Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore [Book Summary – Review]


It is believed that a man can change history; however, can this be applied to a city? Well, if there was a city that could assert that kind of a legacy, it would probably be Jerusalem. Serving as a core for the three Abrahamic religions; namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – it’s referred to as Holy City and keeps on to be a place of conflict up to this point.

Therefore, how did Jerusalem have this kind of importance to these three religions, and human history in general? In order to answer that question, these book chapters take us through a path of the millennia, starting some 5,000 years ago, to know the extraordinary city of Jerusalem.


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Chapter 1 – Jerusalem was occupied as ancient as 5000 BC, and the Israelites got there 4000 years after.


The Bible, additionally to being a holy text, it gives an early history of Jerusalem as well. But, because the Bible has a lot of opposing details, it’s not an accurate account in and of itself.

This is the reason why we need to make use of archaeology and other olden texts to prove certain biblical incidences.

For example, the roots of the name “Jerusalem” go back to the olden Egyptian texts that denote “URSALIM,” a change in the phrase “Salem,” which means “god of the evening star.” Also, though common archaeological research in the region is limited by the land’s holiness, excavations done in surrounding regions have discovered that people occupied the area as ancient as 5000 BC.

From that point, we understand that the first texts attributed to a Jerusalemite go back to 1458 BC when the Egyptian empire encompassed the whole of modern-day Palestine. Those ancient texts reveal that King Abdi-Heba asked that Egyptian archers protect the city.

Then, nearly a century after, the first Hebrews, or Israelites, came in. These new people showed significantly different from the Egyptians as they served one God.

Afterward, Moses would assist the Israelites flew from Egypt; however, it was Joshua his successor, who took the Israelites to Jerusalem. It was difficult for them for over a century after they got there, from 1200 to 1050 BC. That was the moment the Philistines conquered them in the Battle of Ebenezer and took their holiest item which is the Ark of the Covenant, which had the remains of the Ten Commandments.



After this fight, David was given birth to, although, and he would proceed to fight and conquer Goliath, the Philistines’ greatest warrior. David turned into a great leader, bringing together the tribes of Israel to defeat the Philistines and take back the Ark.

After the event of this triumph, Jerusalem grew –however, not a lot.

The town known as the City of David was constructed only outside the ancient town, together with a palace; however, Jerusalem stayed really small, particularly when likened to the neighboring city of Babylon. Also, that was when David intended to construct the city’s first temple, though it wouldn’t be finished until after his decease, by Solomon, his son.


Chapter 2 – The first two temples of Jerusalem gave a relationship to God and played a huge part in the growth of Judaism.


The first temples in Jerusalem were constructed on a hill in the city called the Temple Mount, around the time 900 BC. A room was made in this holy edifice known as the “holy of holies,” which was just meant for the Ark of the Covenant and God.

As a matter of fact, as soon as the Ark was put in the room, it’s was believed that God’s divine presence occupied the room, taking to Solomon and saying, “I will set the throne for thy kingdom upon Israel permanently.” As a result of this, Jerusalem, and Temple Mount, particularly, were henceforth referred to as a place for divine communication.

But, because the temple was a safe house for the gold of Jerusalem as well, it turned into a tempting reward for the several warlords in the region and would ultimately be demolished to the ground around 587 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian warlord demolished the temple, setting the city on fire and removing the Ark forever.

However, from this ruin also came with new life: The demolition of the first temple can be regarded as the beginning of the contemporary Jewish tradition. Nevertheless, separated from their city as well as their temple, the Jews now stayed in Babylon, humiliated that they had failed to rigorously stick to their faith. As a result of this guilt, Babylon was where the Israelites really started practicing Jews.



That was also a period when they started to describe themselves by writing the first books of what would be known as the Bible. Hence, when a new Babylonian ruler known as Cyrus the Great, appeared some 50 years after and gave the Jews an opportunity to go back to Jerusalem and construct a new temple on the exact spot, some praised him as a messiah.

