The Jerusalem Light Rail: Good for Israelis, Good for Palestinians—and Therefore a Provocation to Enemies

August 4, 2016 | Jared Samilow
About the author:

Since its construction was completed in 2012, Jerusalem’s light rail has provided inexpensive transportation from the city’s outskirts to its center. Its single line goes through both Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, making it easier for residents of both to get to jobs in other parts of the city, and actually facilitating integration. It is precisely for these reasons, argues Jared Samilow, that it has been the target of both terrorists and European boycott efforts:

[T]he absence of grassroots Palestinian opposition to the light rail didn’t stop their advocates in the West from complaining on their behalf.

Adri Nieuwhof, a Dutch anti-Israel journalist and activist, wrote that the light rail was a ploy to tighten Israel’s grip on eastern Jerusalem and urged a boycott of French multinational giants Veolia and Alstom—companies that held partial shares in the project and were involved in operating the train cars. The official website of the BDS movement bleated out boycott instructions to its troops.

Unfortunately, enough people listened, causing Veolia and Alstom to lose contracts in Europe. . . . In August 2015, the boycotters won, and Veolia sold its last shares. . . .

In driving French multinationals out of Israel, European activists discourage foreign investors from operating in Israel in the first place. Often, the possibility of negative publicity can be enough to deter a commercial endeavor. More disturbing is how these activists succeeded in persuading the foreign media to adopt the narrative of a “controversial” light rail violating international law. It diminishes Israel’s status as a legitimate nation if it can’t so much as build public infrastructure without international interference. . . .

By attacking enterprises that benefit both Israelis and Palestinians, BDS evangelists show that they’ll always opt to cause Israel pain even at the cost of Palestinian suffering that doesn’t bring [Palestinians] any closer to a state.

Read more on Tower: