The first part of this article appeared in Palestine-Israel
Journal 8.3 (2001).
In the first part of this article, I set out to deal with the
question of why there are so few "Jerusalemites" in Jerusalem, in
the sense of people who see themselves as belonging to the city,
rather than to an exclusively national, religious, ethnic or other
group. I argued the case that the reason for this is tied up with
the current belief that the conflict between exclusive nationalisms
dominates the character of the divided city.
An Alternative Worldview
The consequences of such cultural alienation and conflict among the
peoples of Jerusalem are cumulatively debilitating for the life of
the city. Unless an inclusive definition of Jerusalemite identity
prevails, the chance of securing a just and sustainable peace, in
the face of extreme nationalism and religious othodoxies, remains
small. But what are the practical possibilities of sustaining
alternative, oppositional initiatives, and expanding the vision of
a common civic identity, particularly in periods, such as the
present, of increasingly severe and prolonged violence?
There is at present a diversity of groups within Palestinian and
Israeli civil society that are the "carriers" of progressive ideas
and oppositional practices, which, taken as a whole, have
contributed to the emergence of an alternative worldview.
The overall relation between the two communities is highly
asymmetric. The conditions in which Palestinian groups operate are
much more restricted than their Israeli counterparts; their civil
society is less developed and their resources are much more
limited. Despite these constraints there is a considerable range of
groups involved on both sides, operating on many different
At any time, and especially at present under the stress of
increased violence and heightened mistrust, there are very few
fully functioning Israeli-Palestinian partnership organisations.
However, a wide spectrum of parallel organisational involvement and
joint projects bring together groups in both societies. Such
initiatives range from conferencing and working party reports, to
protest movements and direct action groups. These include Bat
Shalom, the Israeli Women's Peace Network; B'tselem, the Israeli
Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories;
the Alternative Information Center and the Jerusalem Mediation and
Arbitration Center, as well as the Truman Institute of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem.
A "Culture of Peace"
A wide-ranging group of individual Palestinian and Israeli
intellectuals and professionals have published proposals on the
Jerusalem situation and its prospects. Their individual and
collective positions are often at odds both with others in their
own societies and with their counterparts in the "other" national
group. But their differences are oriented toward a struggle which
rejects exclusive nationalism in favor of its opposite,
Efforts to give weight to this viewpoint are institutionalized in a
range of policy study centers. These centers sponsor projects
intended to bring together Palestinian and Israeli specialists,
politicians, religious leaders and the like, to exchange views and
formulate joint reports. Their efforts have provided a body of
ideas that prefigures an alternative "culture of peace" built on
the premise that a negotiated settlement of the conflict over
Jerusalem is feasible and attainable. (Kolek 1995; Beckerman 1996;
Abdul-Hadi 1998; Baskin and al Qaq 1999).
A second category is made up of groups of individuals and NGOs
engaged in complementary joint activities between Israeli and
Palestinian Jerusalemites. Some are involved in "dialogue" (meeting
to exchange individual experiences) and others, such as NGOs, work
on funding and implementing joint projects.
A third category is mainly dedicated to the immediate task of
actively opposing current injustices. This includes human rights
defense organisations and alternative information agencies. They
are both monitors and activists.
Finally, a series of efforts are being made to rethink Jerusalem's
territorial and governmental form. An accumulation of studies
suggest the possibility of dealing with the core issues of
sovereignty, territory and symbolic affinity in order to enable
Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalemites to share the same space in
peaceful, if conflict-mediated, co-existence. (Baskin and Twite
1993; Khamaisi et al 1997; Ma'oz and Nusseibeh 2000, and
"Collective Identity Needs"
Jerusalem is currently divided not only between nations but also
between religions, theistic and secular groups, and ethnic
communities. In addition, it is split geographically, in terms of
Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods within the city, and Arab villages,
Palestinian refugee camps and Jewish settlements, outside. These
divisions mark every aspect of life and organisation of space in
the city. (Sabella 1995; Nusseibeh 1995a,b; Hasson 1997).
