tjir_v1n4sas01 - Jerusalem Between the Local and Global...

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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 2002 53 Jerusalem: Between the Local and Global Saliba Sarsar* Many famous cities (e.g., Carthage, Petra, Athens, Rome, Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul, Beijing, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Washington, D.C.) have dotted the civilization landscapes, but none stands out more famous or sacred as Jerusalem. Yet, its fame and sacredness have not saved it from conquerors or hegemonic designs and from bloodshed and conflict. The cycle of violence in its life today is truly a déjà vu experience. Over a 4,000-year history, Jerusalem witnessed a series of invasions and settlements at the hands of the Canaanites, Jebusites, Israelites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, British, Jordanians, and Israelis. One medieval Christian map showed Jerusalem at the heart of the three known continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe. In a poignant account of a recent journey through the Middle East, William Dalrymple writes, “In Jerusalem every street corner has its own martyr or monument, saint or shrine. Its soil is drenched in blood spilt in the name of religion.” 1 Jerusalem is thrice holy. It is the focal point of a larger universe, here on earth and beyond, for the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Besides being the only site of redemption and final judgment, it is symbolic of the interconnections between the earthly and the heavenly, the secular and the religious. As a
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 2002 54 metaphor for Israeli Jewish-Palestinian relations, it projects what it experiences and reacts to what is experienced elsewhere, especially among world Jewry and their supporters on the one hand and Palestinians under occupation and in the Diaspora and their supporters on the other. Like the prophets of old, many zealously compete for its protection from “the other” and are willing to sacrifice themselves for it. Each of the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian communities has erected historic claims and counterclaims and psychological blinders that perpetuate a zero-sum game and make compromise and accommodation impossible. The Israeli Jewish myth of the “unified, indivisible, eternal, Israeli Jerusalem” 2 and the belief of some Palestinians that the Jewish religious connection to Jerusalem is tenuous 3 are prime examples of how each community has adopted a partial view of history that delegitimizes the rights of “the other.” In addition, each community has resorted to varying levels of violence to make its case or retaliate, resulting in the killing and maiming of countless innocent inhabitants and in fear, dispossession, humiliation, subordination, and impoverishment, as expressed by several wars and bloody episodes in the 20 th century and today. Negotiations for peace designed to determine the city’s future have failed.
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tjir_v1n4sas01 - Jerusalem Between the Local and Global...

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