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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Read more at Israel Hayom

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

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy