Leadership repertoire and political engagement in a divided city: The case of East Jerusalem

Noam Brenner*, Dan Miodownik, Shaul R. Shenhav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)58-77
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2023.


  • contact theory
  • divided cities
  • local leadership
  • municipal elections
  • political engagement


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