A Chance to Make Life Better for Eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs

Nov. 29 2017

Despite the growing influence of Hamas, and despite living in neighborhoods that tend to get an unequal share of municipal resources, the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem express surprisingly encouraging attitudes toward Israel. According to recent surveys, 42 percent report feeling a sense of belonging in Israeli society, 43 percent recognize a historic connection between the Jewish people and the land, and 46 percent have a positive attitude toward the police. Nadav Shragai explains what Jerusalem can and should do to capitalize on this good will:

Many [of east Jerusalem’s Arabs] are undergoing a process of “Israelization,” not to say Westernization, and are becoming more and more like [Arab citizens of Israel living elsewhere in the country]. Some, dissatisfied with their permanent-residency status, are requesting Israeli citizenship, but this is granted sparingly.

Despite this, however, merely a few thousand of the 335,000 east-Jerusalem Arabs have voted in municipal elections for Jerusalem’s city council, even though they have the right to [do so]. Incidentally, far more east-Jerusalem residents would vote, and perhaps shape a list that . . . represents them in the municipality, had they not been terrorized by Fatah and Hamas. . . .

But this time things can be different. . . . As Jews and Israelis, we shouldn’t be afraid of this change. If voters and political lists from east-Jerusalem were to participate actively in local elections, it would be a welcome thing. Jerusalem is a binational city, and that is not going to change anytime soon. . . .

Israel needs to create the conditions for them to participate in truly free elections. They will not come to the ballots if they fear being shot on the way, or having their cars torched. The police and the Shin Bet security agency, for their part, must enable the Arabs to vote without fear. Technology can also be used to this end: in the 21st century, it is possible to vote using a computer, even from home or from the workplace. Even those who fear east-Jerusalem Arabs influencing national Jewish interests in Jerusalem should not be afraid of striking a true partnership with them.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

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

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy