Arabs from east Jerusalem, trying to buy or rent apartments in west Jerusalem neighborhoods, meet with resistance among activists and neighbors. "We don't want Arabs in our neighborhoods," say Jewish residents.
The migration of Arabs to west Jerusalem neighborhoods has become a well-known phenomenon, and along with it, the creation of groups of residents anxious to stop the migration. Their effort includes 'snitches' to report on apartment rentals to Arabs, boycotts of real estate agents selling to Arabs and a struggle with the Hebrew University, whom they claim intends to sell 13 apartments to Arabs.
As part of the conflict, local newspapers published announcements this month begging residents to report any attempt by Arabs to buy west Jerusalem apartments. "The French Hill is in danger, we need your help," they write. "We would be happy to receive any written or spoken information regarding the purchase or rental of buildings in the French Hill for any purpose (residential, commercial, business) by residents of East Jerusalem, or the attempt of such purchase or rental."
'I want to preserve my identity'
The information is consolidated by activists, among them Arieh King, who, as part of the "Living in Jerusalem" group, works to increase the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. According to King, based on a survey he took, there has been a large increase in the migration of Arabs to west Jerusalem. Twelve Arab families live on Jaffa St., in the center of town, with scores more living in the nearby Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood. Twenty two additional families live on Etzel St. in the French Hill neighborhood.
"There are some who say that this is pure racism, but as a Jew I am happy to be racist. If I won't be one, it's unclear what my children's future will be. Just as most Jews in Jerusalem don't send their children to Arab schools and don't allow them to intermarry, I too want to preserve my identity."
The Battle on Etzel St.
The focus of the current struggle is the building at 11 Etzel St., where the Hebrew University, which owns the property, is auctioning off 13 apartments. The highest bid was given by an Arab man, who is willing to pay 230 thousand dollars for each apartment, 20 percent more than the apartments are worth.
Three days ago, there was a conference for residents of the French Hill who wish to combat the entry of Arab tenants. Among other things, it was decided to put pressure on the Hebrew University not to sell the property to Arabs by appealing to Jewish donors to buy the apartments and sell them to Jews.
(Name withheld), who lives at this address, is worried by Arabs moving to her neighborhood: "Arabs are trying to take over the neighborhood. You walk outside and hear only Arabic. I've lived here 35 years and I don't want to start living with Arabs. Do I need them here on my doorstep? There are real estate agents here who, for the right price, are willing to sell apartments to Arabs."
The University released the following statement: "The Hebrew University is selling apartments that it owns in the French Hill. It is managing the auction in a fair, honest, and unprejudiced manner."