From Publishers Weekly
In Ottoman Jerusalem, families of different religions picnicked together at popular shrines and vouched for each other at the bank; Muslims and Jews were business partners and neighbors; and Arab children dressed in costumes for the Jewish holiday of Purim. How then did this city of ethnic diversity become a crucible of sectarian conflict? Marcus (The View from Nebo
), a Pulitzer-winning former Wall Street Journal
correspondent, focuses on the year 1913 as a turning point, when leaders at the Zionist Congress argued for both cultural and demographic domination of Palestine, while at the same time Jews and Arabs were negotiating a possible peace. Marcus also highlights three men who helped shape the destiny of the future Israeli capital. Albert Antebi was a non-Zionist Syrian Jew who advocated for Jewish economic solvency and strong relationships with Muslims; ardent Zionist Arthur Ruppin directed the establishment of Jewish settlements; and Ruhi Khalidi, a prominent Muslim , although not an Arab nationalist, actively opposed Jewish immigration and land purchases. Marcus masterfully brings a Jerusalem of almost a century ago to pungent life, and her political dissection of the era is lucid and well-meaning although she never explains the gulf between moderate Muslims of 1913 and today's Islamist and radical movements. (Apr. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Searching for the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, veteran Middle East correspondent Marcus highlights 1913 as a year when neighborly relations in Jerusalem took a serious turn for the worse. That was the year of the eleventh Zionist congress in Vienna, at which strategies for purchasing land in Palestine transformed into a massive international fund-raising effort and a muscular Jewish nationalism; it was the year Ottoman parliamentarian Ruhi Khalidi wrote Zionism or the Zionist Question
, which anticipated nationalistic strife and urged Arabs to hold onto their land. That was also the year a dispute over stolen grapes descended into armed conflict in Rehovot, a Jewish settlement near Jaffa. Although touted as a challenge to the conventional historical narrative of the conflict, which tends to focus on the British Mandate of 1920-48, Marcus' book is ultimately more concerned with bringing to life Khalidi and other key personalities and reminding us that there was a time in this century when shared traditions and communal space trumped ideological partisanship in Jerusalem. Both tasks are done with the same perceptive analysis and graceful prose that won her a Pulitzer in 2005 for her reportage on cancer survivors. Brendan DriscollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved