Jerusalem and the Jewish People: Unity and Division – Interim Report

Most Jews in Israel and Dialogue participants around the world believe that Jerusalem’s development is moving in the “wrong direction.” In fact, when considering this question, we should acknowledge three circles of reference: Jews around the world are highly concerned about the direction in which the city is moving – and 70 percent assert that it is moving in the wrong direction. Jews in Israel also have a relatively dim view of the city’s current trajectory. 60 percent of them argue that it is moving in the wrong direction. However – and this is very significant – the Jewish residents of Jerusalem have a much more positive assessment of the direction the city is taking. That is to say, the people who are most familiar with the city, also have a more positive view of the direction in which it is moving.


These differences in assessment might trigger a debate among Jews on two important questions:

Who knows Jerusalem best?

Who owns Jerusalem?

In other words: Is it possible that Jews in Jerusalem see things other Jews do not see – or vice versa? Or maybe Jerusalem’s Jews are satisfied with the city because it seems to be moving in the right direction as they understand the city, while other Jews see it moving in what they consider the wrong direction because they have a different vision for the city. Whatever the case, the clear underlying assumption of the 2017 Dialogue (and all previous JPPI Dialogues) is that Israel ought to consider the views of Jews worldwide on various subjects. Dialogue participants strongly seconded this undergirding assumption. They believe that as the political and cultural future of Jerusalem is shaped, whether by the government of Israel or by the Mayor of Jerusalem, the concerns of Jews worldwide should be taken into consideration.

Jews living outside of Israel see Jerusalem as a “home” not only in the sense of feeling at home in the city, but also in the sense that they regard it as their ancestral or spiritual home too, and hence ought to have a say in the shaping of its political and cultural future. A plurality (44 percent) of Dialogue participants believe that their views on political issues concerning Jerusalem are important, and a majority (53 percent) believe that their views on Jerusalem’s cultural issues are important, because Jerusalem is the city “of all Jews.” Only 16 percent (political) and 11 percent (cultural) of them believe that Israel should decide the future of Jerusalem without taking the views of non-Israeli Jews into consideration.

As they claim the right to take part in shaping the city’s future, non-Israeli Jews explain their take on the city’s “wrong direction” in several ways, but three main pillars of concern stand out: relations between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem; Jewish Pluralism in Jerusalem (some Dialogue participants referred to the inability of non-Orthodox Jews to fully express their Jewishness in the city); and Jewish demographic trends, meaning the growing proportion of the ultra-Orthodox community in the city’s Jewish population.