injured during this time. I, too, have good friends who witnessed a bus being blown up, and who had friends killed. These streets, so peaceful to walk along on Shabbat, also had hundreds of pieces of flesh strewn across them.[8] It is this experience that led Israel to build the “separation barrier” – what my kids called “the sad wall” – that now scars the hills around Jerusalem, separating parts of East Jerusalem from the Old City and West Jerusalem. While popular among many Jewish Israelis because of its perceived success in significantly reducing threats to personal safety and deemed by the International Criminal Court as legal if built on the 1967 border, the barrier in fact was built, due to the political influences of certain parties, to encroach on almost 10 percent of the West Bank, and impinge on Palestinian mobility.

Despite these very real tensions, inequalities, and cleavages that permeate Jerusalem, we live in a world that is not always “either/or” and which encompasses many divergent trends. Jerusalem is certainly not unique in having spaces that are de facto segregated, as well as other spaces in which populations integrate. Jerusalem has vibrant spaces along the “seam” between West and East Jerusalem, around the Old City, where the different subcultures and populations of the city rub up against one another and enjoy the pleasures of a sunny afternoon together. At the outdoor Mamila Mall, for instance, just outside the Jaffa Gate, one can enjoy walking among the shops and listening to performances of street musicians, enjoyed by an audience of secular Jewish Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israelis, and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, all shopping together and eating together in the restaurants. Families picnic side by side in the Gan Hapa’amon near Yemin Moshe; children play alongside and with each other in the parks and fountains that run along the Hinnom Valley outside the Old City walls. Jerusalem’s trams are used by all and travel to different parts of the city. It is also a city where many people do learn to live alongside one another with tolerance and sometimes form bridges and interactions. There are tensions and extremism of varying ilks, but many families want to live harmoniously with one another.

Jerusalem’s Future

The deep connection of Jews to Jerusalem is matched only by the often-negative results for Jews that historically have occurred when others have controlled the city – executions, expulsions, and destruction of Jewish holy sites. For example, in the Byzantine period, Jews were banished from residing in the city.[9] From 1948 to 1967, when it controlled the Old City, Jordan destroyed the Jewish Quarter and would not allow any Jew (Israeli or from anywhere else in the world) to pray at the Western Wall. It also failed to meet the requirements of the 1948 armistice, which provided for free access to the Western Wall and to the Jewish cemeteries and tombs on the Mount of Olives.[10] This history of exclusion and restriction from holy sites is ingrained in Israelis, coloring their attitudes toward sovereignty over the city and anxiety over sharing that space or territory. However, I strongly believe that most of East Jerusalem should be conceded to a Palestinian state in order to reach a peace agreement based in a two-state solution. Both Jews and Palestinians deserve to exercise the right to self-determination, and most of East Jerusalem has Palestinian residents, who currently live in a liminal status. While the Temple was twice destroyed, the fact is that now two beautiful mosques exist on that site, and the Muslim waqf has religious jurisdiction over the site. As the third holiest Muslim site, it plays an important religious and symbolic role for Palestinians and for a future Palestinian state.

Conceding most of East Jerusalem is difficult for many Jews. Many religious Jews believe that “David’s Tunnels” in the Palestinian village of Silwan next to the Old City should remain in Israel’s control, as well as the Temple Mount, as it still is holy to Jews. Many religious, as well as some secular, Jews worry that they might be targeted with more violence if Israel cedes control. For instance, there have been many instances of rocks being thrown from the Temple Mount upon Jews praying at the Western Wall below it. If Palestine were to have political sovereignty over the Temple Mount, many would feel that there would be a great security risk, especially if Hamas were ever to be in control.

