Monday, July 24

Nasrallah the folk hero?

I've been thinking for more than 24 hours now whether to write the following text or not.
It's easy to misinterpret or otherwise abuse the information.

I do some community work in Ajami, the neighborhood where i live. I work with girls and young women, some of them from extremely impoverished homes, where they are faced with various forms of violence, drug abuse etc.

The majority of them are Palestinian girls, although they will not define themselves as such, they have very little political awareness, or... do they?

Yesterday, in spite of the very hot weather, we sat in the garden, in the shadow of a huge "toot" tree, drinking cold water and eating" majadara". Talking about this and that.
Thirteen year old Aisha* said; " You know Yudit, in the X store in "Gantamar" (a part of Ajami) they sell posters of Nasrallah, they have different sizes, i want to buy one to hang in my room. Nasrallah is the only one who cares about the Palestinians".
Sixteen year old pious Mervat* agreed with her, and spat on the photographs of fallen soldiers, on the "Yediot" front page she was holding while saying they were "maniakim". I knew she was waiting for my reaction. Would act in anger? Would i be distressed?

We started talking. Mervat told me she'd spoken yesterday to her sister, who lives in the Gaza strip with her children. Although the sister has a blue, Israeli id card, the sisters have not met for years, as her Gaza-born children cannot travel with her, and they cannot get an entry permit to Israel.
Mervat, who herself was born in the Gaza strip to an Israeli mother, carries an Israeli ID, so she cannot go to visit Gaza, to meet her family.
The only way the sisters can meet, is abroad. As people in the Gaza strip have little money, that road is open to few.
Mervat 's sister's home has been destroyed. They can talk only occasionally, when there is enough electricity to charge the batteries of the sister's cellphone. The sister and her children live with her husband's family now. All stay in one room. The children, traumatized by the noises, the loss of their home, the lack of hope, the poverty, the stress, find it difficult to cope.

Mervat is angry. she knows very little about politics and only occasionally watches the news. But she is certain of one thing : Nasrallah is the only one who cares about the Palestinians, he has given her hope. She sees him as an honest man with honor, a hero, not scared of the "zionists who kill our children".
Aisha agrees with her.

Then they say "don't worry Yudit, you are not like them, we know you are ok".

Two little girls from Ajami saying it more clearly, if we'd only listen "the Israeli emperor's new clothes are non-existent".

But we don't listen, or perhaps we don't want to listen. No, Aisha and Mervat are not dangerous extremists. what they see in the news upsets them, deeply. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians get killed, murdered. While all eyes are trained on Lebanon, no one pays attention to what is happening in the WestBank and the Gaza Strip where people are killed as well and infrastructure and houses destroyed.

Aisha and Mervat don't know much about the politics, the dynamics and the "expert opinions" of this or that (ex) general. In fact, they never watch the Israeli Hebrew language channels. They watch AlJezeera etc, where they see the violence, the horror, they talk to their relatives and they perceive one thing: Nasrallah makes promises which he keeps.
Whether that is true or not, doesn't play much of a role. they perceive it as true, honest and honorable.

Their lives in Jaffa are poor and they have few chances.

Aisha and Mervat are the future. They can change a lot, in any direction. We better listen to them and take them very seriously.
They are two very innocent well meaning and sensitive young girls.
They don't believe the Israeli version, they know they have very little to expect from life and if someone gives them hope, they'll take it up, with all the vigour of the very young.

*Not their real names

Saturday, July 22

Sending direct mail to the world's leaders in order to convince them to act to stop the war

On the Hebrew website "
Avoda Shora" there is a call to all bloggers to write the leaders of the world to do their bit to stop the war, NOW.
(When i write the word "leaders" i cringe. Lately i seem to have developed a great distaste for that word, or perhaps the people who are supposed to function as leaders).
The e-mail addresses of the relevant leaders are provided. It is, after all in their hands and without international pressure on Israel and Hizb'Allah, nothing will stop.

The text is being translated into English right now, so hopefully i'll be able to put up a link shortly.

Bloggers for peace unite!

What else can we do?

Those of you in Israel, Come to the demonstration against the war this evening starting on Rabin square at 18.30.

It's being organized by Ta'ayush, Women for Peace groups, Gush Shalom, Shministim etc etc.

