Do the leaders of minority communities in divided cities influence group members’ expressed willingness to engage politically with rival groups? Studies typically link group members’ willingness to engage with rival groups to direct contact between individuals from opposing groups. However, such contact is problematic in divided cities, wherein opportunities to interact are scarce and frowned upon. Focusing on the contested urban space of Jerusalem, we find indications that the diverse nature of community leadership in East Jerusalem can influence Palestinian residents’ attitudes towards political engagement with Israeli authorities via municipal elections. The ‘middlemen’ role can explain community leaders’ influence in divided cities. They facilitate indirect contact between their constituents and the other group’s members or institutions. Our analysis employs original data from a public opinion survey conducted among Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem immediately prior to the Jerusalem 2018 municipal elections. It has ramifications regarding urban governance for other divided cities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This Study was conducted as part of the ‘project Building Common Visions for the Future of Jerusalem – a European Union Peace Building Initiative’ (grant number ENI/2016/383-058, PI Dan Miodownik). The study has also received support from the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations Research and the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, both in at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and The President of the state of Israel grant for Academic Excellence and Scientific Innovation (recipient Noam Brenner).
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2023.
- contact theory
- divided cities
- local leadership
- municipal elections
- political engagement