However, Palestinians are suffering and deserve their own state, with a capital in Jerusalem/al Quds. While there will be security risks, the long-term security risks of not reaching a peace agreement are much greater. Former President Bill Clinton suggested, in 2000, a creative and helpful set of ideas for getting to such an agreement, known as the “Clinton Parameters.” This entailed Israel making the painful compromise of conceding most of East Jerusalem (while retaining the Jewish quarter of the Old City with the Western Wall, as well as some Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that have existed for over a century), while Palestinians make the painful compromise of limiting the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to mean de facto the “right of return” largely to the new Palestinian state, with only a limited number being allowed to return to reside in Israel’s pre-1967 borders. In that sense, there would be a territorial boundary set based on the 1967 borders, with a swap of any territory Israel kept in East Jerusalem, for territory in pre-1967 Israel that would become part of Palestine; similarly, the two most emotional issues tied to identities would essentially largely be swapped for one other.[11]

Attitudes of Israelis toward such sharing of the city varies widely, depending on how the questions are phrased. If they are phrased in terms of “dividing the city” that has already been “united” under Israeli sovereignty, then some surveys show that many Jewish Israelis would be reluctant to concede most of East Jerusalem. However, far more are willing to make this concession if the survey questions are phrased as “conceding Palestinian villages” to which most Jewish Israelis never go in the first place. In that sense, if the question is posed as acknowledging the sharing of a city that is already largely segregated and divided, far more Israelis are willing to make this concession for peace. In 2017, a survey also showed that 61 percent of Jews and 54 percent of Arabs agreed with the statement that, “at present Jerusalem is actually divided into two cities: the eastern city and the western city.”[12] These results are explained by prospect theory in psychology, which finds that people put a higher value on items that they consider to be “theirs” and therefore would pose a “loss,” than they place on “gains.” In late 2017, in answer to the question “Should Israel, as part of a settlement that would end the conflict with the Palestinians, transfer the rule of the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, or should it continue to control them, even at the cost of a settlement that would end the conflict?” 51 percent of respondents said they would prefer to transfer the rule of East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods to Palestinian control; only 49 percent said they would prefer to retain them.[13]

I always feel Jerusalem calling me to it, and I feel deeply bonded to it. I return to it almost every year, always feeling a pull to stay when I leave. However, my close family does not live there so it is unlikely that I will. It is up to Israelis and Palestinians living there to find a way to divide/share it that will enable both peoples to live in peace and equality.

Some creative solutions have been proposed over the years. Ehud Olmert, in 2008, offered most of East Jerusalem to be established as the Palestinian capital al-Quds; in exchange for Israel’s retention of the Jewish quarter of the Old City and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, he offered to swap pre-1967 territory in Israel. In that scenario, it was envisioned that the Old City would be jointly administered by the U.S., Israel, Palestine, Jordan, the EU, and Saudi Arabia.[14] There have been many creative ideas for dividing and sharing Jerusalem, including that of Al-Quds and Yerushalayim being respective capitals of two fully independent sovereign states, but with mechanisms for coordination within the context of confederation. In this formula, if Israel kept all the Jewish neighborhoods within Jerusalem’s current municipal boundaries, Al-Quds would be able to expand alongside the municipal boundaries of Yerushalayim.[15]

Surveys of Israeli and Palestinian public opinion provide hope that future scenarios for dividing/sharing Jerusalem could find support. When leaders reach a peace agreement that makes Israeli and Palestinian constituencies confident that Palestinian independence and peace will be secured, it is likely that support for compromise and accommodation will grow.  In June 2022, a survey showed that half (48%) of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents said that they would prefer to become citizens of Israel, while 43 percent would choose to be a citizen of Palestine, and 9 percent would choose Jordanian citizenship. Around half (54%) of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians agree with the statement, “I hope someday we can be friends with Israelis, since we are all human beings after all.” Surveys show that most of the Jewish Israeli public (65%) feels that Israel should not allow any – or only limited – Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. By contrast, 35 percent of that same public favors allowing Jews to visit and pray freely on the Temple Mount. The surveys also indicate that at times of security tensions, public support for Jewish freedom to visit the Temple Mount – in particular, visits by high profile public officials – drops dramatically, compared to times of relative peace.[16] These surveys show a willingness on the part of most Israelis to prioritize peace above the right to pray at the Temple Mount.

