Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh Say! Can You See....

Tamar Schlossberg

Mark Twain once wrote:There is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old benevolent National Asylum for the helpless.”

Without the context, it is hard to discern whether this quote is intended to be read with a sarcastic tone or in a stern and formal manner. Nonetheless, it is an interesting perception to have of Washington, before departing on a journey to meet with members of congress and representatives of several influential organizations. Senior staff members at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies embarked on such a journey this past January. Although the freezing weather was a bit of a shock at first, they were pleased to determine that the weather would be the only cold thing about their trip. And indeed, the warm reception they received from all representatives of the institutions they visited definitely made up for the frosty outdoors.

The concept of gratitude is one that is very much valued at the JIIS; consequently, the trip began with visits to some of our donors and their families. They were very pleased with the visit and the briefing on the Institute’s latest projects, publications and other ardent endeavors.

The JIIS team went on to meet with representatives of: the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, AIPAC, the Center for American Progress and the United States Institute for Peace, before heading to New York to meet with: The Jewish Week, The UJA Federation of New York, and the Jewish Federations of North America. The discussions held were enriching and illuminating, intellectually as well as practically. In addition to outlining our research activities with detailed explanations on the topics of the city’s many faces, the Middle-East conflict, interfaith dialogue, developments in the ultra-orthodox sector, US-Israel relations, and the Al-Jazeera documents, ideas were shared about the practical implementation of the conclusions and suggestions found in some of our research. Different points of view were heard, including some surprising unexpected inside information! Overall the meetings were very fruitful and we look forward to collaborating with many of these organizations to advance mutual goals.

Staying in Washington without visiting the Israeli delegates at our home base, the Israeli embassy, would be an offense to true Israeli hospitality. A presentation was given to update them, mainly on matters regarding Jerusalem, which they were very intrigued by.

As much as everyone longs for peace in the Middle-East, this objective seems to have been overshadowed in the past few weeks by an issue of greater importance, namely, the new bus routes in Jerusalem! Anyone trying to get out and about in the city in recent months – especially via public transportation – can tell a tale or two of frustration and woe due to terrible traffic jams and obstreperous obstacles. You will be happy to read about the meetings held with a specialist on the topic of transportation at the Catholic university and with representatives of the Urban Institute, which sends experts all over the world to devise enhanced urban planning strategies. It looks like a joint project on this theme will be launched shortly. (Check out our statistics about the use of public transportation in Jerusalem). Solving this issue is obviously a high priority, so as to allow decision makers to return to the more marginal issues on the agenda, like the Iranian threat for example.

I think the JIIS travelers would agree with Mark Twain, there definitely is something good and motherly about Washington, and we look forward to expanding such family connections. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

On foot or by public transportation?

Dr. Maya Choshen

Public transportation services in Israel many times offer slow service with long travel times and grossly inaccurate timetable. Matters are only made worse for passengers needing to transfer between transportation systems. Not surprisingly, many Israelis prefer their private vehicles despite the higher costs, because of the ease and simplicity they offer. Another advantage of a private car is the freedom to travel on weekends and holidays, when many public transportation systems do not run. The increased reliance on private vehicles carries many economic and environmental costs, including air, soil and water pollution, loss of open spaces, road congestion and higher rates of road accidents, to name only a few.

At the end of 2009 there were 2,458,700 motor vehicles in Israel – 79% of them private. The motorization rate was 326 vehicles per 1000 persons. The motorization rate in Israel has risen over 20 years from 211 / 1000 (vehicles per persons) in 1990, to 288 / 1000 in 2000 to 326 / 1000 in 2009. Nevertheless, Israel’s motorization rate is still lower than in other developed countries.
At the end of 2009, there were 168,700 motor vehicles in Jerusalem – 77% of them private. The motorization rate was 218 vehicles per 1000 residents. A great degree of variance was found in the motorization rate across the different localities of metropolitan Jerusalem, where residents tend to commute daily for work, study and other purposes. Not surprisingly, these rates corresponded directly to the socio-economic status of the resident population of these localities. The lowest rates were found in the Ultra-Orthodox localities of Modi’in Illit (43 vehicles per 1000 residents) and Beitar Illit (53 vehicles per 1000). Higher motorization rates were found in Maale Adumim (281), Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut (301) and Mate Yehuda (333). Abu Gosh also had a higher motorization rate than Jerusalem – 228 / 1000 compared to 218 / 1000.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's get to work!

Aviel Yelinek

The results for the census conducted in 2008 have recently been released, offering us deeper insights into our society and workforce.  In 2008, Jerusalem had 240,000 participants in the workforce.  This number includes both working persons and unemployed persons seeking employment, of persons aged 15 or older.  This figure translated into a workforce participation rate of 50%, which was lower than the national average (60%), the average in Tel Aviv (70%), and the average in Haifa (60%).  Jerusalem’s low workforce participation rate can be pinned to low workforce participation rates among the Jewish Ultra-Orthodox and Arab segments of the population.  In Tel Aviv, the number of workforce participants was 232,000 – only slightly lower than their number in Jerusalem, despite the fact that Tel Aviv’s population is almost half the size of Jerusalem's population.

Generally speaking, the workforce participation rate is higher for men than for women; in Jerusalem, it was 58% for the male population (compared to the national average of 65%) and 42% for the female population (compared to a national average of 53%).

Workforce participation rates vary greatly among Jerusalem's neighborhoods.  Har Homa boasted the highest rate (79%).  Relatively high rates of participation in the workforce were also found in Ramat Sharet and Ramat Denya (71%), City Center and Nahlaaot (69%), Gonnenim-Katamon (67%) and East Talpiyot (66%).  Participation rates that were closer to the national average were found in Kiryat Yovel (63%), Kiryat Menachem and ‘Ir Ganim (62%), Gilo (61%), and Baqaa (58%).  At the opposite end, the lowest workforce participation rates were found in the Me’ah Shearim area, and Beit Israel and Bukharim neighborhoods (20%).  Other neighborhoods with workforce participation rates below the city average were Sanhedria and Shikun Chabad (29%), Makor Baruch, Mahne Yehuda, Zichron Moshe (33%), Ramat Shlomo (44%), Neve Yaakov (45%), Bayit va-Gan (47%), and Har Nof (48%).