Jerusalem was never 'united' (Extract)

Extract of an article in Issue 25, March 31, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. The attack on the Merkaz Harav yeshiva, in which eight seminary students were murdered, perpetrated by Ala Abu Dhaim, a 25-year-old resident of Jerusalem, has drawn attention to the nearly 250,000 Palestinians who reside within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. Abu Dhaim came from Jabel Mukaber, a village that lies within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries and on the "Israeli side" of the security barrier. Like most Palestinians living in Jerusalem, he held Israeli "residency," which entitled him to the same social and welfare benefits as Israeli citizens as well as the right to vote in municipal (but not general) elections. Unlike residents of the territories, Jerusalem residents are entitled to freedom of movement, drive with Israeli license plates, and carry Israeli ID cards. A large percentage of them work in West Jerusalem. Residents of Jabel Mukaber and East Talpiot, the abutting Jewish neighborhood that was built on land taken by Israel in the Six-Days War, once engaged in "dialogue" and peace activities, but these have all but ceased since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000. The majority of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem were committed by terrorists who infiltrated into the city, although security experts assume that they were aided by local accomplices. However there have been notable exceptions, including the 2002 bombing of the Hebrew University that killed nine and the 2003 arrest of a terrorist cell that had planned a series of mega attacks in the city. In the past four years, no major terror attack has been perpetrated in the city. Aryeh Amit, currently a businessman, was formerly Jerusalem District Police Chief and ran unsuccessfully for the Knesset on the Labor ticket. He is not surprised that the terrorist came from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem and warns that terrorists groups in Jerusalem are active all the time. He credits Israel's security forces with maintaining security and calm within the city. The Jerusalem Report: Does the attack by a resident of Jerusalem signal the beginning of a new stage of violence? Aryeh Amit: Not necessarily. Such attacks are part of the fabric of Jerusalem. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not in love with us. Overall, Jerusalem Palestinians have not participated in the violence in the city. They prefer to live in the comfort that Israeli residency offers them. That is not at all the same thing as identifying with Israel or preferring Israeli rule. When they compare the quality of their lives as residents of Jerusalem with the quality of the lives of their brothers in most Arab countries, they realize this is in their best interest. Like people everywhere, they prefer to have a full stomach and a quiet life. The family of Abu Dhaim has set up a mourning tent and raised Hamas flags. There's nothing new about this. Every anti-Israel organization that exists anywhere else exists in Jerusalem, too. There are fewer terrorist attacks in Jerusalem at this time thanks to the amazing work done by Israel's security forces, not because of decreased motivation on the part of the Palestinians. The family of Abu Dhaim is financially comfortable; he was employed and engaged to be married. Doesn't this contradict the common image of terrorists as alienated, marginalized people? That stereotype isn't correct. There is no clear profile of someone who hates Israel and the Jewish people. They come in every shape and from every culture. Demonstrators, rioters and stone throwers do tend to be younger, unmarried males. But there's a big difference between the young men who participate in those types of disturbances and terrorists. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has called for the expulsion of Jerusalemites suspected of involvement in terrorist activity and former district police chief Miki Levy has called for the demolition of their families' homes. Others have called for increasing road blocks and checkpoints within the city. What is your opinion? As for increased road blocks and checkpoints within the city, that's nonsense. The city has to be open and has to breathe, and people must be able to move freely. As to the family: If they knew anything about his intentions, then they should be punished as the families of terrorists are punished, including demolition of their home and expulsion. What are the implications of these positions with regard to Jerusalem as a unified city? If you took most of the people who make these declarations about "united Jerusalem" and put them in Jabel Mukaber, they wouldn't know how to find their way home. There's East Jerusalem and there's West Jerusalem, and they never were, and never will be, united. Talk about "united Jerusalem" is purely political talk - it's got nothing to do with reality. Extract of an article in Issue 25, March 31, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.