Friday, April 27

No! to demolitions in Ajami and Jabaliyah

Over three thousand people from Jaffa, both Palestinian and Jewish Israelis, peacefully marched together this afternoon in Jaffa's Jabaliya and Ajami neighbourhoods, in order to protest against the demolition of 497 homes of families from Ajami and Jabaliya neighbourhood in Jaffa and the transfer of the people from Jaffa.

Almost 500 families in Jaffa, many of them with several children, are about to become homeless.
Since the onset of the gentrification process in Jaffa's Ajami neighbourhood, more and more Arab families have been served demolition orders or court orders towards the inevitable demolition order of their homes. The very large majority of those families have lived in these homes for all or most of their lives.
In 1948, after the majority of Jaffa's Arab population had been driven out, the small group staying behind were forced into Ajami neighbourhood, behind barbed wire. Their homes were confiscated by the Israel land authority, then rented out by Amidar to the original owners, who had lost their ownership. Amidar didn't bother to care for the houses, in spite of the fact that the inhabitants paid full rent. Nobody really cared very much about Ajami and Jabaliyah, and both neighbourhoods turned into slums, until some years ago, when the wealthy yuppies discovered Ajami and Jabaliyah and the prices started to rise quickly, fantastically....
Jaffa is the new pet project of the developers for the very rich. And if that means the poor and minority will have to be kicked out, that's just fine and dandy with them. The result: over 2000 people are about to become homeless. The municipality will be happy to see them leave to Ramle or Lod, or wherever, they do not really care. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are quickly turning into places for the very wealthy only. Jewish wealthy, that is.

Although the legal fight has led to small successes for some family, the larger principle needs to be dealt with: affordable and decent housing for all is a basic right. People, Jaffa's Palestinian population included, have the RIGHT to live in Jaffa. And to stay there.
This doesn't only imply NOT demolishing their homes, but also ensuring true and good public housing solutions, not in slums, but in all neighbourhoods. No developer should receive a building permit, if not at least 20% of the houses he or she builds will be made available as public housing. No original inhabitants should loose their homes as a result of development.

The demonstration was organised by the public committee, made up out of representatives of several groups in Jaffa: reut sedaka, alrabita, the Jaffa assn for humanitarian assistance and others.
Among the participants and speakers were Esther Saba, whose home in HaLimon street was the first to be demolished (right now the court has cancelled the demolition order), Fadi Shabita of Reut Sedaka, sheikh Anwar Dake (Jaffa Humanitarian Aid), Camal Agbarieh of the Ajami neighbourhood council, Sami AbuShade, Gerardo Leibner (Tel Aviv University's history department) , knesset members Dov Khenin, Ibrahim Zarzur, Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen, as well as Tel Aviv's deputy mayor Yael Dayan and many others.

Tuesday, April 24

Thamer Nafar Performance Cancelled

Today's planned performance by rapper Thamer Nafar has been cancelled

Monday, April 23

Independence-day/ Remembering the Naqbe:Thamer Nafer in Jaffa Tomorrow

Almost 500 houses are about to be demolished in Jaffa, all of them lived in by Palestinian families.
There is very little to be happy about and definitely nothing that justifies "partying".

So, tomorrow, tuesday April the 24th, instead of partying, Thamer Nafar, the "Dam" rapper from Ramla, will give a performance in "Gan HaShneym" on Yefet street in Jaffa, at 14.00 o'clock.

Sunday, April 22

A Small Victory in the Legal Fight Against the House Demolitions in Jaffa

The Court of Justice cancelled the demolition order against the Saba family today. Lawyer Ibtissam Tanos (who volunteered her services) convinced the court to cancel the demolition order. The court believed it to be unjust to remove the Saba family with their three young children from the home in which the father has lived some 40 years.

Amidar, the housing company, and the the Israel Land Administration were considered to have acted "not in good faith".
Of course this is just a first stage, but the Sabas can sleep quietly tonight.

Demonstration against the transfer from Jaffa

Demonstration against the transfer from Jaffa

Filth on Jaffa's Jabaliya ("Givat Aliya") Beach

The official bathing season opened a few days ago.
A lovely sunny day brought out many to Jaffa's beach yesterday. Families with children, young people around a water pipe, teenage boys with their dogs, scuba divers trying out their material. The atmosphere was relaxed, the sea quiet and the lifeguards enjoying an easy day; no big waves, no dangerous undertow.

The beach, however, is downright filthy. True, the large debris brought in by the storm some weeks ago, has been removed, but the sand is full of...
all kinds on things you do not want to step into or on top of. It's gross. And unhealthy.

Municipality? "Mishlama"? You guys awake? Time to do something! And while talking about the beach, lately there has been a lot of vandalism on the beach and the stairs leading towards the beach. Garbage cans have been broken, bannisters destroyed, graffiti. It looks quite horrid. It would have been nice if all of that had been repaired prior to the onset of the bathing season. But worse, it's also unsafe. A lot of kids go to the beach. Municipality guys, wake up!! Are you waiting until a small child falls through one of the big holes in the fences?

Saturday, April 21

Activities in Jaffa Against the Ethnic Transfer

About 2000 Jaffa inhabitants are about to become homeless. Not 500, as i previously thought in my optimism. 497 home demolition orders have been made, all of them against Arab families form Jaffa's Ajami neighbourhood. All of them against Arab families.

