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

Saturday, November 8

Jaffa home in danger - court tomorrow

Itidal and her two children live in a small house in what is known in Jaffa as "Pardes Dalek", a tiny neighbourhood of shacks, somewhere between "Gan Tamar" and Jerusalem Boulevard, in an area which once was an orange grove, hence its name (Dalek Grove in English).
Last week on Tuesday the demolisher saccompanied by the police came to carry out a municipal demolition order. At the last moment the demolition was prevented.
Lawyer Rasha Asaf of the "Popular Committee Against Home Demolitions" managed to prevent it, but the case will be back in the Municipal Court tomorrow.
So, those of you living in Jaffa, it may be necessary to come and defend the home, if the court will decide to leave Itidal and her children homeless. Keep in touch.
Itidal is poor and if her house will be destroyed, she'll be out on the streets as the welfare department have no solution for her and her children. There is no way she can afford to rent a home.

Posted by Picasa

Always burning bright

Next to my home there are two garbage containers. About an hour after they have been emptied, they are full again. In Jaffa the houses do not have private containers like in the rest of the municipal area, but several houses share big and even bigger containers, called "frogs", as many years ago, when they were new, they were green.
Once the container is full, people start placing their garbage next to it, and the stray cats love it, as part of the smelly stuff comes from the fish store next door.

Then there is (or are) our local pyromaniac(s). Every single day someone sets fire to it. Then the fire brigade are called. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don't.
When they do, the street is left as a filthy, muddy river.
It's just a part of life, every single day.

In the past the "green forum" of the society for the protection of nature (which in Jaffa Tel Aviv deals with nature in an urban setting) has tried to deal with it. Suggesting several alternative ways of handling garbage, and "something is supposed to happen", "Some time soon". And of course i believe that, i always believe what i am being told by the municipalty. The only problem is that they tend to contradict themselves. Or perhaps forget what they said and promised a few days ago. So whaty should i believe?

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 5

Hate Graffiti in Jaffa

As we are nearing the municipal elections, hateful graffiti against Jaffa's Palestinian population has started sprouting up at different locations all around.
From "Kahana was right" through "Death to the Arabs" and "F* Islam" to "Arabs Should not be allowed to Vote" sprayed on walls of homes and public buildings in Ajami, Jabaliya ("Givat Aliyah", as it is called by some) and central Jaffa.
I feel like buying a can of white paint and wiping it out and hope Jaffa's Palestinian population will come to vote for change. A complaint has been filed at the police.
As this happens in the same week Barack Obama is elected as the next president of the USA, it seems all the more symbolic.

For those Hebrew challenged: the graffiti reads "Kahana was Right" .

Wednesday, October 29

Mahmoud Darwish - Invitation

The Jaffa "Rabita" (League for the Arabs of Jaffa) organization and "Social Workers for Peace" are organizing an evening in the memory of the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

The evening will be held in Arabic and Hebrew on October 30th, 2008 at the Rabita Building, 73 Yefet Street in Jaffa, from 19.30.

Prof. Sasson Somekh of Tel Aviv University will lecture about Mahmoud Darwish
Actor Mousa Zehalka will read poetry.

The evening will be facilitated by Ms. Sheikha Haliwa.

Leib Ben Sara Street

Leib Ben Sara is one of those small dead-end alleys in Jaffa, close to what is now a military court. Until 1948 the building of the military court was a Palestinian family home. Many of the homes in the street were constructed during the period of the British mandate by middle class families. As part of the Naqbe the homes were "registered" (=stolen) by the Israel Land Authority as "left property" and some were rented out to people by means of a public housing company.
Others were "given" to the army, which uses them up to this very day. Quite a few old Jaffa buildings are in use by the army. "Occupied" would be a good term to describe it.
Many people have forgotten these buildings should really be put to the use of the local Arab community by means of the waqf or the churches, but that's not what i want to write about here. That's part of a larger story, i should pay attention to. It's just that the military court is located in this small street.

The first part (close to the court) of the street is paved, The rest is full of potholes which fill up with water during the rainy period and turn the street into dangerous walking and driving territory. My elderly friend Suham, who lives there, tripped a few times and as a result has to be hospitalised.
Some 5 years ago the residents asked the municipality to intervene and carry out the necessary and long overdue repairs. Promises were made, but nothing happened.

