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How Jerusalem makes Palestinians disappear

While the exclusion of Palestinian cab drivers from a Jerusalem megaplex is illegal and immoral, it is just the tip of the iceberg in a city that constantly tries to erase Palestinian existence.

A Palestinian shopkeeper locks his store to prevent it from being attacked, shortly before Israeli nationalists enter the area in the “March of the Flags", Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, May 20, 2012. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian shopkeeper locks his store to prevent it from being attacked, shortly before Israeli nationalists enter the area in the “March of the Flags”, Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, May 20, 2012. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“If she wants a Jewish driver, she’ll get a Jewish driver, I don’t understand what difference it makes.” This is how Merav Basher, the representative of Cinema City Jerusalem, responded to Thair Raga, a cab driver from East Jerusalem, when he confronted her about the megaplex’s policy of ordering Jewish-only drivers for some of their workers. This policy has now come to light after an exclusive investigative report by Yael Marom of +972’s Hebrew sister site, Local Call, who worked with Channel 2’s flagship news show, “Ulpan Shishi.”

The truth is that I believe Basher. I believe her when she says that she does not understand the problem with keeping Palestinian drivers away from her workers, all the while harming their livelihood, just because some of the Jewish workers prefer it that way.

I believe her because Basher is working in a city where sidelining Palestinians is a way of life — it’s practically policy. I believe her because the mayor of the city where she works doesn’t see Palestinians, giving little more than the crumbs of the municipal budget to a population that makes up approximately 40 percent of the city’s residents.

I believe her because in Jerusalem the Israeli government does all it can to make invisible the Palestinians in the name of the settlement and Judaization of the eastern part of the city.

Read: For Jerusalem Palestinians, a city of poverty and division

I believe her because in Jerusalem, it isn’t rare to see street signs with Arabic sprayed over in black. I believe her because in Jerusalem, when settlers want to hold a violent and provocative march in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, the police makes sure to keep away the Palestinians locked in their homes.

I believe her because the Israeli education also disappears Palestinians (in contravention of its own laws), and doesn’t see that thousands of children in East Jerusalem have no classrooms to learn in.

Israel youth walk in Jerusalem's old city, as they take part in the flags march, to celebrate 48 years for the occupation of East Jerusalem May 17, 2015.

Israel youth walk in Jerusalem’s old city, as they take part in the flags march, to celebrate 48 years for the occupation of East Jerusalem May 17, 2015.

I believe her because when the country became engulfed in the controversy over segregated bus lines, residents of Jerusalem scratched their heads wondering what all the fuss was about: buses in Jerusalem have ridden themselves of Arabs long ago. Nowadays, Egged simply doesn’t enter the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

I believe her because Palestinians in Jerusalem are so invisible that in most of the neighborhoods, the streets don’t even have names. The Jerusalem Municipality only acted after the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned to put up street signs in places like Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, Wadi Joz, Jabel Mukaber, Sur Baher and more.

I believe her because in Jeruslaem, even Palestinian babies are invisible: in East Jerusalem there are six maternal and child health clinics, as opposed to 26 in the western part of the city.

I believe her because if the Palestinians weren’t invisible, the fact that 75 percent (and 84 percent of children) live in poverty would have shaken the country.

The exclusion of Palestinian drivers at the hands of Cinema City is illegal and immoral, and must be responded to appropriately. But we must not forget that in a city where Palestinians are excluded from the public sphere in the name of some Jewish separatist fantasy has become a way of life. The case of Cinema City is just the tip of the iceberg that collides with the city on a daily basis.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      Noy: “Palestinians are excluded from the public sphere”

      Actually Ms. Noy, Arabs living in Jerusalem chose to exclude themselves from the public sphere. In 1947 they chose war in opposition to the partition plan in which Jerusalem would have been an international city, a separate entity, in which Jews and Arabs would live in peace and have equal rights and obligations supervised by the United Nations. The Arabs conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem and expelled all Jews from it. They erected a barbed wire fence and the Jordanian army prevented any interaction between the Arab and Jewish population of Jerusalem. The Jordanians transferred Arab political power and former mandate government offices to Amman. They segregated Arab Jerusalem from the larger part of western Jerusalem.

