Palestinian-Israelis are increasingly opting to move to Jerusalem, both in search of higher education and because of the potential employment opportunities available to them. This is the thrust of a new study by Dr. Asmahan Masry-Herzalla, in conjunction with Prof. Eran Razin and Dr. Maya Choshen.
Presenting the findings at a JIIS symposium earlier this month, Masry-Herzalla noted that the Palestinian-Israelis in Jerusalem "are an educated modern elite, very distinct from the population characteristic of their indigenous settlements." Moreover, she added, "the rising rate of Palestinian women among immigrants to Jerusalem is a clear indication of modernity among this group, even though the majority is still restricted to traditionally 'feminine' professions" – primarily education and social work.
Some 10,000 Palestinian-Israelis, most of them originally from the Galilee, live in Jerusalem today. "Employment opportunities are a decisive factor in their remaining and settling in the city at the end of their studies," although the converse is true for Jewish university graduates, the researchers found: "Jerusalem's limited labor market, compared to that of the Tel Aviv metropolis, is that sector's main reason for leaving the city."
Writer and journalist Sayed Kashua used his characteristic humor to present a personal perspective on a complex reality: he said that many professionals like him are motivated by the difficulties in Palestinian-Israeli towns to move to Israel's main cities, yet sometimes it is "easier for a Palestinian-Israeli doctor to move to Australia than to Kfar Saba." When he first moved from his hometown, Tira, to Jerusalem he said his relatives, attached to the land they live on, urged him to return soon. Today, he says, in part because of growing gang activities and a lack of law enforcement, the same relatives are telling him not to return.
Dr. Adel Manna, of the Academic Institute for Arab Teacher Training at Beit Berl College and Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, referred to a JIIS study on the same topic he carried out some 20 years ago and said that many of the children of those who moved to the city around that time have since migrated abroad.
The social-demographic reality in Jerusalem makes the implementation of practical decisions difficult, said Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir of the Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center. In the course of his work, liaising between East Jerusalemites and the Israeli public and private sectors, he sees the important role played by Palestinian-Israelis in helping to bridge gaps.
The study was conducted jointly by JIIS and the Floersheimer Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.