Ramadan Dabash Wants to Be Jerusalem’s First Palestinian City Councilman

Jerusalem’s Palestinians, who make up about one-third of the city’s population, have had residency rights in the city since 1967, guaranteeing them access to Israel’s welfare and healthcare systems and the right to vote in municipal elections—a right rarely exercised. Ramadan Dabash wants to change that, writes Matti Friedman:

In the last election in 2013, . . . not even 2 percent of [Jerusalem Palestinians] cast a ballot. This has helped keep [them] in limbo and has contributed to a gap that’s clear to anyone who spends time in the city’s Arab neighborhoods, which are neglected, crowded, and unsafe. Eighty-three percent of children in eastern Jerusalem are poor, according to Israeli government statistics, twice the rate in the city’s west.

That reality, Ramadan Dabash says, is why he’s flouting his community’s political taboo to run. . . . The Palestinian Authority, based in nearby Ramallah, sees participation in Jerusalem elections as a form of collaboration. Last month a council of Islamic clerics banned any involvement. Dabash says he has faced backlash in the form of hostile phone calls and messages on Facebook and WhatsApp groups, where he’s tarred as a “traitor” or a “collaborator”—epithets that carry a threat of violence.

But he’s determined to forge ahead, armed, perhaps, with the striking results of a poll released this year, according to which 58 percent of Jerusalem Palestinians support voting. Just 14 percent said they were opposed. . . Because Jewish residents here are split acrimoniously between mainstream Israelis and the ultra-Orthodox, if Palestinians have even a few seats, they’ll control crucial swing votes. . . .

Over the past five years or so, watching from west Jerusalem, it’s been clear that remarkable changes are afoot in the city’s human landscape. Not long ago, it was unheard-of to see Palestinian salespeople in Israeli stores. Now it’s commonplace. Palestinian enrollment at Hebrew University is up dramatically, as are requests for Israeli citizenship. The number of east-Jerusalem wage earners employed in west Jerusalem is now estimated at close to 50 percent. The trend is driven not by good will but by economic interests: by demand for labor in Jewish Jerusalem; and by a lack of better options for Palestinians.

Read more at New York Times

More about: East Jerusalem, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinians

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy