The Urban Effects of Privileged Jewish Immigration and Tourism on Jerusalem, Israel

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Hila ZABAN, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Israel is an ethnic migration country with an open-door policy for Jews and extensive support benefits for immigrants. This structure privileges all Jews contemplating immigration to Israel, or even just investing money there. Yet the state has additional policies regarding highly skilled and economically affluent immigrants, particularly from Western countries. These policies aim to assist absorption, reduce bureaucracy, provide tax exemptions and benefits, and facilitate professional integration. Israeli cities are trying to attract high-status migrants from Western countries, and Jerusalem, the focus of this paper, is attracting the largest percentage of them. Since Western Jewish migration to Israel began following the 1967 war, several parts of the city became particularly attractive to these immigrants, and they established ethnic enclaves there. These inner-city neighbourhoods, close to the city centre and the Old City of Jerusalem, are not only attractive to new immigrants but also to tourists and second-home buyers who seek prime locations but also suitable communities of like-mined people and the amenities surrounding them. While this leads to growing bottom-up demands for housing in these areas, the Jerusalem Municipality, which has been seeking foreign investment for years, approved large and small-scale developments of luxury homes and hotels in many parts of the inner-city, particularly aimed at Diaspora Jews. While some projects are yet to be built and populated, it is already clear that the result of these top-down planning policies is transnational gentrification: inner-Jerusalem is becoming unaffordable for Israelis, who are pushed out to the city’s suburbs. Indeed, Jerusalem’s transnational gentrification has a particular context, but in effect, these are processes occurring and affecting many other cities wishing to attract high-status privileged foreigners to live, invest or visit there, much on the expense of local communities, unable to compete on housing prices.