Sunday, May 22, 2016


Erela Ganan
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies,

In 2011 there were 166,296 live births in Israel, and the overall fertility rate – that is, the average number of children per woman – stood at 3.0. Jerusalem had 26,577 live births, with a fertility rate of 3.94, resulting mainly from the high birthrates in the Arab and ultra-orthodox sectors.
When speaking of childbirth, there is a tendency to avoid mentioning the tragedy of stillbirth. The Ministry of Health has published guidelines to help parents in these situations. The distinction between a miscarriage and stillbirth is based on one of two criteria: a weight of at least 500 grams at the time of the dead infant’s birth, or a birth that takes place during or after the 22nd week of pregnancy, when the weight is unknown. Such cases are statistically rare in Israel: of 167,188 births in Israel in 2011, “only” 892 were stillborn, that is, 0.53%, or in other words – 5.3 stillbirths for every 1,000 births. In the Jerusalem District 139 infants were stillborn, comprising 0.52%, that is, a rate of 5.2 per 1,000, while in Jerusalem itself the rate of stillbirths is 5.1 per 1,000, with 117 deaths. In Tel Aviv the rate is 5.5, whereas in Ashdod and Haifa the rates are 6.1 and 6.9, respectively. 
What about termination of pregnancy? A deliberate termination (abortion) may legally be performed in Israel only with the authorization of an abortion committee. In 2011 there were 10.3 such requests per 1,000 women (calculated for women of childbearing age, that is, 15-49). The Jerusalem District and city of Jerusalem had the lowest rates of requests in Israel (5.7 requests at the district level, and only 4.8 at the city level). Requests for termination of pregnancy are granted in various situations, such as when the pregnant woman is below marriageable age (17 years), when the woman is not married, or when the pregnancy is out of wedlock. Married women who face unwanted pregnancies, however, are trapped by the law. In 2012, 43.7% of the women who submitted requests to abortion committees were married, with the request in most cases taking place during the second month of pregnancy (when the average age of the fetus was 8.2 weeks). At the same time, abortion committees tend to approve the requests they receive: in 2012, 98.8% of requests were granted. It also turns out that there is a gap between the number of abortions authorized and the number of abortions that actually take place. (In 2010, out of a total of 21,363 requests, 20,809 were authorized and 19,531 were carried out.)

Sources: CBS, Ministry of Health

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Big City Transit

Yair Assaf-Shapira
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

In large cities, public transit is a critical factor which, in addition to personal mobility, enables economic development, social, commercial and cultural life. Looking at the quality of transit in cities can be done from a few perspectives, and this time we choose to look at the customer, or rider side.
In the Social Survey held annually by the Central Bureau of Statistics, participants are asked about their use and satisfaction with public transit in their city. In the surveys of 2013-14 (we averaged to minimize error) 69% of Israelis aged 20 and over stated that they use public transit. This percentage may seem high, but it's going down. Eight years before, in the 2005-06 surveys it stood higher, at 73%.
One could expect to find a higher percentage of users in large cities. This is true for Jerusalem, Haifa Ashdod and Petach Tikva (where use rates are 84%, 79%, 78% and 71% respectively), but wrong for Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv (63% and 65% respectively). We may assume that Jerusalem's exceptionally high rate (at 84%), stems from the combination of a very large city in terms of distances, with some of the neighborhoods located far from activity centers; a large population of young adults (ex. students); a large population living in a low socio-economic status; and a well developed net of busses and light rail compared to other cities in Israel.
The reforms done in Jerusalem and Haifa's transit systems may be one of the factors contributing to the fact that these are the only two cities in which a rise in transit use was recorded. Use in Haifa and in Jerusalem rose by 4 and by 1 percentage points (PP) respectively. In the other large cities in Israel a drop of 1 to 4 PP was recorded.
How about satisfaction from transit service? It seems that the high rate of users in Jerusalem is not connected to satisfaction from public transit. Only 45% of the Jerusalemite transit users stated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the public transportation in their area of residence. This figure is low compared to both Israel (58%) and the other large cities (67% to 75%). The combination of a high user rate and low satisfaction rate shows that many of Jerusalem's transit riders are "captive audience", using transit not necessarily because it's the best option to get around in the city.
On the other hand, Jerusalem is the only city in Israel with an LRT line. The LRT completely reformed transit in the city, and the system is still expanding, so one may argue that we are still in the "learning curve".

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What's so special about the Israel Festival?

Ruth Abraham
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

The program of the fifty-fifth Israel Festival was unveiled on April 11, and tickets have started to be sold. The festival originally began in 1961 as a festival of classical music, and over the years it grew into a multidisciplinary event. Today, it hosts dance, theater, music and art performances. The festival takes place during an eventful month, beginning in the end of May. The goal of the festival is described on the official website as "enriching the cultural landscape of Jerusalem and Israel, encouraging international cultural relationships, and promoting discourse on art".
Up until the 1980s, the festival, financed mainly by institutional funds, stood out in Israel as one of the main importers of international culture. In July 1983, however, Davar described a situation in which other private and institutional bodies were also bringing shows to Israel throughout the year: "The main difficulty [of the Israel Festival] and benefit for the consumers of culture is that a yearlong festival is taking place, unofficial, and unsponsored by national agencies."(Mai Paz). Unlike the Israel Festival, these shows were based mainly on self-generated income, namely commercial sponsorships and ticket selling.
According to the report Festivals in Israel, 2011 by the culture administration of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Israel Festival was the longest in Israel: it lasted 27 days, hosted 66 productions, and was the second largest in terms of number of productions and of Israeli shows specially produced for it. The number of paying visitors reached 28,600, which was second only to the dance festival in Karmiel, visited by over 53,000 paying visitors.
A look at the Israel Festival programs since 2007 reveals that visiting (international) productions form approximately 55% of the hosted acts, and 35%-70% of the running shows (see graph). At the most recent festival (2015), the international shows formed 59% of the hosted acts, and 69% of the running shows. Budget reports of the last seven years show that the self-generated income covers approximately one-third of the festival's budget, and number of tickets sold is around 40,000. The year 2014 was an exception, with 59,000 tickets sold.
To conclude, in its over thirty years, the Israel Festival is not the single actor in the arena of culture imports to Israel; as such, its task is not only to maintain high standards of both local and international acts, but also to include an exceptionally large volume of work.