Friday, June 29

Mr. ehhh, president?

They shut a deal, the state attorney and Katzav's lawyers. They must be pleased with themselves. The now ex-president will not spend time in jail and he'll pay some damage money to his 4 victims.

He's, it's official now, not a rapist. How wonderful. What a feeling of release. The state's honour has been truly saved. Hallelujah. Praise the Law!
OK, so he's "only" guilty of indecent conduct, sexual harassment of his employees and a few other nasty deeds.
Katzav happened to be the president of Israel and like Haim Ramon (minister of (in)Justice) and Itzik Mordehay (IDF general and politician) he abused his power to force sexual acts upon women who worked for him. It was easy, as he was a powerful politician and "they" were just secretaries.

THEY were women. They were victimised, their feelings disregarded, their bodies turned into objects. They, human beings with thoughts, feelings, sentiments, wishes, hopes, dreams, professions, fantasies and yes, their bodies, in short, multi faceted, female human beings, were objectified, turned into will-less "things" in order to serve the sexual needs of a powerful creep, their boss. The president.

It takes a lot of courage to file a complaint against a powerful man, who has used every tool in his hands to paint those women in an ugly light, to portray them in a horrific way and shame them.

Meny Mazouz's decision not to prosecute for rape (the police state they have ample and sound proof) but instead close a cheap plea bargain for a number minor crimes against some of the victims, shows it completely clearly: Women who have been victimised, should NOT expect Israel's legal system to support them.
Nor should they expect the politicians to support them (after all, Haim Ramon is offered a cosy minister's job). Women have learned one lesson: shut your mouth, don't complain. It's you who will pay the price, not the perpetrator.

Do something about it? Let them hear our voice, tomorrow, saturday evening at 19.30, Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

Katzav should be tried. For rape and sexual molestation of 4 women. Nothing less.

Help! Xenu landing in Jaffa

Way before 1948 Jaffa was a Palestinian cultural center, "arus el bahar" (bride of the sea in Arabic) as Jaffa was known. And as befitting a lovely bride, Jaffa was richly bejewelled: Book printing houses, theatres, poetry clubs and a few cinemas, one of them the beautiful (if you're able to look beyond today's grime) art deco "Al Hambra" cinema.

Famous Egyptian singer Om Kolthoum performed there during one of her 2 Jaffa visits. People paid as much as two monthly salaries to attend the performance.
The Al Hambra, located in Jaffa's fancy Nouzha neighborhod (today's Jeruselam Boulevard) was the fanciest of all Jaffa theatres.
The AlHambra is a protected building, owned, so it is said (not sure it is true), by the Israel Discount Bank. Apparently the previous owner went bankrupt and the bank confiscated the building or some such. The building is in dire straits and in need of a serious renovation. In the mean time, it is used by two wonderful fringe theatres, the "Notzar" theatre and the "Klipa" theatre.

Todays Ha'aretz carries an article about a new central branch of the Scientology cult to be opened in Jaffa, in the Al Hambra Theatre. Ouch. Hell. That's really what we have been waiting for in Jaffa.

Now writing something even slightly critical of that particular cult on the web is often answered by legal demands immediately removing it "or". The "or" implying legal fights.
So it this post goes awol sometime soon, it will be because i really do not have the finances to fight them (Scientology) legally.
If you want to know what Scientology appears to be all about, you can do it two ways, pay a hell of a lot of money to become "clear" on an "advanced level" after so many years of "auditing" or read the "Xenu" leaflet" in one of many languages:
"The Xenu leaflet tells in some detail the story the big secret that is in the OT III level. It tells of the alien galactic ruler Xenu who was in charge of Earth and 75 other planets in this part of the galaxy some 75 million years ago and how he cured overpopulation by paralysing the people of the other planets, flying them to Earth in DC-8 space planes, arranging them round a volcano to murder them with H bombs. Not done with that these souls of these murdered people were gathered up and boxed, taken to cinemas and shown films for several days. The end result being that the souls clustered together and now inhabit people in their thousands. And of course they must be removed at huge expense."
I really don't mind if people like to believe in ancient green aliens as the source of all evil. Although i personally favour the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a more plausible way of explaining why and how we are here. (Besides, doing a little piracy is more fun than being "audited" as any true pastafarian knows).
However, why oh why the AlHambra? Let's turn it into a pasta place!

Saturday, June 23

Emile Habibi Road - finally.

"The madman, in the meantime, was busy painting a wall with a brush tipped into a bucket with no bottom. When the lawyer returned, sweat streaming, the madman asked, "Well, did you uproot the tree?"
"Yes I did," the lawyer replied. "I uprooted it completely, but didn't find your treasure."
"Get yourself a brush and a bottomless bucket and stand next to me and do some painting," the madman suggested."

