JAMES CARROLL’S “A shared Jerusalem’’ distorts facts and omits key information regarding Arab population growth and home-building in Israel’s capital. Carroll deplores “the steady Jewish population increase in the disputed part of Jerusalem,’’ saying this occurs “in combination with the Jerusalem municipality’s ongoing demolition of Palestinians’ homes, constructed without permits.’’
Yet Jerusalem’s Arab population grew much faster than its Jewish population, rising from 25 percent of the total in 1967 to 35 percent in 2008. Likewise, Arabs have enjoyed a building boom in the city as Palestinian demographer Khalil Tufakji candidly observed in a CNN interview, stating: “We can build inside Jerusalem, legal, illegal, rebuild a house. . . Maybe we lose 10 houses [to demolition], but in the end we build 40 more houses in East Jerusalem.’’
Arabs and Jews have equal access to building permits, pay the same costs, and experience the same waiting period to get approvals. Some in both groups sidestep the law and build illegally, then face removal - just as in Boston or any other city with zoning laws.
Carroll also neglects to mention concerted Arab efforts to alter Jerusalem’s demographic and housing realities. Natan Sharansky, then minister of housing, reported in 2002 that at least 40,000 housing units had been built with Saudi money for political purposes.
Casting Israel as the heavy while ignoring Palestinian activity in Jerusalem may suit an ideological preference, but it’s inconsistent with the realities.
Executive director Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America