Saturday, November 17

Jaffa Architecture Revisited

This week's Ha'aretz property weekly supplement carries and article about that infamous Jaffa abomination the "Givat Andromeda" gated community.

This week's Arab language weekly "Al Medina" carries a front page article about the Jaffa H. Family, titled "Save Us". They are fighting to continue living in their home, the home the H. family has owned literally for over a century.
A sad coincidence; Ahmed H. used to be a guard at the Andromeda Compound, safeguarding the property of its wealthy inhabitants. He personally knows many of Andromeda's wealthy inhabitants, but i wonder if even one of them will be willing to assist him and his family in their legal fight against Amidar.

The housing & property weekly of Ha'aretz is usually rather capitalist in its outlook. Property value, how to make money out of your property, how to receive more rent, raising young property tycoons to the status of cultural heroes etc. characterizes its writing. The paper hardly ever carries an article in which housing is seen as a basic human right. Nor it is ever suggested society as a whole has a responsibility to provide decent sustainable housing to its members. The point of view is always that of the owner, the tycoon, the guy (hardly ever there's a woman involved, gender is another weak point of this particular rag) who's making the bucks. Never that of the people paying over 50% of their income for a shitty little room in a sub-standard housing estate about to fall down.

The Andromeda article is different. It tries to critically approach the social meaning of the gated communities.
Architect Sharon Rotbard (author of "Black City White City", when will that important book be translated into English?) is quoted towards the end of the article. He wonders if it is at all possible for a Jewish architect to design and construct any property in Jaffa without being unjust, without feeling at least quite uneasy.
Rotbard is both right and wrong. (I do not know, of course, if he was quoted correctly). The problem is not the ethnic origin of the architect, but rather a question of true ownership of the particular piece of land, as well as who is the client.

If in each new complex constructed in Jaffa, 30% of the flats would go towards sustainable housing at a reasonable price for Jaffa's Palestinian and Jewish poor population the situation would look very differently.
If property developers would, in order to receive their building permits, (in addition to the 30% social housing) have to donate to the community in the form of constructing a youth club, a school, a day-centre for the elderly or a clinic for drug addicts, i wouldn't feel very bad about new constructions, designed by Chinese, Jews or Iranian architects or who ever.
Ofcourse only on land truly owned by the developer, not on land confiscated frmo its original owners in 1948 or after that.
An something else, the developers should be made to actually carry out their social obligations: until now the Andromeda developers have not constructed the children's playground they are supposed to develop. Nor is the compound open to the public the way it is supposed to be according to court order.

When you are rich, maybe the law doesn't apply to you..


Akiva said...

Yudit,thanks for the interesting blog.Two ques:
a)expain a bit the entry re" not on land confiscated frmo its original owners in 1848 or after that."(Btw a lot of Jewish property was conficated by Arabs from 1948 - re:Old City Jerusalem ,Hebron 1929 and by Arab Gvt's in Iraq/Morocco/Egypt etc..)

b)Do ALL Israeli Arabs living in Jafo identify themselves as Jafo "Palestinians" a term I see mentioned in your entry today.For instance,Jafo resident and Israeli Arab Christian MK Nadia Hilu (HaAvoda):does she personally identify herself as "Palestinian"?

roche said...

Hello, I am visiting Tel Aviv for work and visited Old Jaffa yesterday and today, Its very beatiful, I was searching for some information about Jaffa and I found your blog.

Well nothings is as good as it seems, I know that the Arab people are having hard time. I was impress about a Bus in Jaffa it look like a Trash Truck. (And I come from Costa Rica, third world)

For instance I have to watch inside to probe there was seats.

I will be here until 7th Dic, could be nice to smoke nargila with some bloggers near to Jaffa (I bought one but I don't now how to build it)


yudit said...

u r right, i meant to say 1948, the naqbe, when most of Jaffa's property was confiscated from its original Palestinian owners by the Israel land authority and then often rented out to those same owners....
1848 was a typo.

The majority of the well educated young generation in Jaffa (as well as many others) define themselves as part of the Palestinian people. I don't know about Nadia Hilu, you could ask her.
The term "Arab Israeli" is considered derogative and insulting by many. Invented by the authorities in order to drive a wedge between Palestinians from Israel and their brothers and sisters from the occupied territories and from the Palestinian diaspora all over the world.