[Press and Publications] The Conflict Over Jerusalem

March 2001

No 33

A leading authority on Jerusalem whose book on the Holy City is published this month is to deliver a free public lecture at the University of Leicester.

Professor Bernard Wasserstein delivers the fifth Geza Vermes Lecture in the History of Religions on 28 March on the subject of ‘Jerusalem: Symbol and Reality’.

The lecture will discuss Jewish, Christian and Islamic attitudes to Jerusalem. It will show how religious faith in Jerusalem has been exploited for political objectives down the ages.

It will link this process to recent conflict over Jerusalem. Professor Wasserstein is an acknowledged authority on this controversial subject, and his book Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City is published this month by Profile Books.

Professor Richard Bonney, Director of the Centre for History of Religions, Inter-Faith Dialogue and Pluralism, said: “The future of Jerusalem is one of the greatest obstacles to any Middle East peace settlement. The holiest sites in Jerusalem are contested sites between the three main monotheistic religions. Last year in Leicester saw a demonstration organized by the friends of Al-Aqsa, the name of the mosque that adjoins the Western Wall. But perceived threats to the religious places are part of a much larger issue of control: instead of being the capital of any particular state, should Jerusalem somehow be taken out of politics altogether? Professor Wasserstein's lecture is as timely as it is likely to be controversial.”

Professor Wasserstein recently called for the removal of “the temptation on all sides to instrumentalise religious faith in the holy city for ulterior political ends. That has been the sustaining curse of politics in Jerusalem for the past two centuries. Only a general acceptance of Jerusalem’s plurality of holiness can begin the healing process in this tormented and divided city.”

Venue: Ken Edwards Building Lecture Lecture Theatre One

Date: Wednesday 28 March 2001, Time: 5.30pm

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Photocall 4.45 pm in Ken Edwards Building Seminar Room 528.

Further details from Revd Professor Richard Bonney, Director of the Centre 0116 252 2803.

Biographical Note:

BERNARD WASSERSTEIN was born in London in 1948 and educated firstly at Wyggeston Boys School (while his father was Professor of Classics at Leicester University) and then at Balliol and Nuffield Colleges, Oxford and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a research fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford from 1973 to 1975 and a lecturer at the University of Sheffield from 1976 to 1979. From 1980 to 1996 he was a member of the History Department at Brandeis University in Massachusetts where he also served for a time as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. From 1996 to 2000 he was President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He is now Professor of History at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Professor Wasserstein’s articles and reviews have appeared in the English Historical Review, American Historical Review, Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Journal, Journal of Jewish Studies, Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, New York Times, Financial Times and many other newspapers, magazines and professional journals. His books include The British in Palestine (1978), Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939–1945 (1979), Herbert Samuel (1992) and The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln which received the Golden Dagger Prize for Non-fiction in 1988. His most recent book is Secret War in Shanghai (1998). His books have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Hebrew, Romanian and Chinese. His study entitled Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945, published in 1996, evoked considerable controversy. His book Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City is published in March 2001 by Profile Books, is expected to do the same. In his lecture at the University of Leicester, Professor Wasserstein will introduce his new book and is expected to autograph purchased copies.

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Last updated: 26 March 2001 15:31
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