There are a number of legal tricks used in the process of the home demolitions.
One of them is making misuse of the "protected inhabitant" law. This law recognizes the second generation (the sons of the previous owner as having a right to continue living in the house, but doesn't say a thing about the third generation, the grand children of the original owner. As a result they are declared "illegal squatters" (although they may have been born in the houses and lived there all their lives).
Another legal trick used, is the negation of the (signed) agreements reached some 12 years ago between the land management authority, the Amidar public housing company and the residents of Ajami.
The result is the same: the poor Palestinian residents are being thrown out in the streets, the wealthy and rich move in. And by being thrown out in the streets, i intend just that: made homeless: 2000 people form Ajami are being made homeless, with no solution in sight.

This coming friday, April the 27th, 2007 at 14.00 o'clock there will be a demonstration against the demolition of 597 houses in Ajami.
The demo will start in Jabaliya ("Givat Aliya), from the "reef" beach, towards the northern wealthy neighbourhoods. From there to the Arab Jewish Community Center where there will be a meeting.

On the May the 1st (labor day) a conference concerning housing issues will beheld, to discuss viable housing solution which will not lead to slummification. Details later

Wednesday, April 18

Jaffa Harbor Destruction

Sometime, between 5000 - 4000 years ago, people settled down in the Jaffa harbour area. A natural harbour, protected by rock formations against high storm waves and any enemy not acquainted with its tricky entrance. It was a logical choice, for people using stone and later bronze tools. There were sweet water sources, the soil was excellent for fruit trees and flowers. The sea, at that time, had plenty of fish.
The small village developed into an affluent city, by then known as Ya-pu, ruled by the Egyptians. The Ya-pu tax records were found in the Tel AlAmarna excavations and indicate the citizens were wealthy enough to pay a lot of tax. Then came the Philistines, the Hebrew kings for a few years, the Greek, the Romans, the Mameluks, the crusaders, the Turks, the French, the Brits and today, the state of Israel.
Jaffa is reported to be the oldest continually inhabited harbour city in the world.
The harbor was its major source of income for many centuries.
However, with the arrival of the tall steamships, the harbour started to loose much of its commercial attraction: the ships were too big to fit in, and the natural rock formations which had always proteced Jaffa, now were an obstacle. Newer, much deeper harbours were constructed elsewhere, and the Jaffa harbor became a fishermen & small boats harbour. In over the years 1947-1948 the majority of Jaffa's Palestinian population were forced to leave and the harbour became a shadow of its former self.
The city, which had been a cultural centre for the country's Palestinian population, started to loose much of its former splendour.
It kept many of its old characteristics, but "The Bride of the Sea" had become tired.

The municipality intends to develop the harbour area into a sort of pleasure & tourist area, with restaurants, clubs, a large parking place, a hotel etc. Some of the buildings will be restored, but the majority are being demolished.
I have used the old warehouses several times as a backdrop for photographs, never ever thinking that i would see their destruction.
Another piece of Palestinian Jaffa is being erased.
The municipality is proud of its developments in Jaffa. To me, the ongoing gentrification process simply means one thing: kicking out Jaffa's people, erasing its proud Palestinian past.

Thursday, April 5

Tel Aviv's Dan Bus-cooperative on a fairly wild strike

Dan bus drivers went on a sort-of-wild-strike today. The cooperative's members are quite well paid, but the employed non-member drivers rather less so. As a result, some of the drivers went on strike today, completely stopping parts of the city's public transport. The drivers blocked the entrance and exit lanes of the "Carmel" Bus Depot, next to Tel Aviv's market.
As a result, public transport to all of the city and neighbouring suburbs was badly damaged. More than that, Egged buses, running from the same station, were blocked from leaving, while packed with commuters who selected to drive "Egged" rather than their regular "Dan" buses in an attempt to get home with heavy bags full of produce bought at the market or from work. The strike had not been pronounced officially and as a result many people waited for hours on over loaded bus stops, speculating why things took so long.
I do have a lot of understanding for the position of the employed drivers, however, going on a wild strike is sort of, well, counter productive, as the people who might be their best allies, were incredibly pissed off. Getting stuck with heavy bags of food and not enough money for a taxi on such a hot "khamsin" day, does do very little for sympathy.
The Egged busdrivers who picked up commuters and rode rather wild escape outes to get out of the blocked bus station, were considered the true heros by many of the public.

Sunday, April 1

Icecream Muggers

Jaffa counts 4 major ice cream parlours: Andre's (142 Yefet Street), Dr. Lek (Goldman street), the original "Glida Mastik" on Jerusalem Boulevard (Nouzha, for old-timers) and "Victory" (at the corner of Yefet and Yehuda Merguza street), presented here in strictly alphabetical order.
Each ice cream parlour has its aficionados convinced of the absolute superiority of "their" parlour above all the others and i will not risk loosing my already doubtful reputation by professing to prefer one over the other. Let it be said that i occasionally consume ice cream from all 4.
All four are known to to great business with rows of people waiting on the side walk to have their orders filled, especially during the weekend and the evening hours.

Last night late however, robbers threatened the Dr. Lek counter guys with a knife and got away with the lot of money, profit of Saturday's business.