Wednesday, June 21

Another lions' cage or what?

"Mishekenot Daniel" is the grandiose name chosen for the huge, brandnew, $12 million Movement for Reform Judaism's complex on Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard. Although still under construction, its inauguration took place 2 days ago. The actual opening of the cultural center and youth hostel is supposed to take place this October.
The huge structure dwarfs nearby "Mandel" Cultural center and library.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a lovely city on the Mediterranean cost known to many by the name "The Bride of the Sea".
It's municipality building was located on a street called "Nuzha", not far away from the "alHambra" Theatre. In front of the municipality building there was a small fountain. Flowers had been planted along the tree-lined majestic boulevard.

In 1948 the Bride was forced to leave and found herself on a small boat on the way to Jabaliya Refugee camp in the Gaza strip, or perhaps it was Beirut, or En El Hilwe, Askar, Sabra or...
The sea as well as many (partially) destroyed buildings were left behind. Some 3000 - 4000 Palestinians stayed. Impoverished, robbed of more than their bride, robbed of their cultural and national identity and yes, their pride as well.
What once was "Nuzha" boulevard, became Jerusalem Boulevard and the municipality building became the welfare office serving the now rather poor and enweakened population of Jaffa.
The fountain is still there. And sometimes it even works.
A small cultural center/library was established next to the welfare building. The Bloomfield football stadion was erected not far away, and another cultural center, the Jaffa Music center, was established in the "Groningen Garden, right behind the football stadion.

The ancient fountain became a local meeting place for our local "candymen" and their many heroin addicted clients. True cooperation exists among them: Old timers, new immigrants, Palestinians and Jews, all sit together and enjoy whatever it is they enjoy, shooting up, a smoke or their needles.

And now the Israel Reform Movement have established their new cultural center right there. So from now on, we have 3 (three!) cultural centers, all three right next to the other.

Don't take me wrong, i'm happy about each cultural center opened in Jaffa. Hopefully it will serve us well and for sure, some of us will be able to find jobs, perhaps the classrooms may be used by "us" (the local community) as well. It will bring more people to Jaffa, which is good for local business and it may lead to increased understanding, bringing people closer.
Also, no lovely old Jaffa houses have been destroyed in order to construct the building.

So what's wrong?

Well, perhaps "wrong" is not the right word at this time. We need to see what they will do and how we, the local people, can benefit from it. BUT, why didn't they bother to ask us?
Perhaps they could have contructed the center in Ajami? Or in Yafo Daled or Gimmel?
Or,... perhaps those 12 million $ could have been spent improving existing services in Jaffa or making them more available to the poorer people in society?

Oh, and in case Daniel doesn't know where to find the lions, perhaps they're outside of the cage right now.
Ajami might be a good place to start looking.

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