They accepted the proposal. The second temple of Jerusalem was finished in March of 515 BC, and immediately afterward, the first Passover was observed since the Israelites’ exile from Egypt. Hence, started a new age of strict Judaism and reconstruction.


Chapter 3 – Jesus was given birth to during a tumultuous period, which brought about his crucifixion and controversial resurrection.


The Israelites had gotten back to Jerusalem; however, their supremacy wouldn’t last long. The Romans took charge of the area, around 66 BC. After the decease of Herod the Great who was the city’s longtime ruler, the following turmoil was unavoidable.

A lot of individuals regarded the death of Herod as a sign of the coming apocalypse. They raged and ranted in the streets, referring to themselves as prophets or kings and were executed by the Roman governor for their infuriating deeds.

This was the political situation whereby Jesus of Nazareth was born into. Although Jesus typically avoided Jerusalem, he went to the city a few times to caution other people about the forthcoming apocalypse, saying to them that they should repent or be denied entrance into heaven.



In reaction, people threw stones at him, particularly due to the fact that he called himself the prophesied Messiah and mentioned, “I and my father are one.” Also, he rode a donkey into Jerusalem on Passover, probably in the year 33 AD, preaching to a huge and rambunctious multitude that the fall of the temple was imminent and the apocalypse was close.

The high priests during that time talked about how to punish Jesus, and their decision was made easy when Judas assisted Roman guards to find Jesus, bringing about a fast trial and crucifixion. Although the Gospels mention that the Romans didn’t do Jesus’s punishment, the author thinks that they did. Nevertheless, historians understand that the Romans made use of public crucifixion and beating to deter contradiction to their rule.

What happened afterward is certainly up for debate: guards were placed close to Jesus’s tomb to hinder his followers from taking his body and spreading gossips that he had been resurrected. But, a lot of archaeologists assume that this is exactly what happened, with a bribe given to the guards.

It’s not possible to know one means or the other. What is sure is that Jesus’s followers proceeded to create the Nazarenes sect, directed by James who was the brother of Jesus. They even carried to practice Judaism, praying at the temple for the following 30 years.


Chapter 4 – The Roman emperor commanded an attack on Jerusalem, bringing about the fall of the second temple.


James proceeded to be the leader of his brother’s followers; however, the change of this sect into the religion now referred to as Christianity would mainly be governed by the apostle Paul, a man who insisted that the resurrected Christ had said to him to preach his gospel to the Gentiles.

Paul’s work to change folks into the first “Christians” signified that he was ultimately taken to Nero who was the ruler of Rome, for judgment and beheading. However, the destiny of Paul’s wasn’t the worst of it.

In Jerusalem, things were very more frightening, as Nero started to attack regions of rebellion in the Empire. Between 66 and 70 AD, Jerusalemites became increasingly revolted by the homicidal behaviors of Roman generals, and the high priests ultimately voted to put a stop to offering sacrifices to Nero.

In reaction to that, Nero ordered Titus Flavius Vespasianus to handle the rebellion. However, immediately he started his march toward the city, Nero passed away and Vespasianus himself turned into an Emperor.



When the Roman soldiers eventually got to Jerusalem, thousands of people had already passed away as a result of an ongoing power struggle. In spite of this chaos, the dwellers of the city still assembled together, putting up a four-month fight before being conquered by the Romans.

Titus’s irrepressible soldiers executed hundreds of Jews daily. They reduced food supplies, compelling a minimum of one mother to opt to consume her own baby. As the stench of the city got intolerable, the Temple eventually fell, putting a stop to a resistance that had cost approximately 600,000 and 1 million deaths.

However, similar to the fall of the First Temple, this act of demolition would only fortify the Jewish faith. For instance, consider, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, who together with a student looked upon the remains of the holy place, saying to him, “Be not grieved.” His teachings would assist set the basis of contemporary Judaism.

More than half a millennium after, the prophet Muhammad would refer to the demolition of the temple as an indication that the people of Jew were no more in the good graces of God.


