by Ziad AbuZayyad
and Hillel Schenker
Jerusalem is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Jerusalem is not only a territory or the site of holy places but its the people who live and experience life in the city day by day. These people know more than anyone else what the complexities of living in a united-divided city are. Jerusalem is a unique city where one side — the Israeli side — insists, by mandate of power and military occupation, that it is its sole eternal capital, while the other side rejects the occupation and the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, which it insists is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the capital of Palestine.
After almost half a century of false claims that the city is united, the reality of the city states clearly that Jerusalem is a divided city with two totally different societies each with its own social fabric, lifestyle, and national affiliation.
The more time passes, the more the two societies are growing farther apart from each other, and the younger generation on the Palestinian side is more reluctant to accept the reality of annexation and ready to struggle against it. The latest surge of violence in the city left 118 Palestinian victims and 20 Israelis killed between Oct. 1 and Dec. 10, 2015, with hundreds wounded or imprisoned, and it is still going on.
In the absence of a political solution for the city, Palestine-Israel Journal has worked together with Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO active in peace building in the city, to examine what the younger generation on both sides of the divide thinks, wants and aspires to. Articles written mainly by young Israelis and Palestinians in the city, with a unique contribution of two roundtable discussions conducted separately by Ir Amim and the PIJ that reflected the views of young people on both sides. The Palestinian roundtable was conducted according to the Chatham House Rule but the participants asked not to have their names published, out of fear for their personal security and safety. Some of them are students at the Israeli universities, and pointed out that some were already being persecuted because of their social media posts.
We leave this very special issue in the hands of our readers to see firsthand the real picture of the younger generation in the divided-united city of Jerusalem.