Middle East Studies

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Jerusalem Syndrome

The Palestinian–Israeli Battle for the Holy City

Professor Moshe Amirav is head of the School of Government at Beit Berl College and teaches Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. For many years he worked closely with the legendary Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, in charge of planning and development. In the 1980s, Amirav was the first to initiate negotiations with Faisal Husseini, the leader of the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The so-called Amirav-Husseini plan became the model for subsequent negotiations on Jerusalem in the Oslo, Camp David, and Geneva talks. As advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the Camp David negotiations Amirav headed a committee of experts who prepared blueprints for Jerusalem. He is a frequent lecturer at international conferences and forums on Jerusalem, and has authored five books and numerous articles on the subject.

Professor Moshe Amirav, world expert on the conflict in Jerusalem, presents previously unrevealed facts and creative solutions for resolving the conflict. As a participant in political negotiations and national decision making, his book addresses disturbing questions: “How is it that after 40 years of Israeli efforts to unify Jerusalem it is still one of the most divided cities in the world?”; “Why is it that no country, including the US, has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?”; “Why has Israel failed in its efforts to curb the rapid growth of Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, an increase that will lead to a Palestinian majority in Jerusalem in the next decade?”

Israel’s policies have failed to “unite” Jerusalem. Israeli and Palestinian strategies to gain control over East Jerusalem are analyzed, but neither side has proved victorious, and the battle rages on locally and internationally, with serious implications for stability in the Middle East. The book provides a gripping account of the Camp David negotiations in 2000 which failed in part due to disagreement about sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Holy Places.

Interwoven in the book is the stirring personal testimony of Moshe Amirav who, as a young paratrooper, on the seventh of June 1967, was wounded in the battle for Jerusalem. For him, the battle did not end when victory was proclaimed by Israel. It had just begun. For the next 40 years, the author was a determined soldier in a much more dramatic battle, the battle for peace in the Holy City. Combining his moving personal tale with outstanding academic scholarship, Moshe Amirav offers a unique insider's perspective on the Israeli–Palestinian struggle over the Holy City.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-348-5
Paperback Price: £17.95 / $32.50
Release Date: June 2009
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Chapter One: Jerusalem Syndrome – Dreams and Failures

Chapter Two: How Jerusalem Became Israel’s Capital

Chapter Three: The Struggle for East Jerusalem

Chapter Four: Why Israel is Losing the Jewish Majority in its Capital

Chapter Five: The Most Polarized City in the World

Chapter Six: The Failed Attempts to Bring Peace

Chapter Seven: The Struggle Over the Holy Places

Epilogue: From City of the Dead to City of Peace


Bibliography – English

Bibliography – Hebrew


The book touches the heart of the conflict as well as our own hearts.
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former Foreign Minister

Amirav is a pioneer who crossed ideological lines for peace.
Ziad Abu Ziad, former Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Palestinian Authority

An essential book for whoever wants to understand the complexity of the Jerusalem question in the Arab and Muslim context.
Professor Moshe Ma’oz, Department of Middle East Studies, Harvard University

Admirable in objectivity born out of scholarship and commitment to the interests of his country and to peace with the Palestinians.
Professor Rafael Israeli, The Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

A must-read for students of political science and conflict resolution.
Professor Shaul Mishal, Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University

Zionism, like other ethnically based nationalisms, has at its heart, a contradiction that undermines the state-building exercise. At the same time as consolidating the Israeli Jewish position, Zionism excludes non-Jews and leaves them at the margins of the state. In an ethnically diverse city like Jerusalem this has led to major flaws in Israeli policies. The very policies that are designed to assert the Jewishness of the city also undermine its control. By showing preference to Jewish areas, residents of Palestinian areas seek alternative forms of support and representation outside of the state's structures. Because Israel invests state and municipal funds in Jewish areas only, Palestinians seek and receive funds from religious groups, the international donor community, Arab states, the EU and the Palestinian Authority. Thus, a more inclusive set of policies, which recognized the religious and ethnic plurality of the city, may have been more effective in establishing Israeli political control over the eastern part of the city than those Zionist-inspired ones which have served simply to alienate and Palestinianize East Jerusalem. The fact is that despite forty-five years of total military and political control, huge public investment and dramatic population changes, East Jerusalem is not much closer to being an Israeli city than it was in 1967…
Mick Dumper, Journal of Palestine Studies

Amirav draws from research studies, official documents from the Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli government, and interviews with policy makers at the municipal and national level to describe why the goals set by Israel’s policy makers after the Six-Day War have not been achieved, and how the pathological phenomenon tat affects visitors who come to Jerusalem with religious and historic delusions has affected policy making in the city. He explains how Jerusalem became Israel’s capital, the struggle over East Jerusalem, why Israel is losing the Jewish majority in its capital, and why it is the most polarized city in the world, as well as the many failed attempts for peace and the struggle over the Holy Places. In the 1980s, Amirav was the first to initiate negotiations with Faisal Husseini, the leader of the Palestinians in Jerusalem, and was involved in talks between Israel and the Palestinians in 2000 and 2001.
Reference & Research Book News

Based on his deep personal connection with the city, Amirav's book explores the deadlock over Jerusalem in historical and sociological terms. Exploring the failure of Israeli efforts to unify Jerusalem as the undisputed capital of the Jewish state, this work explores why the issue of the city's sovereignty has scuttled numerous attempts at negotiation and reconciliation. Seeking scholarly objectivity at the heart of a profoundly emotional issue, Amirav draws on his experiences as a political negotiator and advisor to search for realistic optimism despite the ongoing conflict. His final question – if Jerusalem can be transformed from a bitterly contested prize to a center of reconciliation – is radical in its rejection of ideology in the quest for peace.
Middle East Journal

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