      In the aftermath of the 1967, Palestinians in Jerusalem chose not to participate in political life in Jerusalem. Few ran for positions on city council and most did not vote. They chose to ignore municipal master plans and refused to obtain building permits and pay the fees associated with them. They built massively illegal structures without any concern for the ability of public infrastructure to support the building. The illegal building ignored the importance of planning public infrastructure such as schools, sewer and water lines and access to municipal services. The fees which they did not pay would have funded public infrastructure and paid for water and sewer hookups. In addition Arabs attacked and continue to attack municipal workers who try to provide services or upgrade infrastructure for Arab neighborhoods. Of course, we cannot fail to mention the massive terrorism of the 1990s and 2000s which was unleashed against Jewish civilians going about their everyday business. These attacks came from Palestinian Arab neighborhoods. To this day Palestinian Arabs continue to carry out terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and 4 in every 5 Palestinians approve of such attacks.

      Now that the Arabs have caused a massive problem in their areas of Jerusalem, they want Israelis to be responsible to make it better while they continue to attack, kill and injure Israelis in Jerusalem.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shiv Nadar

        Pedro x, I noticed that you comment in several posts extensively criticising every article. Could you provide links to any reports that prove your point? Because I don’t see a reason why the reporters should lie. +972 is depending so much on public donations from which I imply there’s not much money to be made working for it. Also, since most of them(or all. I don’t know) are Israeli, they don’t have an incentive in tarnishing Israel’s image either.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The majority of funding for 972 comes from foreign funding. See the financials posted on 972 for its funding sources. The bloggers for 972 are not paid. They are a collection of bloggers with a similar ideological bias which is reflected in their writings. Collectively they blog for the purpose of influencing opinion outside of Israel to encourage the outside world to punish Israel to force it to end the “occupation”. They do this by advocacy for the Palestinians and against Israel. Ending the occupation is their incentive to tarnish Israel and its leaders.

          Like Haaretz, 972 does not represent the majority consensus of the Israeli public. Therefore, it tries to influence others outside of Israel to punish Israel to make Israel act as it thinks should happen. David Landau, former chief editor of Haaretz, was quoted to have told Secretary of State Condo Rice in 2007 that Israel needed to be raped and it was his wet dream to see it happen. He defended what he said saying that Israel needed to be punished by the United States to make her end the occupation. Thus, he was willing to say anything and use his publication to influence world opinion against Israel.

          Likewise, in July 2012 972 published a cartoon in which Prime Minister Netanyahu is shown raping President Obama and eating parts of his body. 972 showed that it like Landau was ready to used a rape motif to demonize Israel to influence others to achieve its goal of punishing Israel.

          While advocating human rights for Palestinians, 972 bloggers think Palestinians have a right to use whatever violence they choose against Israelis. 972 columnist Larry Derfner lost his job at the Jerusalem Post for posting on his blog that Palestinians had a right to use terrorism against Israelis.

          “Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified,” and

          “But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it…”

          972 articles are extremely biased, context deprived and are ideologically driven. They are not news reports or analysis by journalists. They share this trait with other pro-Palestinian websites like Mondoweiss or Electronic Intifada. I remember once a reader on Mondoweiss took co-editor Annie Robbins to task for her lack of balance and objectivity. Her response was direct and simple, her writings did not need to be balanced, she was an advocate of the Palestinian cause. Objectivity was not the point. Nor is it the point of the bloggers for 972.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Thank you for this interesting occupation denial manifesto. It has some issues. David Landau was an Orthodox Jew and a wonderful, talented Israeli who had a penchant for gruffness and blunt, strong language and he spared no one. A unique character. And btw he said he never regretted saying what he said. +972 is no more “biased” than the Jerusalem Post (formerly the Palestine Post) is in the opposite direction. Haaretz is one of the world’s great papers. +972 is an offshoot of Haaretz in its origin. What you don’t like about +972 is that it, like Haaretz, tells a big part of the truth, the real deal, in English. I suggest it is impossible for an outsider to really understand what is going on in the Holy Land without publications like these. You don’t like BtS, B’Tselem, Sara Kaminker, or +972 breaking the silence. You’d like it kept inside the dysfunctional I-P family and you’d like the English language Hasbara organs to play unopposed. This page here is a good example. Witness the variance between 2SS opponent and American-Israeli Netanyahu apparatchik Dore Gold’s and your account and insider Sara Kaminker’s account of the situation in Jerusalem. The most widely read broadsheet in Israel, by far,bone that slavishly backs the political fortunes of one man, is funded lock stock and barrel by a foreigner. A corrupt casino magnate currently on trial for grave criminal activity in his own country. But you begrudge tiny-by-comparison +972 and Haaretz. Everyone is free to pick up the Jerusalem Post and feast on Caroline Glick and Fatuous Freund, oops I mean Fundamentaliy Freund side by side with +972. No one is stopping them. One of the ways I educated myself was to read the JPost and Haaretz side by side for a long time with a detached stance and no predilection one way or another, and say, hmmmmm…what’s going on here?…will you look at that…molto interessante…hmmmmm…gee you’d never know from this paper that…how is that possible?…isn’t that something…compare and contrast…yet they’re all Israelis writing about the same country and the same situation, the same balagan. Noam Sheizaf and +972 have done something unique and of very high quality and are to be congratulated.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “…They chose to ignore municipal master plans and refused to obtain building permits…blah blah blah….”

