Saturday, April 12

the Tasa Muslim Cemetery in Jaffa: the fight isn't over yet

Many of Jaffa's religious Muslims are spending part of their day today at the Tasa cemetery, Jaffa's only active Muslim burial place.

The other, more ancient burial places are full and no longer in use.

The Tasa plot was donated by a wealthy family to the Jaffa Muslim Waqf, in order to serve the Jaffa Muslim community as a burial site. After the establishment of the state of Israel, the ministry appointed yes-men, who would serve the state's needs rather than those of the community. The yes-men sold property to the state without receiving the community's approval or by devious and misleading means, such as making people sign paperwork in Hebrew, which they couldn't read, not telling them WHAT they were actually signing. It appears money has gone into private pockets as well, so i am being told by many of Jaffa's elderly. who still remember those days.

Fact is that, so far, even with the help of "Bagatz" it has not been possible to receive an updated list of the Wafq property in Jaffa, what was sold to whom for how much and when, nor what property is still owned by the waqf.

What IS known, however, is that part of Tasa was sold to Jewishj developers. When the community found out, some 30 years ago, they took the case to court, trying to fight it. About a month ago, according to the High Court of Justice, the community lost. And if they owners will be stupid enough, they will soon start uprooting fresh graves, thereby upsetting the community.

If, while preparing construction anywhere in the country an ancient or not so ancient grave is found, construction is stopped. Graveyards are protected, respected, at least, when they are Jewish.
If anywhere in Europe construction is started on top of an (ancient) Jewish graveyard, it is called "anti-Semitism" in the Israeli media, questions are being asked by the Israeli ambassador in the respective country and much efforts are being put in preventing the construction.

Not so in Jaffa. And we are not talking about an old historical cemetery, but about a place where the Jaffa Muslim community buries its dead today. And they have is no alternative cemetery.

There ARE of course solutions to the problem. The Ministry of Religious Affairs in cooperation with the municipality and the land administration could offer the new owners alternative land. But will they?

If the construction plans will be carried out, they will lead to violence. And listening to what people say, the violence will be worse than what Jaffa has seen since 1949. People feel insulted. They feel this is done specifically to hurt them. Their direct family members are buried at Tasa. Today's murder victim will be buried there perhaps today or at the latest tomorrow. How insensitive to the community's needs can one be?
And if, indeed, the developers WILL select to disregard the feelings of the community, the reaction will be scary.
If they wish it, this violence is completely preventable.

Illustrative photograph

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