By Eli E. Hertz, www.mythsandfacts.com
Palestinians have nurtured a myth that historically there were two Jerusalems – an Arab ‘East Jerusalem’ and a Jewish ‘West Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem was never an Arab city; Jews have held a majority in Jerusalem since 1870, and ‘east-west’ is a geographic, not political designation. It is no different than claiming the Eastern shore of Maryland should be a separate political entity from the rest of the state.
In 1880, Jews constituted 52 percent of the Old City population in East Jerusalem and were still inhabiting 42 percent of the Old City in 1914. In 1948, there were 100,000 Jews in Jerusalem, with 65,000 Arabs. A joint Jordanian-Israeli census reported that 67.7 percent of the city’s population in 1961 was Jewish. A 1967 aerial photo reveals the truth about the area called ‘East Jerusalem’: it was no more than an overcrowded walled city with a few scattered neighborhoods surrounded by villages.
Although uniting the city transformed all of Jerusalem into the largest city in Israel and a bustling metropolis, even moderate Palestinian leaders reject the idea of a united city. Their minimal demand for ‘just East Jerusalem’ really means the Jewish holy sites (including the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall), which Arabs have failed to protect, and the return of neighborhoods that house a significant percentage of Jerusalem’s present-day Jewish population. Most of that city is built on rock-strewn empty land around the city that was in the public domain for the past 42 years. With an overall population of nearly 750,000 today, separating East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem is as viable and acceptable as the notion of splitting Berlin into two cities again, or separating East Harlem from the rest of Manhattan.
Arab claims to Jerusalem, a Jewish city by all definitions, reflect the what’s-mine-is-mine, what’s-yours-is-mine mentality underlying Palestinian concepts of how to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. That concept is also expressed in the demand for the ‘Right of Return,’ not just in Jerusalem – Israel’s capital, but ‘inside the Green Line’ as well.