By Dr. Menachem Klein
To be an egalitarian city, the unification of Jerusalem would had to have held this as its vision. Jerusalem could have been a model of a city that did not belong exclusively to the Jews in Israel but was bi-national, a joint city of two national communities. Unfortunately, Israel, from its position of power, is acting to make the Jewish narrative the exclusive narrative of the city. This is a mirage. The more force Israel uses to impose Jewish exclusivity, the farther away the target of a unified city moves. Thus, Jerusalem becomes a torn and senseless city.
While the virtual Jerusalem attracts many tourists, the actual Jerusalem repels its residents. Far more leave than move to it. Tourists and pilgrims do not visit an actual city but an imagined one. They do not see that Jerusalem is neither Jewish nor democratic but make-believe. Nor is Jerusalem a Palestinian city. Most of its residents are Jewish and its Palestinian residents are disconnected from the Palestinian political and social space in the West Bank. It has no local Palestinian leadership or citywide institutions. Most Palestinians have either never visited it at all or haven't done so for years. Many of the Jerusalem Palestinians prefer Israeli rule over Palestinian rule. The conclusion: Jerusalem is so torn that it must be united.
Israel's unilateral project of annexation and unification has failed. The more Israel strives to achieve exclusivity over Jerusalem, the farther Jerusalem moves away from it. Therefore, Jerusalem needs to be united and divided at the same time.
Dr. Menachem Klein is a Board Member of Ir Amim and a Senior Lecturer at Bar Ilan University. He specializes in Palestinian political culture and the peace process.