Argument: Jerusalem is too interwoven to be neatly divided

Issue Report: Dividing Jerusalem


Chris Mitchell. “Tears for a Divided Jerusalem?”. CBN News Jerusalem Bureau. 4 Jan. 2008 – CBN News spoke with author Judy Lash Balint about what it would mean to divide Jerusalem. For more than ten years, Balint has studied, lived in, and written about Jerusalem. ‘If you look out in Jerusalem, look at a map of Jerusalem, it’s very easy to see that there is no easy, clear division between eastern Jerusalem and western Jerusalem. We are all jumbled in together,” she said.

Balint notes the proposed plan would put major Christian sites like the Garden Of Gethsemane and The Church of the Holy Sepulcher under the control of an international body.

She also points out that Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are woven together like a tapestry.

“You have to come and see it. There’s no way to describe it accurately. Even to look at photos I think. You really have to come here and feel Jerusalem. In the streets, in the alleys in the neighborhoods – it’s really impossible for people to imagine how closely we live with each other,” she said.

Divide Jerusalem and Suffer the Consequences

One place where Jews and Arabs live close to each other – literally side by side – is at a complex called Maale Ha Zeitim. It is located in the heart of the Arab neighborhood, Ras Alamud.

Arieh King lives in Maale Ha Zeitim and serves as its spokesman. He likens the complexity of Jerusalem to an onion, with successive layers of Jews and Arabs living around its heart, the Temple Mount.

“Behind this first layer, we have a second layer. … We have another location where Jews are living around the first layer. But then again we have Arabs living. And behind the second layer of the Arabs we have a third layer of Jews again living,” he explained.

King warns those trying to cut an onion or a city will suffer the consequences.

“What is happening when you are cutting the onion? You start crying. You have tears,” he said. “I believe this is what will happen to anybody that will try and cut this onion,” he said.

Tim McGirk. “Jerusalem Divided”. Time. 21 Nov. 2007 – “In 2000 President Bill Clinton, as part of a set of “parameters” he laid out for ending the conflict, proposed a legal split of the city, with Israel handing the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem over to Palestinian rule. Such a formula presupposes that Jerusalem is capable of a neat division. But it is not. Somehow, any separation of the city into component parts has to recognize that there are myriad economic and cultural links among political adversaries. Moreover, the monuments and shrines of the Old City attract visitors from all over the world: Muslims who want to worship at al-Aqsa Mosque; Jews seeking to pray at the Western Wall; Christians keen to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or follow the Stations of the Cross. Try as one might, it is not possible to count out the lanes of the Old City so that each of them is controlled by only one faith, one ethnicity. (Clinton proposed “shared functional sovereignty” for the Old City.) Dividing Jerusalem, says Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer and expert on Jerusalem affairs, is “a political impossibility and a historical inevitability. It will take microsurgery, and I’m afraid the politicians will go at it with a hatchet.”