Friday, November 10

The Jaffa Conference, 2006

It is difficult to discuss coexistence or cooperation between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel, when 20 people in Bet Hanoun (the Gaza Strip) died as a result of an Israeli artillery shell, a war crime.
How can Jaffa's only knesset member, the Palestinian MK Nadia Hilu possibly cooperate and be part of the coalition party, when ultra rightwing Ivet Liberman has become a minister.
The two events happened in the same week.
The Jaffa Arab Jewish Community Center has a lovely view of the sea. The weather is nice and sunny, the area is quiet.
Some 130 people sit together, in order to participate in a discourse concerning life in the "mixed cities".
During the first sessions panel members highlight certain aspects led by an incredibly overbearing and self satisfied Dr. Eli Peled, who instead of facilitating a discourse, takes up most of the time for presenting his own rather right-wing views, until several people in the public make their voice heard. But there no longer is time for a true discourse.
The conference is strange. After all, the majority of the participants LIVE in these cities, are aware of the problems and have been thinking about solutions. Instead the panel states the same things we have heard before and very few new ideas arise.
The new CEO of the Mishlama was there, another non-Jaffa ex air force buddy of mayor Ron Hulday.
Less than 15 minutes are left for the public's questions and ideas. The few members of the public who were allowed to talk (hell, where did they find that Peled guy?) pointed out the need for affirmative action. Palestinian Jaffaites should not only work in low level positions, but in all functions in the municipality, and that should include in functions in which they define policies and manage Jewish employees, not just as clerks serving the Arab population.
Sad to hear the new mishlama guy point out "Ahmad shelanu" ("our Ahmad", i guess he mean Ahmad Balahe, the ONLY Palestinian employed in a mid level mishlama position, the rest are cleaners and simple clerks).By using that term "our Ahmed" he said more than he intended.
Sad, sad, these guys seem to conceive of their function in Jaffa as a starting point, a jumping board so to say, in their careers, instead of a true aim and goal. So sad.
The next item on the program was Colette Avital, "the first woman candidate for president".
I don't see any connection between her and Jaffa.
I really didn't feel like listening to MK Collette Avital, so i used that time to get an update ex-camera info setting on some of the stuff that is currently happening in Jaffa.
The next session concerning NGO's was somewhat better, but also left me very depressed. True, there are about 60 NGO's in Jaffa and there is a certain level of wasted of resources, and a lack of coordination now and then.
But there are reasons for that, and solutions are not simple.

By its end i started to wonder what the hell i was doing in this conference. It seems more like a kind of "oh we are so nice" sort of meeting, in which we Jaffaites are serving as a picturesque background, than as a place where action can be planned. The public was silenced again and again.

Due to work commitments, yours truly needs to do some work now and then to pay the rent after all, i couldn't stay during the afternoon session, which was dedicated to the possible cooperation between the Waqf in different places, in relation to the safeguarding of Muslim religious places.
It's a pity i missed it.

But the truth? The part of the conference in which i participated was not very relevant, shallow and not at all geared towards solution seeking or thinking. I felt used as a background for some people needing to show they are doing something.

Not a success.


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Anonymous said...

Very interesting.I read an article about Nadia Hilu in JPost the other day.However I believe Ms Hilu is an Israeli Ha'Avoda MK,not a Palestinian MK

yudit said...

Ofcourse Ms. Hilu is a Palestinian. She 's also an Israeli citizen and a member of the Knesset.
Your comment was made, albeit in a different way, by Dr. eli Peled, the abominable chairperson of the first panel session during the conference.
To quote him; "the Israeli Arabs have a problem with their identity.
He was rectified by several members of the panel (Ibrahim Abu Shindi, mamager of the Arab Jewish Community Center in Ajami, Kamal Agrabiya, the chairperson of the Ajami neighborhood council, and most eloquent of all, by Busayna, the manager of the Shatil Mixed Cities project:
It is not US ("Arabs") who have a problem with our identities, i do NOT have a problem with my identity. It is you, who has a problem, I am a Palestinian. I'm also a citizen of the state of Israel.
Today's aware and eloquent Palestinian Israeli young leaders refuse Israel's attempt at deifning them as not a part of the Palestinian nation. By using terms such as "Druze", Cercessians", "Bedouins" or "Israeli Arabs" a split is created. This split is not naive (although some of the people who use it, may not be fully aware of its implications and not mean "anything wrong".
As Mr. Abu Shindi said " we have relatives in Gaza, in Nablous and in Lebanon." And to Quote Mr. Agrabiya and others: "We are a part of the Palestinian people. We are Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel.
We have and recognize our duties and demand our rights.

Anonymous said...

My point Yudit is that Israeli Arabs who now suddenly in the last few yrs want to be known as "Palestinians" are supporting the policies of avigdor lieberman.

Already I see in Arutz Sheva their saying that there is harassment and attacks on Israeli Jews by their Arab neighbors in Jaffa:Arabs committing physical and verbal violence, repeated property damage, harassment of Jewish women and girls, anti-Jewish slogans and Nazi swastikas featuring in graffiti

Now Syria does not recognize the existance of Lebanon,so I wonder if Walid Jumblatt MP is now considered a Syrian MP.The Syrians have charged Jumblatt with treason btw,lol

yudit said...

"Already I see in Arutz Sheva their saying that there is harassment and attacks on Israeli Jews by their Arab neighbors in Jaffa:Arabs committing physical and verbal violence, repeated property damage, harassment of Jewish women and girls, anti-Jewish slogans and Nazi swastikas featuring in graffiti"

Arutz 7 has never been my trusted source of information.
However, what is being stated here is so far from the truth it should perhaps be called a bunch of lies.
Yes, there are some people (both Jews and Palestinians) in Jaffa who use violence as their weapon.
However, this is a very small minority, and mostly it has to do with crime in which both Jews and Palestinians are cooperating: drug, weapons etc.
It is very little if at all to do with ethnicity.
In Jaffa there is a lot of grafitiy staing things such as "kahana was right", "death to the Arabs" and similar sentences. Swastikas? Never seen any of those. Which does n't mean there aren't any. But Hate grafiti against Arabs is all over.
Arab men bothering Jewish women?
From the statistics presented annually by the Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, we can learn one thing: harassment of women by men tends to be inside the ethnic group and not between the ethnic groups. This is also reflected by police statistics.
Which, once more, does not mean there isn't an isolated case now and then, but turning that into the kind of generalizations mentioned by you, is simply not true.
However, this sort of statements are very convenient for right wing politicians making their occasional visit to Jaffa.
They come here, bring the press with them and make a lot of noise in the hope to evoke a little violence, as that serves their needs.
We've gotten used to those provocations.
The only problem, they are based on a bunch of lies and some half truths. Not every quarrel between neighbors has to do with ethnic based hate.

An example is e.g. the fireworks during Ramadan. Teenagers love using loud fireworks during Ramadan. they set them off everywhere. I was sitting in a garden next to a synagogue with my women friends (both Muslim and Jewish women).
Young boys came by and threw some fireworks at us and at the synagogue.
We had a scare and a laugh and shouted at them.
I was rather surprised to read the next day in the news that the synagogue had been "attacked".
A few firecrackers are not an atack.
Silly teenagers having some fun. They threw them at us and at the synagogue. We just had a laugh and a shout and told them to move it.
It's just an example.

Politicians make use of non items to make their gain. they don't give any thoughts to us living here.
They couldn't care less, i suppose.