Tuesday, October 14

Akko, for a change

Akko's old city was empty today. Some local kids, the occasional woman buying some vegetables for dinner. At the sea front a single fisherman. The harbour: empty. Trays of delicious and tempting nut-candy find no buyers.
The restaurants: the owners of nearby empty coffeeshops and humus places share a coffee and a languid game of sheshbesh.
And police, yes, there were quite a few police men for such an empty town.

Normally during Sukot, Akko is host the the alternative theatre festival; lots of shows in many of Akko's ancient halls as well as in the streets, filled with tourists who arrive annually especially for the festival.

Not this year.

Right-wing extremists carried out a pogrom against Akko's Palestinian population. Three homes of Palestinian families were torched and completely burnt and several more families have had to leave their homes and have not yet been able to return. They are waiting until it will be safe again. But will it?

When Palestinian wounded were carried to ambulances, the police watched and stood by when the angry mob attacked them.

The theatre festival could have been used as a place to come together, to talk, to try to deal with the conflict. The theatre festival takes place far away from the troubled "Mizrahi" neighborhood where the pogrom took place. Its cancellation was the mayor's punishment of Akko's Arab population.
The Palestinian population of the Old City depend for their livelyhood on the festival. It's the one week of the year when Akko is full and festival participants spend much money eating out, buying drinks, sweets and trinkets.
Cancellation the festival robs all of Akko's people of a fun event, and theatre lovers of a quality experience, but it hurts the people of the Old City, many of whom are poor, of their livelihood.

Yet the implications go beyond Akko.
A similar situation could easily arise in all of the mixed cities, where the Palestinians have been undergoing decades long discrimination in all fields: education and culture, welfare, housing, employment etc etc.

Jaffa in that sense is very much like Akko.
Yet, violence is preventable. It really depends on how wise we all are.

Having an extremist yeshiva right in the middle of Ajami doesn't help and is potentially dangerous.


this too will pass said...

great images with this post

yudit said...

thanks :)