The mishlama tuned out to be a sort of Jaffa based executing branch of the municipality (where the real decisions were being made and the money was and is controlled), in essence creating a further barrier between Jaffa's people and the municipality instead of bringing them closer. Moreover, the mishlama has no responsibility in the fields of formal education and welfare and very little (close to nothing) in the field of informal education and culture.
The mishlama is run by bureaucrats and none of its top-people are from Jaffa, except ofcourse the "muhtar", aka Ahmad Balahe, (in)famous mostly for making sure no real change will be made, unless it is wanted and required by and serving the municipality, never mind Jaffa's people.
Gilad Peled, the resigning mishlama director, attempted to make a real change.
Initially Peled was conceived by the public as yet another ex-pilot, another one of mayor Huldai's ex-airforce buddies, serving the system, rather than the polulation who the system is supposed to serve.
Yet over time, it appears Peled started to see the other side of things. Not that he became a member of the various action gourps in Jaffa, but i think he srtaed to see the other side of the coin and wanted to do something real about it. He recognized the failure of Jaffa's educational system and dared to place the blame (and responsibility) where it should go: the municipality.
So he convened a multi-disciplinary team (from within the municipality) to work on a holistic program aimed at solving some of Jaffa's most awful problems: the way a large group from among Jaffa's young Palestinian population looses out, drops out of school, has no employment and gets dragged into the violent world of drugs and crime.
The program put the problem and the responsibility for solving it straight in the municipal center.
I have read the program's white paper (although i was not shown the budget) and i do have quite a lot of criticism, but that's looking at the "half empty bottle" rather than at the half full part: the Jaffa governance recognizes the problem (Jaffa's educational system starts failing at a very early stage, and dropping out of schools is caused by the system's failures), puts it straight at the center and points an accusing finger, putting the blame at the municipality and demanding it takes responsibility for solving the problems.
The white paper goes further and suggests holistic, dynamic and ongoing multi facetted solution based on cooperation between the various departments, age groups etc. The rpgram starts its intervantion at a very young age and aims at involving the parents. However, the program does not look at the various NGO's in Jaffa, which provide successful models and have the public's trust. The ngo's were not involved in wiriting the papar and their various extra curriocular activities and educational programs are not mentioned. I believe they could play a crucial role, ad they been involved in the planning. This is where lots of my criticism goes, but that is not the point of this article.
The program was rejected by the municipality as they see the mishlama as an executing body for the physical restoration of Jaffa (road repair, lighting, planting trees, garbage disposal and repairing the failing sewage system etc.) rather than undertaking work in the human sphere: education, culture, welfare etc.
The program is not mentioned at all in the municipal budget for 2009 that was authorised by the municial council this week.
Gilad Peled dicided to resign two weeks ago, frustrated by the municipality's rejection of his program.
Yesterday's papers carried ads looking for candidates to replace Gilad Peled. The local rags also carried articles stating the ex-labor knesset member Nadia Hilu intends to submit her candidacy.
Yes, it is important the Mishlama should be managed by a local professional who has a deep understanding of the local community and its problems (as well as strenghts), who is able to speak Arabic fluently, who knows his or her way around inside Jaffa, inside the municipality as well as the various relevant ministries and yes, it would be great if that professional would be a Palestinian as well as a woman...., someone we can actually trust, who sees Jaffa first and is not blinded by the ultra wealthy newcomers whose needs are very different from the needs of the local population, especially from the needs of the more weakened people.
What we need, is, first of all, a creative professional as well as a deeply caring human being, able to think "beyond the box" and understand long term aims rather than short term fancy sidewalks. Someone who can see through the nice-looking plans of the various enterpreneurs and understand how the local population will be affected. Someone whjo can actually take the mishlama into the direction it was supposed to take: become a mini municipality serving Jaffa's population. ALL of its population