2nd Plenary Session: Employment, Transport and the Dimension of Time in Mixed Cities
Moderator: Marik Shtern, Researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel studies; PhD candidate at the Department for Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev;
Dr. Ramzi Halabi, Chairman of Tsofen and lecturer, Tel Aviv University
Michal Chernovizky, Leader of “Ir-Ve’em – Mothers for Elad” Organization, Lecturer at The Social-Economic Academy;
One of the paradoxes of mixed cities is that on one hand they can enable mutual familiarity but on the other they tend to slide into friction and violence. I want to discuss employment of East Jerusalem residents in the local labor market. Israelis and Palestinians have increasing opportunities to mix in places of work, parks and malls, but a situation like the current one creates eruptions at these points of friction. I’m interested in the mechanisms that enable work places to continue functioning in this reality.
The data I have collected shows that there is a growth of Palestinian participation in the labor force in Jerusalem. This is usually explained by the growing disconnection from the West Bank. People who used to work in Ramallah and Bethlehem work in the city’s west as it is easier to reach. The residents of East Jerusalem are employed in construction and hospitality and those of West Jerusalem in Education and Public administration, where the Palestinians have almost no footing. They are not represented in the more advanced industries of IT and Finance, where there is a majority of Jews. We witness a big gap in wages, but the relative gap has narrowed. This is explained by the increase in minimum wages.
Forty-seven percent of East Jerusalem residents are employed in the east of the city and the rest in the Jewish west. This means that most of the Palestinians make their living from the Jewish sector. Most of the Jews on the other hand, make their living in West Jerusalem, a small minority in East Jerusalem and the rest throughout Israel and the West Bank.
The gap is reflected in the space – One can observe the correlation between the green line and the employment patterns of Jews, especially in the center of town. In contrast, among Palestinian workers one can observe a wider spread which is blind to the green line. The Palestinians reach wherever there are bread-wining opportunities. The cooperative working areas are Talpiot industrial area, Atarot, Mamila; half of the employees in hotels are from East Jerusalem.
Difference in employment according to education: there are significant differences in the types of employment offered to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and West. The less educated, with incomplete high-school education are employed in the west while educated Palestinians that are employed in education or clerical positions do it in the east of the city. The gender issue is important: only 9% of the Palestinian employees in the city’s west are women.
Conclusions: The Palestinian sector strongly depends on the Jewish sector. This is significant when discussing closures and prevention of work for Palestinians. Total prevention will create a humanitarian crisis. On the other hand there is the reverse dependency: sectors in West Jerusalem dependent on their Palestinian employees: in hotels, transportation, industry, construction, basic services and health services (doctors and nurses).
There is a distinct hierarchy between Jews and Arabs in working places, where the Palestinians tend to be in the lower rungs. Nevertheless we are witnessing a gradual transition to the intermediate levels in shops, factories and the construction industry. Contractors from East Jerusalem bring workers from the West Bank and this creates a slight mobilization towards the intermediary level. But there is still a wide glass ceiling above educated Palestinians: the public sector.
Currently, political relations are being reproduced in working relations. The meeting points between Jews and Arabs don’t necessarily create changes in perceptions but this may happen in the future.
Dr. Ramzi Halabi
I want to relate to mixed cities from the aspect of employment, but first I have three preliminary comments. 1. In the last 25 years there have been changes in the Israeli economy like globalization, privatization, advanced technologies, reduction of the public sector and others. These significant changes in Israel’s economic structure took place when Israeli Arabs were not prepared for them. When the economy was based on more traditional branches, Arabs were familiar with the rules of the game. The Jews changed those rules and the Arabs were caught unprepared. 2. The local governance – big changes happened in local administration and you now need to demonstrate good management. There is no more commitment to the clan, but instead external guidance such as a supervising accountants or an appointed committee. 3. We have to remember that there are big gaps between different local councils and between Arab councils as well.
Tel Aviv – Jaffa, Haifa, Akko, Ramleh and Lod comprise the mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel. Nazareth-Illit and Ma’alot – Tarshiha can be considered mixed cities as well. There are mixed cities as well as Jewish and Arab cities where we can speak about regional cooperation and shared life. These are embodied in four parameters: 1. Mutual recognition, recognizing the other’s existence and the things that are important to them; 2. Partnership; 3. Basic services to citizens on the basis of citizenship alone; 4. Fair division of resources – where there are economic and cultural gaps there is trouble. Haifa is an example of successful shared living as a result of Arab intellectuals who moved there. This phenomenon changes the situation.
