The real estate foothold in the Holy Land: Transnational gentrification in Jerusalem

Hila Zaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Gentrification theory blames the widening and transnationalisation of the phenomenon on the global commodification of housing and the emergence of a ‘planetary rent gap’. This article draws on fieldwork in the UK and Israel and argues that while transnational gentrification is economically driven, in the sense of an unequal global division of labour, we need to reinstate the cultural context into the core of gentrification theory and pay more attention to what motivates people to purchase homes in particular foreign locations. I argue that these motivations can be emotional, and adopt the concept of the ‘real estate as foothold’– a way of holding onto an emotionally laden space through the acquisition of property. Tying together gentrification and lifestyle migration literatures and using the case study of British Jews with second homes in Israel, I explore such motivations and connect them with Israel’s political and economic quest to attract diaspora Jews. Israel’s neoliberalisation made it a second-home destination for wealthy Jews, part of the second-homes trend, who favour Israel due to emotional, national and religious ties. I focus on the case of Jerusalem, the Israeli city most affected by the phenomenon, to explore the intersecting outcomes of top-down policies and bottom-up lifestyle demands on the upscaling of the inner city and the displacement of Israeli residents. Residents’ displacement results in their replacement in cheaper areas, often beyond the ‘Green Line’ in the Occupied Territories, a problematic outcome to any peace negotiations, but one that follows the agenda of municipal and state-level policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3116-3134
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Jerusalem
  • Zionism
  • foothold
  • lifestyle migration
  • transnational gentrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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