Chapter 5 – The Romans changed to Christianity and starting making their empire around it.


After the fall of the second temple, Jerusalem was referred to as Aelia Capitolina and Jews were forbidden from the city. Part of the remains from the temple was made to construct the Damascus Gate in the wall of the Holy City; also, a statue of Aphrodite was built on the stone upon which Jesus was crucified.

Around 193 AD, as the Roman Empire was getting less worried with the Jews in the city, and progressively worried about the danger posed by the growth of Christianity, a small group of practicing Jews were eventually permitted to have their services in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives.



Emperor Constantine had a revelation that stirred his religious awakening in 306 AD. He changed to Christianity and also the name Jerusalem was changed as the holiest place on Earth. Constantine even prohibited every non-Christian services and started making the church’s hierarchy.

Helena, the Emperor’s mother, a convert herself, got really obsessed with finding the “true cross” used in Jesus’s crucifixion. After she discovered one written “Jesus King of Jews” and after putting it next to a woman who was dying who miraculously got healed from her illness, Helena together with Constantine assumed that they have found the true cross.

Helena would play a different vital part in Christian history by building the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, most likely on the exact same area that held Jesus’s tomb. It turned into the holiest Christian church and the seeming home of the true cross.

However, as Rome quickly accepted Christian monotheism, there was a small room left for the other religions. A lot of Jews were set ablaze for not accepting to convert; also, the Jewish holy group that had been on Mount of Olives praying was only granted entry into the city one time in a year.

In the next centuries, Anti-Jewish policies proceeded to be enforced. Although, starting around 438 AD, Empress Eudocia did permit Jews more entry into the Temple Mount on holy days. She commanded the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s defensive walls, with those that can still be seen nowadays surrounding Mount Zion as well as the City of David.

However, even afterward, during the sixth century, Justinian, as well as Theodora, governed with the faith of forming a global, dominant Christian Empire. They curbed pagans, Samaritans, and homosexuals, and made the baptism of Jews compulsory.


Chapter 6 – The followers of Muhammad were led on a spiritual journey to Jerusalem by Muhammad himself.


The Roman Christian Empire was enormous and determined –however, surrendered to the classic error of spreading itself really thin, which made Jerusalem susceptible to conquests.

In 614 AD, the first of these conquests was ran by the Persians, who were accompanied by 20,000 Jews to capture the city. After the fight, the Persian Shah Khusrau II gave Jews charge over Jerusalem.

But, as usual, it wouldn’t last for long.

Only three years after, the Shah banished the entire Jews. From that point, the Byzantine Christians, now managed by Emperor Heraclius, took back control and took the true cross back to the Holy Sepulchre.

It was exactly the same period, in 610 AD, that a man known as Muhammad was meditating when Archangel Gabriel visited him, who said to him that he was the chosen messenger and prophet of God. In another vision, Gabriel took Muhammad at night and a flying horse to the “Furthest Sanctuary,” as the Koran describes it, which was explained afterward to be the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.



Muhammad defeated the first hesitancy to admit his duty as a prophet and started preaching. His first group of followers ultimately built Islam’s first Mosque in the city of Medina.

Initially, the first Muslims had Jewish allies and even included Jewish traditions, such as prohibiting pork and keeping the Sabbath as commencement at sundown on Friday. However, as Muhammad went through more revelations of a fast looming judgment day, the pressure intensified to change people and save them from this judgment day.

In order to handle the non-muslims who were not ready to succumb to Muhammad’s increasing empire, a Jihad, or struggle, started. This brought about further militant action as the conquest extended in the entire Arab world, with women as well as children taken into slavery and people enforced to change to Islam.

623 AD Muhammad died, before getting to Jerusalem. However, he was succeeded by Omar, who understood that the holy city was significant to the Byzantine Christians. Therefore, he was successful in negotiating a peaceful takeover of Jerusalem that gave the Christians entrance in return for their submission.


Chapter 7 – Efforts at Muslim unity were interrupted after the First Crusade seized Jerusalem.


The initial Muslim reign brought a completely new sense of freedom to Jerusalem.

Once more, Jews permitted to pray on the Temple Mount and Abd al-Malik, who was the olden Muslim leader, brought a sense of unity to Shia as well as Sunni Muslims by building the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Completed around 692, the lovely golden Dome changed the skyline of Jerusalem forever. Also, it was Walid,  Abd al-Malik’s son, who played a vital part in completing the building of the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is Islam’s holiest house of worship.

While building these monuments, the Koran too was being collated. This holy text of Islam laid specific importance on the part Muhammad played, giving accurate information on the religion’s ceremonies and giving the title of Caliph upon Jerusalem’s new leaders.

However, any sense of peace in Jerusalem would turn into a bloody end at the hands of Crusaders.



The First Crusade was a fierce campaign visited by Pope Urban II in the year 1095. He wanted to free the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. His instructions were for the soldiers of God to cleanse the land of pagans, making amends for their own sins while cleansing the land.

Therefore, thousands of drinking, betting, and adulterous men dropped their bottles and took their swords, responding to the call of God. As they proceeded to the Holy City, thousands of Jews were slain or enforced to change.

Although the Christian soldiers weren’t that skilled, they were united, which is more than can be said of their Muslim rivals. In-fighting and personal clashes between Arabs and Turkish leaders hindered them from joining forces and gave the Crusaders a key edge. Ultimately, the Crusaders would climb the walls of Jerusalem, open the doors and kill a group of people now stuck in the defenses of their own city.

Eventually, lots of heads, feet, and hands, would fill the streets in the city’s as blood-drenched Crusaders rip their way through Jerusalem.


Chapter 8 – Muslim rebellion brought about future crusades and a recurring fight over Jerusalem.


Although the crusades may have ruined Muslim authority in Jerusalem; however, by the year 1187, the city had transformed hands once more, as an exceptional Muslim leader known as Saladin took the city under his power. Beginning as the gifted young nephew of a general, he grew to turn into Sultan and unified a region that now includes the territory of present-day Egypt, Syria, Yemen and the majority of Iraq.

After conquering the Crusader men in a desert fight outside of Jerusalem, Saladin arrested Guy, who was the king of the city. He carried Guy to Damascus and he left the city with the security of two knights.

Choosing to let go of a massacre, then, Saladin negotiated for Jerusalem’s arrest and the imprisonment of the settlers, who would be saved or forced into slavery. After getting a sum of 220,000 dinars of ransom money, Saladin set free most of the Jerusalemites. Afterward, he would set free an extra 1,000 prisoners before eventually taking the city.

Some individuals wanted Saladin to ruin the Church of the Holy Sepulchre completely; however, he stayed liberal of the Christian pilgrims – at least in the walls of the city. Having said that, with Saladin in charge of Jerusalem, forthcoming Crusades were virtually unavoidable.

After the regularly ineffective Second Crusade, the Third Crusade was directed by Richard the Lionheart of England as well as Philip II of France. This campaign concluded with Richard almost single-handedly seizing the city of Jaffa.



From that moment, a treaty was signed in the year 1193 that provided Christians entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was related to an agreement that would be negotiated a few decades after, in 1229, following the Roman Emperor Frederick II started the Sixth Crusade.

After this following campaign, Frederick sat together with Sultan Kamil to negotiate at least ten years of peace that would offer Frederick Jerusalem and Bethlehem, together with clear entry to the sea, provided the Muslims stayed in charge of the Temple Mount.

Although Jews were completely excluded from this deal, it was an extraordinary deal to share power over the city – even though it always made some people unsatisfied. Muslims grieved for the loss of their city, whereas the Church wished Frederick had really gotten the Temple Mount too.


Chapter 9 – Jerusalem was recaptured by an army of slave-soldiers, bringing about the city’s reconstruction.


