The Jerusalem Syndrome

Jerusalem Syndrome is a group of non-denominational mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously-themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem.

Three religions in one city, what could go wrong?

Jerusalem is Holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The last remaining wall of the Jewish Temple compound, it is the holiest site in Judaism; Christ died, was buried and then resurrected here, and Mohammad started his celestial journey from this City. Needless to say, the city has been a center of historic action that continues into present times.

“Jerusalem that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea, and in the mid-nineteenth century, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.” 

Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

Eastern Jerusalem

All of Jerusalem has been annexed by Israel, but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem live as “permanent residents” – an Israeli legal status that makes their presence a revocable privilege, rather than an inherent right. These 428,000+ people have the right to apply for Israeli citizenship but acceptance rate is less than 3%. Permanent residency status is not automatically transferred through marriage or on to the holder’s children. instead they have to supply proof that Jerusalem is at the center of their life.

The colonial machine

While the population has grown ten-fold, the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have been denied construction permits for decades, forcing them to build illegally. These houses are then subject to destruction because of illegal construction; this forces the residents to move into homes outside the city resulting in revocation of their permanent residency status. At the same time Jewish settlements in the same community are retroactively approved.

Children under colonial rule

Palestinian children who live in Jerusalem are not born with a right to live in their hometowns.  Around the time when Palestinian children enter high school, they are required to present themselves to Israeli authorities with proof that Jerusalem is at the center of their life and, if denied, they have to leave their families and are not allowed to return to Jerusalem. The areas where the schools are located are already crowded and the zoning regime outlaws Palestinian construction,  as a result there is a shortage of around 2,000 classrooms.