It is possible to conceptualize a different way of dealing with the
"identity politics" of the city. In the framework I propose here,
the polarized claims to "ownership" and control of territory, and
the pursuit of national, "interests" or "rights" are displaced by
the concepts of "collective cultural groups" and "collective
identity needs". Such "needs" can be specified in measurable and
comparable terms. They can facilitate the accommodation of
"identity needs" if satisfaction is not achieved at the expense of
another group (Safier 2001, forthcoming).
An examination of each type of "collective identity need" in
Jerusalem reveals a complex pattern of inequalities in terms of
need satisfaction among the different cultural groups sharing the
Recognition and Respect
A primary need is for all cultural groups that share the city to be
given equal recognition as citizens. This encompasses equality
before the law, non-discrimination and equal protection in terms of
public order and security, equal access to, and provision of,
common social services and support,s as well as a sense of
"solidarity" from fellow citizens.
A second collective identity need is for respect: all groups are to
be treated distinctively according to their cultural
particularities, but on an equivalent basis to all other cultural
groups, whether majority or minority. This encompasses respect for
different religious beliefs and different forms of cultural
A third identity need is for resourcing: collective cultural groups
should be able to mobilize resources and make proportional claims
on the resources of the wider society. This can be done through
internal resource mobilization and redistribution, equality of
opportunity for members of different cultural communities, and
proportional equity in the allocation of benefits and costs of
A fourth need is for representation. Formal and informal
participation should be granted in government, especially where
decision-making and resource allocation are involved. This includes
a degree of proportional representation in executive, legislative,
judicial and administrative branches of government, equivalent
avenues of access to major groups of decision-makers in government
and opportunities to develop institutions of self
The final basic need is for the possibility of realization of
cultural community life in the shared space of the city. This most
essential need includes access to residence free from restriction
and insecurity for members of all collective cultural groups,
provision and appreciation of group requirements for specific sites
and areas, and equal access to all public facilities, amenities and
In respect of the need for "recognition," there is at present a
"hierarchy of satisfaction" descending from a privileging of the
ultra-orthodox European Jewish religious community (Haredim) to the
greatly underprivileged Palestinians denied inclusion as citizens
on an equal footing with Israelis. In between these two, other
varieties of orthodox religious and secular Jewish groups are
themselves recognized more fully than Oriental Jews (Mizrachim) and
In each aspect of equality of "recognition," the rebalancing of
needs to replace the hierarchy does not appear to pose intractable
difficulties. The two instances of genuine difficulty remain the
peculiar special status of the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities
who refuse to accept the principle of common citizenship, and the
position of Palestinian (Arab) Israelis, for whom a framework is
needed to work out their status needs in relation to a 'two-state'
accommodation over Jerusalem (Ma'oz and Nusseibeh 2000; Hasson
In relation to the need for "respect" there is at present a mutual
incomprehension and distrust of "the others". Nevertheless, their
mutual satisfaction also appears achievable without disparagement
between the main groups. A mutual acknowledgement of the
distinctive Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities in the Old
City, the two distinctive Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab
national cultures in the wider urban area, and the distinctive
religious and separate secular traditions of the Haredim, the
Ashkenazim and the Mizrachim, do not threaten any of these
collective cultural identities. There is need for the negotiation
of a basis for better mutual understanding among religious and
secular groups of Jews and Palestinians, and the according of
greater acknowledgement of the different groups of Jews. (Kuttab
and Klein 2000).