These surveys show that there is hope for reaching a division/sharing of Jerusalem in a future two-state solution. Such a scenario would continue to enable Jews to implement their deepest connections to Jerusalem, while also exercising Jewish (and universal) values that would support self-determination for Palestinians as well as Jews.

Next year in Jerusalem, in peace for all.

[1] Flavius Josephus, The Jewish Wars (Oxford University Press, 2017); Hershel Shanks, The Mystery and the Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); Frederick E. Greenspahn, Early Judaism: New Insights and Scholarship (New York: NYU Press, 2018).

[2] Michael Zank, “Jerusalem in Religious Studies,” in Jerusalem: Conflict and Cooperation in a Contested City, ed. Madelaine Adelman and Miriam Fendius Elman (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014), p. 139.

[3] Zank, p. 117.

[4] Arieh Saposnik, “Changing Faces of Zionism’s Jerusalems,” in Jerusalem: Conflict & Cooperation in a Contested City, ed. Madelaine Adelman and Miriam Fendius Elman (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014), p. 195.

[5] Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “Was Proof of Biblical Kings of Israel, Judah Deciphered on Jerusalem Rock Inscriptions?” Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2022.

[6] Beverly Milton-Edwards & Stephen Farrell, Hamas (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010), p. 81.

[7]Tamar Hermann and Or Anabi, “Majority Think Too Many Concessions Made to Coalition Partners,” Israeli Democracy Institute Israeli Voice Index, January 4, 2023, https://en.idi.org.il/articles/47050.

[8] Those targeting civilians in Israel were mostly not residents of East Jerusalem. This chapter and book focus on Jewish connections to Jerusalem (after Dr. Saliba Sarsar edited similar books on Muslim and on Christian connections to Jerusalem). Every Palestinian also knows someone who has been killed over the decades of conflict with Israel. In the Second Intifada alone, over 3,100 Palestinians were killed, at least 50 percent of whom, by the most conservative estimates, were civilians. (The proportion of civilian casualties, of course, is the subject of intense debate, turning on how different organizations and institutions define “civilian.” My point here is not to decide that question, but to acknowledge the pain shared by all in this conflict.)

[9] Zank, p. 139.

[10] Roger Friedland and Richard D. Hecht, “Sacred Urbanism: Jerusalem’s Sacrality, Urban Sociology, and the History of Religions,” in Jerusalem: Conflict and Cooperation in a Contested City, ed. Madelaine Adelman and Miriam Fendius Elman (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014), p. 106.

[11] Daniel C. Kurtzer and Scott B. Lasensky with William B. Quandt, Steven L. Spiegel, and Shibley I. Telhami, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2008), pp. 145-157.

[12] “‘62% of Jewish Public Holding onto Territories in Judea, Samaria Not an Occupation:’ 50 Years on, monthly Peace Index focuses on anniversary of the Six Day War,” Israel Democracy Institute, June 4, 2017, https://en.idi.org.il/press releases/15728, The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute.

[13] Zipi Israeli and Udi Dekel, “The Future of Jerusalem: Between Public Opinion and Policy,” Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, INSS Insight No. 1057, May 15, 2018.

[14] David Ignatius, “The Mideast Deal that Could Have Been,” Washington Post, October 26, 2011.

[15] Hiba Husseini and Yossi Beilin, eds. The Holy Land Confederation as a Facilitator of the Two State Solution pp. 53-60. Unfortunately, the Israeli government formed in December 2022 is the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, and opposes conceding any part of East Jerusalem, and opposes a two-state solution. It is likely that future governments will have to concede most of East Jerusalem for peace.

[16] David Pollock, “New Poll Reveals Moderate Trend Among East Jerusalem Palestinians,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy Fikra Forum, July 8, 2022. Poll conducted in June 2022 by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion and Commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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