Tuesday, June 27

Jaffa for Sale

Once upon a time, many many years ago, Jaffa was the entrance port to ancient Palestine; weary travellers, whether on business or on pilgrimage to the holy sites, disembarked in Jaffa after their often long sea journeys.
Jaffa had luxururious hotels for the wealthy and simple guesthouses and beds in the various khans for the less well to do. Pilgrims often stayed at the church-run hostels, each church catering to their own pilgrims.

When ships got bigger, they could no longer enter the Jaffa's natural harbor which is protected, but also limited, by natural rock formations, many underneath the sea surface.
They had to anchor outside the port and small boats would be rowed or sailed alongside to bring passengers to the shore and returning passengers and oranges on board.
In the early years of the 20th century a small railway was constructed right into the sea, to reach the ships for disembarkation right where they were anchored.
However, a big storm came and destroyed it, right before it was put to use. They rebuilt it, yet, as expected, another big storm came and it was destoyed once more.
Jaffa has a long history (or perhaps mythology) of sea related events, from Andromeda through Jonah and his whale and Nikanor and the temple doors, so i guess the effort was doomed from the beginning, just listen to the old fishermen, as my friend Abu George would say.

New modern harbors were contructed, and Jaffa's once important harbor lost its monopoly and finally its function as an international harbor. Oranges were shipped through Ashdod and Haifa, and perhaps today, after many of the citrus groves have been cut down and turned into neighborhhoods for the wealthy, there no longer is much citrus export. Spain, north Africa and Florida have taken over. Canned orange juice made from industrial concentrate have replaced what used to be Jaffa's main source of income.

The hotels were closed or were turned into offices, homes for the elderly, or appartment buildings or simply broken down. The khan was turned into a series of iron workshops where old fridges and other steel pruducts are being given a new life
Close to the clock tower square, there is a small building. The cellar is really an ancient excavation, which can be seen through the glass first floor, consisting of high ceilinged rooms, once belonging to a church as can be seen from the old stone masonry on the outside walls.
The higher floors were built much later, a small "boutique" hotel which never opened.
I heard the place is for sale now, just as part of the other buildings along Jaffa's clock tower square (once Jaffa's vegetable market).

Another piece of history up for the highest bidder.

Will it be sold to a local family, or perhaps Palestinian expatriates or just another wealthy conglomerate, to be turned into another Disneyland-like "Old City of ... " ?

Why can it not be turned into something serving us, the locals? Don't misunderstand me, i'm all in favor of bringing new business to Jaffa. But i would like it to be Jaffa owned and Jaffa run, for us, not for some big hotel magnate sitting somewhere else.

No comments: