Jerusalem Is a Mixed City – Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
- (dailyalert.org, May 27, 2014)
- For years, residents of Isawiya, an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, have begged the municipality and the Israel Postal Service to build a post office in the neighborhood so that mail can be distributed. But on the night before the branch was to be inaugurated in a festive ceremony, unidentified assailants set the new branch on fire and spray-painted graffiti on the building denouncing any attempts at normalizing relations and cooperating with the municipality. The residents of the neighborhood refused to capitulate, nor were they deterred by the violence. They cleaned up from the fire, repaired the damage, and opened the postal branch quickly.
- This episode offers a microcosm of present-day Jerusalem. On the one hand, there are violent clashes, a growing Hamas presence and a radicalization of public opinion. On the other hand, there’s a surprising wholesale integration of Jerusalem Arabs into the daily life of the city, an aspect that is almost never reported by the press.
- There is nearly wall-to-wall sentiment among the Arabs of Jerusalem in favor of remaining under Israeli control. The Arabs of Jerusalem earn four times the salary of their brethren living under the PA. They have more stable jobs as well as social benefits. They also derive benefits from the Israeli health care system, while never taking for granted the freedom that is afforded them to express themselves, to move freely around the city, and to worship as they choose.
- Veteran journalist and east Jerusalem expert Danny Rubinstein notes “the Israeli-Arab orientation of the Arabs of east Jerusalem.” “Psychologically, they are closer to Israeli Arabs than they are to the Arabs of the West Bank. They are unwilling to even conceive of a redivision of the city, and they want to find a political arrangement that would fulfill their nationalistic ambitions while at the same time maintaining the framework of a united city.”
- Many of the public bus drivers in Jerusalem are Arab, as are many of the taxi drivers and tourist bus drivers. In the Mahane Yehuda open-air market, a significant number of stands and shops are managed and operated by Arabs. Arabs and Jews coexist in the shopping malls and coffee shops. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 2,537 Jews live in neighborhoods with an Arab majority, like the City of David near Silwan or the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, while 3,378 Arabs have taken up residence in neighborhoods with a predominantly Jewish population – like French Hill or Armon Hanatziv.