Daniel Seidemann, founder and director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, claimed, “The Palestinians of east Jerusalem see themselves as living lives of desperation … under a government that is apathetic if not hostile to their needs” (“Coming To Terms With ‘Reality’ Of Jerusalem,” N.Y. Minute, Nov. 14).
By contrast, a Haaretz article summarized the extensive efforts of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to improve their lives: investments in infrastructure and transportation, planning of neighborhoods, building of schools and a dramatic expansion of medical facilities where today the health quality indices for east Jerusalem are the same as for west Jerusalem.
Barkat solved the problem of ownership rights that has been a barrier to housing renovation and also made it easier for east Jerusalem residents to be connected to the Israeli water system. In addition, a light rail was completed that links east Jerusalem to the city center, enhancing availability of goods and services. These efforts have led many east Jerusalem Arabs to link themselves to the Israeli state.
For example, there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers seeking Israeli ID cards. More and more high school graduates are attending special schools that prepare them to enter Israeli colleges. Indeed, in a 2012 poll, when asked, “In the event of a permanent two-state solution, which state would you prefer to live in?” 35 percent of east Jerusalem Arabs preferred Israel, 30 percent opted for Palestine while 35 percent refused to answer. While events in the last four months have worsened the situation, Seidemann’s mistaken assertions give a false impression of the attitudes of east Jerusalem Arabs and their treatment by government officials.