Nonfiction, Books in the Attic (Yedioth), 2017
In the tradition of Amos Elon and Tom Segev, former Haaretz journalists turned international authors, Nir Hasson has written the most significant book about Jerusalem since its unification in 1967.
“Urshalim” is the official Arabic name for Jerusalem adopted by the Israeli government after the conquest of East Jerusalem and unification of the city in 1967. It appears on highway signs, in official documents and weather forecasts. However, no Arabic speaker uses this name. The fact that the capital of the State of Israel has two names, one used by the government and another (“Al-Quds”) used by the Arab public, is one of the many anomalies that characterize Jerusalem today.
The name Urshalim symbolizes the gap between Jerusalem as a symbol and political-religious-tourist image, and the daily reality of Jerusalemites.
Fifty years after being “united” under Israeli rule, Jerusalem today is a very different city than it was prior to 1967. Urshalim tells the story of the city since the Six-Day War,
highlighting the decisions and actions that transformed Jerusalem into what it is today: a teeming, in some neighborhoods poor and sometimes violent city in conflict with itself and with its surroundings while, at the same time, a vibrant, thriving and diverse city that accommodates a shared existence. This is a story of the earthly Jerusalem.
Drawing from interviews and records, Nir Hasson, Haaretz’s Jerusalem correspondent, analyzes events on the ground and plans for the future. Hasson documents the lives of Israelis and Palestinians in the city, and the perilous clash of an idealized image with a harsh reality. With a critical yet sensitive style he examines the events and processes that have shaped contemporary Jerusalem and explores future options for the unique city and its residents.
Urshalim is a book for those willing to try to wean themselves of slogans about “the eternal city of Jerusalem” and to see Jerusalem as it actually is, on the threshold of its sixth decade as a new city.
“The book has three ‘protagonists’: a rare repository of knowledge and information, the crazy and schizophrenic city itself, and the author’s special language. The city with its wealth of vagaries, insanities and madmen demands special observation and extraordinary insights. Hasson provides them all, in abundance.” --Avrum Burg, Haaretz
“The book made me feel great sadness and great shame, and it’s important that a book does such things. Why do we read a book? To learn, but also to awaken ourselves, and Nir’s book certainly does this. And I thank him for this. You make me think in a new way.
-- Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem