Friday, December 15

Akhbar Al-Madina - Jaffa's Newest Weekly

Before 1948, most of the country's Arabic language newspapers, magazines and books were printed in Jaffa, which had several tens of printing houses and many bookstores. On sunday mornings Jaffa's well educated elite would gather at the literary club to listen to poets and writers reading their latest work.
At times there would be over 500 people listening, and chairs and a loudspeaker were placed outside as there was barely space to breathe inside the overcrowded club building.
Jaffa was "Arus AlBahar", the Bride of the Sea, the cultural center for the Palestinian population.
All that had been finished by 1948 (in fact Jaffa's elite had started leaving in 1946 when conditions in Jaffa were becoming unbearable, often extendeding their summer stay abroad "until the situation would improve", not expecting the Naqbe, not understanding they would never be able to return to their beloved city.
The printing presses had been silenced.
In fact, there were no bookstores in Jaffa for many years. Then the small Steimatzky store was opened, which carried mostly Hebrew books and a tiny selection of books in Arabic, mostly for young children. A few years ago, "Jaffa, Coffee & Books" was opened but that's mostly a coffeeshop with a small selection of books, some in Arabic. They claim "human rights", but their employment practice proves soemthing rather different. As a result, I make it a point not to go there, although it is quite popular with some of the left.

Office supply stores sell schoolbooks in Arabic at the beginning of the school year. But if you want serious literature or academic materials in Arabic, you have to go to the Triangle, Haifa or Jerusalem.
Some people prefer going to Jordan or once a year, the the great Arabic Book Fair in Egypt, often bringing back many books for themselves and for bookloving friends.
The cultural price of the Naqbe paid by the Jaffa residents has not been researched much, to the best of my knowledge. Researchers and authors Danny Monteresqu, Mark Levine, Sami Abu Shade, Adam LeBor and Dan Yahav all relate to aspects of this loss in their works.

So imagine how wonderful to finally see a Jaffa made weekly magazine on the newsstands today!

I want to say "Mabruk!" to Akhbar Al-Madina.

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