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Politics & Society

JERUSALEM/ A Palestinian Perspective

Fr. Vincent Nagle comments on Gil Troy’s article on Jerusalem as it is perceived by Jews, and describes what the Holy City means for Christian and Muslim Palestinians.  


Having read Mr. Troy’s essay on Jerusalem, I like the positive tone he tries to strike and that he distances himself from the chronic temptation, always experienced by those in power, towards expansion. I also agree with him that there is indeed a “narrative imbalance” that shows itself when speaking of this city. But I am surprised to read that he believes this imbalance lies in the fact that the common narrative concerning Jerusalem leaves out or in some way fails to recognize the very deep, significant and enduring ties of the Jews to the Holy City.

That is not my experience, not where I grew up in the U.S., nor in Italy where I lived for some years, not in the old city of Jerusalem where I now live or even in the Latin Parish of Ramallah, where I assist the pastor on weekends. In my experience, the extraordinary ties of the Jews to Jerusalem are ever kept in mind by virtually all who speak of it

But it is not only Jews and Israelis who legitimately look to that city as their long established center of religious, cultural and, more recently, political life with aspirations that it will serve, at least symbolically, as their state capitol. Currently no country in the world officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or has their embassy situated there. This is because the whole world correctly recognizes that Jerusalem is also, and has been for many centuries, the beloved pride of the Palestinian people, Muslim and Christian, who struggle to see the birth of their own state.

The famous U.N. resolution 242, drafted by the U.N. Security Council following the war of 1967, foresees a two-state solution with borders following the pre-1967 map, in which Jerusalem was partly in Israeli and partly in Arab hands, Jordan being the sovereign of the Arab section at the time. All the countries of the region, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and even Syria have all endorsed this resolution, and it was the basis of the peace process begun in Madrid between the PLO and the State of Israel. Without this resolution being enacted, the world keeps its embassies in Tel Aviv waiting for the day in which everyone can embrace Jerusalem as a city for both the peoples who belong there.

The narrative that I witness day in and day out is a people living here that feels itself under siege, under pressure and witnessing the end of their dreams for their own state with the Holy City, as they call it, as their capital.