From "The Secret Life of Saeed, the Pessoptimist" by Emile Habibi

Once upon a time the streets and neighbourhoods in Jaffa (well those that had names at least, many were known by the numbers, such as "60 street", - today's Kedem Sstreet) had Palestinian or Ottoman names, Boustrous, Nouzha, Jamal Pasha, Manshiyeh and Ajami, to mention just a few.

After 1948 everything was done to wipe out Jaffa's Palestinian character and street names were changed. Nouzha became Jerusalem Boulevard and Boustrous was changed into Raziel.
In all of Jaffa there are 4 or 5 streets with Arab names.
For many years now requests have been submitted to the municipality to name Jaffa's streets after Palestinians. The municipality had refused these requests for a variety of reasons, until now.
Finally, after many long years, a little justice. The municipality has authorised the request to name a street after Emile Habibi (1921-1996), author, politician (Knesset Member for the communist party), editor of the Al Itihad daily newpaper and Israel Prize for Literature recipient.

Other streets in Jaffa will be named for Ibn Khaldoun and others.
It's about time.

International Refugee Day - Activities in Jaffa

Last night some 25 refugees from Soudan crossed into Israel. Leaving behind them the horror of Darfour, they hope to find a safe place for their children and themselves.

So you'd like to do something for them? You can.
Today, at 16.30 at the Arab Jewish community Center in Jaffa (at the Kedem - Mendes France crossing) there will be a festivity in honor of the International Refugee Day.
The activities start at 16.30 and include a panel, games for children, ethnic food stands and a football game.
The festivities are organised by "Doctors for Human Rights", Mesila and other NGO's.

Almost every night refugees travel by foot through the hot dry and dangerous desert to cross into Israel, to save their lives. At the border, they are picked up by the army or the border police and dumped in Beer Sheva, where volunteers from NGO's and a few social work students from Ben Gurion University try to find solutions for each and every one.
Some of the refugees have been assisted by Bedouin volunteers from Lakiyah's women's organization.

A few days ago a young Sudanese woman gave birth at the border. She was taken to Be'er Sheva's Soroka Hospital by an army ambulance and called her newborn son "Israel". A day later her husband and their 2 young toddlers joined her.

The work with refugees is carried out by volunteers and so far, the state has taken few responsibilities.
This coming week a special meeting at the Knesset will be dedicated to finding solutions for the Soudanese refugees, whose numbers are increasing day by day.

It is time our voice is heard. We DO have a responsibility for these people.

Some 65 years ago a boat, packed with Jewish refugees, left a German harbour. They hoped to sail to a safe place, but no country was willing to accept the refugees. The boat sailed back to its German harbour and almost all the refugees died in concentration camps. they could have been saved. They almost WERE saved, but no one cared enough. The world stood by.

Some 50 years later, a few small ships carrying Vietnamese "boat-people" were picked up by a ZIM merchant container ship. They were given Israeli citizenship and in fact many of them, their children and grand children, live in Jaffa up to this very day.

Cambodia, Rouanda, Sebrenice, the list is long. The world stood by and did nothing.

Today we CAN do something. albeit something, something small.
So come over to Jaffa today, and see how and where YOU can help.

Wednesday, June 20

Death Song

The AlSeraya theatre in Jaffa (part of the Arab Hebrew theatre) currently presents "Death Song" (in Arabic) by the Egyptian playwright Tawfik AlHakim, directed and Oleg Radovilsky.

The play tells the story of a widow, whose husband was murdered, when their son was 2 years old.
Finally the son, now grown up, returns home from his religious studies at the Islamic university.

His mother welcomes him by giving him a knife, to carry out her long planned revenge.

However, the son's religious studies have transformed him into a peace loving, deeply religious man, not interested in taking another person's life.

Beyond anger and shame, the mother gives the knife to a cousin, with tragic results.

Monday, June 18

No exit?

Several people are stuck in "Erez" Crossing, trying to get out of the Gaza Strip.
They are stuck, unable to go back into the Gaza strip, where they feel their lives are in danger and unable to cross through Israel into the West Bank.
There are no facilities at the checkpoint. But that's something one can, perhaps , live with for a while.
However, what is scary, is the shooting today into the checkpoint area.
Israel claims a grenade was thrown by Hamas, who also shot into the crossing. Israeli soldiers shot back. The Hamas spokesman claims the opposite, more or less.
It doesn't really matter, one person was killed and there appear to be some 10 wounded. That's the point. People, children among them, are being killed.
If these people will not be let quickly into the West Bank, there may well come about a blood bath, another Sabara & Shatila.
What are we waiting for? For yet more wounded and killed?

This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
A preventable horror

Sunday, June 17

Khalil lives in a house he squatted some years ago. It had stood empty for many years, its wood work blackened and rotting, after a fire raged through the old building and gutted most of it.
Once upon a time, before 1948, the building was home to a Palestinian family. It then became a synagogue, and after that a storage area for used car tyres. It was torched and then stood empty, a shell registered as property belonging to the Israel Land Administration.
Khalil moved in, after he was thrown out of his previous home and with him came a pair of wild little birds.

During the day they fly around and do their birdy things. At sunset, they return home, fly around a while in Khalil's high ceilinged living room, until they go to sleep in the nest they built underneath one of the heavy iron support beams.

Usually they move around as a pair. However, sometimes, one of the birds comes home alone and waits for its partner. Occasionally the single bird will sit there for hours, alone, waiting, singing, until its partner returns.
Together they'll move into the living room, fly around and while and go to rest in their small nest. Day after day, the same routine. A peaceful routine. A simple life. Nature's course.

Undoubtedly like some of the birds in the Gaza strip.

Saturday, June 2

Fleamarket Fire

Heavy black smoke was the first sign. The wind was coming from the north west, so the smell became obvious only when coming closer.
Then i saw the flames, high, scary.

An old building form the Ottoman period burnt down in Jaffa's flea-market area this afternoon.
On the roof of the ancient building next to the long defunct Siksik Mosque someone had constructed a storage room for who knows what, flea market stuff. But until the fire was detected, it had spread to the other floors as well.
The fire brigade had a difficult job, as the location was hard to reach, between other buildings.

Several fire trucks and a long row of ambulances stood ready.
Police kept the public at bay.
A guy in a light blue t-shirt, who claimed to be the owner, was questioned by the police. He talked about an electricity failure, whereas others mentioned possible arson. Who knows.

GanTamar... Hadj Kakhil square

GanTamar is a central area of Jaffa, pronounced as if it is one word with the stress on Gan. I've asked different people why it is called that way and got different answers. It made me wonder about the names in the 'hood. Some streets are still numbered, others have names which have nothing to do with Jaffa and yet others may have official names, but no one uses them and very few even know them. In Jaffa places have their own names, often with roots that go back before 1948. Others.... i don't really know, here goes:

Hadj Kakhil square is a central point in Jaffa. It's not the official name of that little square (i don't really know how it is called, if at all), but the huge red neon light name pronounces the name fiercely, in Hebrew, "HADJ KAKHIL SQUARE", as if it were.

Not surprisingly, the small square connecting Shivtey Israel street and Yefet street is surrounded by small businesses owned by the family of that name; a restaurant, a grocery store, a pita bakery, a frozen yoghurt & fresh juice stand, a falafel joint, a toast counter and a smaller "humus only" restaurant. A few meters away there is also a counter of that name selling the best ma'amoul cookies in Jaffa and even a little further away along Yefet street another Hadj Kakhil store selling herbs and spices as well as various items said to be effective against the evil eye. I've probably forgotten a few other stores, but you get the point. (and no, they did not pay me for this article, yes i do by my grocery products in the slightly overpriced grocery, it's closest to my home and i'm lazy).
The Hadj Kakhils are not a large clan, but no doubt they're good business men and women. Nice, helpful and friendly people too, so it's pleasant to frequent their various establishments. By now the square is a landmark used by taxi and bus drivers and everyone else.

The other corner of the square is taken up by the "green house", another point of geographic reference. It's difficult to miss, a highe, 5 story green palatial house, surrounded by high walls. Today the military prosecution offices and the military court.

Once upon a time (read prior to 1948), the lovely house belonged to a wealthy orange-grove owner Khalil AlBanna. Old aerial photographs of the area show it to be located on the very outskirts of Jaffa, from here to the south west there were orange groves.

Khalil AlBanna was a wealthy man, father of 11 children, when he married a second wife, a 16 year old Alawitin, who bore him his 12th child, Sabri Khalil AlBanna in 1937.
After the father died in 1945, the young wife and her small son became unwanted outcasts in the wealthy AlBanna family who in 1948 fled to the Gaza strip, and after some time move to Nablous (then a part of the Jordanian kingdom), where Sabri grows up to become a very angry young man, who at the age of 18 joints the ba'ath party which soon becomes illegal.

Sabri runs away, and in Riyadh marries a refugee from Jaffa, Hiyam Al Bitar. They have three children, the oldest son is called Nidal. From then on, Sabri is known as Abu Nidal.
Rings a bell?
Exactly, the terrorist Abu Nidal.