“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.” (Leviticus 19:33)
Statistics released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on September 20, have revealed the demographic and economic developments relating to general information about Israel’s Muslim population.
According to the findings, at the close of 2014, the Muslim population stood at 1.45 million people marking an increase of approximately 33,000 thousand since 2013. However, while this represents an increase in number, the growth rate has fallen from a 3.8% growth rate in 2000 to 2.24% in 2014.
The statistics also show that, as expected, Jerusalem is the city with the largest concentration of Muslim residents numbering some 303,000 people. This constitutes a total of 20.9% of all Muslims in Israel and 35.7% of the population of the entire city of Jerusalem. Rahat has the second largest Muslim community with 60,000 people.
Regarding employment trends, the statistics show that 63.5% of the Muslim population were in the workforce during 2014 from age 15-years-old and up (of which 44.3% were men and 23.9% were women).
The report also points out that Muslim female participation in the workforce is significantly lower in comparison to that of their Jewish, Christian and Druze counterparts.
Hamutal Gouri, Executive Director of feminist NGO Dafna Fund, told Tazpit that while the patriarchal prevalence among the Arab communities may restrict Muslim women, the main problem is structural: “Muslim women in Arab localities, where there is no public transportation to nearby cities, have no mobility to commute and employment opportunities that are in the villages are extremely limited,” Gouri said.
To resolve this issue, she suggested that employment infrastructure and opportunities be developed within Arab villages themselves along with affordable and accessible public transportation systems.
Alluding to the fact that most households only own one car, as is often the case among Israeli Jews too, she said that “men, and not just Arab men, have more access to private cars and therefore greater mobility.”
The CBS report also reveals the gender-related professions common among the Muslim population. Indeed, construction accounts for 26% of male Muslim employment while educational fields account for 37% of the female workforce.
Samah Salaime, director of Arab Women in the Center, explained to Tazpit that the reason for this trend in education among Arab women was that “education is still a safe place to be for women. It is not too many hours away from home and the educational system is very attractive because it is public service and offers good vacations.”
Salaime also commented that “as a teacher you don’t have to move to another town in order to work. Most of the Arab women who work as teachers work in their own villages.”
Regarding higher education, 5,000 Muslims graduated with academic degrees from Israeli institutions of higher education in 2013-2014. Among those who received a first degree from universities and other academic institutions and colleges, enrollment was notably higher in the following fields: education – 28.7%, teaching and instructing – 29.7%, pharmacy – 31.4%, Arabic and Arabic Literature – 36.1%.
Finally, the average monthly outgoings for Jewish and Muslim households stood at approximately 15,081 shekels ($3,827) and 12,231 shekels ($3,104) respectively.