Monday, January 9

Continued Destruction in Jaffa

The heavy noise of a bulldozer, sounds of falling pieces of concrete, building blocks, rooftiles, the dust and smoke smell made it clear even before i arrived at the scene: one more old house destroyed in Jaffa, another piece of history down the drain.

No, the house wasn't particularly beautiful, but it was the last one still standing in the shuk area (the Jaffa Market).
The destruction of our market was started several years ago.
It was done the usual "Jaffa" way. A weathy developer, some say Dudi Appel, but i might be mistaken, suggest a new project, a shopping center, no less.
And ofcourse, some private houses.
Ajami is beautiful, it's close to the sea, not far from the French embassador's house and the fancy Jewish Arab Community Center, in short, prime property, "a good investment", as they say.

Yet the area was home to regular people as well as our market.
Some of the market stall owners were offered money to move elsewhere. Others were made to understand "the Jaffa way", they better move it. When someone explains you something "the Jaffa way", u better grasp it, quickly.
In the end the market was destroyed. There no longer is a food market for us. No more fresh and cheap vegetables and fruit, no longer a place for the poor to gather some free fruit&veggies at the end of the week, no longer a place to meet and gossip, in short, no more market.
The buildings were destoeyed and with it a way of life, our way of life.

Building after building went. Today it was the last sunrise on the one, the last one still standing. A home to a family. It was old, so perhaps a few generations. If i recall corectly it had a lemon tree in the small yard. Lovely old wooden shutters, high celings, old tiles.
Perhaps the inhabitants were given some money in order to move. For sure they have been given lots of promises.

How is this done?
The usual way:
The house is usually owned by Halamish or another public housing company. It was left in 1948. The original owners (or rahter, their children and grand children) are perhaps in a Lebanese refugee camp, in Gaza, in the US or in Europe. The public housing company that took control over the building has refused for many years to properly care for it. The people actually living there, pay the rent, but the company doesn't repair a thing.
Then, over time, the house will start to leak, the walls to crumble, to roof to fall down, bit by bit. The house is declared "dangerous". The company offers the family living there, a small flat in one of the slums. The family has no choice.
It's either that or living on the street, so they move out "of their own free will".

The expensive land is then sold for a big profit to a wealthy owner who constructs yet another villa or closed compound for the very wealthy who are attracted to Jaffa's "oriental" character and by the orientalist promotion material.

Most of the people living in the abominable slums of "Shem HaGdolim" and Mihlol Yoffi" lost their beautiful old houses that way. They got stuck in the slums, and the rich now live in the beautiful old places, sometimes fabulously reconstructed, often newly built.

And all of us no longer have a market...

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