Aug. 10, 2018
JERUSALEM — Western observers interested in Jerusalem can be forgiven for thinking the most politically significant building in this city is a low limestone edifice featuring American flags and Marines — the embassy opened in May by the Trump administration to international fanfare and criticism. But anyone attentive to the fate of this place in the summer of 2018 would be advised to look past the embassy to an obscure structure a half-mile to the south.
This building has no flags at all. Instead there are Arabic books on a wheeled shelf in the lobby, a few boys with soccer haircuts and girls with hijabs, and a modest sign welcoming you to the community center of Sur Baher.
It’s there, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher — a four-minute drive from my Jewish Israeli neighborhood of Talpiot — that you can find Ramadan Dabash, the center’s chairman, who’s running a renegade campaign for a seat on Jerusalem’s City Council.
In a city where more than a third of the 860,000 residents are Palestinian, there should be nothing strange about Mr. Dabash’s candidacy. But a victory in the Oct. 30 election would make him the first Palestinian representative at City Hall — and the personification of a political shift that isn’t making headlines.