Suham decided to do something about it and organised a petition which was signed by all residents and sent out to Gilad Peled, the Mishlama's (Jaffa's impotent sub-municipality) head. Hopefully, in this period of local elections something will be done about it.

An answer had not yet been provided. The street is small, paving it properly shouldn't be a problem. Or at least filling up the pot-holes immedediately and carry out all the necessaru repairs within a few days.
But then, this is Jaffa and we are talking about an alley not popular with the wealthy new-comers. An area not favoured by the gentrifiers. But perhaps, with the elections coming, up the municipality will do something about it. Huldai is trying to prove he has improved a lot in Jaffa, invested a lot in the infrastructure. Some of these claims are true, but the investments have been made only where the very wealthy live and that is not Leib Ben Sara street.

Friday, October 24

Preparing the party for whom?

Chinese construction workers are frantically running around, while Russian speaking carpenters are assembling the hardwood deck and fences surrounding the building. A huge tent has been erected and electricians prepare light fixtures outside. A gorilla-sized guy from a private security company sits idle on a small chair, overlooking the sea. Small children play in the little public sports play ground that has been prepared just outside the Peres Center for Peace.
The kids are the only locals in the immediate area. No one from Jaffa seems to be employed here.

I sneak inside the compound to have a look at things. My eyes catch sight of a pig-ugly statue of an anorectic looking grotesquely long-necked woman releasing iron doves upward into the sky. It looks straight out of the fifties and is heavy on symbolism. The sort of statue used in shopping malls; not offensive to anyone, sort of "pretty" and "pleasing" but not carrying any weight. With the money spent here, they could have done better. But then, the whole building is such a colonialist mis-fit. And very symbolic of what is happening in Jaffa, in the country, in the Middle East.
Inside , the building is more or less empty, unfinished. Natural light, but very stuffy. There are no windows to be seen (except for the top floor, facing the sea), there is a lot of glass, but not one window which can be opened to let in fresh air. Weird, because close to the beach there is almost always a nice wind, even on hot days. Just open the windows on the shadow side of the building to let in the breeze, and you will not need air-conditioning. Not so in this building, they'll either be cooking or waste much electricity on keeping cool, i guess.

The inauguration ceremony is a few days away and the building is far from ready. The beach surrounding it has been cleaned, the road towards the beach, which has been coming apart over the last several years, has been repaired as well and newly asphalted. The area surrounding the huge pipe passing underneath the center and ending on Ajami beach (the rain overflow from Pardes Dake) has been cleaned, amazing what they're wiling to do in order to impress the foreign guests.
That area of Jaffa hasn't been so clean for ages.
Now and then kids from the neighborhood pass by to have a lok.

I have finally deteced the entrance of the building. It faces the sea and when arriving from the street you need to go all around in order to find it. "Most welcoming".

The building could be used as a shelter for many of Jaffa's homeless and poor families. That would be a great use for it. Then maybe it would turn into something that could become part of the community. One could also operate an art center for kids in it. A community center. Although not inviting nor pleasant, i can think of a few uses for it. Obviously more entrances should be made into it. To let the neighbors in. Ad windows, for a fresh breeze.

Thursday, October 23

Peres Center for Peace about to be inaugurated

On the beach (and that's much less than 300 meters from the water line - by law no construction should be allowed) and next to Jaffa's ancient Muslim grave-yard a weird looking construction, designed by a couple of Italian architects, the Fuksas, (were there no Israeli or, heaven forbid, Palestinian architects?) has been going up over the last several years, overlooking the lovely Mediterranean: The Peres Center for Peace.

Another neighbour of the center is the "Shem HaGdolim"/"Kedem 163" public housing estate, the worst one in Jaffa (and we have quite a collection of shitty public housing estates - thanks once more, Halamish)
A neighbour rather less quiet than the sea, even on a stormy day.

The greenish stripy building does not fit in and looks "not belonging". Sometimes contrast works. Not so, in this case. A colonialist presence looking oppressive rather than inviting. It does not say "dialogue" but "fuck off", having an open face (and obviously a beautiful view when you look out from the inside), only towards the sea. Towards the street and the heavy construction looks closed off, locked, like a safe, windowless, doorless, forbidding instead of inviting.
The spot is lovely, but the building doesn't interact with it. It's closed off to our neighbourhood of open doors and windows, of strong light and air.

