Trends among Arab Jerusalemites

(Hashiloach) David Koren and Ben Avrahami - Eastern Jerusalem Arabs assert their Palestinian national identity while showing an unprecedented demand for Israeli citizenship; harass visitors to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus but value the care that Arabs receive in its clinics and wards; campaign against any manifestation of normalization with Israel in tandem with a tremendous interest in learning Hebrew and an increasing preference for an Israeli matriculation certificate. They also fly the flag of Palestine and spray-paint nationalist slogans on the walls of buildings, while expressing vicious criticism of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on social networks. The authors have been in direct and intense contact with the residents of eastern Jerusalem by virtue of our membership on the municipal team that oversees all of Jerusalem City Hall's interactions with the Muslim and Christian populations of the city. Residents of eastern Jerusalem have the legal status of permanent residents, which grants them the right to live and work in Israel without the need for special permits and also entitles them to benefits under the National Insurance Law and the National Health Insurance Law. Jerusalem is home to the largest concentration of Palestinian Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (excluding Gaza) - 320,000 people. By comparison, the population of Ramallah is 280,000 and of Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel, 75,000. The numerical growth of the Arab population has been powered by the migration to Jerusalem of thousands of Palestinian families from the West Bank (chiefly Hebron). There are villages and neighborhoods, such as Ras al-Amud and Abu Tor, where there is a large majority of Hebronite families. There is also an influx of Arabs from northern Israel who in the last few decades have flocked to Jerusalem to study or work and stayed on. This group lives both in the higher-class Arab neighborhoods and Jewish neighborhoods such as Pisgat Ze'ev and French Hill. The disintegration of the secular nationalist organizations and institutions in Jerusalem has facilitated the rise of the Islamist factions. Yet an opposite trend derives from the same disintegration: normalization of relations with Israel and even integration into its society. More and more residents of eastern Jerusalem are choosing to adopt a much more pragmatic policy than in the past.

2017-08-04 00:00:00

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