Jerusalem is a diverse city and every day we, its residents, have the opportunity to see and meet people who are different from us. These encounters take place in the public space, such as on the street, or on public transportation, in locations such as municipal offices, at institutions of higher learning, at the workplace, at police stations, and more.

Each evening, the city’s residents return to their residential neighborhoods and there we find that the level of segregation is higher. We examined the data from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics with respect to residential areas in mixed cities in Israel, and discovered that in Jerusalem, at least between Jews and Arabs (the two major groups which share the city), there is almost total segregation in residential areas, which is different from the situation in other cities.

We calculated the Index of Dissimilarity, which determines the percentage of residents from one of the two groups being studied which would have to change its place of residence, in order for the ratio between the groups in each area or neighborhood to be identical to the ratio in the city as a whole. The Index of Dissimilarity is a recognized index for the calculation of the level of segregation in a city, and the higher it is the more pronounced is the segregation. If the index is low, that means that the two groups reside in the same neighborhoods.

One way to demonstrate this is to think of an imaginary city in which every residential area is comprised of 20% Arabs and 80% Jews, and naturally, this is the ratio in the entire imaginary city. In such a situation no one has to move to equalize the ratio. In a second, also imaginary city, let’s say there are areas where 100% of the population is Jewish, and other areas where 100% is comprised of Arabs. Regardless of the ratio in the city as a whole, in this case 100% of the residents in one of the groups will have to move in order for the ratio in each of the areas to be identical to the ratio in the entire city.
In Jerusalem, the Index of Dissimilarity is 96%, and only in a very few of the city’s neighborhoods do the two groups (Jews and Arabs) number more than 10%. And even when they do, these areas are not generally regular residential neighborhoods, but rather student dormitories or industrial areas with meager populations.

For comparison’s sake, in Tel Aviv-Jaffa the Index of Dissimilarity stands at 82%, and in Haifa it is 74%. A very low index, in other words integration among populations, pertains in Natzrat Illit aka Nof HaGalil (25%), and most notably in the city of Acre, where it is only 2%. In both these cities the majority of the population resides in mixed areas, which is not the situation in Israel’s three major cities, and especially not in Jerusalem.
At the same time, it is important to note that in Jerusalem the size of the Arab population is greater than in other Israeli cities by a wide margin, and the percentage of the population which is Arab is higher than among other major cities in the country. This is why many Jewish-Arab encounters occur in the city, but mainly not in residential areas, and most likely those who tend to stay within the confines of their own neighborhood are not involved.

Translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann