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November 24, 2010
The demographic secret about Jerusalem the NY Times refuses to reveal to its readers
In 1967, when Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem and put an end to 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation, there were 72,000 Arabs in the unified city and they comprised 27 percent of its total population. Today, 43 years later, there are 264,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem and their portion of the population has risen to 34 percent, according to the latest figures of Israel's census bureau.
Put another way, in 1967, one out of every 4 Jerusalemites was an Arab. Today, one out of every 3 is an Arab.
In the last several decades, Arab construction has consistently outpaced Jewish construction in Israel's capital. And demographers see no end to the trend of Arabs comprising an ever growing portion of Jerusalem's population -- up to 38 percent by 2020 and close to parity with Jews by mid-century.
So, what happened to account for the Arab slice of Jerusalem's population to grow much faster than the Jewish sector? For one thing, there was an exodus of Jews looking for better economic opportunities elsewhere in Israel. The birth rate of Muslim women was significantly higher than the birth rate of Jewish women. And the Palestinian Authority, with a big financial assist from Arab governments, spent hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in Arab areas -- part of what they called a "demographic war" against Israel.
However, this history, along with overall population figures and trends, continues to be ignored by the New York Times, which instead swallows the Palestinian myth -- in the words of Mahmoud Abbas -- that the very opposite is happening in Jerusalem, that Israel's capital somehow is in the throes of unrelenting "Judaization."
Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner again pumps up this myth in the November 24 edition of the Times in an article, titled "Eviction of Palestinian Family, After a Legal Battle, Underlines Tensions Over Jerusalem."
Her story stems from the eviction of a Palestinian family from an illegally occupied home in East Jerusalem and the arrival of its rightful Jewish occupants -- as validated by Israeli courts, including Israel's Supreme Court, recognized as the most liberal appellate court in the world with a record of punctilious defense of Palestinian rights and interests.
But this isn't the way Kershner reports this event. Instead, she writes in her lead paragraph: "Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem and a group of Jewish settlers moved into the property at night."
Two factual problems right at the top of her piece: This wasn't the Palestinian family's "home." It never belonged to them. Instead, it once belonged to a since-deceased relative who sold it to Jewish buyers for fair price. And Kershner's use of the pejorative "settlers" better fits this Palestinian family than its rightful Jewish occupants and owners, whose title was affirmed by Israel's highest court.
But facts don't matter to Kershner, who repeatedly describes the Jewish occupants as "settlers," whose legal takeover of this residence, in her view, threatens to inject more tensions into the peace process. Or, as she puts it, "The settler takeover of the Karain house will represent a new point of Jewish settlement in the contested city. Jewish settlers are increasingly moving into predominantly Arab neighborhoods."
Are Jews moving into some of these neighborhoods? Of course. There is a demographic tug-of-war involving both sides, but Kershner deliberately chooses to omit the other side of this equation -- an expansive Arab drive to trump Jewish population growth in Israel's capital.
In the upside-down world of Kershner and the New York Times, only Jews purchasing homes in eastern Jersualem are "settlers." But actual Palestinian "settlers," who in far greater numbers occupy illegally built homes in Jerusalem, are totally absent from the demographic radar of the New York Times.
So, Kershner simply cherry-picks a few isolated instances of Jews buying or building residential property in eastern Jerusalem, while she totally ignores the far larger and more determinative picture of a much faster rise in Arab population in Israel's capital.
Selective and thus distorted journalism also is reflected by how Kershner and other Times correspondents report the history of Jerusalem. As is their wont, it all started at the end of the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel -- victorious against half a dozen Arab armies intent on eliminating the Jewish state -- captured the eastern part of the city from Jordanian occupation. The clear implication is that Jews, as late arrivals in East Jerusalem by force of arms, have no rights whatsoever in that part of the capital, including the Old City with its revered Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious shrines. They don't belong there.
To bolster this false impression, Kershner and the Times have to turn a blind eye to the fact that from the middle of the 19th Century through the early years of the 20th Century, the preponderant population of Jerusalem was Jewish. Jerusalem in those years comprised basically the Old City and a few adjacent neighborhoods -- all of which now are in what has come to be known as East Jerusalem.
It was only when Arab pogroms began in earnest in the 1920s leaving Jews as unprotected targets during the British Mandate that the Jewish population of the city began to shrink. And it was cleansed altogether throughout the Old City and other sectors of East Jerusalem during the brutal Jordanian occupation from 1948 until 1967 when synagogues were systematicaly destroyed throughout Old Jerusalem and Jews were barred from praying at their holiest site, the Western Wall.
That history -- along with real, not mythical, demographic trends -- will not appear in the "news" pages of the New York Times, which values Palestinian myths over firmly grounded Jewish claims to the city.
As for recent and current demographic trends, they clearly point to Jerusalem as actually being "Islamicized," not "Judaized."