A more important question is, of course, whether we will interact with the building, or rather, what will be going on inside it: an auditorium, a research library (will they be open to us, mere and simple neighbours?) . We have not been invited to the ceremony, which is supposed to take place between October 26-28, 2008.
Perhaps we should invite ourselves. After all, parties in Jaffa tend to be public, not so?

Oh, and i just wonder. they did not construct a parking place, so i guess they will be using the one belonging to our beach, which will , so i guess, become privatised for the events which will ofcourse be heavily guarded. Just guessing the last part....

Wednesday, October 22

Police beat up handcuffed boys in Jaffa

A fight erupted between a few young boys from Jaffa's public "Shem HaGdolim" housing estate and a yeshiva student.
The word on the street -which perhaps may be not correct- is that they plan to build a yeshiva right in front of a nearby mosque. To the best of my knowledge the yeshiva is on the corner of Toulouse street and Korchak street. But rumours have their ways. Perhaps they do pan to build another yeshiva close to the mosque.
In any case, a fight erupted. Apparently there had been words (death to the Arabs) and insults before, or so it is being said.
The police was called and they arrested three boys. The wrong boys by the way, not the ones who had been in a fight with the guy from the yeshiva. The kids arrested, were at home at the time of the fight.
While the boys were under arrest and handcuffed, the police beat them up. Another kid managed to film it on his phone camera. The kid bragged about it, stating he would complain about it or take the film to the media. As a result, the unlucky photographer was arrested as well and kept for more than 24 hours at the police station, his phone taken from him and the film wiped out.
While under arrest, the kids were threatened that they would go to jail for 5-10 years, as "we are dealing with activitןes against the safety of the state". Young boys, all minors, according to the juvenile law, from good homes, who had nothing to do with the fight yet were intimidated, while not having access to legal advice.
So much for democracy. "Acco" is closeby it appears.
The atmosphere on the streets is one of fear. Last week three flats in Tel Aviv's HaTikva neighborhood were torched by ultra right wingers. The common ground: all three flats were inhabited by Arabs. I call it a progrom.
Last week grafiti was sprayed inside a building on Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard; "Death to the Arabs".
Speaking to my friend Zeinab and others, we wonder what we can do to prevent further violence. And we don't really know.

Flying Carpet on Fire

The Flying Carpet travel agency in 13 Tirza Street in Jaffa was torched two days ago.
The premises were completely burnt out. A little girl living next door was lightly hurt by the smoke.
About two weeks ago a bike store on Jersualem Boulevard was torched as well. The word on the street is "protection".
The police are investigating

Jaffa Welfare Storage Rooms Torched

Last night the storage rooms of the municipal welfare department in Jaffa (Rubinstein Street) were torched.
So far no arrests have been made.
The Welfare department serving all of Ajami moved to alternative housing several months ago, after their previous (also temporary offices) above a petrol station, were found to contain dangerous chemicals.
The offices were moved to Rubinstein Street, to an old school building, where several employees share classrooms. As a result, clients have little or no privacy. And ofcourse the conditions aren't easy for the employees either.
But worse, it is almost impossible to reach these offices, as no direct buses pass by.
People have to take 2 buses in each direction, where before they could simply walk. Especially for the elderly and families with young children this is a major problem. After all, most welfare clients do not have cars. And public transport isn't cheap for people dependent on social security. It's also quite a hassle and time consuming.

Thursday, October 16

Six trees, the Janosh Korchak park, perhaps a grave or two and Dankner, THE Dankner

Susan contacted me: "they are uprooting the trees next to my home", she said. The little park at the crossing of Toulouse and Korchak streets in Jaffa.
My first reaction was one of not comprehending. I know that little park. Sometimes i sit there, below the trees to read a book, or think and watch the sea.
My friend Halil owns a plot there, inherited from his late aunt, although it appears it was sold to the Dankner family in a some sort of deal and not by the inheritor and actual owner, Halil.
I wonder if i should mention it here, i cannot afford to be sued by the Dankners.

So: it's what's being said, OK, not sure. Maybe someone stole the plot from Halil. It wouldn't be the first time, in Jaffa.

But the trees were being uprooted, that's for sure.
Adult "Eshel" trees. I don't know their name in English.
There is something so violent about uprooting a tree. They even had a permit for it, so the police couldn't interfere. All of the neighbourhood were outside, trying to prevent it. Some of them even stood in front of the bulldozer.
The Israel Land Authority (the so-called owners) want to build a road and a parking lot over there, so they came to uproot the trees. They stated they had informed the neighbours and "no one disagreed". Yeah right, only , all the neighbours were out there, and no one had heard anything about this plan. All they know is that it is supposed to be a park. So the Land Authority are lying, very simple. They did not inform anyone, because they expected to be stopped. They came over the holiday, so people wouldn't be able to stop them, as all offices and courts are closed.

For the time being the uprooting has been stopped. Who knows. When your name is Dankner you can pull a few.... Lawyer Tagrid Gahshan will assist the neighbours in filing a suite against the Israel Land Authority to stop further uprooting and the construction of a parking lot where there is a park right now.

Oh, and about the graves? Well, some people state the park is the site of an ancient burial site, making it unfit for building in the first place, at least according to tradition.

another article (in Hebrew)
and in English

Wednesday, October 15

Humus, Chips and Salad (as well as Solidarity)

Abigail Rubin was supposed to perform "Humus Chips and Salad" with her troupe at the Acco Festival.

As Acco's Alternative Theatre Festival has been cancelled, the play will be performed at Jaffa's Arab Hebrew Theatre "Al Seraya" this Thursday, the 16th at 21.00.

The play deals with the relationship between the festival Acco's Palestinian population. The Acco based "Said's Humus Restaurant" (i ate there yesterday, it truly is great humus) who are active participants in the show, will serve humus as a part of the performance, included in the price of the ticket.

So in order to enjoy good theatre, humus and demonstrate your solidarity with Acco's people and the artists who spent much time in preparuing for a cancelled festival, come!

The image was made yesterday in the "Peace Suka" in Acco. The text behind the speaker reads "Stop Racism"

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.

Monday, October 13

Rightwing extremists endangering the peace in Jaffa as well

Some weeks ago a "hesder" yeshiva (Jewish religious academy) was opened in Ajami. An old synagogue that had been standing standing unused and boarded up for many years, at the end of Toulouse Street, is its center and flats in the area have been bought or rented, financed (so the rumour goes) by Moskowitz, for its students.
I have absolutely nothing against yeshivot, and very much respect religion, of any kind. As long as it is not abused for political and nationalist purposes, of any kind.
I also believe that people should be able to live where they want, as long as it is not at the cost of their neighbours, who, in this case, happened to be there way before them.

Ajami was constructed by "tribal" Muslim families at the onset of the 20th century, when Jaffa's old city was becoming too cramped. It's city walls had been taken down. And the wealthier people of al communities moved out to start new "garden" neighbourhoods in the surrounding areas.
They tended to do so on lands previously owned by their families and used for growing grapes, grain or oranges etc. , on which they constructed homes for the family, its sons and their families. As the new neighborhoods were family oriented (in the tribal sense of that word). thus neighborhoods were formed alongside tribal and religious lines, including Jewish garden neighborhoods: What is now Neve Zedek, was initially a Jaffa "garden neighborhood" for Jaffa's Jewish population. The wealthy Chelouche family, who had been living in Jaffa since the early 19th century, moved there amongst others.

In 1948 the very large majority of Jaffa's Palestinian population had been forced out (or killed) and the former cultural center of Palestine. the "Bride of the Sea, as Jaffa was known, had become a mere shadow of its former self.
Only about 3000 Palestinans had been left. Ajami was encircled by a barbed wire fence and became a prison camp for these 3000.
Many of Ajami's majestic homes stood empty and crmubling down, when large waves of immigrants started to arrive. They moved into Ajami and shared the homes with the 3000 already living there.
Often in a home which had previously housed one wealthy family, now each room housed a family and all shared the kitchen and the bathroom.
Many people remember this period not with bad feelings. Everyone was dirt poor, both the Arab families and the Jewish ones. But when women have to share the kitchen and the kids play together, relationships are formed. Friendly ones.
Many of Jaffa's women, who were girls at the time, told me about these relations. How they felt comfortable falling asleep in the room of the neighbouring mummy when back from school, how all kids ate at each others' homes, how the boys held long going football matches or went fishing and swimming together. The mothers shared whatever, because that was the natural thing to do.
Yes , i am aware of the naqbe, the Palestinian catastrophe and do not try to make "light" of it. I realize this was a situation forced upon the Palestinian families and they had no choice in having to share their homes with the newcomers. Not a simple or pleasant situation. But reality and Jaffa's women were stronger than that.

