Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 2002
Jerusalem: Between the Local and Global
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
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.”
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.