Daily Israel Report

New British Libel: Jerusalem Traffic Light Bias against Arabs

The widely-respected British Economist has come up with a new anti-Israel libel: Jerusalem traffic lights are timed to discriminate against Arabs.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/2/2010, 4:22 PM / Last Update: 5/2/2010, 5:02 PM

Flash 90

The widely-respected British Economist has come up with a new anti-Israel libel: Jerusalem traffic lights are timed to discriminate against Arabs. The pro-Hamas Al Jazeera Arab satellite network picked up the story and showed its readers one of the intersections in question.

The CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) media watchdog group researched the claim and found it a total fabrication.

At CAMERA’s request, The Economist provided it with a list of the intersections where Arabs allegedly have to wait a longer time than Jews. CAMERA said that its investigation “reveals that The Economist and Al Jazeera claims are absurdly false“ and that the discrepancy between the timing is related to street size and traffic flow, as in every other city in the world.

The Economist claimed that cars approaching an intersection from two Arab neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem have only 18 seconds to proceed on a green light while motorists from the nearby Jewish areas of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov have a 90-second light.

However, CAMERA points out that the road from the Jewish neighborhoods is part of the major artery known as Highway 1, where traffic is much heavier than the road from the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina.

In fact, at another nearby intersection of Highway 1, Jewish residents from Ramot Eshkol and Givat HaMivtar have only 16 seconds to proceed on a green light while having to wait one minute and 41 seconds, the time allotted for cars to pass the intersection on the main highway.

If the “discrimination” label is applied equally, the traffic lights also are “biased” against Jews at the Highway 1 intersection with the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, where the Obama administration has demanded that Israel stop building for Jews. Motorists from the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood have a much shorter green light than those at the Arab populated Shuafat intersection.

“Clearly, then, the discrepancy between red and green light times at the intersection is a function of road size and not ethnicity,” CAMERA concluded.

“Motorists from the Arab neighborhoods are certainly able to use any of the larger roads crossing Route 1. For example, it is a mere half-kilometer detour for Beit Hanina residents to opt to skip the allegedly racist traffic light by using the overpass highway crossing Route 1,” the watchdog group added.

Another allegedly “discriminatory “ intersection involved the Wadi Joz junction with the major highway that serves Maaleh Adumim, with three times the population of Wadi Joz and a much longer green light.

However, the “discrimination” there also works in reverse. Traffic from Wadi Joz to the intersection of the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus has a green light for two minutes and 12 seconds, while mostly Jewish drivers from the other road have only eight seconds.

The same article also charges that Jerusalem is building a light railway (pictured above) for “settlers” and "robbing” Arabs of two lanes of traffic. The same light railway has taken away lanes from all motorists, Jewish and otherwise, throughout the city. Shopowners in Jerusalem's center have been affected the most, with many shutdowns as a result. Furthermore, the light railway will be available to Arabs as well as Jews.

The Economist has not replied to CAMERA’s documentation.