Jews of Israel - Settlements

The Jewish population of Israel is overwhelmingly urban (about 90 percent), concentrated along the Mediterranean coast and in the three major cities—Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. About twenty-seven smaller cities called "development towns" were planned by the government, starting in the mid1950s, as ways to settle large numbers of Oriental Jews, promote light industry, and disperse the population from the coastal strip. Today these areas, among the poorest Jewish areas in Israel, are sites of ethnic unrest. Of the small proportion of Jews who reside in rural areas, the majority live in collective (kibbutz) and cooperative (moshav) communities. The kibbutz, especially, is known worldwide as a distinctive Israeli institution whose members ( kibbutznikim ) historically have played a significant role in Israeli society. Nevertheless, today only about 3.5 percent of Israeli Jews live on the kibbutzim and 4.5 percent on the moshavim.

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