Successful partnerships between councils exist, not necessarily including unions between councils (there was an unsuccessful effort to unite the Daliyat al-Karmel and the Usfiya council) but rather actions like joint industry and employment in the areas of Daliyat al-Karmel and Yokneam, a joint tourism council – Karmelim that includes the Karmel settlements and Haifa and a joint Arab and Jewish councils’ football team. There are various models for involvement, you just need to want, plan and implement.
Tsofen is a Joint Jewish-Arab organization, supported by international donations, with the aim of integrating Arabs into high-tech, the industry that leads the Israeli economy. An additional goal is to develop industrial areas in Arab settlements. Most Arab students are women, but the percentage of employment is low. I claim that the gaps in wages are not the outcome of lower wages for Arabs, but of the industry you are employed in. In hotels you will earn less compared to high-tech. Therefore we need to encourage Arabs to integrate into high-tech and finance, where the earnings are higher.
The National insurance data is worrying: almost half the Arab settlements are on the poverty line. Only 22% of the councils’ incomes are from industry and Arab academics are not employed in their professions.
We also have to advance in Macro-economy: Arabs are 20% of the population but they contribute only 8% to the GNP and this is the reason we want to integrate them, they need to contribute more to the economy.
Today there are development centers in Nazareth, Tira and the Triangle. If we look at an industrial area like the one in Teffen, we can see how many employment opportunities have been brought to the area. These things change reality and the Jewish-Arab partnership. If we want to promote the idea of smart cities, an idea that is discussed worldwide, we need Arab-Jewish partnership for it. I’m optimistic and believe that through partnerships new ventures will be built and the involvement of Arabs in high-tech and other areas will increase.
I live in Elad, not a mixed city, although we have a mix of ultra-orthodox and national-religious Jews.
Following the Housing crisis which affects the ultra-orthodox public as well, there was a discussion whether to build separate cities like Elad, Modi’in Illit and others or to build neighborhoods in existing cities like there are in Ashdod, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. There has been a governmental dispute concerning this in the government for many years. The Ministry of Economy sides with separate neighborhoods in existing cities claiming that new cities are inefficient and uneconomical and that it is always better to expand existing cities. The Ministry of Housing and Building and the Ministry of Interior encourage separate cities. Even within the (ultra-orthodox) sector the opinions differ.
Those who are against building Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in big cities say that the Ultra-Orthodox will drag the city down economically. But the real reason is the “Beit Shemesh” precedent: they are afraid of religious wars. I think this is a mistake; Beit Shemesh is the exception and there are cities with ultra-orthodox communities that are able to maintain a common fabric of life, successfully and with no significant battles. I think Jerusalem too is an example of a successful and balanced existence of ultra-orthodox neighborhoods within the city. Beit Shemesh is a failure because the population that went there is one from Mea Shearim, one that is involved in religious wars.
In Beit Shemesh itself there are immigrants from English speaking countries and there are well to do neighborhoods like Ramat Beit Shemesh, therefore the picture portrayed in the media is not always accurate and that is problematic, because this picture affects political decisions.
I think it is possible to have neighborhoods within cities. It can benefit the city – for instance, it improves public transportation, as Haredim use public transportation, and the whole city benefits.
In terms of employment, where is it preferable for an Ultra-Orthodox person to live, in a mixed or separate ultra-orthodox city? I think it is insignificant as most of the employment is concentrated in the center. Even if you build employment centers in the periphery, there are big wage gaps between the center and the periphery. If it’s easier to find work at the center, it isn’t significant whether you live in a mixed or separated city.
Establishing centers for Haredi working women has not been very successful because it is companies from Tel Aviv that employ the women – employment does not come from within the sector. In addition, ultra-orthodox women earn less then secular women in the same working place, so it doesn’t make a difference where they are working. Separate centers for ultra-orthodox women haven’t encouraged them to work more, and so separate employment is not necessarily what is needed. All the same, ultra-orthodox women are currently studying more than in the past, which clearly points to the success of separate studying. They continue their studies in regular universities and continue to post graduate studies. Even if at the beginning the study is separate, the mere fact that they enter the academy offers them an opportunity to develop in it.
It doesn’t seem that the answer is to transfer certain populations to more lucrative professions, as there is still a need for people to work in the less lucrative ones and this vacuum is filled with other populations that earn less and the problem is recreated. If one population rises, another will be enslaved. The struggle must be different, for all the populations jointly: the Arab and Ultra-Orthodox populations. We should create workers’ unions, there
should be a fair payment for every job and social justice should be encouraged.