About half the employed Arab residents of east Jerusalem, some 35,000 people, work in the Jewish sector, a new study has found. The study, by researchers Marik Shtern and Ahmed Asmar, is due to be published by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.
Through a series of interviews, questionnaires and focus groups, Shtern and Asmar draw a complex picture of formal and informal ties between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem workplaces, both in periods of quiet and during waves of terrorist attacks. Often, the picture contains contradictions. For example, the study found that Jews are comfortable interacting with Arab employees, whereas the Arab employees often feel exploited.
The figures show that Arabs comprise 71% of workers in the construction sector and 57% of workers in public transportation. Arabs also make up 40% of workers in the hotel and restaurant industries, 20% of workers in municipal health care and welfare, and 46% of workers in water, sewer, and cleaning services.
Most Arab employees in Jerusalem come from a society in which 82% of families live below the poverty line and which features one of the highest school drop-out rates in the country (36%). City infrastructure in Arab neighborhoods – sewage, water, roads – is also for the most part substandard.
For east Jerusalem Arabs, the Jewish job market in the city is a lifeline. While Jewish employers pay Arabs less money for longer hours than Jewish employees, the Arabs are still taking home more pay than if they would be working in the east of the city or in Palestinian-controlled territories.