Ajami had become a slum, for poor people. The houses were in a terrible condition and were not repaired by the "Israel land administration" who had overtaken ownership and forced people to sign rental contracts, often for their homes they had previously owned. They knew how to take the rent, but not how to do maintenance.
The idea was to let Ajami deteriorate and then break down everything and replace it with apartment buildings of the well-known "shikun" (a typical Israeli public housing style) type.
Thus, it was impossible for the inhabitats to maintain the homes, because there was no "municipal building plan" for Ajami and therefore it was impossible to get any kind of legal building permit, as these are related to the official building plan, which, as previously stated, did not exist. A logic worth of Kafka, if you consider it "non intentional". Or of Mephisto, because, i think, it was VERY much intended.
Over three thousand homes were destroyed, their rubble thrown onto Ajami's beach to form what we call "the "Garbage Hill", the grave of Ajami's naqbe.

Many of the Jewish families had been offered housing in newly contructed public housing in Yafo Gimmel and Daled, or in nearby Bat Yam and further away Rishon leZion.
Thus, Ajami became a predominantly (about 80%) Muslim neighbourhood once more. Poor and neglected. A slum no one cared about.
A few Jewish families stayed there, some artists and young people moved in as they were either too poor to live elsewhere in Tel Aviv or saw the beauty and charm underneath the thick layer of grime and fell in love with Ajami. Ajami's synagogues fell into disuse and were boarded up. There was no minyan and no need for them any longer. Most of the Jewish families living in today's Ajami are not religious. Some are traditional.

Today's Ajami has a small Jewish community, about 20% of the population. Some are the ultra-rich newcomers, living in their big villas. Every morning they get into their gaz slurping 4 wheel monsters for the arduous trip to their work in Tel Aviv. They do not really live in Ajami, only their fortified home exist in Jaffa's geographical space. They are not part of our community, except for, perhaps, buying their wines and meat at one of the Hinawi stores of great quality.

Jaffa's school system is not good (understatement of the century), unless you can afford to go private (very expensive) or are accepted into one of the two selective Jewish schools, "the open democratic school" or the "nature school". And to get into those schools, the parents need to talk the talk and walk the walk. In addition they cost a lot of money, although they are officially "public" schools, therefore should be free. They are not. They are good schools with lots of special programs and great teachers. And the parents pay for it, a lot.
Thus these schools are colored; very "white 'n wealthy". If you do not belng, it's not easy to get your kids in. The other kids are forced into the "other schools", which are indeed "other".
The educational system serves the formation of problematic social strata and reinforces the distribution of wealth. That's for Jaffa's Jewish children.

For the Arab children there exist excellent private (Freres [French Jesuits], Tabitha [Church of Scotland], Terra Santa [Italian nuns] or Greek Orothodox) schools. As they are private they cost a lot of money, so are open only to few.

The rest of the kids have to go to the horrid, third rate public schools. Only some make it to the better, but selective, Ajial school or to the newly created Arab Democratic School, which has not yet been authorised and experiencing serious problems.

The implications of the built-in discrmination are obvious, hard and unfair.

For Jewish parents if your children are not accepted into the two good schools (or if you cannot afford it) you can move elsewhere. And some do. Jewish Friends of mine left Jaffa because they could not afford the good schools and preferred not to send their kids to the lousy public ones. They were able to.
For Arab Parents there is no alternative, as they cannot move int0 Tel Aviv etc.. Thus, the education system also "served" (and still does so) as a strong devider and definer of who lives where.

So why am i not happy these "Hesder Yeshiva"people moved in? After all it's "good" when educational establishments move into the neighborhood, no?
NO, because they are not a naive well-meaning "educational establishment" serving the local population, who have absolutely no need for their "services". If their intentions had been those of the local Jewish community, they would have moved not into Ajami, but into nearby Jaffa Gimmel or Daled neighbourhoods, where there are large traditional and religious Jewish communities, mostly from Boukharian background. Many of them recent migrants with religious or traditional background and who can do with assistance and help getting succesfully absobed nto Israeli soceity. there, the Hesder guys would have been truly answering a need.