On the 11th of July in the year 1244, 10,000 saber-rattling Tatar horsemen attacked Jerusalem and set the Holy Sepulchre on fire, eliminating the monks as well as the nuns who stayed there and killing the priests. This attack cleared the path for a new empire to govern the land: the Mamluks.

Their ascension to power is completely remarkable because the name “Mamluk” means a slave soldier – not a person you would essentially assume to have control of an empire. However, Baibars the Panther, who was their leader did exactly that.

Baibars was from Turkey with an enormous blond and blue eyes who had been sold from one person to another in Syria and Egypt before changing to Islam. In the year 1260, he commanded a Mamluk army which was one of the first and most significant wins against the Mongols. Baibars naturally anticipated a large compensation for his work; however, when Mamluk Sultan Qutuz declined, Baibars murdered him and took the crown for himself.

As the new ruler, his first agenda was to put an end to any lingering Crusaders and retake Jerusalem. That’s exactly what he did. Baibars quickly formed a new caste system that would stay in place in the city for the following 300 years. It needed Jews to put on yellow turbans, Christians to put on blue turbans and prevent both groups from putting on armor or fur and from riding horses.



Afterward, Baibars commanded his army through one Crusader city after the other, killing the people and making use of their heads as decorations.

But, his powerful rule didn’t last for long. In the year 1277, he died after mistakenly drinking from a glass that had poisoned milk which he had kept for a different person.

During the time of his death, Jerusalem was in bad form and just home to around 2,000 dwellers. The reconstructing of the city would be given to the new Mamluk sultan, Nasir Muhammad, who did quite a number of amendments in 1317 that can still be noticed nowadays.

For example, he commanded the Temple Mount to be refortified, with brand new roofs put on the Dome and al-Aqsa Mosque. Also, he made the city’s gates elegantly decorated, restoring part of Jerusalem’s long-held status and its reputation as a desirable destination.


Chapter 10 – Jerusalem was dominated by the Ottomans after the Mamluks regime and Jerusalem increased.


Before the Mamluk regime ended, Jews were eventually permitted to build their synagogues again, and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem expanded to host well-established inhabitants of nearly 1,000 individuals. Furthermore, Jerusalem was bringing in substantial income by putting exorbitant taxes on European Christian pilgrims.

But, at this point, you have definitely realized that Jerusalem was hardly stable. Certainly, in the year 1516, the city had changed power once more. This time around, the Ottoman Empire was the conqueror.

Controlled by the Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim, the Ottomans captured Jerusalem with easily, joining it to their rising empire, which would ultimately span the majority of the Middle East. Although Selim would die a few years after, he left behind Suleiman his 25-year-old son in power to become, as Suleiman’s wife referred to him, the “Solomon of his age.”



Suleiman had a dream that Muhammad visited him with a message to build the city again, and he obeyed these divine commands. He used his 50 years in charge making Jerusalem as stunning as possible. As a matter of fact, lots of the gorgeous embellishments still seen in the Old City district nowadays were made during Suleiman’s tenure.

Mostly as a result of this striking beautification, the city’s population increased to 16,000, comprising both Jews and Protestants. Suleiman accepted Sephardic Jews who came from Spain as refugees, where a different Crusade was destroying the land and the Spanish Inquisition targeted the Jews.

He also offered the city’s Jewish population a nine-foot wall on the western part of King Herod’s temple, not that far from the place of the city’s first synagogue.

They named this site “ha-Kotel.” Now referred to as “the Western Wall” or “the Wailing Wall,” for a lot of Jews it denotes the holiness of the city and stays as one of the holiest places in Judaism.

It was nearly the same period that the German monk, as well as theologian Martin Luther, started to defy the authority of the Catholic Church, putting in place the Reformation and indicating the start of the Protestant movement. This brand new religious sect took the Bible as its main leading principle, which naturally enlarged the significance of Jerusalem.


Chapter 11 – About the end of the twentieth century, anticipations for Jewish as well as Arab independence thrived.


The Ottomans seized Jerusalem for several centuries; however, their hold loosened during the nineteenth century as unexpected immigration transformed the present situations of the city.

