The other Jerusalem: Poverty and isolation in Arab neighborhoods

Some months before the recent outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, I drove from my home in a western suburb of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives on the eastern side of the city. My route took me through the Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor. Compared to the shiny new suburb I live in, it seemed a different world. The roads were marked by potholes, and the miserable-looking stores were squashed between residential buildings badly in need of repair.

The sharp contrast between West Jerusalem and mostly Arab East Jerusalem reflects a political, cultural, and economic divide. It is along this divide that much of the violence of recent weeks has erupted, leaving 20 Israelis and over 100 Palestinians dead.

The rest of the world does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war, but Israel claims all of Jerusalem as de facto and de jure under its control. However, neither Israel nor the Jerusalem municipality has invested the kind of resources in the eastern part of the city that would make its inhabitants feel like full citizens.