Why Israel Should Invest in Jerusalem Arabs’ Education and Welfare

Feb. 13 2018

Arab Jerusalemites have increasingly been applying for Israeli citizenship, and ever-growing numbers of youngsters are choosing to pursue the Israeli high-school curriculum (which qualifies them to apply to Israeli universities) and to enroll in after-school Hebrew classes. David M. Weinberg takes these trends, along with other data, to mean that the city’s Arab residents are coming to realize that “they will always be better off under Israeli administration” than under the Palestinian Authority:

Arab Jerusalemites—despite their Palestinian national identity—have come around to a pragmatic attitude toward Israeli authorities. . . . And there is a demonstrable linkage between Israeli investment in the welfare of eastern-Jerusalem Arabs and a reduction in terrorism. The neighborhoods that have most benefited from government and municipal budgets have become much quieter—with less crime and much less nationalistic violence. . . . [Thus] Israel can no longer ignore its responsibilities to develop the eastern half of the city.

However, the challenge remains enormous, particularly with regard to education. There are more than 105,000 children in eastern-Jerusalem schools. The system is short 1,500 classrooms. . . . The city is building seven to ten new schools each year, but it is not nearly enough, and there is an acute shortage of qualified school principals. . . .

Overcrowding, rampant illegal home construction, and (consequently) grossly overburdened water and sewage infrastructures are the norm in many eastern-Jerusalem neighborhoods, with the worst example being Silwan in the heart of the city. Last year the municipality approved a master plan for new home building in Sur Baher and Umm Tuba in the southern part of the city; but again, much more is needed.

The situation is complicated by the [political] struggles within the Arab community of Jerusalem. Many local Arab activists seek partnership with Israel in order to advance their communities, . . . and some are even considering running this fall for election to the Jerusalem municipal council on local Arab slates—for the first time. But Fatah leaders and the Palestinian Authority seek to dissuade them from working with the municipality and are threatening the families of moderate Jerusalemite Arabs with ostracism and even death.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem

To Israel’s Leading Strategist, Strength, Not Concessions, Has Brought a Measure of Calm

Aug. 14 2018

Following a long and distinguished career in the IDF, Yaakov Amidror served as Israel’s national-security adviser from 2011 to 2013. He speaks with Armin Rosen about the threats from Gaza, Hizballah, and Iran:

For Israel’s entire existence, would-be peacemakers have argued that the key to regional harmony is the reduction of the Jewish state’s hard power through territorial withdrawals and/or the legitimization of the country’s non-state enemies. In Amidror’s view, reality has thoroughly debunked this line of reasoning.

Amidror believes peace—or calm, at least—came as a result of Israeli muscle. Israel proved to its former enemies in the Sunni Arab world that it’s powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the region and to stand up to Iran on the rest of the Middle East’s behalf. “The stronger Israel is, the more the ability of Arab countries to cooperate [with it] grows,” Amidror explained. On the whole, Amidror said he’s “very optimistic. I remember the threat that we faced when we were young. We fought the Six-Day War and I remember the Yom Kippur War, and I see what we are facing today. We have only one-and-a-half problems. One problem is Iran, and the half-problem is Hizballah.” . . .

In all likelihood the next Israeli-Iranian confrontation will be a clash with Amidror’s half-threat: the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizballah, Iran’s most effective proxy in the Middle East and perhaps the best armed non-state military force on earth. . . . “We should neutralize the military capability of Hizballah,” [in the event of war], he said. “We should not destroy the organization as a political tool. If the Shiites want these people to represent them, it’s their problem.” . . .

“It will be a very nasty war,” Amidror said. “A very, very nasty war.” Hizballah will fire “thousands and thousands” of long-range missiles of improved precision, speed, and range at Israeli population centers, a bombardment larger than Israel’s various layers of missile defense will be able to neutralize in full. . . . This will, [however], be a blow Israel can withstand. “Israelis will be killed, no question,” Amidror said. “But it’s not going to be catastrophic.”

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon