City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem

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City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem

By Meron Benvenisti
University Of California Press, 1996
274 pp. $24.95
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The status of Jerusalem is often considered the most intractable of all the issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. Here a former deputy mayor paints a portrait of Jerusalem and its many suitors, arguing that the conflict over the city is a permanent "condition," not a solvable problem. Indeed, Benvenisti has little patience for those who try to find solutions; at most, he argues, the parties to the conflict might agree to some kind of "process" to help manage the inevitable tensions that arise from the many claims in this city that holds a special place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Reluctant to make suggestions of his own, the author expresses a faint hope that, with time, those who care about the city may realize that there can be no victor, no vanquished, and that Jerusalem cannot be the special preserve of any one group. On the way to this conclusion, the reader will learn a great deal about the city and its history, demography, and problems.