Home Grading &
Lectures &
Brief Papers
& Final Essay
Extra Credit


Note: Avishai Margalit (b. 1939) is a professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and regularly writes "opinion" pieces for the Israeli press.  (As he says: "A philosopher, in the Israeli media, is a person who is expected to have opinions about everything in general and about nothing in particular." [p. 4])  He also has written regularly for the American press, contributing series of articles (he calls them "postcards") about Israel especially to the New York Review of Books.  These were collected in the single volume, Views in Review: Politics and Culture in the State of the Jews (New York, 1998). McKeldin ref.  DS126.5.M326.  This essay, dating from the end of 1991, is followed by a letter Margalit received from the then-mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, and by his own response.


1.  Where do you think Margalit belongs on the Israeli political spectrum?  Where would he belong in America?  Do you think he opposes the existence of the State of Israel or the Zionist movement?

2.  How does Margalit understand the concept of the holiness of Jerusalem in various religious traditions?  Are you surprised by any elements that he stresses?

3.  Margalit speaks repeatedly about the "ambivalence" of the various religions and traditions towards the holiness of the city.  Can you outline what he means by this?  Can you give some examples?  Why does Margalit stress this element in the attitudes of various groups to the city?

4.  What surprises you most about Margalit's reconstruction of his city's past?

5.  Why does Kollek reject Margalit's solution?  Do you agree with Kollek?



Re: Avishai Margalit, "The Myth of Jerusalem" in Views in Review: Politics and Culture in the State of the Jews (New York, 1998): 177-204


1) What were "capitulations" during the time of Ottoman control over Jerusalem?

2) Why does Margalit describe the contemporary Israeli government view of minority rights, religion, and politics as "mainly Ottoman" rather than "western"?

3) Why did the original Zionists prefer Tel Aviv over Jerusalem?

4) What was the Shamir government's agrument against permitting Arab representatives of East Jerusalem from participating in any peace negotiations?

5) Who is Faisal Husseini and why does the author refer to him, in part, as "symbolizing" Jerusalem?

6) Why does Margalit advocate joint Arab-Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem? In the author's opinion, why would it be superior to sole Jewish or divided sovereignty?

7) What is meant, in the parlance of Jerusalem municipal politics, by the term "personal status"?

8) Why does the author describe as a "cynical ploy" Israeli politicians' reference to Jerusalem as "one, indivisible, and eternal"?

9) What worried some Jerusalem Jews, at the time of the author's writing, more than the Arab-Jewish conflict itself?

10) Why does Margalit assert that Jerusalem is in no way a cosmopolitan city despite the presence of a plethora of religions, ethnic groups, and nationalities?