Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Do East Jerusalemites Want?

Evelyn Gordon, a regular blogger at Commentary Magazine, just published a piece titled "Consult Jerusalem's Palestinians Before Rushing to Divide the City."  The article sites some statistics that, depending on the poll taken -- and the immediate political context in which it was taken -- about 1/3 of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem would prefer remaining in Israeli if a two-state solution emerged.  She suspects, based on the number of "declined to answer" respondents, that as many as a half of the residents of East Jerusalem would prefer to stay on the Israel side.

Gordon almost seems glee about the whole thing, and you can bet that most right-of-center readers on Israel/Palestine polemics are going to smirk when they read this data.  "Ha, all this talk about dividing Jerusalem, and the Palestinians themselves want to stay in Israel."   OF COURSE Palestinians in East Jerusalem would prefer to stay in Israel: where, despite being second class citizens, they have access to jobs and health care that is far better than in the West Bank.

But Gordon misses the broader point -- which should be (but of course isn't) profoundly scary to her.  If the Palestinian community in East Jerusalem itself is so fundamentally split -- which the numbers suggest -- that makes it even more difficult to the divide the city, something that would already be a nightmare and half, given that large Jewish settlements tugging Arab neighborhoods on all sides, as well as the growing presence of Jewish settlements in the Arab neighborhoods themselves.  What this means is that, if it's impossible to divide Jerusalem -- than it's impossible for a Palestinian political leadership to accept the two-state solution.  This is the key point Gordon seems to miss out on. 

And if a great many Palestinians in East Jerusalem want to stay in Israel, it's not a stretch to imagine Palestinians in the West Bank starting to talk about staying in Israel. 

Of course, Israelis don't ever consider this, but if a mass movement inside the West Bank emerged to pressure Israel to just give them equal rights inside Israel -- rather than demand this bantu-stanized, Jerualem-less, chopped up West Bank, without control of borders, resources, and what have you, then Israel will find itself in a very precarious situation (that is if it wants to remain a Jewish-majority state).  

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