When we think of East Jerusalem, we tend to perceive it as a single geographic unit, when in fact East Jerusalem, like West Jerusalem, is constructed of neighborhood after neighborhood, each of which is completely different from the other. The Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are home to approximately 330,000 residents – the population of a major city in Israel.
Jerusalem is most familiar to us from its west side, with its diverse neighborhoods. In order to become a little better acquainted with East Jerusalem, we turned to the socio-economic index published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, so as to create a parallel between the neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods.
The socio-economic index, based on the 2008 census, included data for the different neighborhoods. To characterize the neighborhoods in East Jerusalem we rated the Jewish and Palestinian statistical areas (sub-neighborhood units) in the city separately. Two rankings were created, one for West Jerusalem and one for East Jerusalem, and within each the neighborhoods were rated from a high socio-economic level to a low socio-economic level. Next we searched for the matching levels between west and east. Thus, for example, the Jewish neighborhood of Nayot has the highest rating among the neighborhoods in the west of the city and the neighborhood of Bab A-Zahara/the Palestinian American Colony (adjacent to the Old City nearby Damascus Gate and the Rockefeller Museum) is its parallel neighborhood. It should be remembered that this measure is relative, and in the context of the national socio-economic index, Nayot is in cluster 19 (with 20 being the highest) while Bab A-Zahara is in cluster 5. The Armenian Quarter in the Old City and the Katamon neighborhood in West Jerusalem also have the same rating in their separate rankings. It is noteworthy that Katamon contained a majority of Christian residents before the War of Independence.
The parallel data comparison leads to geographic similarities: several of the Palestinian neighborhoods in the northern part of the city had a rating similar to Jewish neighborhoods in the northern part of the city. Shu’afat and Pisgat Ze’ev, Dahiyat a-Salam (east of the Shu’afat refugee camp) and Neve Ya’acov, Beit Hanina and the Ramot neighborhood. In the south as well we found “sister” neighborhoods: Arnona and Beit Safafa and Um Tubba and Kiryat Menahem.
In terms of the values of the socio-economic index, the East Jerusalem neighborhoods are similar to the distinctive haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem, such as Mea Shearim, Geula, and Sanhedria.
As previously stated, the socio-economic difference between the Jewish and the Palestinian neighborhoods is greater than the similarity between them, and they cannot be effectively compared to each other. At the same time, this type of representation helps one to associate less familiar places with those that are familiar to us.
Jerusalem’s drop in its socio-economic ranking from cluster 4 to cluster 3 provides information about the general situation of the city, but as home to 883,000 people, it is possible and indeed worthwhile to look a little deeper, for although everyone is from Jerusalem, as in most cities, the main thing is the neighborhood where you live.
Translation: Gilah Kahn