Street scene inside the Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, 1914
Inside the Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, 1914

When Amy Dockser Marcus began reporting from Israel for the Wall Street Journal, in the early 1990s, a lasting peace agreement seemed not only possible, but likely. By the time she left, in 1998, the situation looked as bleak as ever.

Yet even as the mood darkened, Dockser Marcus found traces of an era when Jews and Arabs not only co-existed, but engaged one another directly, both politically and socially. In her new book, Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, she draws upon diaries, court records, newspaper articles, and personal correspondence from the last years of the Ottoman Empire to recreate that period, and to determine why this fragile but vibrant social network has all but disappeared.

She talks with Nextbook about the characters she came across in her research, whose interactions seem to point to a road not taken.