Transport is provided from:

Haifa, 16:45, Kikar Solel Bone. Binyamin: 050-535-8601

Jerusalem, 17:00, Gan Hapamon. Gilad: 050-868-2992

Nazarat, 16:00, Beit Hayedidut, Zahar: 050-314-8805

Blood revenge in Jaffa just never stops

The police and news mention it as "mysterious murder of business man in Rishon leZion", yet in Ajami we know better.
We may not know who exactly shot the man 2 days ago, but we know the story: He's from Jaffa, from Ajami, to be precise.
A good guy, hard working with a young family, no criminal connections.
But two of his brothers are involved, so the story on the streets goes, in Jaffa's underworld. And they have been in hiding for a long time now.
And if you cannot get at them, well, then you just shoot their brother. That's the logic of gangwar here.
The brother, after all, is easy to find. He has a business in Rishon and works long hours every day to provide for his family. So you send out your assasin(s) and that's where you hit.
Another victim of the bloody crimewar in Jaffa.
Or, as my neighbor puts it "there is no way how you can stop this. Two things in Jaffa, revenge and a woman's honor, will always lead to violence".

Wednesday, July 19

Palestinian and Jewish kids from Jaffa make a huge wall drawing

Some things are still somewhat normal in Israel, in Jaffa: On the corner of Yehuda HaYamit / Yefet street (the "Yefet bridge") in the direction towards the harbor, kids from all over Jaffa are cooperating in painting a huge wall drawing.

They started this morning and will continue to work on the project all week through, until next monday. Each day, between 9-12 and 15-19 o'clock, Jaffa's children are invited to join the kids from "Reut-Sedaka" (the Palestinian - Jewish youth movement), the scouts, girls from the Women's Court, boys from the Jasmin hostel, children of migrant workers and many others in making a huge wall drawing.

The design was made cooperatively by all groups, by means of a long process of meetings in which all children voiced their opinions, selected imagery, symbols and colors they like. The final design based on the results of the process and put together by professional artists, was ok-ed by the kids' representatives and the Tel Aviv Jaffa municipality.

Later today images will be available on "picasa".

You can do something and join us!

Saturday, July 15

Stop the War! Halt the bloodshed! Demonstration sunday July the 17th

Tomorrow, sunday, July the 17th at 19.00,
Come to the Demonstration
against the war in Gaza and Lebanon
Give peace a chance!
We'll meet at the
corner of Frishman and Shderot Hen in Tel Aviv.

My gun is bigger than yours, majnounim of the world unite

Katyusha rockets being shot at the north of Israel, Qassam rockets at the south, Beirut, Sidon and Tyre being bombed by the Israeli airforce. Villages in south Lebanon being hit by intense artillery fire. Yeah, the villagers have been told to leave their homes for their own safety, but with the road and bridges infrastructure destroyed that's kind of hard to carry out.
How the hell did this mess come about?
OK, Hizb'Allah are not nice. In fact, anyone saying they have a direct line to god who commands him or her to act violently against another human being, belongs in the majnoun category imho.
But we have our very own crazies as well. It's so easy to escalate a problem and so difficult to climb down from those very high trees.
I didn't have many expectations from cfhief of staff Dan Halutz: after all he has already proven his very doubtful human rights record, by carrying out bombardments in Gaza, killing several children and other completely innocent civilians and justifying those acts as "targeted acts against leading terrorists". Acts, which in many other places might be condoned as warcrimes.
However, i expected Amir Peretz to be slightly more patient with his finger on the trigger.
After all, our triggers operate bigger guns and it is so easy to get ourselves once more into the Lebanese mud. Getting into it is easy, getting out of it????
And all of us, Israelis and Lebanese, will be paying, once more, the horrid price.

Saturday, July 8

Ghassan Kanefani would have been 70 years old today

Had it not been for a car bomb, which exploded in 1972, killing both Ghassan Kanefani and a young niece, Lamis, Palestinian author Ghassan Kanefani would have been 70 years old today.
Instead, he died at the age of 36.

Instead of writing much, and forcing you, one of my 2-3 readers of having to do with my poor prose, go out and get yourself a copy of "Men in the Sun". He says it all, much better.
Or try "Land of Sad Oranges", which has been translated into English and focuses on Palestinian refugees from Jaffa.
Ghasssan Kanefani was born and educated in Jaffa. He attended St. Joseph, a Jesuit run, French spoken school, still educating Jaffa's elite.
As a young boy he experienced the naqba when he and his family were forced to flee from Jaffa to the north. On their way they bought sweet large Jaffa oranges, a last tangible memorial from their beloved city, the "Bride of the Sea", or, in Kanefani's words, "The Land of Sad Oranges".

one more NIMBY in Jaffa, from Heller to Hell

Jaffa has twice as much air pollution and 50% less parks and green areas than all the rest of Tel Aviv.
The Jaffa "Heller" park serves a lot of people, especially those living in the public housing estate next to it.
So, in order to make Jaffa even less attractive and worse for our health, the municipality came up with one more brilliant scheme: turn the "Heller" park in to hell: yes, instead of grass, trees & shadow, a few flowers and a children's playground the ultra-gifted urban planners have done it again: the small park, serving thousands of people living in the immediate vicinity, will become a road, so it will be easier to access the nearby other monster-nimby (not in my backyard, for the politico-lingo challenged) of the Ayalon highway, which borders on the east side of that very same neighborhood.

Ofcourse we protest against it, but not too many hear our voices. After all, it's only Jaffa, or perhaps we should start to say "jiffa"*, a much more applicable name.

* Jiffa (Arabic) is used in Israeli slang to express slimy filth

Monday, July 3

Bauhaus in Jaffa, the exhibit and a waft of orientalism

"Bauhaus in Jaffa, Modern Architecture in an Ancient City" was opened last thursday at the Tel Aviv Bauhaus Center, 99 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv.

The gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the center, is open sunday - thursday between 10.00 - 19.30 and on friday between 10.00 - 14.30.
A catalogue in Hebrew and English accompanies the exhibition, which has been curated by architect Shmuel Yavin.
Bauhaus is part of modernism. The invitation to the opening and the graphics of the catalogue front page are in a semi "Arabic" script on an Arabesque background. Pure orientalism. I wonder why.
And that is as close as you will get to Arabic script in this exhibit.

The exhibition consists of photographs, old and new, architectural drawings and maps as well as a short video on the Rahim House.
The text material is in both Hebrew and English. No Arabic. Jaffa, especially the part of Jaffa related to in the exhibit is historically Arabic, then and today.
True, the written material does relate to this, but how can you possible hang an exhibit in this manner and not provide Arabic texts as well?
That by itself is a statement. Sometimes saying nothing says it all.

When i asked about it, one of the people from the Bauhaus center said "they hadn't thought about that and that "they" (Arabs, y i.) don't much come to exhibits in any case", the other representative mentioned that "they actually had thought about an Arabic translation, but it was too expensive".
There was money for English, but Arabic, nada כלום

The short movie (shown on a computer with not the greatest visual quality) about the Rahim House (currently the residence of the French ambassador, see picture) is partially in Arabic, but that is simply not enough. True, Fakhri Geday, the old Palestinian pharmacist who still rembers the time before 1948 and who is interviewed in the movie speaks in Arabic and so do family members of the Rahim family, who used to own the house..

The exhibit as such is rather educational in its approach and although the materials are interesting, there appears to be a mix-up in some of the details between the French hospital and the Dajani hospital. In some cases the Arabic street and neighborhood names are mentioned, not in other cases, almost as if Jaffa's Palestinian character, culture and narrative are of little consequence, of small importance.

Very sad, very symbolic.

Why would Jaffa's Palestinian population come to the exhibit, when there are no explanantions in Arabic? When the Palestinian narrative is mentioned as a side motive rather than a central thread?
Arabic happens to be one of Israel's 2 official languages, but that's only "officially" on paper.

Reality is a different story all together.

Gimme a beer or i'll kill ya?

Early today a man was shot in the head in a Jaffa pizza parlor in 131 Yefet street ; from what they say, it all started with a bottle of beer.
The guy, reportedly from Lod, was wounded in the head,and brought to Wolfson hospital by some of the witnesses. Rumours in Jaffa say he died of his wounds some hours ago.
Apparently the police arrested several suspects, among them the shooter.

The violence here just goes on and on and on.