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September 24, 2012

LA Times Ignores Extensive Arab Construction in Jerusalem

Edmund Sanders' Los Angeles Times article Friday on overcrowding in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City gives an accurate picture of the Muslim Quarter's situation, and a misleading impression of the overall housing situation for Jerusalem's Arabs.

While Sanders notes correctly that the Muslim Quarter's "overcrowding is a side effect of the larger demographic battle between Jews and Palestinians over control of Jerusalem," he gives a very distorted account of the "larger demographic battle."

In particular, he writes that city planner Israel Kimhi

said a more permanent solution is to build new housing for low-income Arabs in other parts of the city to reduce Old City congestion.

Despite promises to alleviate the housing crunch, the most recent major effort to develop housing for Arabs in Jersualem was in the 1980s, he said.

Critics note that tens of thousands of new housing units have been built in the Jerusalem area for Jewish families in the last 30 years.

Kimhi, of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, is the author of a CAMERA monograph (1997), "Arab Building in Jerusalem 1967-1997," which details the extensive amount of private Arab construction in the city, both legal and illegal. As the executive summary states:

Municipal tax records show that since 1967 the number of Arab-owned residences in the city has grown at a faster rate than the number of Jewish-owned residences. Aerial photographs taken of the same areas in 1968 and 1995 corroborate this expansion and disprove assertions that Israel has prevented Arabs from building in the city.

And the trend has continued in recent years. This writer has attended Kimhi's geopolitical tours of the city every year, for the last several years, in which he repeatedly points out new construction in Arab neighborhoods like Shuafat, Beit Hanina, Beit Zafafa, Isawiyaa, At-Tor, Sur Bahar, and Um Tubha.

jerusalem building sanders.jpg
A map illustrating large scale Arab construction, published by Kimhi's Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies ("Jerusalem: Facts and Trends 2005-2006," page 60)

So while Kimhi tells CAMERA that Sanders accurately quoted him, he also confirms that he described the massive Arab construction, both legal and illegal, to Sanders. And yet Sanders, in his article touching on "the larger demographic battle between Jews and Palestinians over control of Jerusalem," gives no hint about the extensive Arab construction. Why confuse readers with nuance?

Aside from the overcrowding of the Muslim Quarter, another "side effect of the larger demographic battle" is the fact that east Jerusalem Arabs, and those who had left the city for the West Bank and are now returning, are also seeking out housing in primarily Jewish neighborhoods, such as French Hill, Neve Yaakov, and Pisgat Ze'ev. But this aspect of Jerusalem's complex realities also does not make it into Sanders' story.

Posted by TS at September 24, 2012 08:25 AM


Ed Sanders is a really bad journalist. He's been on the beat for over 5 years, and can't seem to paint a real objective perspective.

The LA Times, as a whole, fights Israel's right to exist and defend herself. After all, they ran a Hamas editorial about why it was morally okay to kill the Fogel family.

Posted by: Asher Garber at September 24, 2012 11:46 AM

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