The Issue of Jerusalem

Essay, 2008

12 Pages, Grade: A



Demographic of Jerusalem
Jerusalem under Muslim
Jerusalem after Jewish migration
Status of the Jerusalem
Plans for the future of Jerusalem

The dividing of Jerusalem into a dual capital for a comprehensive two-state solution
The establishment of an interfaith committee: “Parliament of Jerusalem”
Jerusalem Fund


The Palestinian- Israeli conflict is one of the longest and most complicated in modern human history. The city of Jerusalem is the heart of this problem; the city is the holy land to three monotheistic religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. All these religions consider the city of Jerusalem as their holy city, and regard the city as their spiritual center. The Muslims regard Jerusalem as their third holy city after Mecca and Medina. The trip of the prophet Muhammad to heaven started from this city.

The Jewish “regard Jerusalem as both their holy city and temporal center.”[1] The city is a place of pilgrimage “as in the Passover and Yom Kippur invocation.”[2] Jerusalem is also a holy city for Christians as the city has, “the last Supper and the Crucifixion, the Tomb of Jesus and the place of the Ascension.”[3] There are other sites in Israel that have religious importance to the Christian community as well.

The city has a long history of conflicts and wars between the followers of all three religions. The city became the first capital of the Jewish kingdom around 1000BC. The Jews were driven out by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC; the Jewish community regained and rebuilt the city fifty years later. After a few years the Jewish lost autonomy of the city again and were able to unite the city in 1967.

Muslims controlled the city for 13 centuries, no Arab, Muslim ruler, or conqueror ever made the city his capital. The Ottoman Empire controlled the city until 1917; the city came under the British rule from 1917 to 1948. The war of 1948 ended in partition of the city between Arabs and the new state of Israel. East Jerusalem came under Jordanian control and the rest of the city came under the new State of Israel. In December 1949, Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital, while East Jerusalem was not made the capital, “even for its Palestinian residents.”[4]

Demographic of Jerusalem

Muslim and Jewish people were the majority population of the city. In 1948, 100,000 Jews and 65,000 Arabs inhabited the city. At this time the British proposed a separate Jewish and Arab state in Palestine; a Jewish agency came up with a partition of Jerusalem between Arab and Israel. The Arab states and especially Arab states around the state of Israel refused the partition plan.

The population growth between 1949 and 1966 changed the demographic of the city. The Arab population increased to 70,000, while the Jewish population increased to 195,000, an increase of 95000 Jewish compared to 5000 Arabs. The huge increase in Jewish population was a result of Jewish migration from Morocco, Iraq, and other Arab countries.

The relation between Muslim and Jewish people from the beginning of the Muslim civilization was friendly, and both communities cooperated with each other. In 638, the Jewish community in Palestine helped Muslims against Persia’s army. In return, Muslims allowed the Jewish community to return to Jerusalem and to guard the Temple Mount; Muslims were able to protect the Jewish community from their rivals until the end of the 11th century.

On the other side, the relationship between Jews and Christians was always tense and bloody. In 1095, Pope Urban II order Crusades to capture Palestine from infidels. The Crusaders captured the city in 1099 and brought all Jewish to a Synagogue and burned them alive.[5] In 1187, 88 years after the massacre of the Jews by Crusaders; the Muslim ruler Saladin recaptured Jerusalem for Jews and Muslims. Two years later the Crusaders tried for the third time to retake and destroy Jerusalem, but Saladin’s forces repelled them.[6]

Jerusalem under Muslim

The corrupt and secular Egyptian caliph AL-Hakim BI-Amr Allah ignored the principle of religious tolerance of Islam by ordering the destruction of all churches in Jerusalem. The Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Ottoman Empire never made the city their capital; however, the city was an important source of revenue for the Ottoman. The Ottoman Turks allowed Jews and Palestinians to function, but they also imposed oppressive taxes on both communities and especially on the Jewish community[7].

Despite these heavy taxes, Ottoman Sultans brought peace to the city, “it was possible to find a synagogue, a church and a mosque in the same street.”[8] Heavy taxes brought economical stagnation, but the city was open to all religions. In 1948, Dominican Priest Felix Fabri who visited the city described it as, “a dwelling place of diverse nations of the world”[9] According to historians, “the modern history of Jerusalem began in the mid-nineteenth century with the decline of the Ottoman Empire.”[10]

Heavy taxation forced all three communities to leave the city. At this time, the city population was around 8000. The three communities lived segregated in the city; the Muslim community surrounded the Harem ash-Sharif. The Christians lived around the Holy Sepulchre and the Jewish on the slope above the Western Wall. Several important changes occurred in the mid-nineteenth century that has been affecting the region and the entire global community up to this day.

First was the immigration of Jewish people from the Middle East and Eastern Europe; Orthodox Jews were the first to migrate to Jerusalem, most of them were elderly Jewish who came to Jerusalem to die and to be buried on the Mount of Olives, some of them were also students who came to await the coming of the Messiah and to help the local Jewish population. At the same time European colonial powers wanted to expand their influence in the region through new Jewish settlers in the post-Ottoman arena. Second, at the same time, it was an age of Christian revival, many churches around the world and especially European churches sent missionaries to convert Muslims and especially the Jewish people. The Christians believed that this would speed the second coming of Christ.

Historical facts show that Muslims, Jews, and a relatively small number of the Christian community lived in peace and harmony with each other until 1948. Important questions that many historians and millions of people around the world had are: what changed this? Why are the Muslims and Jews, who lived for centuries in the same city peacefully as good neighbors, suddenly became enemies? Many things changed which had long-lasting effects on this issue. The Jews and Muslim communities which lived in pre-migrant Jerusalem had deep social bonds with each other. They had different religions, but they had very similar cultures and social identities.


[1] Jerusalem-Whose city?

[2] Jerusalem-Whose city?

[3] Jerusalem-Whose city?

[4] Jerusalem-Whose city?

[5] Jerusalem-History

[6] Jerusalem-History

[7] Jerusalem-Whose city?

[8] History of Jerusalem

[9] History of Jerusalem

[10] History of Jerusalem

Excerpt out of 12 pages


The Issue of Jerusalem
University of Missouri-Saint Louis  (political science)
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
516 KB
Issue, Jerusalem
Quote paper
Abdulwali Sherzad Miakhel (Author), 2008, The Issue of Jerusalem, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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