Wednesday, December 31

Some thoughts about the situation

Medical personnel of a Norwegian medical NGO just informed us through the media, that about 40% of the dead and wounded are women and children, which makes it quite clear that the targets are not military (not that it would be OK, IF the targets were military). there is very little food, no fuel, not enough medicine and medical equipment, nor the infrastructure to take care of the many wounded and the needy population. Israel says some aid is led through, but it has not arrived at the hospital, Israel is lying, not for the first time.
The French proposals for a temporary truce have not been accepted by the Israeli leadership.

The simplistic statement "but they started" is on the level of a 6-year old's "but he hit me first, mummy".
It seems so obvious, but when i listen to what is being said by many people, in the streets and in the media, i realize that perhaps things are after all not that obvious. After the colonists and their colonies were removed from the Gaza Strip, Israel closed off the Gaza-strip which was turned into one big prison. Nor enough food, not enough medicine and medical equipment, no schoolbooks, no gaz and often the electricity was shut off. People weren't allowed out nor in. In some cases mothers had been on a family visit in the West Bank, yet they could not return to their children. Students who had been accepted into foreign universities, often with full scholarships, lost their registration when they were not allowed to leave, whilst others, who wanted to go back home upon finishing their studies, got stuck abroad, unable to go back to their home in Gaza. The Gaza Strip became one big prison-camp. And due to the lack of everything, conditions worsened. No doubt the people from Gaza got incredibly angry. The ceasefire last several months, yet Israel made no steps towards any real political solution. Breaches of the ceasefire were regularly carried out by Israel. And yes, there were also a few Palestinian ones.
And i do not justify those, nor the Israeli ones.

The hideous Israeli attack on Gaza led to attacks on Israel, also on civilian targets. There have been a few victims and i feel awful about every single one. But these assaults do not justify the violence against Gaza. The cycle of violence is at full run.
Yet all of us know the solution can only be political. A giving up of ALL territories. Solving the refugee problem and Israel's becoming a truly democratic state.
We all know it, and i understand many Israelis feeling scared of the implications. There there is no other solution.
And the longer we wait, the more violence, the more hate, the more bloodshed.


Tuesday, December 30

Israel is such a lovely and true democracy....

Since last night several Jaffa activists (all of them Palestinians) have been taken into the Salameh Police Station where they were interrogated by the internal security services, the Shabak, who behaved in an insulting and threatening way (in some cases using the good-bad guy technique) .

Amongst those interrogated was Omar Siksik, member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal council and Sami AbouShade as well as Rolla and Shirin Agbariye and many others,
Rolla and Shirin have been released into three days of house arrest. Sami has been released and
Omar was released this morning but then requested to go for more interrogation, this time by the police. As of now he is still in the police station.
So much for Israeli "democracy". Arrest and intimidation are efficient ways of stopping legitimate protest.
Oh but i forget, in Israel; true protest is not legitimate, or only in a very limited way.

There is more information elsewhere

1000 Palestinians and Jews march in Jaffa against the war

Over one thousand people, both Palestinians and Jews, marched peacefully last night from Gan Hashnayim (The original name of this little park was actually the "Gaza People Park) to the Ajami Mosque in solidarity with the people of Gaza and against the war.
In addition a few representatives from the European Community met with some of the demonstrators.
The atmosphere was tense with lots of policemen around, but all went well and peacefully.

Sunday, December 28

System Ali - 1 Minute of Silence

The evening started with a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the murderous attacks by the IAF in the Gaza Strip.
Amne was crying. Muhamad Ajuan and Yonatan Kunde had tears in their eyes, on stage at Jaffa's "Mandel" Cultural Center.

This was not another evening of Jaffa's leading rappers, "System Ali". It had been advertised as an evening of Jaffa poetry and rap. But how can one go to a poetry evening when people are dying just a short car-ride away?

So there were no musical instruments, no fun, no beat, no happiness. Many of the texts were written over the last 24 hours, reflecting the horror we all feel, the pain, the worry, the anger and the helplessness.

On my way, while sitting in bus nr. 10, a stone was thrown at the bus by someone in the angry crowd, gathered at the Muslim Scouts Club, where a Mourning Tent has been erected. Unpleasant, sure, but also understandable. So much anger, fear and frustration have been cropped up over the last few days.
The busdriver had to stop as a car in front of us got stuck. Some of the people in the bus started shouting at the driver to quickly drive off. "They might lynch us" they screamed, in real panic.

