A short burst of machine gun fire. A dog started barking. Everyone ran outside.
Several gun shot holes in the car. The youngest Sakhafi boy, they say.
I don't know his medical condition, but the condition of the car leaves very little to guess.
Jaffa.... Yet another victim of the ongoing violence
Friday, December 28
A short burst of machine gun fire. A dog started barking. Everyone ran outside.
Thursday, December 27
There isn't a real connection between Jaffa and the conference's name, apart from the fact that it takes place in Jaffa. there is almost nothing on the program that has to do anything with Jaffa.
This year's topic is "mixed cities". Right, mixed cities. So how come there was nothing in the original program about what is happening in Jaffa? In the end, under pressure, the organizers agreed to have Sami Bukhari from the popular committee against home demolitions participate in one of the panels. In the light of what happened this week in Kfar shalem, our future looks bleak and scary.
What do they mean when they say "mixed city"? Is that a phase from pre 1948, pre Naqbe Palestinian Jaffa to an all Jewish Jaffa, the future "dream" of the developers and real estate creeps?
Or is it something else?
Tuesday, December 25
So they arrested the men. To make today's work easier i suppose.
Kfar Shalem is located in today's south Tel Aviv on the ruins of a Palestinian village, Kufr Salame. Kufr Salame was left in 1948 by its original inhabitants who were extradited. The naqbe, the catastrophe.
In the late forties - early fifties poor migrants were told to go there and live in the houses that stood empty. They settled in the houses, planted gardens , had children and slowly Kfar Shalem as it was now called, turned into a neighbourhood. A poor one, but a lively and happy one.
Then real estate developers became interested and, after a long, fruitless legal struggle, the people were ordered to move out. The land had been bought and they should find themselves somewhere else to live.
This morning the bulldozers arrived and thirty families, many with young children, became homeless.
I'm sure Ron the Ratty One is happy!
My heart is with the families of Kfar Shalem.
Saturday, December 22
Along Yefet there are stalls on both sides, selling "pitchifkes", small, gaudy and too expensive. The stalls belong to people from elsewhere. Except for one or two, run by stores along the way, none are local. The restaurants are packed. At least they are doing good business.
We didn't want to ruin the festivities for our local business women and men, so decided to put up small posters along the way, reminding the visitors of approaching home destructions in Jaffa. The maps are similar to those handed out by the municipality, only instead of dots showing the locations of the participating restaurants, we put little bulldozers.
Someone took the posters down, systematically. One by one. Only in a few cases, they didn't do their job in a thorough manner. The maps, showing little bulldozers where houses are about to be demolished have been torn down, but not entirely.
We must be cheerful after all; Ron Huldai, the mayor, wishes us all a happy holiday.
So what if 496 families will soon be homeless? Be Happy!!
Friday, December 21
In Haifa they have the festival of festivals in Wadi Nisnas, celebrating Eid elAdha, Hanukkah and Christmas. The Tel Aviv municipality apparently thought that what's good for Haifa, is good also for Jaffa, and decided to have a street party. Especially with municipal elections coming closer, Ron Huldai, the major, needs to show he means well, after all, he latest remarks about sustainable housing were less than convincing for Jaffa's less affluent people.
So we're gonna get a party, organised by the municipality.
Quite truthfully, i like parties. And street-parties are even better. Besides, Ajami's businesses can do with some additional income.
But there is something very cynical about this one.
Faced with 496 eviction and demolition orders, we have little reason to be happy in Jaffa. And the municipality is behind much of this. It's part of their policy.
So we'll let the visitors know, we'll use this opportunity to tell them about what is really happening in Jaffa, so they'll look beyond the Christmas trees and children's drawings gracing the streets of Ajami. I hope the visitors will receive at least some understanding of what is truly happening here.
Thursday, December 6
Hussein only works the night shift now. He spends his days working in a soup kitchen for the poor. Husseins grocery was robbed a few times over the last few years, so Hussein got himself a gun. Someone must have ratted. The police came, found the gun and the court sent Hussein to a few months of "volunteering in the community", instead of a prison sentence.
A woman in her fifties came to pay for a bag of milk and a "standard" bread (lehem ahid). When she heard the price, she was certain there Hussein had a mistake, but no, now that the price of standard bread is no longer controlled, the price has gone up to 6 NIS.
I asked Hussein, as i thought the price of standard bread was still controlled. "No, they demand much more now, i don't make money on it", he answered.
The woman asked if she could buy half a bread. The Ministry of Health doesn't allow that for some reason or other, hygiene apparently. She asked for the price of the bread she was holding close once more. "Six shekel", Hussein said. She put back the bread. "I don't have enough money", she said, "how can they, six shekel for a bread." She paid for the milk and then started crying. Hussein added the bread to her bag and told her to go (Hussein's is like that, he's never refused when i asked for his assistance for this or that family i came across, i guess his grocery store makes money because of his wife and daughter who run it during the daytime hours). The woman left, a bag of bread and milk kept close, into the cold night.
Wednesday, December 5
The renovation of the place is stunning. A small inner courtyard with a little fountain is perfect for a morning coffee, arriving with a nice, tiny, spicy made-on-the-premises-cookie.
The iron work along the stairs is lovely and so is the furniture, the crockery, more or less everything in the place.
But cafes are about drink and food. After all, some of Tel Aviv's more stylish and fashionable places are gorgeous. It's their food and the service that leave much to be wanted. Which make me run away never to return. Horace is different, besides being in Jaffa.
Horace is in a class of its own. Which is why i fee like keeping quiet about it. So not too many people will find out and spoil the fun. But then, this blog has a select group of readers ( as in small) and i'll share it with them, with you, as a small Hanuka/Eid ElAdha/ Christmas gift.
Jaffa has a great new cafe to visit:"Horace". Not only when there is no place at Pua's. It's worth while a special trip, e.g. when you're in the mood to indulge yourself.
Although there isn't much choice for a vegetarian like myself, the small selection is wonderful and of excellent quality as well as nicely served. And yes, i appreciate beautiful plates. Snob or not? I'm not a food critic and totally unable to describe the great tasting salad i had in words.
And NO i'm not being paid for this small article. I simply fell in love with the place, its food and especially the small courtyard. And i like sharing good things with a few friends.
So whoever lives in Jaffa or the close surroundings...
Monday, December 3
I support the social workers in this case. Their conditions WERE horrid. But the old building (which was designed for its purpose, a welfare office, has become dilapidated in the few months it stood empty.
So in reality they will move this week to the Yafo Daled quarter, Rubinstein Street. They think they will not have telephones, but only "mirs" cellphones.
That may sound trivial, but in reality it will make them even less available to Ajami's elderly, handicapped and large families. there is no direct public transport to Yafo Daled form Ajami and it is rather far to walk for the elderly or small children.
Many of the poor have no phone or a prepaid-card cell phone on which they often can only receive calls. Calling "mirs" is expensive. In all of Ajami there is one working public phone. And it is on Yefet.
So the welfare office will be even less available to Ajami's most needy of its services.
Sunday, December 2
Jaffa has 2 municipal welfare offices, the main one located on Jerusalem boulevard in what once was Jaffa's municipality building (prior to 1948), the other one, serving the Ajami area, in the "Talal" building on Yefet Street.
The conditions in the building are far from satisfying: crowded, with little privacy and terrible air-conditioning, leading to petrol fumes in many of the rooms facing the street. No doubt unhealthy for both the employees and their clients). The rooms of the management face the sea (a lovely view, by the way, also of some of Jaffa's graveyards). I agree with the employees the building is simply not fitting. Indeed. a poor building for a poor service.
The municipality intends to send the employees in the course of this week to various municipal offices. The previous building (in nice 2-floor structure with a wonderful inner courtyard, planned for its function as welfare office) will be renovated at a cost of some 4.3 million $.
And Ajami's residents in need of the office's services? Well, they'll have to walk all the way to Jerusalem Boulevard (Nouzha) or take 2 buses, as there is no direct bus line connecting the two areas. Especially women with young children and the elderly (the majority of the office's clients) will have a hard time getting there.
There must be a better alternative. In Ajami.
It appears the municipality's economic interests are top of the list, rather than serving Jaffa's community's needs. What else is new?