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Husseini's words served as the inspiration for a manifesto, entitled " Our Jerusalem. Among them were seven laureates of the prestigious Israel Prize authors A. The signatories also include a former cabinet minister Victor Shem-Tov , and several ex Knesset Members, together with the former ambassador, orientalist Prof.

Ya'akov Shimoni. Our Jerusalem is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from the earliest antiquity to this very day - Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites- Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis. They and all the others who made their contribution to the city have a place in the spiritual and physical landscape of Jerusalem.

Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed-wire in its midst. Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country - West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.

See the original version with Hebrew, Arabic and English. But for all the grim observations, what Melville found in Jerusalem was to excite his imagination as nothing had since the white whale.

Help us build a kindergarten in our back yard near Jerusalem, Israel

He spent the next two decades composing "Clarel," an epic poem converting what he saw in Palestine into a parallel vision of America. More than a hundred years before Philip Roth traveled to Jerusalem in "Operation Shylock" and found a man pretending to be Philip Roth -- a projection of the dark side of the American Jew Roth called his "Jerusalem Counterself" -- Melville forged his Jerusalem counterself in the character of Clarel, an American divinity student who, having lost his faith, travels to Jerusalem to regain it. In Jerusalem Clarel meets and falls in love with Ruth, a young Jewish woman whose father, Nathan, was an American frontiersman who converted to Judaism and moved his family to Palestine to await the coming of the Messiah.

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Nathan's millennial longings prove fatal: he is killed by Arabs. Clarel, forbidden to see Ruth after her father's death, makes a pilgrimage into the desert; Ruth dies of grief. For Melville, whose writing career had begun in promise and ended in failure, it was also a time of personal, national and religious doubt. On his way to Jerusalem, Melville visited Hawthorne in Liverpool. After their visit, Hawthorne wrote of Melville in his journal, "He can neither believe nor be content in his disbelief.

Hawthorne who inspired a character in "Clarel" understood that America was a twice-told tale whose moral lay bound up with Jerusalem. He never went there himself, but he was born in Salem, Mass.

His great-great-great-grandfather had helped settle the city and, as Hawthorne wrote in his preface to "The Scarlet Letter," he was forever haunted by the image of a "grave, bearded, sable-cloaked and steeple-crowned progenitor -- who came so early, with his Bible and his sword.

No wonder Salem, though its name means "peace," became the inspiration for Hawthorne's darkest tales, a place where America's longings for spiritual purity often yielded to their dangerous opposite. But what exactly does America's strange obsession with Jerusalem mean?

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On the one hand we are a people who feel singled out for blessing, a people who have built Jerusalem, as Blake said of England, on our own green and pleasant land. But the other half of our hubristic assumption is the other half of the biblical prophecy of Jerusalem itself -- for the prophets spoke as much of Jerusalem destroyed as of Jerusalem rebuilt, as much of divine punishment as divine promise. It is an echo of this duality that sets Hawthorne's self-righteous sinners secretly trembling. The recent fashion of apocalyptic fiction, though hardly literary, may be a good indication of where things are going these days.

Jerusalem holidays

Pat Robertson's fictional rendering of Armageddon, "The End of the Age," published last year, concludes with a bloody battle for Jerusalem, after which a band of American fundamentalist Christians ascends victorious into heaven. The book is a timely reminder that just as Jerusalem inspired America's beginnings, so the city easily inspires visions of our end.

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  • Holy wars are drifting onto our own soil. It isn't Sainte-Terrers but terrorists who haunt the American imagination now, almost as if the actual city, metaphorized for so long in our fiction, had decided to visit us for a change.

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    But by now these two places, which helped create each other, may indeed share a common destiny. The future of Jerusalem is an urgent political issue of the Middle East, but the future of America may prove equally volatile. A place of peace and promise; a place of apocalyptic fulfillment.


    These have become America's themes as much as they are Jerusalem's. As the year draws near and apocalyptic fantasies proliferate, these contrary images seem closer than ever -- but they have been present all along.

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    • We are, as yet another American writer famously observed, borne back ceaselessly into the past.