The West Side Story
Jerusalem’s Palestinians were not always concentrated in its east side as they are today. Before 1948, Palestinians built and developed the emerging New City, and they enjoyed a cosmopolitan urban life. Here we explore how the area that is today called West Jerusalem was violently and forcibly emptied of Arabs and reincarnated as exclusively Jewish from 1947 onward.
Featured in This Topic
Before 1948, Jerusalem was not split between an “East” and a “West.” Rather, a cosmopolitan, multiethnic New City grew organically out of the Old City.
In the face of rising Jewish immigration, Jewish self-separation, and the looming end of the British Mandate, Jerusalem began to implode, placing the New City in peril.
How the New City came to an abrupt and violent end
Jerusalem’s New City was violently transformed and severed from the rest of Jerusalem, its Palestinian inhabitants exiled and banned from returning to this day.
A Palestinian Jerusalemite remembers his childhood and its terrifying end in the New City neighborhood of Qatamon. An eyewitness testimony to the violent end of the New City.
A vivid memoir attesting to what it was like to live through the violent transformation of the New City of Jerusalem into West Jerusalem in 1947–48
Who lived in the New City Palestinian neighborhood of Qatamon, which ceased to exist as such after 1948?
A rare cinematic look back at a pivotal moment in Jerusalem’s history.
Battir, a verdant, terraced Palestinian agricultural village 8 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, became a popular spot for outings after the Jerusalem-Jaffa line of the railway opened in 1892.
Betty Majaj, a nurse in Jerusalem, lived through the demise of the New City and its reincarnation into West Jerusalem. This is her story.
A firsthand recounting and reconstruction of a landmark trauma in Palestinian and Jerusalem history, the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948
Jacob Nammar, whose family established the al-Nammamreh neighborhood in al-Baq‘a, shares the trauma his family went through as one of the few Palestinian families who remained.
The story of how Palestinian homes in Jerusalem (and elsewhere) whose owners fled in search of temporary safety were systematically looted, including their libraries, even before the war had ended
A woman’s attempt to reconcile her English and Palestinian identities leads her to Jerusalem to search for the Qatamon home her family left in 1948.
A survivor of the Deir Yasin massacre tells her haunting story.
A survivor of the Deir Yasin massacre recalls that dark day, its cost for his family, and its aftermath.
A recent book describes the cultural heritage of the depopulated Jerusalem village of Lifta and the struggle of its displaced residents to thwart state plans to erase its remains.
An inventory of Palestinian villages in the Jerusalem area pre-1948 and their erasure and replacement
The Story in Numbers
The estimated number of Palestinians who were expelled or fled temporarily to safety from Jerusalem's New City (45,000) and from surrounding villages (28,256) throughout 1948. 
The approximate number of Palestinians who remained in Jerusalem’s New City after the 1948 War, which is less than half a percent of the original Palestinian population there.  They were forcibly confined to a military “security zone” known as Zone A in the Lower Baq‘a neighborhood for two and a half years, living in destitution. 
The total number of villages and towns surrounding Jerusalem that were depopulated by Zionist forces during the 1948 War.  Of those, 55 percent were completely destroyed. [65 Villages nearer to Jerusalem such as Deir Yasin, ‘Ayn Karim, and al-Maliha were not destroyed. 
The estimated number of Palestinian Arab villagers who were forcibly depopulated from these 40 villages 
The number of dunums that were depopulated by the Zionist forces in Jerusalem and its western region during and after the 1948 War 
The total area of property (km sq) classified as abandoned Arab land in Jerusalem. This was out of a total area of 26,320 km sq and included approximately 280 km sq of rural land surrounding Jerusalem. 
Percentage of the area of 1947 municipal Jerusalem that was conquered and annexed by Israel to the state, becoming West Jerusalem 
The number of Palestinians from Jerusalem and its surrounding villages and towns who were exiled in 1948 and were still registered as refugees with UNRWA nearly 50 years later, in 1997 
1. Salim Tamari, “The City and Its Rural Hinterland,” in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and Their Fate in the War, ed. Salim Tamari (Jerusalem and Bethlehem: Institute of Jerusalem Studies and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, 2002), 79. See Palestinian Villages Depopulated in 1948 for more up-to-date information reflecting the names of two more villages, though excluding their populations. Data collected by Zochrot
2. Terry Rempel, “Dispossession and Restitution in 1948,” in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and Their Fate in the War, ed. Salim Tamari (Jerusalem and Bethlehem: Institute of Palestine Studies and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, 2002), 218.
3. Jacob J. Nammar, “Confined to Prison Zone A,” Born in Jerusalem, Born Palestinian: A Memoir (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press), 61–72.
4. See Palestinian Villages Depopulated in 1948.
5. Rempel, “Dispossession,” 217.
6. Rempel, “Dispossession,” 217.
7. See Palestinian Villages Depopulated in 1948.
8. Dalia Habash and Terry Rempel, “Assessing Palestinian Property in West Jerusalem,” in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and their Fate in the War, ed. Salim Tamari (Jerusalem and Bethlehem: Institute of Palestine Studies and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, 2002), 173.
9. Habash and Rempel, “Assessing Palestinian Property,” 173.
10. Ahmad Jadallah and Khalil Tufakji, “Documenting Arab Properties in West Jerusalem,” in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and Their Fate in the War, ed. Salim Tamari (Jerusalem and Bethlehem: Institute of Palestine Studies and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, 2002), 255.
11. Tamari, “The City,” 80.
Yair Lapid, Israel’s 14th prime minister, controversially moved into Villa Salameh in Talbiyya, the former home of exiled Arab Jerusalemite businessman Hanna Salameh.
An Israeli street sign in Qatamon in West Jerusalem, formerly a Palestinian neighborhood, demonstrates that the past is very much still present.