News from Jerusalem

18 04 2008

Hattip to Yard[D]og, who just so happens to have one or two things in common with SIR … (he who has ears, let him hear … )


Mayor to raise funds for E. J’lem Arabs to block Hamas

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski is planning to enlist world Jewry in a fund-raising drive for East Jerusalem’s Arabs, in a bid to counter Hamas influence in local schools. The money will be used mainly for educational projects in the east of the capital, where an acute classroom shortage means many pupils end up in schools identified with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

“It should be a national imperative that every East Jerusalem child has access to a state school,” Lupolianski said Thursday .

Jerusalem officials said the drive is the first such attempt to enlist world Jewry to help the capital’s Arab community.

“The state should finance schools. But we’re losing many pupils because we lack hundreds of classrooms. Consequently, the pupils go to schools supervised by Fatah and Hamas instead. We may see the outcome in the years to come,” Lupolianski said.

The mayor’s first goal is to raise contributions for a science magnet school in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood for 1,000 outstanding students.

“As mayor of Jerusalem, which is also Israel’s largest Arab city, It is my duty to provide schools for the children of 250,000 Arab residents,” Lupolianski said.

Jerusalem lobby chair MK Colette Avital (Labor), who is collaborating with Lupolianski, has raised $3 million from Jewish British donors for schools in East Jerusalem.

“East Jerusalem’s population is largely peace-seeking and loyal, but given the state of education, we have no assurance that this will be so in the future,” he said.

“Our schools in the east part of the city are in demand due to their high standards. Their graduates contribute to Israel’s economy,” he said.

Municipal officials said that most Jewish communities prefer donating to “Zionist” projects.

Lupolianski has put together a portfolio to present to Jewish communities abroad during his next fund-raising trip next month. He is expected to tell them that building schools in East Jerusalem is an important national-Zionist task in order to preserve the city’s image and maintain good relations with the Arab community.

Avital said Thursday that she tried to advance East Jerusalem’s education system in various ways, but encountered numerous obstacles.

Three new schools are being opened in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud and Umm Lison neighborhoods, part of the city’s NIS 66 million investment in new classrooms for the 2009-2010 school year. However, this will not be enough to meet the growing demand created by a high birthrate and migration from the territories.

This sounds like a very good thing. The violence done by every side to every side over there is horrendous and for the mayor to of Jerusalem to reach out in this way is very laudable. I hope it has the desired result and becomes one of many steps to reconciliation.

When I explained this to my Personal Atheist, who is Israeli (in fact he goes to Tel Aviv for 10 days starting Sunday), he was a little wary saying these things tend to backfire. To paraphrase his comments …

In the 80s, Israel worked really hard to undermine the influence of the PLO in the territories by doing similar things, and they needed some local folks on the ground, which would have presumably given credibility to the Israelis. The organization they used was religious leaning but the leaders were fundamentalists. This caused some concerned, but they figured that was better than using the PLO which was considered a terrorist group. The organization the Israeli’s used? Hamas.

So it could be said that Israel created Hamas, just like it could be said that the US created Al-Quaida.

Hopefully things will turn out better in this venture …




3 responses

18 04 2008

This is fascinating. By way of a semi-brief explanation, I am RC, but my dad was Jewish (although he rejected it) so I am veritable mishpocha of faith. I am in touch with my inner Yid very deeply and I say that with respect.

I have family who are very Zionist and have moved to Israel within the past couple of years. I adore them but we see the world through some different eyes.

I also have other Israeli (Jewish) friends and a few Palestinian friends in Israel and here- both Muslim and Christian. I have been to Israel twice.

Last time I was there (June 06) I stayed in East Jerusalem (not far from the St George’s Anglican complex) and found it to be peaceful, welcoming and safe. My Israeli Jewish friends, relatives and even some cab drivers had varying negative responses to my location.

I hope that something good comes of this. Good post. Thanks.

19 04 2008

Complicated — I am very uncomfortable in the thick of “mono-view” discussions that see the Israelis or the Palestinians as either completely innocent of all blame, or fully responsible for all wrongs, that have occurred.

Tomorrow at St. Mark’s in Seattle, our guest speaker is Jonathan Kuttab, according to the bulletin, “one of the leading Palestinian human rights attorneys in Israel/Palestine today. An active Episcopal layman, he is a founding member of Sabeel (the ecumenical voice of Palestine) and still serves on its board of directors.”

I’m very much looking forward to hearing from him, a perspective which we seldom get to hear as Palestinian Christians don’t seem to get in the news much as they are squeezed out by the conflict.

21 04 2008

Mono view- so well put. It is true, that with this situation, as with many things, the answer is not one or the other… It is in the wise center.

A hard place to get to, but so necessary.

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