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.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

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.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Tablet

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