Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

Discussion of Case Study Themes

At a Glance
Religious beliefs are at the root of social, political, and, ultimately, territorial conflict in both Jerusalem and Turkey. Different perspectives on location, settlement, and public policy in Jerusalem and Istanbul are voiced by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Both Jerusalem and Istanbul face two possibilities: further fragmentation or unification among competing interests. The Palestinians and the Kurds are nations without states.

Case Study 1 -- Jerusalem: Capital of Two States?

History of Israel
Long before the creation of the modern state of Israel, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam vied for control of the Holy Land. Stories from the Bible tell of conflict over the lands of the Israelites even before the time of Christ.

After the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 B.C., they returned to rebuild their Temple, but in A.D. 30 they were defeated by the Romans. After three hundred years of Christian Byzantine rule, and just six years after the death of the prophet Mohammed in 632, Muslims conquered Jerusalem and built the Dome of the Rock shrine over the Foundation Stone of the Temple where, in Islamic belief, Mohammed ascended to heaven. The Early Arab Period continued until Christian soldiers mounted the Crusades of 1099 and slaughtered many of the Jews and Muslims of Jerusalem.

Another Muslim era began eighty-eight years after the Crusades and lasted until the Ottoman Turks settled in the city in 1517. Near the end of World War I, British troops drove the Ottoman Turks from the city. The League of Nations then gave Britain a mandate to govern Palestine, including Jerusalem, in 1922. Toward the end of British rule, the newly constituted United Nations called for the partition of Palestine and the internationalization of Jerusalem. Arabs rejected this plan, war broke out, and the state of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948.

Urban Patterns in Jerusalem
The walled Old City on the eastern side of Jerusalem's Green Line is divided into religious and ethnic quarters. The Jewish and Muslim Quarters are located alongside the Western Wall remnant of the destroyed First and Second Temples and the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount. Only one thousand feet to the west, the Christian and Armenian Quarters claim sacred ground. The traditional site of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection sits in the middle of the Christian Quarter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Today, the church is physically and spiritually divided among Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Syrians, and even Ethiopian monks and nuns. The later have been denied part of this sanctuary, and have lived on the roof since the mid-1800s to press their claim for shared ownership.

Modem Territorial Conflict in the Holy Land
At the end of Israel's War of Independence, Jerusalem's western side was controlled by Israel; its eastern side, including the Old City, was controlled by Jordan. After the Six Day War of 1967, Jerusalem was taken by Israel, but Muslims were granted control of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1980, a special law passed by the Israeli parliament that reasserted its capital city as Jerusalem was refuted by Palestinians who also laid claim to the same capital for their proposed state. By 1993, Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators signed a Declaration of Principles that outlined the terms of Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip and Jericho, but the peace process crumbled at the turn of the 21st Century. The second Intifada broke out, taking the lives of Jews and Palestinians alike. The peace process continues today with its most recent incarnation, "The Roadmap for Peace."

Case Study 2 -- Turkey: Fundamental Change

The Separation of Church and State in Turkey
In the 1920s, after the last remnants of the Ottoman Empire had disappeared in World War I, Kemal Atatturk built the modern state of Turkey. One of President Atatturk's major political achievements was the complete formal separation of church and state. He reduced the power of Islam by abolishing the caliphate (the office of supreme ruler of a Muslim state), substituting Roman for Arabic lettering, and purging Turkish of Arabic words. He declared that religion should be a matter of individual choice and conviction only. In 1934, he passed a law requiring all Turks to use surnames in the Western style and he himself took the name Atatturk, father of the Turks.

Migration to Istanbul
Another of Atatturk's achievements was economic modernization, most clearly evident in urban areas. As a result, tremendous pull factors encouraged rural to urban migration, and by the 1950s and 1960s many villages were completely abandoned. Migration to big cities such as Istanbul has also been politically motivated. An internal war against the traditionally nomadic Kurds in the southeast over their demand for self-government has contributed to this migration pattern by driving refugees out of the countryside and into the cities.

Fundamentalism in Politics
After arriving in Istanbul, immigrants vie for jobs and housing on the outskirts of the city. Many residences are built around once-small villages, producing shantytown conditions. In such overgrown, under-serviced settlements, the fundamentalist Welfare Party is gaining popularity. The movement, which observes only Islamic laws and divine authority, holds an appeal for those who are not well served or even suffer under the modern, Western-style economy and secular government.

Turkey desires to join the European Union. However, for now, it seem Turkey will have to wait until it deals with Islamic fundamentalism and improves its human rights record, especially in terms of Kurdish cultural rights.


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy