Unified Jerusalem? Think Again

Anyone who needed additional proof that the “united city” project has failed, and that Jerusalem is now more divided than ever, has received it during this week’s dose of violence. Although it is too early to tell how these episodes will end, we can safely argue that Jerusalem is no longer what it was, even if just a few days ago. The city is undergoing a sharp jolt, almost like an earthquake in local terms, which has changed its face beyond recognition. The murder of the three teenage israelies y that of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, although this might have provided a strong reason for the ensuing riots, this was only a trigger that managed to release the accumulated racism in the western part of the city, as well as the accumulated feelings of anger and frustration in East Jerusalem. The seeming relaxed atmosphere that has characterized the city during the past few years has been nothing more than an illusion, and city leaders have preferred to indulge in this perfume-sweet lie than to take a deep look within the processes occurring underground. There are many reasons that account for the deplorable situation today, but all of them can be summed up in one overused but painfully correct word: occupation. East Jerusalem is under occupation, and the ongoing occupation has its own rules. The ocupacion generates a vicious cicle of hatred, resistencia, and the dehuminizing of both sides- the jews who shout “death to the arabs” as well as the palestinians who pelt jews with rocks are both the same product of the occupation which is causing disastrous outcomes on both peoples. We are not trying to compare both peoples with the same yardstick, – the conditions of those who live under occupation for 46 years is not the same as that of the oppressor, but there is no doubt that given that both peoples are intertwined so closely, the occupation degenerates both peoples at the same time. No one wins in this hellish situation. We are both in a lose-lose situation regardless of who wins this round of violence. This situation is impossible to sustain, no matter how many times a day politicians such as Barkat, Benet, Ariely tell us that Jerusalem is a city that will be united for eternity, and how many millions of dollars the government spends on infrastructure in the eastern part of the city. In the long term, nothing they do, will buy the silence of its residents. The events of the last weeks that have taken place in Jerusalem demonstrate that government policies will have no benefit whatsoever; sooner or later, the situation will blow up in our faces. There are many responsible for the current crisis en Jerusalem , but one of the main responsible ones is the Mayor of Jerusalem. Rather than understanding the reasons behind the violence, he chooses to rely on the police, without realizing that law enforcement is not the solution but the problem itself. Wherever the police operates, explosive violence and fury will ensue. Second, the Mayor is in the wrong by not understanding the negativity caused by the housing demolitions carried out by the city in east jerusalem, a section of the city where obtaining a building permit has become almost impossible. Third, the Mayor is guilty of discrimination in the provision of services for the residents of East Jerusalem. Sufficient to point out that Palestinians constitute 39% of the city residents but are allocated only 11% of the municipal budget to understand the degree of the discrimination they suffer. A municipality that does not listen to the plight of its residents has no right to exist, and in the case of Jerusalem, this is the reality. The Mayor and his City Council are, at best, ignoring what is happening in the eastern part of the city, and, at worst, depriving it brazenly. Jerusalem erodes its citizens and then provides plenty of reasons for their frustration. It is possible to say that of Talmudic “ten dimensions of despair that have descended on the world” nine of them landed in Jerusalem. Wherever we look there is a dead-end in front of us and almost a criminal sense of municipal indifference. The streets of Jerusalem are flooded with evil, the air is full of instances of racism, and the public discourse is drenched in aggression threatening to inundate us all in a sea of violence. Between cries of “Death to the Arabs” heard in the west of the city and “Death to the Jews” in East Jerusalem, there is no space left for sanity, and without it, this city is lost.

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