Sarah Kreimer, associate director of Ir Amim, spoke to an audience last Sunday night at the Jewish Community Center of Squirrel Hill. Kreimer’s presentation focused on current Israeli policies and ramifications for Israel’s future.
Specifically her talk focused on the situation in Jerusalem.
Ir Amim is an Israeli non-profit organization, founded in 2004, that focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem. It was founded to “to actively engage in those issues impacting on Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem and on the political future of the city,” according to its Web site. “Ir Amim seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city, while generating and promoting a more politically sustainable future.”
“We see Jerusalem as a city of two nations,” said Kreimer, a former Pittsburgh resident. “Today the Palestinian population in Jerusalem is about 280,000 people.”
According to Kreimer’s calculations, the Palestinian population is nearly 35 percent of the city.
While discussing plans to negotiate peace in Jerusalem, she alluded to a plan conceived by former President Clinton. That plan would create two separate states within Jerusalem: a Jewish state that would still be considered Israel, and a Palestinian state.
“Right now Palestinians in Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel,” Kreimer said. “They are just residents who can’t vote in the Knesset.”
One of the biggest problems facing future peace talks in Jerusalem, according to Kreimer, is the influx of “a much more fundamentalist leadership which will not compromise.”
Today, she said, there is a 40 percent high school drop-out rate for Palestinian students in Jerusalem.
“This leaves people open to extreme influences,” Kreimer said.
These fundamentalists are not strictly Palestinian. This year’s first grade population in Jerusalem was comprised of 38 percent ultra-Orthodox Jews, 36 percent Palestinians, and 26 percent secular or modern Jews.
“This trend of growing fundamentalism is not in our interest,” Kreimer said. “It is only going to get more complicated.”
“I still think the best shot we have at peace are the Clinton parameters,” Kreimer said.
Kreimer said in her experiences most Jews would accept this proposal “as long as the old city remains under Israeli control.” She also said Palestinians would be willing to accept that proposal right away.
Despite one heckler, Kreimer patiently answered all questions from the audience, saying she knew that they are very complicated and important issues.
“Even the air in Israel is political,” Kreimer said. “That is especially true in Jerusalem.”
J Street Pittsburgh presented the program.
(Brandt Gelman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)