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Jerusalem: City of cities

Andreas Delsett

The ninth International Saladin Days held March 6th-8th 2017, will focus on Jerusalem, the city where Saladin in 1187, after conquering the Crusaders, rejected the idea of revenge, instead allowing different groups of different ethnicities and religions to live side by side.

Jerusalem is a holy city for three world religions, and has been a meeting place between different cultures, religions and various ethnic minorities for thousands of years. Today, the society is becoming increasingly segregated, with growing religious divisions and impasse. How is the reality for those living in Jerusalem today?

In addition to the historical and the contemporary Jerusalem, there is a third: the idea of Jerusalem, as it appears in literature, art, in religion and culture. In what ways do the real Jerusalem influence our imagination of the place – and vice versa? And what role can literature play in the shaping of our identity, and in giving us insight into the story and experiences of “the other”?

Jerusalem is in many ways the very core of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but perhaps it is also the place to search for solutions. In this year’s Saladin Days, writers, intellectuals and activists will meet to talk about the historical, contemporary and imagined Jerusalem.

The British historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore published the definitive biography of the city in 2011, entlitled Jerusalem: A Biography, in which the world city is portrayed through the lives and works of its citizens. Montefiore will give the opening lecture of this year’s Saladin Days.

Among the international guests for the Saladin Days are Israeli writer Nir Baram, and the former minister of Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian National Authority, Hind Khoury. She is now General Secretary of the Christian Palestinian organization Kairos Palestine.

Full program and list of participants will be published in mid-February.