The hesder guys came here as colonialists would. They have no wish to be part of the local community, but rather to replace it. The synagogues in the area had stayed boarded up for many years, because those who needed their services had left and the Jews who stayed behind are not religious. At most they would open up the synagogue for the "High Holidays" and close it afterwards, for a lack of need.
They come here to provoke, to cause unrest. And it is easy to do that. Very little is needed to create that an Accre of situation in Jaffa. They do not wish for peaceful coexistence and cooperation, but to replace the local Muslim population.
It is also possible to prevent violence just around the corner. Having a zionist colonialist extremist type establishment (that serves no exisiting religious Jewish community, as they claim) in the middle of a predominantly Muslim neighborhood is a cause for trouble, rather than furthering coexistence.

Saturday, October 11

Only in Jaffa

Another walk around Jaffa, checking out Shahar's new camera.
Looking for things to test it on, in order to learn its limits and options. Looking for small things to take various test images, that's how we came to notice it: house nr. 7 1/2.
I know about 7 A, 7 B etc. about 7 entrance 2 apartment 5 but house seven and a half?
Half a house?
Could be, it's Jaffa after all.

The streets used to be numbered, although slowly they are being given names. In fact a few new names (finally Palestinian ones) have been decided upon.
The municipality finally started listening, or maybe it has something to do with the upcoming municipal elections. Throw a few municipal peanuts to make us feel good, it doesn't cost much after all. After some of the streets will be renamed there will be 16 streets in all of Tel Aviv Jaffa named after Palestinians (and Egyptian - Anwaer el Sadat).
I would love to live in Seven and a half Emile Habibi street (wherever that is going to be), or 19 1/3 Ibn Haldoun or some such.

Just walking around in Jaffa with my friend Shahar

Shahar bought a new tiny "lumix"camera, so we had to go and try it out, walking around in late afternoon Ajami, when the sunlight turns even old iron into gold.

Shahar has two pampered cats, his flatmate another 3. I'm allergic to cat-hair, so visiting the premises is usually a problematic asthma related experience.

But i like cats a lot, especially the Jaffa street cats of great courage and of course the stone cat at the cat fountain in one of my favourite tiny public gardens in Jaffa.

Sitting down for a rest and a chat in a quiet corner in another one of Jaffa's little public gardens, a weird and rather tall guy came over, carrying a big iron thing in his hands. He sat down quite close by and we realized something was not entirely OK with the guy. We decided to take no chances and got up. While we were walking out of the garden he threw the iron thing he had been carrying at us, missing my leg. He followed us for a while, but the streets, already dark by that time, were busy.
A somewhat unpleasant ending to a nice walking tour.

Thursday, October 9

Murder in Jaffa

Yesterday afternoon the stabbed body of en elderly man was found in a garbage can storage room at 9 Tirza street (in Jaffa's "Noga" area).
The man had been living with a carer, who was at home at the time the body was found. It appears none of the neighbours had heard anything
The police believe he was murdered but no other information is available at this time, or rather allowed to be published.


The victim was 78 year old Moshe Maimon, apparently known to be quite wealthy. The police suspect he may have been stabbed during an attempt to rob him.

Study in pink

Yom Kipur in Jaffa, just staying at home and without leaving my desk, spying a little on my neighbours living in the pink building next door.
It's public housing for Jaffa's elderly.

Today it's so quiet i can hear their conversations, in Arabic, in Russian and a number of other languages. No Hebrew so far.
A few cars in the street, with loud music, declaring their presence.

It's Jaffa after all.

Yom Kipur 2008

Monday, October 6

Naji Needs Your Help

Naji is 5 years old, almost 6.
He lives in Jaffa, with his mother and sister.

He should go to kindergarten, but the only kindergarten willing to accept him is located on the premises of the Asaf HaRofeh Hospital and demands an emergency unit nurse to be present at Naji's side at all hours. The Ministry of Health is unwilling to pay for this and The Ministry of Education do not think they are responsible either., so Naji is at home.

Naji has no wheelchair although he needs one.
Naji has no leg supports, although he needs them, urgently.
Naji does not receive physiotherapy, although he needs it.
Nor does Naji receive speech therapy, which he also needs.
Naji needs much help. but he doesn't get it.

