Friday, January 12

Jaffa Harbor, an ancient bride's untimely death

The Jaffa Tel Aviv municipality decided to take over responsibility for the Jaffa harbor. they just voted on the development program, and i suppose they want to have something to show for that city's upcoming birthday.

They, so they say, "want to turn it into a a succes-story, just like the Tel Aviv harbor". That statement is worth an investigation as well as quite a few questions.

The Jaffa harbor is an active fishermen's harbor, home to small ships and aflukas, which go out nightly to fish the Mediterranean.
There is a small fishmarket (suffering from intervention by municipal controllers who do all they can to close it down), a drydock for small ships, a number of fish restaurants, warehouses (some in terrible condition) and a graveyard for rusting ancient ships, slowly falling apart. And before i forget, there's also a sea school belonging to Jaffa's sea scouts, and a music school for oriental music, run by oud and violin player Yair Delal. Although the harbor is no longer what is once was, it is still central to Jaffa and full of life.

The Jaffa harbor is a natural harbor and has been in use for the last 4000 years (yeah four-thousand, that's not a mistake), making it one of the most ancient still active harbors in the world. Jaffa developed around it, the harbor was Jaffa's raison d'etre, so to say. And it has always been a close relationship, between the "bride of the Sea" (urs elbahar) and her harbor.

However, the natural rock formation (named after Andromeda, a Jaffa princes of mythical fame) protecting the ancient harbor, was also detriment in destoying Jaffa's wealth. When the ships became bigger, they could no longer enter the harbor. Instead they had to anchor outside and small boats from Jaffa would come alongside to load and unload. The Ashdod and Haifa harbors did not suffer from a similar problem and started to take over Jaffa harbor's function as the main entry port ot the area.
Yet the harbor has always been active as a fishermen's harbor, until this very day.

Tel Aviv's harbor was constructed during the first half of the 20th century, but never really played an important role. As a result it became delapidated and not in use by many, until a few years ago it was turned into a night life area, full of restaurents, bars and places to hang about. Trendy and expensive. Most restaurants belong to chains, having a "concept" and serving style rather than good food. Their owners make a lot of money from the people who wait in line to see and be seen.
There are those who love that sort of thing. North Tel Aviv, abroad, on the moon, (but much more boring) from my point of view. But there are those who like that sort of thing.


So now Jaffa harbor will be turned into something similar. Perhaps with more "authentic" styling, "aboulafia lite" perhaps. Jaffa for zfonbonim, yuppies interested in doing the ethnic thing for a few hours.
How many people from Jaffa will benefit from it? Hell knows: not many.
The cleaners, the cooks, the waitresses, will perhaps be from Jaffa, i guess. They will be asked not to speak Arabic, "the guests don't like that", they will be told.

And the fishermen? If they will be photogenic, i guess some of them will be able to stay. Picture perfect, so to speak.






9 comments:

J.P. said...

First wondered what kind of ship these aflukas were, later I realised this to be falukas, on another site I too saw some "doors" , a technique used worldwide.
When young we were forced to learn the biblical names, Jaffa we only knew from the oranges, the true name to us was Joppe.
The meaning of Jaffa is the beautifull, what is the meaning of this Joppe?

Anonymous said...

Jaffa is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as the border of the Tribe of Dan's territory. It appears that many of the descendants of Dan, for whom the entire coastal plain is named (Gush Dan), lived along the shore and earned their living from shipmaking and sailing. This is mentioned in the "Song of Deborah" the prophetess, in her complaint "דן למה יגור אוניות": "Why will Dan dwell in ships?",[1] for Dan did not help Judge Barak the son of Abinoam in their war.

King David and his son King Solomon conquered Jaffa and ruled it, and via its port the cedars which were used in the construction of the First Temple arrived from Tyre. The city remained in Jewish hands even after the split of the Kingdom of Israel

Some claim that Jaffa was named after Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah, who built it after the Great Flood. A Hebrew etymology indicates that the city is called Jaffa because of its beauty (yofi in Hebrew)


During 1917-1920, there were thousands of Jewish residents in Jaffa. A wave of Arab pogrom attacks during 1920 and 1921 caused many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv. The 1921 riots (known as the Meoraot Tarpa by the Jews) began with a May Day parade that turned violent. The Arab rioters attacked Jewish people and buildings, including the residents of "The House of Immigrants" and the Jewish author Yosef Haim Brenner.--- From Wikipedia

That was a long long time b4 the concept of Arabs came into existance in Saudi Arabia in seventh century CE

Anonymous said...

edit:Jewish history in Jaffa goes back a long long time b4 the concept of Arabs came into existance in Saudi Arabia in seventh century CE

yudit said...

Actually, Jaffa was mentioned way before the Book of Joshua, in the Tel ElAmarna library findings which contain the tax records of the Yo - Pe residents paid to the Egyptian pharao.
In Jaffa, there have been archeological findings from the stone age, which also preceeds Joshua.
But for a short period of some 200 years (out of 4000), Jaffa was never Jewish: it was unknown stone age peoples, Egyptian, Filistine, Greek, Roman, Crusader, French, Ottoman etc.
Although at times there was a tiny Jewish community (late 18th century onwards) , it was so small there usually was not a minyan and the finances of that community were run from Jerusalem. The records still exist.
More or less until the arrival of Yehuda MeRaguza, who became Jaffa's chief rabbi and who was a fascinating character and the Jewish community started to grow and develop. But they were a minority which at its greatest point (early 20th century) made up about 30% of the Jaffa community.
There are ample sources, both Ottoman and Jewish for this, if you'd like to do the research.
Jaffa was THE cultural center for Palestine, the "Bride of the Sea" or the "Pearl of the Sea". Jaffa had a strong elite, well educated, wealthy due to the trade in oranges.

It sadly amuses me when people try to falsify history. I am aware of the shitty, badly written and hopelessly politisized article about Jaffa in wikipedia. In the past i added some well based historical details including their sources. They were always wiped out by people preferring the fables as expressed by anonymous.
Yes the Jaffa progrom DID happen. But What are you trying to say?
That Jaffa was NOT Palestinian? The history of this area is bloody, but by putting the emphasis on that and not mentioning thousands of years of history as if they never happened, you are providing a false, politically motivated narrative.
I'm sure you can do so in many circles, as quite a few Israeli Jews love believing their own little stories. However, some of us live in Jaffa, have researched Jaffa's history and are willing to hear the other narrative, listen and open our hearts to it. Consider that perhaps we should stop believing the zionist fairy tales and recognize the truth in our faces.
I grant you the municipality does everything it can to wipe out Jaffa's Palestinian character and cultural remains. And, sadly, some people just do not know any better.

J.P. said...

But now I still do not know where this Joppe comes from and what it means.
Reading your piece about the remake of the waterfront reminds me of the
US and the Indians.
When realising the value of the property/site the former inhabitants are driven off to more and more worth- useless locations.
With some paintbrushing and reinventing history most people are easily satisfied.

yudit said...

Joppe: my guess would be it is just another form of Yafa. Hebrew and Arabic do not have a, o, e, i, so you have to look at the Y or J and the P.
Y and J are often interchangeable and the same goes for p and f, which in Hebrew are written by the same letter, with only a small dot added to turn the f into a p.
so basically Joppe is just another way of writing jaffa or Jaffa

Lirun said...

you forgot to add that the jaffa port is the historical as well as current home of the fantastic sea scouts movement - and as such second home to many wonderful youth who really need it..

yudit said...

id did NOT forget, to quote:
"there's also a sea school belonging to Jaffa's sea scouts"

and you are right, it IS wonderful.

Lirun said...

i stand corrected :)