Haredi and IDF soldier Tal law Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
With its remarkably complex social and ethnic mosaic, Israel faces a series of
challenges but also opportunities to improve the quality of life for its
residents and increase their participation in local community life, according to
the organizers of a conference scheduled for next week in
Titled “Living in a Mixed City – Challenges, Problems, and
Solutions” the conference set for November 13 to 16 at the Jerusalem YMCA will
study mixed cities “with the goal of examining new ways to improve the quality
of life for the different populations who share the city. Furthermore, the
conference will ask whether decision-making mechanisms on the local level can
challenge the state and its institutions to invest in its citizens, residents,
migrant workers, and other residents,” according to organizers.
Israel, the term “mixed-city” typically refers to cities where large populations
of Jews and Arabs live side-to-side, the conference will also focus on examples
such as Tel Aviv where native residents live with a growing population of
migrants and foreign workers, and Jerusalem, with its ongoing tension between
secular and religious residents.
According to the conference schedule,
panels will discuss how to involve city residents in decision making,
“thoughtful planning in mixed cities,” language issues, education, gender
issues, secular and religious conflicts, and conflict resolution in mixed
cities, among others.
Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman, academic director of The
Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace, said Thursday that the issues to be
covered at the conference are of serious importance to Israel, because of the
high number of cities and towns in the country that have a very wide variety of
communities living within them.
Maroshek-Klarman added that while mixed
cities often are characterized by social problems and conflict between
communities, they also often present local solutions to such problems that could
potentially be applied on a national level.
“Day to day life in mixed
cities creates solutions for problems that don’t receive such solutions on the
national level. These cities are not only failures, they also create solutions
we can learn from.” She added that the conference will also bring in speakers
and other participants from “post-conflict” cities such as Belfast, northern
Ireland and Belgrade, Serbia, where they will discuss what happens to such
cities after national and ethnic conflicts are resolved.