Dr. Meir Margalit obtained his PhD from the University of Haifa. His doctoral dissertation was on Jewish emigration from Eretz Israel/Palestine during the British Mandate. This study, he wrote, “seeks to listen to the voices of those who did not succeed, of those who tried and weren’t able, who were broken by the cruel reality, who failed and were forced to leave, and who, because of that, have been judged by Zionist historiography as ‘present absentees.’ ” For similar reasons, he has been involved since the 1980s in public activity to promote peace. Until recently he served two terms as a member of the Jerusalem City Council representing the Meretz Party and held the East Jerusalem portfolio. At the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute he heads the Planning and Construction in East Jerusalem research group, because of his understanding that this policy is undoubtedly one of the most acute issues in East Jerusalem. The group’s aim is to create a model that will enable residents of the eastern part of the city to overcome the difficulties they encounter in seeking housing and to enable them to build legally. The group’s vision statement includes the following: “It is important to emphasize that we have no intention of being lenient toward the Israeli government on the matter of East Jerusalem. The only solution for managing the city is to divide it into two municipalities, each of which will represent its population and preserve its identity. However, until we achieve a political solution that divides the city, we must not sit by idly while hundreds of thousands of residents suffer only because they were born Palestinian. Finding innovative solutions for managing the planning and construction policy under the current government will make it possible both to alleviate the unnecessary suffering and to build a foundation of mutual respect and of recognition of the uniqueness of each population group.”
Meir Margalit is the member of the editorial board of the Palestine-Israel Journal and of the Spanish-language journal sinpermiso. He has written four books and many articles on Israeli policy in East Jerusalem. He has also written the “Settlements in East Jerusalem” entry in the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010.