BLOG 337 February 14, 2017
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Miracles Now 2017!
A young Arab boy was waiting at an intersection in Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem. Having sunk down behind the steering wheel of a beat-up sedan, he could barely see over the steering wheel. The boy stuck his arm out the window and signaled like an adult driver before zooming through. He could not have been more than 12-years old.
Unusual? Not in East Jerusalem where virtually no one cares. You can get away with almost anything you want. The struggle has become just that bad.
Westerners are more concerned with Israel and the Old City of Jerusalem and generally give little thought to the Palestinians on the other side, called East Jerusalem. Americans certainly know about the suicide bombers and terrorists who kill children. Those stories have been all over the media. However, there is another more human side to the Palestinian story and we should occasionally visit the deeply personal struggles of everyday citizens who live there and are not terrorist.
Of the 850,00 people living in Jerusalem, around 310,000 are Arabs, living in East Jerusalem with permanent residency but not citizenship in Israel. Apart from Arabs with Israeli citizenship or Arabs in the West Bank, life is far more complicated because they reside in a fragmented and politically tumultuous society. Most of these residents live in poverty and hopelessness. They endure daily discrimination everyday and poor public services across their part of the city. Currently, the rate of divorce and domestic violence against women and children is rising in East Jerusalem.
Hannah Hochner reported in Ma’ariv that of this vastly Muslim population, 46% are under the age of 18, 37% unemployed, and 51% live below the poverty line. With such upheaval, these Arabs often feel they have nothing to lose in attacking Israelis. They now have a sense of deadlock following the election of Donald Trump with his talk of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
The Palestinian citizens are caught in a vice. If they make efforts to cooperate with Jerusalem, they would be recognizing and accepting what they call Israeli occupation. The West Bank would see them as collaborators and traitors. On the other hand, when they follow the local mukhtas, who have virtually no leadership capacities, they get nothing.
It’s ease to blame Israel for this dilemma, but that is far from realistic. Israel certainly has their share of responsibility. However, here’s another example of why conditions continue to deteriorate in East Jerusalem. When Yasser Arafat died, he left behind three billion dollars he had pocketed that belonged to the Palestinians. The current PA leadership of Mahmoud Abbas has not proven better as he lost all control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas. While the Arab leadership twiddled their thumbs, the Israelis have built their country into a showcase of the Middle East.
At this point, no one seems to know what will come next. And that’s the problem!
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