Tuesday, June 6

Poems among the trees

So it's National Book Week once more.
The big book fair is no longer held in the Tel Aviv city center, next to the municipality building, on Rabin Square, but somewhere up in the north of the Tel Aviv, 2 busrides (from Jaffa) away, 1.5 hour in each direction.
True, the huge fair is located in a big park with lots of lawns to laze about with books just bought at a secial bookfair discount rate, but it's one hell of a ride to go there.

However, beyond the geographical distance there are the social and cultural distances, devides really.

Taking a family with 2-3 kids there, costs a lot in bus fares. and ofcourse after such a long ride, all want to drink something, an icecream perhaps in the 36C degree heat. That's before buying books.
The large majority of the books are in Hebrew. They are also very expensive, even after the special book fair discounts. Way beyond the reach of most of Jaffa's families, both Jews and Palestinians.
We have to make to with the small public libraries, badly equipped with few books. None of them real ly brand-new and exciting. In general public libraries in Israel aren't what they should be.
They cater mostly to younger school children, providing them with dictionaries and encyclopedias in a nicely airconditioned room. Ofcourse when there is little space and no airconditioning at home such a library is in fact a good alternative. The majority of Jaffa librarians are wonderfulpeople, both friendly and very helpful to the many school children coming in for some homework help. They cater to a great need. But the tools they have are lacking, not good nor sufficient enough:
  • There are few books, most of them not new. Only a fraction of the new books published in Israel every year make it to the shelves of the public libraries.
  • There is no good cataloguing system allowing computerized search by various parameters in Jafa's public libraries.
  • There are no other media nor good access from up-to-date computers with speedy internet access.
  • The opening hours are short, so working adults have a hard time making use of the services after work hours or on fridays.
  • The look and feel of the libraries: somewhere stuck in the late forties or early fifties and not because of "cool" retro-design, but because of lack of resources
The municipality put up some beautifully designed banners with poems between the trees in Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard (Nuzha Street , that is, for old timers and those of long pre Naqba memory). Some of the poems are by Jewish poets, in Hebrew, one by a Palestinian poet, in Arabic with a Hebrew translation. Very nice indeed.

And what about all poems in both languages?

And what about a bookfair in Jaffa along Jerusalem Boulevard? Or perhaps along Yefet Street?
What about books in Arabic?

It's as if Palestinian culture in Jaffa is wiped out, non existant, no longer there.


Hanan Cohen said...


I was told about your blog and added it to my website - English-writing Israeli-bloggers

It will be a good balance to the mostly religeouse right wing bloggers there.

Keep writing!

Hanan Cohen

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog via Hanan's English-Israeli blogs website. It is very interesting to read about life there in Jaffa.x