Almost 500 families in Jaffa, many of them with several children, are about to become homeless.
Since the onset of the gentrification process in Jaffa's Ajami neighbourhood, more and more Arab families have been served demolition orders or court orders towards the inevitable demolition order of their homes. The very large majority of those families have lived in these homes for all or most of their lives.
In 1948, after the majority of Jaffa's Arab population had been driven out, the small group staying behind were forced into Ajami neighbourhood, behind barbed wire. Their homes were confiscated by the Israel land authority, then rented out by Amidar to the original owners, who had lost their ownership. Amidar didn't bother to care for the houses, in spite of the fact that the inhabitants paid full rent. Nobody really cared very much about Ajami and Jabaliyah, and both neighbourhoods turned into slums, until some years ago, when the wealthy yuppies discovered Ajami and Jabaliyah and the prices started to rise quickly, fantastically....
Jaffa is the new pet project of the developers for the very rich. And if that means the poor and minority will have to be kicked out, that's just fine and dandy with them. The result: over 2000 people are about to become homeless. The municipality will be happy to see them leave to Ramle or Lod, or wherever, they do not really care. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are quickly turning into places for the very wealthy only. Jewish wealthy, that is.
Although the legal fight has led to small successes for some family, the larger principle needs to be dealt with: affordable and decent housing for all is a basic right. People, Jaffa's Palestinian population included, have the RIGHT to live in Jaffa. And to stay there.
This doesn't only imply NOT demolishing their homes, but also ensuring true and good public housing solutions, not in slums, but in all neighbourhoods. No developer should receive a building permit, if not at least 20% of the houses he or she builds will be made available as public housing. No original inhabitants should loose their homes as a result of development.
The demonstration was organised by the public committee, made up out of representatives of several groups in Jaffa: reut sedaka, alrabita, the Jaffa assn for humanitarian assistance and others.
Among the participants and speakers were Esther Saba, whose home in HaLimon street was the first to be demolished (right now the court has cancelled the demolition order), Fadi Shabita of Reut Sedaka, sheikh Anwar Dake (Jaffa Humanitarian Aid), Camal Agbarieh of the Ajami neighbourhood council, Sami AbuShade, Gerardo Leibner (Tel Aviv University's history department) , knesset members Dov Khenin, Ibrahim Zarzur, Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen, as well as Tel Aviv's deputy mayor Yael Dayan and many others.