Sunday, May 27

Home demolitions

A balcony, a wooden entrance door with a brass knocker instead of a bell and a hamsa, for good luck. Home to a young couple. No children as yet. A living room and kitchen, a bedroom, nothing luxurious, but it's a home.
The curtained windows look out over what once was an orange grove, green trees, shacks, muddy streets, car repair workshops, Jaffa's neighbourhoods on the far horizon: the grey apartment blocks of Yafo Daled and Gimmel, the pastel coloured ones of the border with Bat Yam.
There is something inherently evil about destroying a home.
The land of Pardes Dake belongs to the people living there. Many of the homes were constructed prior to 1948 yet after 1948 no regional development plan was made for the area and as a result it is not possible to receive a building permit, even if you ask very very nicely.
Over the years the family grew larger, and the sons constructed their homes in the pardes, close to those of their fathers, as is the tradition in this part of the world. Illegal? Yes, in a strictly legal manner of speaking yes, illegal. But they had no choice as there was no way to get a permission. Why is there no development plan for the pardes? There is no regional development plan for most of south Tel Aviv and Jaffa, as a matter of fact. But there were ways to circumvent this and somehow building permits were given to those close to the hearts of the municipal regulators and surprise surprise, the Dake family are not that close.

however, a home is a home, a roof over one's head a very basic necessity. The quick gentrification in Jaffa (as in Tel Aviv) is forcing many people out of their homes which are bought by the rich, strong and wealthy. Illegal building rules don't really apply to them, it's amazing how much illegal construction goes on in Tel Aviv. But when you are strong and have good lawyers, who cares? Even if that illegal manner of construction seriously damages the life quality of your neighbours. As i said, when you are rich here, the rules don't really apply to you. and if they do not fit, you just buy your way into changing the rules. So yes, a roof IS a basic necessity, but no longer does the state see itself responsible to ascertain that all its inhabitants can afford a decent home. As such, "home" no longer is something to be assumed as "certain". More and more people are loosing theirs in Jaffa. they do not necessarily move into the streets (although some do), many move in with family members, the kids in oje place, the parents in another, the family falling apart. Small 2 bedroom flats having become home to 20 people is no longer a rare occurance in Jaffa. Living in cramped quarters influences children's lives in many ways. It is difficult to concentrate on your homework. Small spaces often lead to much tension, which sometimes develops into violence in the family, often against its weakest members.
Several years ago people live in tents. When they had enough of it, they squatted several homes in Jaffa.
there has been no social housing construction for a great many years now. No building permits have been given to people living in public housing. The situation is desperate.
The Dake home is one of many.

The municipality calls it "the free market forces". I call it a crime against society's weaker members.



11 comments:

Akiva said...

Yudit,can you give some background(ball park estiminates) to get a better understanding:
1)what percentage of adults in Jafo are working and what's the average monthly household NIS income inclusive of grants etc..
2)are most people in Jafo renting subsidized apartments and what's the average NIS rent?
3)What's the average family size in Jafo... is the norm 10 or 12 children (like the example the other day post of that young woman and siblings whose got all those warrants utility etc against them because of their father)
4)Who owns the land in Jafo? Is it the Israeli Gvt

yudit said...

It's almost impossible to provide Jaffa estimates, as the municipality and govt offices plan and budget using different criteria: "south Tel Aviv" (which includes many other areas, such as Florentin (part of which is actually historical Jaffa), Kiryat Shalom , Shapira neighborhood etc. As a result it is difficult to provide "official" Jaffa numbers. Even official documents published by the municipality contradict themselves.... (i keep track of this stuff, and in another post will provided info)
I'll provide some answers based on what was said in the "Jaffa Conference", held some 3 years ago by the mishlama. But even within the framework of that specific conference, different lecturers provided different numbers on the same area.
27% of the Jaffa families are dependent on welfare, implying they make use of the services of the welfare department. This number is very high in comparison with other city areas. It does not imply the people don't work, it means they are experiencing difficulties. This number also includes poor elderly, who, for reasons of age, are not included in the working population.

