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Despite death threats, I want to serve Jerusalem

I'm running for city council to stem the forces of extremism born of hopelessness
Palestinian schoolgirls play after school in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, March 30, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Palestinian schoolgirls play after school in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, March 30, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Despite death threats to me and my family, and a recent attempted abduction of our two-year-old son, I will not give up my efforts to attain a seat on the Jerusalem City Council. As the first East Jerusalem Muslim Arab since 1967 to recognize Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, I am intent on promoting peaceful coexistence among all residents, from both east and west, in a united city.

Every five years the citizens of Israel go out to vote for their local municipal councils. Most view municipal elections as far less important than the national elections for the Knesset. While such matters as sanitation and other municipal services in our cities are important, the general public displays a certain apathy when it comes to voting in these municipal elections.

This year, there is a new and exciting challenge which should not be overlooked. Since Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, the local East Jerusalem Arab residents (numbering today more than 370,000) have boycotted these elections as instructed by — and under threat from — Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. As a result, there has never been an Arab representing the interests of East Jerusalem residents. While the oft-repeated mantra is that Jerusalem is Israel’s united capital, the massive disparities between east and west Jerusalem as regards cleanliness and civil services are glaringly apparent to anyone.

East Jerusalem has a shortage of 2,000 classrooms, and as a result the street violence and delinquency among Arab youth is on the rise, a fertile breeding ground for extremist anti-state terrorist activities. There is little organised planning, and building permits and proper infrastructure are badly needed. The piles of trash in the streets are no comparison to the relatively clean streets in the western side of the city. The Shuafat and Kfar Akeb neighborhoods are now fully controlled by local crime gangs.

This will only get worse and spread, affecting both Jewish and Arab residents unless we take immediate action to redress the situation.

I, Dr. Ramadan Dabash, a Muslim resident of East Jerusalem, was born on December 23, 1966, and effectively became an Israeli a few months later after the Six Day War and the annexation. I am a qualified structural engineer, having studied at the Technion among other institutions both here and abroad. I speak five languages but am hopeful that my voice will now be heard for the benefit of all the residents of Jerusalem, east and west. I have lived all my life here and seen how the situation has gone from bad to worse, against the interests of residents but at the bidding of extremist elements.

Enough is enough!

Notwithstanding the threats to me and my family and members of my staff, I have decided to become proactive and am standing for a seat on the municipal council of a city which should be united not just in name but in practice. A united city in which all residents, from both the east and west, can take pride; where all residents enjoy the same services for which they pay! My party is called Jerusalem My City. A united city, capital of Israel where I am a resident.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have intimidated East Jerusalem residents into boycotting these elections as in the past. I urge you all, Jewish and Arab alike, to vote for my party that I may obtain a seat on the council and represent east Jerusalemites. Let us make history together and create change for the sake of peace for us all, for a better life for us and our children; for a real peace, not just one written on a piece of paper. Remember, you have a separate vote for the mayor of your choice and the party of your choice. The three main Mayoral candidates are supporting me. I urge YOU to support my party.

Vote “YUD” in the voting booths.

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