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ABC Mini-Encyclopedia

East Jerusalem

'East Jerusalem' is a geographic term. To use it demographically and historically, as if it is an Arab part of the city, is misleading. Demographically, the eastern part of the city is about evenly divided between Arabs and Jews. The entire Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount (where the Jewish First and Second Temples once stood) the Western or Wailing Wall and he remnants of King David's City, are all within eastern Jerusalem.

 

Also in eastern Jerusalem are the world-famous modern Israeli Jewish institutions like the Hebrew University (built in 1925) and Hadassah Hospital (1938).

Statistical data from many sources, only some of them Jewish, confirm that there were many Jewish residents, institutions and holy sites throughout East Jerusalem until 1948. Then Jordan occupied that part of the city, killed or expelled all the Jewish residents there, and, in an effort to erase evidence of millennia of Jewish presence, destroyed all 58 synagogues. For Israeli Jews any access to Jewish holy places was denied. Islamic rule has demonstrated destructive intolerance against the physical presence of other religions in many cases, from Jerusalem to Bali and Afghanistan.

 

Jerusalem is both the holiest city for Judaism, due to the First and Second Temple, and the Jewish state's capital since the reign of King David 3,000 years ago. It is holy also for Christianity (the Golgotha 2000 years ago) and for Islam (the al-Aqsa mosque built 1300 years ago). Most of the holy places are on or around the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem. Since Israel regained control of east Jerusalem in 1967, it made the holy places of all religions well protected and available for worshippers - for the first time in history.

 

All famous divisions of great cities throughout human history led to wars or to prolonged hostilities.  So, peaceful co-existence of Jerusalem's Jewish, Palestinian Muslim and Christian inhabitants can prevail only within an undivided Jerusalem administered by Israel. This is one more reason to seek long-time peaceful co-existence of the great religions in the Old City in east Jerusalem, under Israeli control.


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A View from the Eye of the Storm

A recommended excellent background reading about Israel and the Middle East

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