Family income is difficult, because once you are dependent on social security, family size matters, that is, the larger the family, the more one (relatively) you receive.
The large majority of the Jaffa people in working age do work. But a relatively large percentage are so called "working poor", meaning their salaries are so low, they live below the poverty line. This is especially true for Jaffa's Palestinians, who experience difficulty in finding good jobs also when they are qualified.
There is much hidden unemployment however. Unemployment is measured according to data provided by the employment agency (lishkat hatasuka). Traditionally Palestinian women do not work outside of the home (except agriculture, villages, which is not relevant for Jaffa). The same goes for Ethiopian and Bukharan women. Thus, these women will not register at the employment agency, and are not counted in official statistics as unemployed as a result. Also many long time unemployed have stopped going to the employment agency, because they have lost all hope and travel costs by bus "are not worth it". As a result, they do not turn up in unemployment numbers, further complicating the official statistics. They live of handouts, slowly sinking into total debts. They often live with their families, and receive food handouts, clothing handouts etc. Not money.
Average income numbers give you very little information, because Jaffa has become the home to some of the country's wealthiest people who live in the gated communities and new villas of Ajami. However, quite of few of those very wealthy, have registered in Tel Aviv's other neighbourhoods to make their children eligible to go to better (non Jaffa) schools. This is also true for quite a few middle class parents, who prefer to drive their kids to the better Tel Aviv schools. As a result, these people will not turn up in Jaffa (south Tel Aviv) statistics, not officially living there. I have no numbers, but it is true for many of my friends, so i think it is a considerable amount. I know of no research done into this field.
The majority of Jaffa's people live in their OWN apartments, trying to meet the mortgage payments. At the same time, there is a huge shortage of public housing flats and the waiting lists are immense. Which has led to 2 results: Many people live with their families, having no where else to go, so you'll find large numbers of people sharing a small flat, [perhaps owned and heavily mortgaged), (i know of some people who spend 80% of their income on paying off the mortgage) or receiving rent subsidy, while living in a privately rented apartment. This has led the MANY illegal additions to homes, often not more than corrugated steel walls and an asbestos roof, as the flat has become too small for the many people living in it. These additions are illegal (you cannot receive a building permit in many areas, nor can you add something to a public housing flat, but people do so, lacking other options) and as a result, people build them from inferior cheap materials as they know they will be destroyed at some time or other and immediately rebuilt.
Public housing prices are dependent on the family size and income. Thus one family may pay as little as 200 NIS rent and the family next door may pay 1000 NIS for the same type and size home. So, once more, "average" makes no sense.
Recently 120 families from Ethiopia have been moved into Jaffa gimmel and daled. They actually OWN their homes, as they have received mortgages and subsidies covering as much as 90% of the cost of the homes. The payments of the remaining 10% are based on easy loans which sounds "good", but in reality most have been tricked into buying the shoddiest housing possible, for prices way ABOVE the market value of those very bad flats, which even people in Jaffa weren't buying nor renting....
At the same time, another 120 weakened families have been pushed into an already weak slummy neighbourhood. I'm amazed at how the same mistakes are made again and again. But these families will not turn up in your rent numbers as they own the houses....
Family size is slightly larger than in north and central Tel Aviv, but 10 children families are VERY rare.
In central & north Tel Aviv there are many single households and the increased gentrification pushes out families with children. Thus the average is warped. Tghe large families are found mostly among the orthodox Jews (not so many in Jaffa, but quite a few in the rest of south Tel Aviv) and bedouins (very very few in Jaffa). Also in religious Muslim families there is a clear trend towards smaller families among the youner generations, but 4 - 5 children is not uncommon, which is of course slightly above the Jewish average, which, by the way is also slightly on the rise). I think you have to look at national averages to really see any trends on the short run. On the city level they are too statistically insignificant to recognize trends.

The land in historical Jaffa was owned privately by Palestinian families and waqfs (including the churches a Jewish "waqf", which is an Ottoman term for something which we today would call and NGO, operating for the best interest of its community). In 1948 and also at later stages, much of this land was confiscated by the state and moved to the ownership of the "israel lands administration", then rented out to the previous owners... many of whom are now being kicked out of these so called "state properties, because it has become lucrative to sell them to private developers, making much money.
In Ajami, some 3000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed...

Perdix said...

I'd allmost look forward for a tsunami to happen, with all the world to give free new housing to the victims.

yudit said...

hmmm, wishful thinking, but Jaffa is loctaed on a high point above the sea, whereas Tel Aviv is low, so the tsunami would benefit the rich.... :(

Luke said...

There is more between heaven and earth........

Or a visit from the deep by the monster Gorgonzola.

yudit said...

Of Andromeda fame?

Luke said...

Worse, it's the King Kong from the the bottom of the ocean/sea, a kind of dragon (without the wings).

yudit said...

mmm, i always though Gorgonzola was a cheese type from the Piedmont area in Italy.
As i hate cheese more than anything else in the whole world, to me it indeed is monstrous :)

Luke said...

Eternal shame on me, I actually meant Godzilla.

J.P. said...

Since a few weeks I am in a croque monsieur mood, to form these I do use an electric masterpiece to form something like a wafle (more, more bulky of course, want to have a good bite).

In a past, allthough I have learned myself to survive these, I had problems consuming cauliflower and those boiled fingers some people call carrots.

Tsedek said...

The municipality calls it "the free market forces". I call it a crime against society's weaker members.



Yep. Me too. Big, fat shame on them. Since I'm a believer, I'm sure they'll pay one time for their crimes.