Publication: The ´foster city´: the different strata of urban diversity in a newly-mixed town
In the past several decades, an expeditious internal migration process is evident in Israel. Israeli towns which were established during the 1950s and 1960s have attracted Ultra-Orthodox communities and Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. This process stands in contrast to the Nationalist-Zionist ethos, which has aimed to plan and populate new towns in the peripheral areas of the new state, mainly for secular Jews. As a consequence, population groups who are considered as ´others´, share the urban space with the local population. Against this background, tensions between the different population groups arise, turning the city into a contested arena, where struggles over public resources, public services, local identity and urban image proliferate. This paper highlights the different strata of urban diversity in the context of planning, asking how urban management and planning deal with a city that becomes mixed and is characterized by multiple conflicts. Karmiel, a newly-mixed town in Israel, was selected as a case study. This paper is based on a PhD research that focused on three planning events which differ in scale and represent the conflicts within the urban realm, resulting from and intensified by increasing urban diversity in terms of religious inclination (secular vs. ultra-orthodox Jews), ethno-national identity (Jews vs. Palestinians who are Israeli citizens), and socio-economic inequalities (high socioeconomic status vs. low socio-economic status). The methodology combines multiple sources of knowledge and information: historical knowledge (archival documentation); planning knowledge (statutory plans, municipal board-meetings’ protocols, court verdicts, interviews with municipal officials and planning practitioners); local knowledge (in-depth conversations: local residents, social activists, local NGOs, building contractors, business owners, national and local press, the civic discourse in Facebook groups); quantitative data and information (Israeli central bureau of statistics, The Ministry of Housing publications, Israeli Tax authorities, Israeli Knesset research center). This approach has produced integrative knowledge about contemporary urbanism, stressing the unique urban dynamics within cities that are becoming mixed. This paper offers a new conceptualization- ´the Foster City´. Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinians, who are Israeli citizens, are compared to ´step-inhabitants´- they are not an ideological product of the Nation-Zionist city. The Israeli urban reality is characterized by growing heterogeneity, subverting the Israeli planning policy which strives for absolute social, cultural and spatial separation between Jews and Arabs and between secular and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. This abnormality challenges the existing order, eroding the utopian ideal of the homogeneous Nation-City. The ´Foster City´ highlights the intermediate situation of newly-mixed cities, not only in Israel, but is germane to the European context as well. It emphasizes the complicated conditions of population groups considered as ´others´, in two central aspects: alienation and temporariness. In the ´Foster City´ the struggles over symbolic and spatial demands echo everywhere: at home, in the streets and neighborhoods and in the entire city. Nonetheless, the ´Foster City´ is an enabling space, providing for marginalized groups an opportunity to fulfill their civil rights: it reduces the supremacy of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic status, while allowing civic belonging to sprout.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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