Naji is connected to a oxygen supply machine pushing air into his lungs 24 hours a day and needs around-the-clock care. Naji is unable to breathe for himself, because of a rare disorder, called "Pompe Disease"*. His very dedicated mother, Intisar, takes care of him. Every 20 minutes Naji needs to be suctioned in order to clean his airway. At night Naji needs to be turned over as he cannot easily do so himself. Intisar is always there for him, but she has little energy left.
His younger brother died from the same disease a year ago. The death of Naji's brother allowed the medical staff to understand the nature of Naji's problem. Naji is receiving medicine to stop the advancing damage, but much damage has been done.
Naji wants to live.

Naji is his real name and the child in the picture is him. I publish this picture on his mother's full request to do so, as Naji needs help and is not receiving it.

His mother is fighting for Naji's rights, but the bureaucracy is hell.

Oh and something else, Naji, who has serious breathing problems, is living in a flat surrounded by a sewage swamp. The house owner (public housing company Halamish) and the Tel Aviv Jaffa Municipality are fighting over whose responsibility it is to pay for the repair. In the mean time Naji cannot leave his home because of the swamp, yet cannot bear to stay home because of the stink.

Naji NEEDS help urgently, yours.

This article may be copied and spread around, maybe someone will wake up.

* Pompe disease is a rare (estimated at 1 in every 40,000 births), inherited and often fatal disorder that disables the heart and muscles. It is caused by mutations in a gene that makes an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase (GAA). Normally, the body uses GAA to break down glycogen, a stored form of sugar used for energy. But in Pompe disease, mutations in the GAA gene reduce or completely eliminate this essential enzyme. Excessive amounts of glycogen accumulate everywhere in the body, but the cells of the heart and skeletal muscles are the most seriously affected. Researchers have identified up to 70 different mutations in the GAA gene that cause the symptoms of Pompe disease, which can vary widely in terms of age of onset and severity. The severity of the disease and the age of onset are related to the degree of enzyme deficiency.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 30

Id El Fitr in Jaffa

The weather was perfect, the music loud (it's a parade after all) and the atmosphere happy and festive. Proud parents watching their sons and daughter matching along Jaffa's streets, little boys planning to throw fireworks "to scare the crowd", sweets and balloons handed out. Girls in their very best brand new clothes and elaborate hair-dos running along their mums or taking care of younger brothers and sisters.
Confetti, laughter, simply a great day in Jaffa

Id El Fitr Parade

In a few minutes the Jaffa Idl ElFitr parade is about to start.
The streets are emptying of cars, to be replaced by children (and parents) in their new festival clothes. 
It's a bit cloudy and not too hot.
Muslim charities handed out food parcels and coupons for buying new clothes fro Jaffa's poor. Faces are happy and excited.
Already last night when the festival was announced from cars driving around with loudspeakers and followed by kids running around (and more than a few adults) the atmosphere started to change.

A very happy Jaffa sharing the Id and the Jewish New Year.

Monday, September 29

In Memory of a Courageous Woman

Malalay Kakar was murdered this Sunday.
I hardly ever write about matters not related somehow to Jaffa. But Malalay (aged 41 at the time of her death) was special. 
She was Afghanistan's highest ranking police woman, in charge of the department dealing with crimes against women.
Crimes against women are common, everywhere. But to stand up against them in Afghanistan you need a lot of courage.To act against the perpetrators you need more than that. 
Malalay was courageous. She was threatened many times, yet she kept on fighting for what she believed in, for women, for victims of violence. 
May her meory be blessed.

“By your side I am beautiful with my mouth extended and my open arms
And you, like a coward
you let yourself be rocked by slumber.”

From: Songs of Love and War: Afghan Women's Poetry
Sayd Bahodine Majrouh, editor

Happy New Year & Id El Fitr

Monday, September 22

Poverty = Crime against humanity

Ha'aretz carries an interesting article today: the Israeli ministry of health has officially declared that a family of 5 needs minimum 2600 NIS just for food in order to stay healthy!
Food prices have increased immensely over the last year: 23%

The minimum wage stands at about 4000 NIS but many families receive much less than that, especially when they are dependent on welfare. Many families of parents who do work do not reach the minimum wage and sometimes receive some supplements.
Personally i know many families who have to get by on much much less: mum & 6 kids: 2100 NIS, mum & 5 kids 1700NIS and I could go on. the implications are obvious.

