The Jerusalem Employment Coalition

Meeting of the Jerusalem Employment Coalition

For background on the Jerusalem Employment Coalition see our previous post.

Today we held a meeting at the East Jerusalem Family Center of the Municipality Welfare Department. Twenty five coalition members listened to officials of the municipality East Jerusalem Welfare Department who described the dire situation in East Jerusalem in terms of employment.

The obstacles for employment in East Jerusalem include a wide range of issues – from language and cultural barriers, to political obstacles and more – leaving little hope for fast improvement. There are only two municipality employees assigned to handle this situation, which affects the lives of 250,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Leaders from East Jerusalem, as well as NGO representatives, all agreed that momentous action is needed in order to mend the situation. Another meeting will be held to achieve practical outcomes.

While this is a positive step, it is important to note that without a significant shift in the general attitude towards East Jerusalem it will be very difficult to tackle these problems effectively.

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Municipal Elections in Jerusalem!!!

Yesterday, Jerusalem’s secular mayoral candidate, Mr. Nir Barkat, won the municipal election with 52% of the vote. His ultra-orthodox opponent, Rabbi Meir Porush, was close behind with 43%. The Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center cannot, of course, support any of the candidates, as one of our most important functions is the enabling of fair dialogue and negotiations between the many identities in the city. The members of the JICC board,  representing different groups in the city – Palestinians and Jews, ultra-orthodox and members of other religious denominations – supported various candidates.

Nevertheless, most of the 31 members of the newly elected City Council are new to their role, and they too represent many different identity groups and attitudes. It is our role to help them create effective and profound dialogue amongst themselves, as well as between them and the Jerusalem residents.

The JICC aspires to promote Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City – and we hope to convince the new Council to adopt this approach. We will try to enhance the impact of the Jerusalem Employment Coalition on the decisionmaking process in the municipality. The municipality is a member of the coalition, which was founded and is facilitated by the JICC. In addition, the JICC has already started a dialogue process between main ultra-orthodox and non-ultra orthodox groups touching upon the issue of living together in Jerusalem. We would like the municipality to be a partner to the thinking process and to the implementation of the outcomes.

In recent years, we attempted to improve the dialogue between the municipality and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, most of whom feel alienated from the municipality and therefore ban the elections. We hope that this dialogue will now intensify and result in better infrastructure and services in East Jerusalem.

To conclude, we see the elections’ results as an opportunity for positive change in the city, hopefully through the cooperation of the many rival groups at the City Council. To respond to these new challenges and opportunities the JICC will shortly initiate meetings with City Council members.

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Meeting of the Jerusalem Employment Coalition – November 5, 2008

Background: The JICC initiated an employment coalition in Jerusalem in 2005. To begin with the coalition’s main focus was the Welfare-To-Work program that was implemented at the time in Jerusalem, and in three other locations around the country. This program, the first of its kind in Israel, generated much controversy between experts from the government, business sector and NGOs active in the area of employment. The JICC invited the many agencies and businesses that were involved in the implementation of the program or in opposing it, to cooperate in the employment coalition. The coalition enabled the organizations to conduct an effective dialogue that made it possible to improve many aspects of the program. Unfortunately, such a coalition was not mirrored in other regions in Israel where the W2W program was implemented.

Toward 2008 coalition members suggested to upgrade the mission of the coalition and to become the Jerusalem Employment Coalition. A main focus of the JEC is to find ways to advance the adaptation of the employment field to the diverse identities in the city. In the bimonthly meetings, hosted by various coalition members, participants increase their exposure to, and understanding of, diverse aspects of the professional work in this field, and look for synergy and partnerships that would address the needs of the Jerusalemite identities.

Today we held a meeting at the Governmental Employment Service in Jerusalem. Thirty coalition members listened to Mr. Nimrod Alon, the director of the Jerusalem District, and discussed the services provided by this agency. The main issues that were raised related to courses offered to ultra-orthodox women and to unemployed Ethiopians. Two sub-committees will continue to meet in order to address the adaptation of governmental employment services, as well as help employers adjust their businesses to these identities.

Jerusalem Employment Coalition - November 5 2008

Jerusalem Employment Coalition – November 5 2008

The next meeting will be held at Teva, an Israeli biotech company that works closely with employment assignment services.

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