Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can Israel Give the Palestinians Part of Jerusalem While Keeping All of the City?

Emily Hauser has an interesting proposal for Middle East peace: give part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians while Israel keeps all of Jerusalem.   This can be accomplished, Hauser says, by understanding what is truly Jerusalem and what is extra.   Hauser points out that modern-day Jerusalem is a combination of the ancient city, natural expansion, and Jewish and Arab villages that were swallowed up by urban sprawl.  The plan would be that the historic/religious Jerusalem that Jews long vowed to return to would remain part of Israel while other parts could become the capital of a new Palestinian state.

Hauser deserves credit for trying to find a new way to square the circle of Middle Eastern political geography.  However, I thought about my hometown and I have to disagree with Hauser.  My hometown's population has more than doubled in size since my birth and as such it takes up a lot more land.  If someone were to take over half of my home town saying something along the lines of "this was not built up when you were born therefore we really are not occupying your town" I would be very upset and denounce that claim.  Thinking like an insurgent I believe I would fight for the newer additions of my hometown.

Cities, like all political bodies manifest on the landscape, can grow and shrink.  However, that does not make the newer land any less meaningful than the older.  California is no less part of the United States than Massachusetts, Brooklyn is no less part of New York City than any other borough, and Constantinople was no less part of the Roman Empire than Rome.  Hauser tried but she does not understand the how people relate and think about political entities on the landscape.

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