Rent has gone up like crazy, as has the cost of public transport.
The average cost of a parcel of school books for one child in Jaffa stands at about 700 NIS.

So do the math....

People living on a minimum wage have no chance of providing reasonable food for their families. People dependent on social security much less so.

This is not a given, but the result of ill conceived policies, made by politicians and their money-grabbing friends. Those who make those poolicies are criminals, out to make more money by cutting off where they can. Who cares if the kids of he poor are ill fed?

One can define crime as "tresspassing the law". Keeping the minimum wage as low as it is and cutting the social security payments again and again is a form of violence aganist those dependent on it, a crime.

Tuesday, September 16

Brother, can you spare me a dime?

So Lehrman Bro. fell and Merril Lynch did too. AIG is in major trouble, "but here all is well". Or so the varous commentors on radio tell me. Here? Nah, we're fine.
Sure, ofcourse, and there is "nothing to worry about". Wild globalization. Israel's privatised pension funds are heavily invested in the US property and mortgage market. Much money has been invested in the over-valued Eastern European property market as well. And when they start to loose, you, me and the rest of us loose.

But there is more and it is all bad.
Over the last so many years Israel has privatised its civil services more and more, putting the responsibility in the hands of so many well-meaning NGO's , while providing some of them with partial financial support, on the expectation the Jewish communities abroad will somehow donate the rest.
"Shnor" has been retermed "fundraising and then "resource development", but it is still the same: wealthier Jews in the US and Europe donate to Israeli NGO's taking care of education, health, housing, welfare, the elderly, food security etc.. The state is less and less responsible and we all accept it.
The 2nd Lebanon war showed how dangerous that is, when the poor, elderly and weak were left hungry and thirsty in the shelters and even in their homes because they couldn't make it down the stairs to the bombshelters in time, in their wheelchairs and with their rollators. After all, the electricity had been cut off and the elevator didn't work and the nurses and social workers had run off to the south and the center, out of reach of the missiles.
"The system" did not function and it was shocking.
But the privatization continued and still does.
Yet those same NGO's have more trouble raising money, as the devalued dollar made their donations of less value and at the same time America's Jewish community donated less.
And now they will give even less and the dollar will go down even more.
NGO's in Israel will stop providing services or provide less services to less people and perhaps of a lesser quality.
Some will stop alltogether.
The poor will be paying first as always. But all of us are loosing now. Loosing our pensions, becoming much poorer. All of us. The rich will, perhaps, give up a skiing holiday or buy a cheaper car.
The rest of us? Brother (or sister) can you spare me a dime? Yes capitalism is really "wonderful".

Sunday, September 14

Mum & 6 young kids from Jaffa, no eviction (yet)

S is married with 6 young children, all students or in (pre) kindergarden. Her kids are good students; one of her girls is about to begin an academic program for gifted kids, while still in high school.
Yet all isn't rosy. S lost her social insurance payments for several months (yes, the usual burocratic flunks) and couldn't afford the rent as a result.
And once you stop receiving social security, you also stop receiving rent support....
The house owner evicted her and as she and her children had nowhere to go, she squatted a nearby 2 bedroom appartment belonging to a social housing company, now almost three months ago. The flat had been empty for a very long time and was in a terrible condition: no sinks, no kitchen, the bathroom barely functional.
It had become a hang-out place for local drug addicts.
S carried out the most necessary repairs and started living there.
Last week the police informed her she is baout to be evicted. In addition a criminal procedure was started against her, as squatting is a "crime" from a legal point of view.
S went to see her social worker who told her she could not help her and that S and her kids should leave the flat.
"If you have nowhere to go", so the social worker added, "the social services can take the kids away from you and place them in forster care." (which incidentally would cost a lot more than renting an appartment for the family).
S got very upset and said she "would never agree to this and does not intend to leave the flat, as she has nowhere to go. I might as well kill myself", she added. She said this in an angry tone and left.
A little while later she receive a call from the police, informing her the social worker had filed a complaint against her stating S had "threatened her".
S explained the situation to the police woman by phone and hopes that will be the end of the case.
She then went to the Popular Committee against Home Demolitions and received a court order that allows her to stay in the flat for the time being.
In spite of the order, the police and Halamish reps turned up this morning to evict her. People from the committee showed up to support her.
After S showed them the court order, they left. Shaken she and the kids are still in their home.
For the time being.