Jews had been incorrectly held responsible for the killing of Emperor Alexander III of Russia and, due to that, 2 million of them ran away to Russia between the years 1888 and 1914. Thousands of them went to Jerusalem.

This huge surge of refugees started the Zionist movement for Jewish independence. In the year 1897, the first Zionist Congress requested a Jewish homeland in Jerusalem, a notion formerly backed up by people such as Napoleon and US President John Adams. An associate of Karl Marx’s known as Moses Hess even forecast a rise in anti-Semitism and proposed that Palestine turn into a socialist Jewish country.

However, simultaneously, Arab nationalists were looking for a homeland too, posing a key problem for the Ottomans as the First World War started in 1914. Nevertheless, the Ottomans wished for the Arabs to support them in the fight; however, they couldn’t cope with Arab requests, which comprised their own sovereign land after the war.



On the contrary, the British were ready to give Arab independence if the Allies conquered the Ottomans and Germans; also, the Arabs were convinced that a British alliance was their best option. The Arab Revolt, targeted at shaping an Arab country free from the Turkish Ottomans, was initiated in the year 1916.

During this time, the Zionist movement turned into a political tool of war. Because Russia wished to be rid of their Jews, the British, as well as French, decided that accepting Zionism was a clever move to continue a Russian alliance.

Germany, as well, issued pro-Zionist propaganda. Nevertheless, one of the most hazardous anti-Semitic fabrications ever disseminated was being spread around this period: a book known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It proposed that a small group of Jews dominated the entire world affairs, as well as the consequences of huge wars such as World War I. Germany, wished to have this allegedly strong force of Jewish power on their side.

Eventually, the United Kingdom committed to the Zionist cause by announcing the Balfour Declaration in the year 1917, which demanded a Jewish homeland in Palestine.


Chapter 12 – After the First World War, several international treaties heightened tensions in Jerusalem.


The Allies of the First World War had made a vital choice to back Zionism up through the Balfour Declaration. But, ironically, if this decision had been hindered by only a few days, it would most likely have never been released.

The declaration was mainly intended to uphold the alliance with Russia; however, a night before it was signed, the Bolshevik Revolution won and Russia pulled out from the fight completely.

What even allowed the circumstance to be more difficult was a third wartime agreement between Britain and France known as the Sykes-Picot Treaty. The agreement declared that France would have dominion over Syria as well as Lebanon, the United Kingdom would have control over Iraq and part of Palestine, whereas Jerusalem would be divided between France, Britain, and Russia.



This complicated chaos, which took several years to fix, came to an end in Paris Peace Conference in the year 1919. At the conference, the blame was put on the US President Woodrow Wilson for his inability to curb British and French imperialism.

Eventually, Palestine was put under British rule and Syria under French rule in what turned out to be referred to as the “mandate swindle.”

Tensions just escalated from there. As consolation for this negotiation, Emir Faisal, Arab noble was made King of Greater Syria, which comprised of Lebanon and Palestine.

Although this position may have been planned as a mainly symbolic one, it encouraged Arabs all through the area to protest the Balfour Declaration, which was still respected by the new mandate. Due to that, protests broke out with Arabs carrying signs that read thus, “Palestine is our land, Jews are our dogs!” and “Slaughter the Jews.”

In an effort to suppress the mess, Sir Ronald Storrs who was a British officer was assigned as governor of Jerusalem. However, with just 188 policemen to handle an attack of rebelling Arabs, and a Jewish Quarter that was quickly deteriorating into a war zone together with Jewish girls being gang-raped in the streets, he could barely control the deteriorating circumstances.

 As extra 88,000 Jews got into Palestine between the years 1921 and 1929, it was obvious that the Balfour Declaration wouldn’t go really well and Arab tensions would just get worse.


Chapter 13 – The decades following WWI had a lot of increasing violence as well as intensified extremism.


