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Is There a Future for Jerusalem?


The Holy City is the destination of people suffering from the Jerusalem Syndrome--those who believe that they are the Messiah. For most of humanity Jerusalem primarily is a metaphor: a utopian city that never existed or the site of redemption. "Next year in Jerusalem" is an expression of yearning for Jews. What is astonishing is the discovery this expression is incanted by Jews who are already in the Holy Land, indeed, living in the heart of the city, indicating that it is a yearning for spiritual salvation, not for territorial possession. But it is exactly the territorial possession of the city that is at the core of the current conflict.


This talk will address the actual urban space of the city, as opposed to its metaphorical meaning. It will examine how the claim of Unification of the City has turned out to be the arena of exclusivity, separation and conquest. A series of questions are raised: Is it possible to address the future of the city without addressing the whole constellation of issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict? What specificities does Jerusalem have which cannot be treated exclusively in terms of territoriality? The speaker will discuss the status of one city in the world today, whose recent history (embodying sacred and worldly attributes), carries a model for solving the problems of Jerusalem.



Dr. Salim Tamari is the Arcapita Visiting Professor at the Middle East Institute for Spring 2011 and CPS Affiliate. Professor Tamari is the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies and Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University in Ramallah. Dr. Tamari, who received his PhD in sociology from Manchester University, is one of Palestine's most distinguished scholars. His research draws heavily on archival materials and personal diaries to examine the social and political forces that shaped and re-shaped Palestine in the 20th century.

His books include Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighborhoods and Their Fate in the War, Palestinian Refugee Negotiations: From Madrid to Oslo II, and most recently, Mountain against the Sea: Essays on Palestinian Society and Culture, published in 2008 by the University of California Press. Dr. Tamari served on the refugee committee in the multilateral peace talks that followed the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference.

This event will be moderated by Professor Rashid Khalidi.


28 March 2011, 7:00 PM
Room 1501, International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street, NY, NY 10027
Columbia University