Reading about the days of rage over US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, and you might think that palestinian Arabs would do anything to avoid living under Israeli “control.”
In this refreshingly honest USA Today piece, the opposite has occurred – palestinian Arabs are rushing to gain Israeli citizenship!
President Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has inflamed the Middle East, but it has not deterred thousands of Palestinians who live here from wanting to be Israeli citizens.
Since Trump’s declaration on Dec. 7, a long line of Palestinians seeking citizenship curls out daily from the Israeli Interior Ministry’s office in East Jerusalem, which is predominantly Arab and claimed by Palestinian leaders as the future capital of their own independent state.
The line stems from a social media news prank that claimed Israel was “imposing” citizenship on all of the city’s Arab residents, who make up about 37% of Jerusalem’s population.
The prank exploited real-life aspirations of Palestinians, most of whom still have not been granted citizenship and yearn for a better life here.
Ten years ago, it was taboo for Palestinians in Jerusalem to request Israeli citizenship, but now it is the norm, with thousands of new requests each year, accordiing to Israeli Interior Ministry figures. The wait time is about three years.
Increasing numbers of East Jerusalem Palestinians are choosing to live in Jewish neighborhoods. Separately, greater numbers of local Palestinians are choosing to send their children to Arabic-language schools using Israeli curricula.
Between the 2016 and the 2017 school years, there was a 14% increase in Arab students studying for Israeli high school enrollment exams, according to municipal statistics. Parents want their children to be able to access Israeli universities.
“It has nothing to do with love for Israel or Zionism,” Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian affairs analyst and native-born citizen from northern Israel, said of the rush to become citizens in response to the fake report. “Palestinians want to retain their rights and privileges, so what happened? People were thrilled and made a rush on Israeli passports.”
Damn fake news,” said Bilal Quaisi, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian who was disappointed when he learned the rumor was false. “Believe me, all my family is talking about this,” added the founder and CEO of a tech firm based in Amman, Jordan.
Queisi’s wife and children are Jordanian and barred from moving to Jerusalem.
For the past 14 years, Toameh has lived in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev, which the rest of the world calls an illegal settlement of 40,000 residents.
Only a few hundred Palestinians live in Pisgat Zeev, but in the adjacent Jewish neighborhood of French Hill, up to 20% of the residents are estimated to be Palestinians.
“I wanted a decent quality of life. I wanted to pay my municipal tax and get the services I deserve. I wanted my kids to be able to order Domino’s Pizza and not have to hear that the delivery people were too scared to bring it over,” Toameh said. “I wanted peace and quiet. It is completely not a political statement.”
Read the whole thing.
Of course, this won’t come as a surprise to those of you who follow this blog closely.