Jerusalem is a child of the desert, a city precariously hovering on its brink, exposed to a bright, unrelenting sun. Its never-ending story continues to fascinate people. Jerusalem is not only an important historical and spiritual site but also a modern city, home and workplace to three-quarters of a million people that draws attention as the Middle East's most controversial urban center. Yet the city we know today can actually only be understood against the background of the comprehensive and rapid changes that took place here in the second half of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth centuries.
Beyond the Wall is a new take on an old city, offering a unique and unusual perspective. As an original work of nonfiction, the book sheds light on some of the enigmas of Jerusalem’s more recent past, telling the tale of its growth from a provincial town somewhere in the Turkish Empire into a modern city during the second half of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century. It recalls the time when Turkish rule was declining and many different population groups became active in Jerusalem, founding their own neighborhoods, institutions, and businesses while they competed for influence—Jews and Arabs as well as the French, Germans, British, Russians, Austrians, Italians, and Americans, their consuls and clergy. The book also includes two chapters on Arab Jerusalem—a subject that is often neglected—and a preface by Teddy Kollek, who served as the city’s mayor for almost thirty years.