I have no doubt the women, who were in the bus with me, really felt scared although there was no danger at any moment. From their conversations afterwards i realized their perceived feeling of being in danger and the resulting fear, led to extremist views, of perhaps the extremist views were there before and the stone only strengthened something they already felt, based on ingrained misconcepts.
Yet a situation like that could have easily exploded. What if one of them had been armed? A guard woman on her way to her job perhaps?
Israeli society is sick and militarised and that by itself poses a grave danger.

Tomorrow Demo in Jaffa

Tomorrow December the 29th at 17.00 o'clock in "Gan HaShnayim", at the corner of Yefet and Ehrlich street, the re will be a demo against the continuation of the war against Gaza and the war crimes committed by the Israeli army.

Please come and forward the information!

Medical storage rooms in Gaza have been bombed by the IAF

I just learned the medical equipment and medicine storage rooms in the Gaza strip have been bombed.
In addition it has become difficult to impossible to transport wounded.

Is there no mercy?

Reserves are being called up: land operations near... and another demo

Some 7000 reserve soldiers are being called up after the government gave its authorization. It implies land operations can start soon.
Haven't they had enough? All this violence leads to nothing but more violence.

Jaffa is full of police, both regular and special forces. The atmosphere is depressed. Many stores are closed and few people walk around in the streets of Ajami in spite of the lovely weather. The horse brigade keeps its horses close to the Arab Jewish Community Center, ready for action as one of the policemen said.

We will be demonstrating today at 18.00 o'clock in Tel Aviv on the corner of King George and Ben Zion street

Saturday, December 27

Anti-War Demo opposite the Ministry of Defence

Some two thousand people gathered this night to protest, walking from the Tel Aviv Cinemateque to the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv's "Kiriya", shouting slogans in favour of peace and against the war-crimes committed by the Israeli government and the IAF.
The police, among them the horse brigade, tried to violently break up the demo several times, hitting the demonstrators who were trying to get away from the charging horses with their clubs and horse whips.
MK Dov Khenin adressed the gathering.

And for more information about civil action.
Video of the demo

Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza in Jaffa

The first news started coming through around 11 o'clock: over 140 dead in the Gaza Strip. It started as a rumour. Slowly the numbers rise. It cannot be true can it? But it is true.
Then it becomes clear: war crimes are being committed an hour's drive from Tel Aviv: The IAF is bombing the Gaza strip and its civilian population. Women and children are being murdered "in the name of peace". Barak has started his election campaign by showing "he's strong" and who cares if the innocent are killed.
From the Jaffa mosques the sound of the mourning prayer becomes clear over the loud festival music.
A girls choir of Palestinian and Jewish girls from Jaffa sings songs about peace, a Palestinian women's cooperative from the Occupied Territories sell their beautiful embroidery, not yet knowing what is going on elsewhere. Yet slowly the news spreads.

Many of us felt the festival should be stopped. How can we party when there is such a catastrophe in Gaza?
From mouth to mouth and through SMS people started to turn up at the Yaffa office. Frustrated, angry, helpless.

Large white papers and big felt tip pens were used to create make-shift placards. More and more people turned up. In the area of GanTamar the shops closed one after the other, while the demo organised itself somehow. The police came, but were convinced we intend to keep it peaceful. They kept watching us from a distance and photographing us from the roof of a nearby building.

Yet elsewhere in Jaffa the party went on. And on. Peple eating and drinking, smiling and laughing, kids fighting over a candy or their turn to sit on Santa' s knee, what do they know?

Then the news came in there's one dead man and a few wounded in Netivot (in Israel) . The cycle of violence has opened up and who knows when it will close and at what cost. Rockets were fired at the Negev settlemens close to the Gaza strip.

More and more people came to the peaceful and quiet demo, in shock, sad. Many people from Jaffa have family in the Gaza strip. After all, in 1948 a large part of the Jaffa population were forced to flee to the Gaza strip.
Black flags were made out of makeshift materials, a young girl brought a Palestinian flag. Anger and shock at the sights broadcast by Al Jazeera. The crowd grew bigger and bigger, a minute of silence in memory of the dead. There are no words to describe the horror.

Will it ever stop?

Over 145 killed in Gaza, in Jaffa the party goes on

The news from the Gaza strip is getting worse and worse, but in Jaffa the part "fore the three holidays" (Hanuka, Christmas and Eid ElAdha) goes on. The streets are full of partying people, eating, laughing and listening to happy zionist and Arabic wedding songs.
The Children's "Peace Choir" things songs about peace, composed in the time of the Oslo agreements. How can they?

