Israel: Jerusalem in good health, also economically

Report, citizens 'happiest' of country but youths leave

08 May, 12:02

    A view of Jerusalem Old City A view of Jerusalem Old City

    (by Massimo Lomonaco) (ANSAmed) - JERUSALEM - Jerusalem appears to enjoy good health and not just economically: its citizens say they are 'the happiest' in Israel, much more satisfied than those living in swinging Tel Aviv or industrious Haifa, according to a report by the Israeli national statistics agency. The survey however also showed that 'cultured and secular' youths leave the city after studying there. In spite of widespread difficulties and tensions - on Tuesday nationalist Jews clashed with police and Muslim pilgrims on Temple Mount - the report showed a city which is growing and offering new opportunities to citizens, with Judaism as a point of reference.

    The survey's results were released on the eve of the 46th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, celebrated since the 1967 war in which Israel extended its sovereignty over the whole urban area including the Arab East. Ever since then, Jerusalem as a whole was declared Israeli capital, a decision however not recognized by the international community.

    The report stressed the current 'positive economic climate': in 2012, 17.000 new jobs were created which, in addition to the almost 30.000 generated between 2007 and 2009, include 50.000 new jobs for citizens. This reflected on the fact that 88% said they were 'satisfied' with their city, 2% more than in Tel Aviv, 4% more than Haifa and 8% more than Asdod.

    Moreover, 59% of residents were satisfied with their economic situation, well over the 55% average.

    Jerusalem - the largest urban centre in Israel - has 800.000 inhabitants, according to the survey's data, of whom only 500.000 are Jews. The majority said they were 'religious on various levels' while 32% were 'haredi', conservative Orthodox Jews, a significant number compared to the 8% average in the other major cities. This growing religious presence along with protracted tensions over security and the 'slow' pace of life contributed to a negative detail highlighted by the report: students leave the city after completing their degrees. In spite of efforts by the city administration and NGOs focusing on the problem, 'educated and secular' youths leave. In the past few year, out of a student population of some 37,000, only some 12.000 chose to stay.

    'Young people come here to study but most of them decides to leave', said an NGO chief quoted by local media. In the 1970s young people chose to remain in Jerusalem after getting a degree while after more than two decades 'the growing religious presence and terrorism' overturned the trend, added the NGO official. Another cause is the cost of life which is higher, for example, than in Tel Aviv.(ANSAmed).

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