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.
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