And hell in Gaza.

For those of you located in Jaffa, we're organizing now to protest.
Come to the "Jaffa" Headquarters at 103 Yefet Street

Wednesday, December 24

Amidar rennovates, the roof comes falling down

Natalie Hasian was fast asleep at 4 o'clock this morning, huddled underneath a thick winter blanket, which saved her life, when the ceiling came falling down on her.
About half a year ago her home was renovated by the owner, the Amidar public housing company.
The municipality demanded Amidar to renovate the home. The old roof was made of asbestos. Natalie's mother, a widow raising her children alone, couldn't afford to do so on her widow's pension. Nor should she, the family live in public housing after all. There is an owner, who is supposed to be responsible.

Natalie is a student and a social activist, born and raised in Jaffa. She is active in the popular committee against home demolitions.
She noticed the builder was doing a shoddy job. The overseer from Amidar told the builder "not to use so many materials, to keep it as cheap as possible". The family noticed the job wasn't done very well, but the builder said that "this is what he is told to do".
Yesterday winter started. Heavy rains and strong winds. The roof let the water through and the water seeped into the ceiling, which became water logged and too heavy for the small screws that attached it to the ancient half rotten wooden beams which had not been replaced.

Natalie was asleep when the ceiling came down on her. Thankfully the blankets protected her and although she has a big bump on her head, and felt a bit fuzzy, she wasn't badly wounded. Her room is destroyed and wet, her computer screen and her brother's laptop which were on the table have been destroyed and her study books are gone. The same goes for her clothes and the rug.

Natalie called the Amidar company who came over and laughed. No repairs have been carried out until now.
Natalie will sleep in the icy living-room tonight. Amidar demanded Natalie's mum to participate in the cost of the renovation.

Public housing in Israel....

Home Natalie

Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 22

The Wild East

Yesterday around 18.00 o'clock, two armed robbers entered the money change place at the clock tower square in Jaffa.
They shot at the heavy glass, protecting the person working there, broke it and took off with a large amount of money.
At that time of the day it's very busy in the area and there are terrible traffic jams.

Later that day there was automatic gunfire in GanTamar. Drugdealers or some such, i guess. One gets used to it.

Sunday, December 21

Hate grafiti on Jaffa's "Sea Mosque"

Today the early morning prayer at Jaffa's "Sea Mosque" was different:
Hate grafiti had been sprayed on the ancient doors, threatening the lives of Jaffa's Palestinian citizens and comparing the Prophet to a pig.
Jaffa based Sheikh Ahmad Abou Agoua of the Northern Islamic Movement pointed out the connection between the official stand taken by some of Israel's high ranking politicians and this kind of acts.
A complaint has been filed at the police but one wonders what will happen with it.
Just one more hateful act against Jaffa's Palestinian population by some crazy hotheads, or is this part of a wider strategy?

Thursday, December 18

Accessability - the opening tonight!

Artists for social change, a group of people from different disciplines, put together an exhibition dedicated to accessibility
The exhibition, which opens today at 27 Shocken street in south Tel Aviv (floor 10 -but accessible) deals with limitations put on people with different challenges by society.


Tuesday, December 16

Arabic in the Jaffa Tel Aviv Municipal Council

Yesterday the first meeting of the Jaffa - Tel Aviv municipal council took place.

Omar Siksik, the Yafa list representative (from Jaffa) and the only Palestinian member, addressed the council in Arabic, which after all, is the second official language in the state of Israel. A week before, he made sure the municipality knew about this and would provide simultaneous translation. The official answer: no need..... Well there is a need, as the majority of the council members do not speak Arabic. That's how cultural wipe-outs work.

Huldai opened the meeting by placing it within a hundred-year Tel Aviv historical context, forgetting Jaffa's 4000 or so years of history.
As usual, Ron Huldai formed a coalition, but less usual, there is a strong opposition this time. And instead of quickly going through all the votes on the list in about half an hour, the meeting took a full 4 .5 hours. The opposition (Ir LeKulanu's 5 council members and Yaffa) opposed several of the propositions.

Huldai's coalition put itself comfortably in all the committees as well as municipal companies. 29 men were appointed to the various municipal companies. 29 men, not one woman, not one Palestinian.

And Huldai's coalition ate it all, voted in favour what prior to the elections some of them promised to fight. But fat salaried jobs and the belonging goodies (cars, expense accounts) do their things and as usual, the yes-men and yes-women of Huldai's coalition will continue to carry out their policiy of favoring the rich and wealthy, carrying out pro-car and non- green policies as we have been suffering over the pas 10 years.

Monday, December 15

The Jaffa Convention intends "to call to action", but will it?

The 4th Jaffa Convention - Call to Action Convention 2008- 2009
As usual, the Jaffa convention will take place in Jaffa (of course only in Hebrew, the language of the "masters") at the Arab Jewish community center. The community center has a misleading name, as it doesn't really serve the local community very well. But that is another story.
A very long list of serious subjects have been crammed into a short time table, which will necessarily lead to shallowness, to not really facing the issues at hand. And perhaps that is the idea behind this conference: ticking subjects off the list instead of a serious in-depth discourse leading to practical results.
The day-long discussions will take place on Thursday, December 18, at the Arab Jewish Center in Jaffa, 109 Kedem St., Jaffa, between 9:30- 18:00
Among the topics that will be discussed:
1. The status of Arab culture in Israel
  • The culture of Arab society and its place in Israel’s fabric of shared life
  • Talking Artists – personal perspectives
  • Call to Action – Establishing an official day to salute Arabic language and culture in Israel
The fact that the discourse takes place in Hebrew and not in Arabic says it all....
2. Education for Coexistence
The Jaffa Convention, in cooperation with The Abraham Fund, hosts the members of the public committee established by the Ministry of Education to formulate policy on the subject.
"Education for coexistence – Is it feasible?"
Coexistence? A term all too easily used without giving much thought to what it really implies. And once one start to think what it implies, is it wished for? In what sense? Or are there better models? Other modes of thought? Other multi-cultural options?
3. Calls to Action! –Discussions with Government officials and progress reports on last year’s Calls to Action :
  • Establishing a government association to preserve neglected Muslim Sites
  • A change in budgeting Social services for Arab Citizens – changing requirements for matching funds
  • A practical effort to improve treatment of Arab citizens at Ben-Gurion Airport and other border crossings
  • The emerging Constitution and the Arabs in Israel
  • Emergency Preparedness of Arab townships in Northern Israel
  • f. Mixed cities – Government recognition of the position of mixed cities and their special status
  • The Arabic Language Academy – a year of activities
  • “Brown signposts” - Tourist designation for Arab Sites and tourism of Arab locales.
4. The Jaffa Convention and the 2009 Knesset elections :
  • Is there a political "right" and "left" un Jewish perspectives of the Arab minorities
  • What is the gender perspective on the conflict resolution?

A political discussion following the new series “Blue Identity Card” Parallel to the day-long discussions – an exhibition of books’ films’ arts and crafts

Musical interludes – “Voices of Peace” choir of the Arab Jewish Center in Jaffa.

The continuation of home demolitions in Jaffa

Yesterday evening i visited Fauzie Dake, whose home was partially demolished by the municipality that same day.
It was cold and wet. The floor, noty much else remained, was muddy.
The area smells bad. After the rains the area Fauzie lives in, is habitually flooded by a mixture of rain and sewage.

Fauzie lost her home three times.
The first home still stands there, flooded. It has been empty for years.
Each time after the rain it was flooded. The main sewage pipe of the area runs underneath. The rain & flood water pipes are connected to the sewage system. More over, as the Dake Orange Grove (in spite of its name, it's a slummy neighborhood constructed in an area owned by the Dake clan who prior to 1948, the Naqbe, used to grow oranges) has an unclear legal standing, the municipality never did much to take care of the problem, until, some 6 years ago, a little child drowned in his home, when the flood waters rose to quickly to get him out in time.

Some construction work was carried out, but it solved the problems only partially.

Fauzie simply left her old home and renovated an existing shack owned by the family. Its higher location promised the home would stay dry, although it becomes an island after heach heavy rain, when it's surrounded by a smelly lake of rain and sewage.

Last August part of the home was destroyed. Fauzie has nowhere to go with her terminally ill husband, so she replacedthe roof with thin but rainproof materials and continues living in the ruins of what was her second home.

Yesterday the municipality decided to destroy what had been left standing.
They destroyed part of the second room and removed the "roof" of the living room.

And Fauzie? And her husband? The municipality doesn't really care.

The Dake orange grove continues to be a slum, although it has the potential of being turned into a paradise. But that is not what the municipality wants.

Sunday, December 14

Home demolished in Pardes Dake today

A few hours ago a house in the "Dake" orange grove in Jaffa was destroyed.
I have few details about what happened, as i heard about it only when the bulldozers started their ugly work.

Another dark spot of what the municipality plans for us in Jaffa