Resourcing and Representation
In terms of "resourcing" the situation the needs of the Haredi
community are well met, as are those of the majority secular
Askenazi community. The needs of the Mizrachim have been very
poorly met, while those of the Palestinian community are largely
ignored.This is due to a combination of inequality in income and
wealth between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, and the massive
inequity in proportional redistribution of municipal revenues. The
Palestinian third of the population receives below five percent of
total budget expenditure. The resource needs of the underprivileged
and marginalized communities could be quickly advanced without
compromising those of the more well resourced, by releasing
restrictions now imposed on the potential of the Palestinian
community to participate more fully in the economic
In terms of "representation," the Haredim are at present heavily
over-represented, although all other Jewish groups have substantial
representational capacity both in relation to government and
self-government. The critically "under-represented" are the
Palestinians. Given the de facto today - and in all likelihood de
jure tomorrow - "two-state" situation operating in Jerusalem, the
conflict in this area of need is focused around the governmental
structures that will accommodate two sovereignties, and their two
capitals, in the one city. There are already a variety of
alternative models of shared sovereignty and municipal management,
which would satsify the needs of both Israelis and Palestinians in
Jerusalem (Kuttab and Kaminker 1997).
It is in the area of "realization" that the shift from rights to
needs has the most impact. Palestinians have by far the greatest
unmet needs in terms of residential provision, basic infrastructure
and access to city center locations. The Mizrahi underclass in the
south of the city also need drastic improvement in the quality of
living environment and facilities. There is an acute need for
future residential expansion among the Palestinians and Haredi
communities. Provisions need to be made for the return of a
proportion of the Palestinian Jerusalemite refugee community and
for the absorption of new Jewish immigrants. All of these
requirements will impose pressure on the environmental capacities
of the Jerusalem region (Abed 1997).
A wide variety of schemes have been proposed for the future growth
of the Jerusalem region. These deal with the available land, as
well as the economic and social requirements of an expanding urban
region. A future co-dominium Jerusalem, stretching from just short
of Ramallah in the north, to Bethlehem in the south, Abu Dis and
Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghnaim) in the east, and Ein Kerem in the west,
could see a future population of over a million (Khamaisi et al
1997; Hasson 2000b).
The specific ideas being developed to meet the main needs of all
major cultural groups in Jerusalem, must be placed in a broader
context. Diverse citizenship, shared space, transnational
institutional forms, and a culture of peace (Silberstein 1999;
Sabella 1999; Hasson 2000a; Baskin and al Qaq 1999) are all
elements in an alternative worldview and discourse to which I have
referred to under the rubric of "rooted cosmopolitanism." This is
an inclusive and pluralist worldview, which, when applied to
Jerusalem, provides for the possibility of a negotiated end to
conflict on the basis of peaceful co-existence founded on social
and cultural justice for all Jerusalemites.
A cosmopolitan development program, based in and promoted by civil
society organisations could embrace projects in the areas of
economic development, social welfare, physical (territorial)
development, public order and security, and urban governance. These
can draw on experiences from elsewhere, as well as that of
Jerusalem itself, according to the following four principles:
• To promote the idea of building a common civic identity and
consciousness by encouraging inhabitants to identify with the city,
in which the diversity of cultural communities produces a quality
of life that is greater than the sum of its individual constituent
• At the same time, the inhabitants' diverse collective
cultural affiliations would be celebrated. This means working
towards equality of appreciation for all collective cultural
identities present in the city and allowing majority and minority
groups to preserve and develop their own traditions.
• To strengthen social organisations in civil society. This
would entail supporting independent social groups and movements,
both civic and communal, which interact with government and
commercial bodies in managing economic activity and urban services.
In particular, the aim is to encourage intercultural co-operation
around shared interests.
• To work for the positive reinforcement of the absorbitive
capacity and cosmopolitan connections of the city, promoting
"openness" of exchange and movement of people, goods and
Such an alternative frame of reference is needed to promote
intercultural relations in the city and an oppositional belief
system to that of exclusive nationalism. It will be a critical
component in consolidating moves towards a more positive, peaceful
and just settlement.
This is a revised and shortened version of an article from the
journal City 5.2 (2001), with thanks to the editors and publishers
for permission to reproduce portions here.
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