        Untrue. B’Tselem has the real story which is very very different:

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Btselem is just another foreign funded anti-Israel spouting NGO.

          In 2003 in a landmark study by Justus Reid Weiner, an expert, exploded the myth perpetrated by the likes of Btselem.

          Weiner showed that there were plans in over 90% of the Arab neighborhoods with over 33,000 building permits available. The city at considerable expense identified land in the Arab sector which was suitable for building and published a map. The amount of building permits authorized were in excess of all foreseeable population growth in the Arab sector. Success rates of Arabs and Jews were very similar in applying for permits. However, very few Arabs applied and just built illegally, where and when they wanted. So it is not the case that Arabs initiated a building application which met the guidelines but that they rarely applied and attempted to build according to planning and building codes.

          There are long term consequences to unfettered illegal building. Illegal building has swallowed up whole neighborhoods without any thought to planning or supporting infrastructure. Illegally building affects the quality of life, the environment and public security. Buildings are built without hook ups to sewer, water and electricity, they are built unsafely without any inspection, they are built without supporting infrastructure, they take up land which may have been set aside for institutions like hospitals, schools and municipal offices. Because set back requirements have not been taken into consideration streets maybe not able to accommodate two way vehicular traffic. Shacks and metal structures are built on green space or other government land. Unplanned building hampers social and economic development. It leads to slum like conditions, crime and poverty. This is exactly the consequences of Arab illegal building.

          Weiner’s full report can be read here:


          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            B’Tselem does not lie. You don’t want Breaking the Silence breaking the silence. You don’t want B’Tselem breaking the silence. You don’t want Sarah Kaminker breaking the silence. But Sarah did and you can’t stop her. And she, a city planner in Jerusalem for more than thirty years, describes a decades long regime of the rankest discrimination in land use, planning, development, draconian bureaucratic measures, and what amounts to a whole bag of dirty tricks:

            “…There are literally a hundred other discriminatory practices that ruthlessly prevent Palestinians from building homes in Jerusalem. There are unjustiably huge charges for building licenses that are imposed only on Arabs…
            …The Israeli government claims that it has no choice but to punish the “scofflaws” in East Jerusalem who build illegally. If only they would ask for a license, the municipality would issue one. The government says it gets about 150 requests from Arabs each year and dutifully supplies them with building licenses. What the municipality does not tell us is that over one thousand Arabs each year ask a special team of Arab civil servants in the city engineer’s office for information about the planning regulations that apply to their land. About 150 of them have land where housing construction is permitted. These lucky few apply for and gain building licenses. The others, having been told informally that their land is not zoned for housing, never get into the data bank, allowing the municipality to continue to claim that it issues licenses to all applicants….”

            Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      Q: How to spot a pro-Palestinian liar?

      A: Easy. Every single one of them lies for profit.

      “…buses in Jerusalem have ridden themselves of Arabs long ago”

      Reply to Comment
    3. saamir

      Utterly shameful and despicable. Why doesnt one hear a powerful nation like Saudi Arabia open its mouth to support Palestine??

      Reply to Comment
      • RONNY

        How can Saudi Arabia support a country that never existed and never will?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Joel Cantor

      The Jordanians who stayed in Jerusalem after June 67 made themselves disappear. They achieved this by:
      1. Pretending in the early 1970s that they were NOT Jordanians after all but part of a mythical ancient people that NEVER existed.
      2. Refusing to take Israeli Citizenship.

      Reply to Comment