Tensions in Jerusalem were gradually increasing, and in the year 1921, some transformations were done with the aim of quick de-escalation. Winston Churchill who was the UK Secretary of State for the Colonies as at then placed Emir Faisal in control of the Kingdom of Iraq and the idea of a “Greater Syria” was dropped.

Later, as Churchill attempted to persuade the dwellers of Jerusalem that the Jews possessed an olden claim to the land, he proceeded to form a two-tiered system of city leadership encompassing a mayor at one level, and a mufti – the top Muslim legal authority – on the other level. The post of mayor was occupied by Ragheb Nashashibi and the position of mufti was taken by Haj Amin Husseini.

Sadly, Husseini was both a megalomaniac and anti-Semite who would, later on, accept the opinions of Adolf Hitler, and things quickly got worse under his power. For example, after a Jewish boy was killed while trying to take back a ball from an Arab garden, some young Jews fought back by striking the Arab Quarter. Their retaliation made the mufti to summon another attack on the Jewish Quarter, leading to the Thawrat al-buraq riots of 1929 that killed about 131 people.

Extremism was growing fast on both parties. It was during this situation that future Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion substituted the more easy-going Chaim Weizmann as a Zionist leader, mainly in reaction to the mufti and his calls in 1933 for Jerusalem to embrace a “fascist anti-democratic leadership.”



From that point, during the 1930s, British, as well as the Zionist leaders, tried to negotiate a “two-state solution,” or an Arab-Jewish confederation. But, the mufti made fun of the notice and further violence arose.

Husseini made use of the ongoing violence to murder his contenders, as well as the members of his own family and any Arabs suspected of working together with authorities. This whole thing was a lot for Mayor Nashashibi, whose resistance to the mufti made him be on the list of people Husseini want to kill

Eventually, two contradicting groups of Arabs developed: those in support of Husseini displayed their support by putting on a checkered keffiyeh scarf, and those in support of Nashashibi put on a tarbous, or fez, as an indication of their readiness to negotiate.


Chapter 14 – Intensifying violence brought about to the Battle of Jerusalem in the year 1948.


Although there was once a determination to discover a compromise in Jerusalem, this outlook quickly disappeared during the 1940s as both parties got more violent, and even the British turned into a target.

For instance, consider the King David Hotel, Jerusalem’s most expensive lodging as at then and the home of British military intelligence in the area. The Israeli extremists bombed the place on the 22nd of July, 1946. The occurrence killed 91 people and ruined the whole wing that accommodated British intelligence offices.

Afterward, in the year 1947, the United Nations got involved, once more shoving a two-state resolution that would have Jerusalem managed by a governor of the United Nations’ decision. But, the Arab Higher Committee didn’t accept the offer and still a different surge of violence took over the city. More than six weeks after the refusal, 1,060 Arabs, 769 Jews, as well as 123 Brits died.

On the 9th of 1948, in spite of being under commands not to harm women or children, Israeli extremists started their most atrocious war yet. They got into an Arab town west of Jerusalem and launched grenades into family homes, causing the death of about 100-254 people. Only a week after, Arab forces murdered 77 doctors as well as nurses of the Jewish Hadassah Hospital, later selling postcards showing the injured victims.



When the British eventually left on the 14th of May, 1948, Jews were in charge of Western Jerusalem, whereas Arabs seized the Old City and the East. These battle lines would lay the path for the Battle of Jerusalem, which officially began only four days after, on the 18th of May.

During that period, though both US President Truman as well as Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader both recognized Israel, its rank stayed fluid and few anticipated the extremely outnumbered Jewish soldiers to remain very long. However, months of battle severely damaged the narrow streets, olden homes and dark basements of the Old City.

The Israelis didn’t win the first round of the fight and entrance to the Western Wall together with it. However, in November of 1948, they took the battle outside the city’s walls and beyond, taking hold of the Negev desert, forcing a truce and agreeing on a truce with the entire five Arab states in the area.


Chapter 15 – An infuriated Egyptian President pushed a short conflict that ensured a crucial win for Israel.


