Thursday, June 22

Designer Fleas, original import from the north

Jaffa's fleamarket is famous throughout the country.
A wonderful place to find the strangest objects, vintage clothing, good simple food, lovely crockery items from international compies' no longer continued lines, wooden sculptures from Thailand, Indian clothing, glass lampshades and what not, all for fairly reasonable prices as well as doubtful antiques and archeological findings recently released from factories in China or some other globalised sweatshop "free trade zone' somewhere in East Asia.
Once upon a time, not really all that long ago (before 1948), it was a meat market. There were also areas dedicated to herbs and vegetables and houseware.
In the early hours of the morning, the meat was most expensive, later on, depending on the heat, it would be cheaper, when it's quality went down, time for the poorer people to come and buy some meat.
The last to buy meat, were the nuns from the monastery-orphanage, poor orphans, i guess.
In the area of the clock tower square "diligences", horse driven carts waited to take their passengers to various parts of the country as well as to the nearby Turkish trainstation. Later they were replaced by buses and taxis. There were many coffeshops where men would meet all day long over endless small cups of coffee and a nargileh, playing sheshbesh or discussing the latest news or some business oportunity.

All that has been gone, yet during the day hours, still something of that old market atmosphere can be felt.
Some of the store owners are Palestinians, others are Jews. Usually the relations are friendly and cooperative. When someone goes to lunch, his neighbor will watch the store. When a client is asking for something the owner doesn't have, there's alsways a way to find out if the neighbor has the item.
There are small, almost hidden little clubs for card players, gamblers really who, depending on the hour of the day, play their cards and tount Lady Bountiful, accompanied by a coffee (morning) or Araq (afternoon).
True, sometimes there are fights, but not more than in any other market place. Jaffa is Jaffa, after all.
This month, on thursday evening, things are different.
A huge happening, involving several designers (and quite a few wannabees) flock to Jaffa, bands play music in the streets and huge crowds of people come from other areas, to buy the latest gadgets and "enjoy authentic Jaffa".

Now that's ofcourse where the problem starts. The evening market, although colorful and fun to walk around in itself, is as authentically "jaffa" as Tel Aviv's bauhaus buidlings are authentically "Dresden": the music is western, the very large majority of the designers and their clients all come from far away. during the week they sell their stuff at Sheinkin Street, on thursday night it suddenly becomes "authentic" Disneyland-Jaffa.

To enter the matket, you have to pass a security guard and show the contents of your bag, as is the standard in most social events in the country, Normal, regular, but it means that for many of Jaffa's Palestinian population entering the area becomes unpleasant, and indeed, except for very few (e.g. my 9-year old friend Yasen, who sells little bags of turmus during all hours of the day and night in the area), Jaffa's Palestinian population stay away.

Perhaps it is indeed nice that finally people "come back to Jaffa", and perhaps it is a business opportunity for some of the salesmen and store owners in the area. Perhaps i should be less critical, and praise the mishlama "for putting Jaffa on the map", but if this is the way they do it....
then this Jaffaite doesn't like it.

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