'Ethnic Cleansing' in Jerusalem

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is whipping up a phony propaganda campaign that accuses Israel of “ethnic purification” of Jerusalem -- pushing out Arab residents and replacing them with Jews. His ethnic-cleansing charges about Jerusalem population trends go in tandem with another big Palestinian lie -- that Israel is threatening to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque atop Temple Mount and replacing it with a third Jewish temple.

Nothing of the sort is true – on both counts. Israel has been scrupulous in maintaining security and access for Al-Aqsa Mosque worshippers, while Arabs actually have flourished and grown in big numbers in Jerusalem.

A closer demographic look at population growth in Israel’s capital starts with 1967 when Israel unified Jerusalem after the Six-Day War. Before 1967, Jordan occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City. Under Jordanian rule, Jews were not allowed to pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, while dozens of Jewish synagogues were destroyed. Since 1967, Jerusalem is open to worshippers of all faiths. And Arabs are thriving. A dirty little secret overlooked and ignored by Abbas.

So let’s look at the real demographic numbers:

At the end of 2010, Jerusalem’s population totaled 789,000, including 504,000 Jews and 285,000 Arabs.

From 1967 to 2009, the proportion of Jews declined from 74 percent to 64 percent of Jerusalem’s population. But Arab population during the same period rose from 26 percent to 36 percent. According to some demographic projections, Arabs are on track to achieving population parity with Jews by 2050 in Jerusalem.

Arabization -- not Judaization -- is Jerusalem’s most telling population outlook -- the exact opposite of Abbas’s “the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming” propaganda campaign.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy

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