Although the city was now divided in half between Arabs and Jews, on the 11th of December, 1949, Jerusalem was officially stated as the capital of Israel. Also, for the first time ever since the Crusades, it had a king called Abdullah of Jordan.

Soon enough coup efforts started, bringing about the killing of Abdullah’s in the al-Aqsa Mosque in the year 1951 and the crowning of Hussein, who was his grandson. King Hussein was more ready to work together with the Israelis and was better able to handle the oppressors of the region, such as Saddam Hussein.

With that being said, there were usually continuous threats. These now appeared in the form of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, who regarded the new plan as an injury to Arab pride, and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, which controlled an attack on Israel in January of 1965. Although this raid was unsuccessful, it made the Palestinians feel strengthened and incited even more Arab hatred of Israel.

Although King Hussein wanted peace, his hand was forced by Nasser, who said to him that he could either support the battle against Israel or be considered as a traitor to the Arabs. He picked the former and air attacks started in the year 1967.



Simultaneously, Syria, which as well supported Egypt, started assembling its forces. The idea of the forthcoming violent war was really terrifying for Israelis that Yitzhak Rabin, who was the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces at that time, couldn’t sleep or eat for several days in advance of the 5th of June 1967, when 6,000 shells were launched into Israel from Jordan. This raid marked the beginning of what turned out to be called the Six-Day War.

Israel was ready for the fight. They destroyed Jordan’s air force all at once and their ground troops just required four hours to seize the United Nations Government House, where the Jordanians were utilizing as a base of operations.

During the night of this war, with the sky on fire with artillery fire, Israeli paratroopers crossed into the West and, on the 6th of June, captured the northern area outside the city walls called the American Colony.

The following day, they proceeded to the Mount of Olives and the war was all but finished. An Israeli tank ruined a bus obstructing the Lions’ Gate and, after a short firefight, Israel captured the Temple Mount.


Chapter 16 – The circumstance in Jerusalem stays a difficult standoff.


Upon getting past the Lions’ Gate, the soldiers of Israel secured access to the Western Wall for the first time in about 20 years. It was an emotional time and a lot of them cried upon seeing this holy place that the majority of them had only seen in pictures.

Then, Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defense issued a declaration which states, “to our Arab neighbors, Israel reaches the hand of peace and to every one of all faiths we promise full freedom of worship.” It had taken the Jews 2,000 years to be able to go to the Temple Mount once again; however, Dayan made it known that the place would be dominated by the Islamic charitable fund, waqf, not by Israel.

But, this declaration did a bit to untangle the circumstances. As a matter of fact, since the completion of the Six-Day War, Jerusalem has been trapped in a difficult situation. For example, some Christians still assumed that Jerusalem is the area where Armageddon will start and that the Jewish work of the city is only another step in that path. As a matter of fact, Australian Christians truly set ablaze the al-Aqsa Mosque in the year 1969, in an effort to accelerate the process.

Or think of a case from the year 1982, when two Arabs were shot on the Temple Mount. Charges said that this was the doing of Israelis who wish to witness the building of a third temple; however, as a matter of fact, just a small minority of Jews have any wish for such a thing to occur.



Also, peace is still a long way off. Some people still anticipate a two-state answer, in spite of the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, of 1987, which ignited the launch of the nationalist group Hamas and strike a blow against the likelihood of a united Israel.

Once again, a treaty was signed in the year 1993 and private discussions have happened as recently as 2008. Those kinds of growths propose that the democratic Palestinian government is still ready to negotiate.

However, Israel isn’t making things any good. Say there are to be any genuine likelihoods for peace in the future, Israel has to put a stop to removing Arabs by building settlements in the name of Israel’s “mission.”


Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore Book Review


The story of Jerusalem provides an interesting understanding of the strong role that religion has played in shaping humanity. The history of Jerusalem shows that although it may look as If a violent conflict is doomed forever to repeat itself, there is usually hope that people of diverse beliefs will learn to live with each other in unity.



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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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