Jordanian Jerusalem Holy Places and National Spaces by Kimberly Katz (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. 214 pages.)

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K. Luisa Gandolfo



For centuries, Jerusalem has been revered as the holy site of Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam; strategically coveted as a means to consolidate territorial
gains; and conquered thirty-seven times between its foundation and the
sequestering of its ancient hub by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War. As
the region underwent significant change after World War II, the Holy City
increasingly became contested. While the Palestinians nurtured concerns
regarding land sales and the escalating influx of Jewish settlers, their apprehension became lost amidst the tussle for authority between Transjordan,
which sought to affirm its role as custodian of the holy places, and the nascent
state of Israel, which strove to strengthen its presence in the city. Charting
the endeavors of KingAbdullah and KingHussein to assert Transjordan’s
authority over Jerusalemdespite international and Israeli rivalry, Katz affords
a unique insight into the multifarious means used to court its residents
through events, banknotes, and stamps between 1948 and 1967.
Over the course of seven chapters, the author imbues the text with illuminating
figures and maps. Most notable is the 1946 “Palestinian Aid”
stamp series initiated during the Bludan Conference in June 1946, during
which Abdullah directed member states of the Arab League “to issue a
Palestinian stamp whose revenue would be earmarked for Palestine” (p. 56).
Yet Abdullah’s pro-active stance – the Jordanian Parliament implemented
the Arab League resolution on 22 July 1946, followed by the “Additional
Stamps Law” Temporary Law 20 of the same year – was ultimately marred
by his series of surreptitious meetings with the JewishAgency. Despite this
duplicity, the merit of stamps in preserving stable relations with the
Palestinians is adeptly demonstrated throughout the chapter. Similarly, the
political nuances behind postcards depicting King Hussein and Gamal
Abdul Nasser affectionately united over the Dome of the Rock, as well as an
additional series of stamps celebrating Pope Paul VI’s pilgrimage to the
Holy Land in 1964, serve as visual reminders of Jordan’s tentative grip on
authority during the post-war period and the ever-present desire to retain
amicable relations with neighboring leaders ...

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