Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Time of Loneliness

Yoad Shahar

The High Holiday period is a happy family time for most of us. After the holidays, though, a sense of loneliness sometimes descends on us. Even though loneliness is a personal experience that differs for everyone, it is interesting to see which Jerusalemites tend to experience it more intensely than others. The annual Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics asked respondents if there are situations in which they feel lonely, and whether there are people on whom they can rely for help if they do feel a sense of distress or crisis. 

We would assume that married people feel less lonely, and indeed, evidently 36% of the singles in Jerusalem feel lonely often or sometimes, compared with just 31% among married individuals. At the same time, if you have already married, its best to stay married, as 47% of divorced or separated individuals and 68% of widows and widowers reported feeling lonely. This data seemingly romanticizes married life, yet even marriage does not promise that life will be a rose garden, as it does not guarantee that there will be someone to lean on during a crisis. Only 77% of those married said they have somebody on whom they could rely in a crisis, compared with 80% among divorced people, 83% among the widowed, and 87% among singles. 

It is customarily believed that in traditional societies the feeling of togetherness is greater than, or replaces, the sense of loneliness. Yet when we examine the data for Jerusalem by population group, we find that feelings of loneliness are greater among the city’s Arabs. Among Arabs, 39% said they often or sometimes feel lonely, compared with only 25% among Jews. Regarding the question of whether they have someone to rely on in a time of crisis, apparently only 52% of Arabs have such a person, compared with 94% of Jews. 

The extent of religious belief or the nature of religious identity also affects one’s feelings of loneliness and the sense that there is someone to rely on. Among the ultra-orthodox (haredim), only 10% feel lonely often or sometimes. Among the religiously observant, 28% feel lonely, and among the secular this figure is 29%. Likewise, 96% of the ultra-orthodox reported having someone on whom they can rely, compared with 94% among the religiously observant and 91% among the secular. 

Loneliness, as well as the sense that one has or does not have someone to lean on, is related first and foremost to the state of reality. Yet it is also a product of the manner in which we experience and understand reality. The data reveal that feelings of loneliness and of having someone to rely on in crisis are linked to the lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves, which shapes both our reality and the manner in which we experience it. 

Translation: Merav Datan

Fight for Your Right (To Pay Tax)

Dafna Shemer

Jerusalem’s Arnona (municipal tax) is particularly high, the highest in Israel. In 2014 Jerusalem’s total due Arnona was 1,173,000,00 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) for 212,000 housing units. Arnona discounts amounted to 26% of the total, with 40% of the discounts going to residents from Jerusalem neighborhoods of low socio-economic status (a socio-economic status of 2-5, with 20 being the highest status, according to the 2008 census). 

An examination of Jerusalem’s lower socio-economic neighborhoods reveals an interesting picture regarding the exercise of rights on the part of East Jerusalem versus West Jerusalem residents. These neighborhoods are geographically and socially distinguishable as areas populated by the ultra-orthodox (haredi) in West Jerusalem and by Palestinians in East Jerusalem. 

Most (72%) of the properties in West Jerusalem that belong to residents of lower socio-economic standing have a ranking of 4 or 5, whereas in East Jerusalem only 49% of the properties belong to residents with a ranking of 4 or 5. 

Building on the assumption that people with the same socio-economic status would receive the same discount in Arnona, given their income, we examined lower socio-economic neighborhoods in West Jerusalem and in East Jerusalem. We examined how many discounts were granted on the basis of income, as a proportion of the total number of apartments in the neighborhood. Evidently, the percentage of Arnona discounts based on income, as a proportion of the total number of apartments, is higher in West Jerusalem (39%) than in East Jerusalem (26%). For the sake of comparison, we note that in neighborhoods of higher socio-economic standing (15-19), 6% of the apartments receive a discount on the basis of income. 

Both East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem neighborhoods show a decrease in the percentage of discounts granted on the basis of income as the socio-economic ranking of the neighborhood rises. East Jerusalem neighborhoods with a socio-economic status of 2 received discounts for 27% of the apartments therein, whereas West Jerusalem neighborhoods with a ranking of 2 received discounts for 42% of the apartments therein. East Jerusalem neighborhoods with a socio-economic status of 5 received discounts for 15% of the apartments therein, while for West Jerusalem this figure was 35%. 

When we examine the total Arnona collected, in relation to the total due without discount, amidst residents of lower socio-economic standing, we find that collection rates in East Jerusalem (72%) are lower than in West Jerusalem (85%). Here too, as the socio-economic status increases from 2 to 5, Arnona collection rates increase. For higher socio-economic rankings (15-19), collection rates are higher too – at 96%. 

In sum, one might conclude that residents of West Jerusalem are more effectively exercising their rights vis-à-vis Arnona than East Jerusalem residents. And perhaps as a consequence, Arnona collection in West Jerusalem is more effective and efficient than it is in East Jerusalem.