The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem: Pales­tin­ian Pol­i­tics and the City Since 1967

Hil­lel Cohen
  • Review
By – December 13, 2011
Jerusalem has long been a cen­ter of con­flict between Israel and the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly the future sta­tus of the east­ern half of the city. Hil­lel Cohen, a schol­ar at Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty and research fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute for Israel Stud­ies, has writ­ten sev­er­al impor­tant stud­ies on Pales­tin­ian Arabs, but here he turns his sights on East Jerusalem. Cohen’s major inter­est in this vol­ume is polit­i­cal and mil­i­tant activ­i­ty car­ried out by Arabs in East Jerusalem. Pales­tin­ian res­i­dents of the city ini­ti­ate rel­a­tive­ly few armed actions. Even so, the Pales­tini­ans of Jerusalem are orga­nized in the same orga­ni­za­tions as Pales­tini­ans in the territories…live under occupation…and have a deep con­nec­tion to the Pales­tin­ian ethos.”
The book begins by describ­ing how Jerusalem, which has immense reli­gious sig­nif­i­cance to Mus­lims and Pales­tini­ans, became a bor­der city of sec­ondary impor­tance” under Jor­dan. In the 1980’s it became a cen­ter of cul­ture, home to sev­er­al Pales­tin­ian news­pa­pers and var­i­ous cul­tur­al clubs. Israelis, pri­mar­i­ly on the polit­i­cal left and work­ing with peace orga­ni­za­tions, estab­lished con­tacts with Pales­tin­ian lead­ers in East Jerusalem such as Faisal Hus­sei­ni. Cohen asks, to what extent does work among Jews influ­ence the readi­ness of Pales­tini­ans to car­ry out attacks?” In sev­er­al cas­es Pales­tini­ans who had close con­nec­tions to Jews, study­ing or work­ing with them, were nev­er­the­less involved in ter­ror attacks in the city. How­ev­er, Cohen stress­es that in gen­er­al the Arabs of East Jerusalem did not engage in attacks dur­ing the Sec­ond Intifa­da. The author also exam­ines, to a less­er extent, Israeli set­tle­ment and polic­ing meth­ods in East Jerusalem.
The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem is an inter­est­ing and orig­i­nal study that is based on for­mi­da­ble research and also a deep knowl­edge of the peo­ple involved. Few if any oth­er books on East Jerusalem exam­ine the fam­i­ly and edu­ca­tion­al back­grounds of the Arab pop­u­la­tion and show such an under­stand­ing of the per­son­al rela­tion­ships between the indi­vid­u­als and events stud­ied. Acknowl­edge­ments, bib­li­og­ra­phy, index, notes.
Seth J. Frantz­man received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem where he cur­rent­ly holds a Post-Doc­tor­al Fel­low­ship. He is a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and Fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute of Mar­ket Studies.

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