Monday, March 31

Arrests in Jalal Shakra Murder Attempt Case

Last Saturday evening a volley of shots was heard in the "shem hagdolim" public housing estate in Jaffa.
About a month ago Jalal Shakra's car was set on fire. This time things got more serious:
Jalal Shakra had been sitting with a friend in his car. The shots broke the window and lightly wounded Jalal's friend in his arm.
The friend was taken for medical treatment to nearby Wolfson hospital. Jalal got off with a scare.

The police started their investigation and an arrest was made, a 21 year old man. No other details are available as yet.

Friday, March 28

Land Day in Jaffa - Yom El Ard, YomHadama

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Over one thousand people marched in Jaffa, against the ethnic cleansing carried out by big money in close cooperation with the public housing companies and the municipality. Representatives from all factions in Jaffa and beyond stood together, united. Jaffa's people, women, men and children, marched together for the future of their city, for their own future.
"Together we will stop the bulldozers", "The municipality destroys, the community builds" were some of the slogans carried by the participants.
After the march we convened in the park on Yefet Street, "Gan HaShanyim", where representatives from the various groups making up the Jaffa "popular committee against home demolitions" and political parties spoke about what they believe Jaffa's future should be. From sheikh Raed Salah, through Balad Knesset member Dr. Jamal Zehalka, "City for us all" (עיר לכולנו) representative Dov Khenin and Knesset member sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur to activist Reuven Abergil, of Panther fame, the message was clear: Jaffa is for its people, who will not move.

"I Am Rachel Corrie" at the Arab Hebrew Theatre

The play "I am Rachel Corrie", based on Rachel's diary and letters she sent home and to friends during the period she was in the Gaza strip until she was killed there, was performed by the "Al Midan Theatre" at the Arab Hebrew Theatre in Jaffa tonight.
Rachel, an American citizen, was a peace activist serving as a human shield in order to save people's lives in the Gaza strip during the second intifade.
Rachel's parents were present at the première which took place in the framework of the Women's Festival opened today at the theatre.

In addition, "the Wild West" and "Death Song" will be presented in the framework of the festival.

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Friday, March 21

Back to the ma'aberot, one more Nimby in Jaffa

The Tel Aviv municipality has started to construct a tent camp in Jaffa, a refugee camp basically, for the many homeless refugees from Darfur and Eritrea currently staying in the over-crowded and dangerous shelters and the park in the area of Tel Aviv's central bus station.
Yes, it is about time the establishment takes responsibility for care for the many refugees who have come into the country from Egypt.
There is not only a moral obligation to do so, but a legal one as well: the state of Israel signed the various relevant international agreements relating to the rights of refugees and it is about time those rights were fully recognized: visa, health, welfare, adequate housing, employment , education for the children as well as language studies for the adults and perhaps vocational training for those in need of it etc. etc. and of course financial assistance until the refugees find employment and will be able to fend for themselves.

There is no doubt NGO's can no longer take that responsibility: the sheer numbers and depth of distress of the people coming in from the hell that Darfour and Eritrea have become, demand state intervention and responsibility in the form of a well-integrated absorption and assistance plan. The refugees are not a "short term problem" that will go away if you do not think about it. Such a plan should relate to the short, mid and long-term problems and solutions.

The state, instead of what was mentioned in some publications about providing every refugee with 2000 NIS to help him or her with housing and first expenses, is not actually doing anything.
The Tel Aviv municipality, faced with a major humanitarian and health crisis (last week a shelter caught fire and by sheer luck there were no major incidents nor wounded), decided to do something, which is great. To take some responsibility, excellent.
But why build a ma'abera (transit camp)? And if that is the only solution, why in the already weakened south of the city, in Jaffa?
Moreover, those responsible for it, will be the Jaffa welfare department (according to Ha'aretz), who already are over burdened and under staffed. Already their level of functioning is way below what i would call merely adequate.

One more NIMBY in Jaffa. It's unfair both to the refugees and the Jaffa population.

Why not construct the tent camp in north Tel Aviv? I can think of some excellent, large, green locations which already have the necessary basic infrastructure. More over, there are good bus-lines, excellent schools and health clinics in those areas, so why not?
But it is municipal election year and it's the guys in the north who vote for Huldai no? I guess that's why.

When thousands of new migrants from the USSR arrived some 15 years ago, caravan camps were established as a first line of housing solution. Rightfully, this solution was criticised and funny enough the majority of the people sent to those caravan camps were Ethiopian migrants. Now it's a tent camp
, they are constructing. Back to the fifties.
skin colour have anything to do with it?

Sunday, March 9

Girls in Gaza and Shderot, International Women's Day

The Women for Peace Coalition had planned its main demonstration yesterday in Tel Aviv. Palestinian and Jewish women planned to march together, for peace and equality, along the Tel Aviv beach promenade.
Women from all over the country had planned to participate, buses arriving from all over.
The permit, previously provided by the police, was retracted; the police would not be able to provide protection because of "the situation".

At the the very last moment, unwilling to entirely cancel the event, the march was moved to Nazareth.
Handing out white and red carnations to bystanders some thousand women (and a few men) marched along Nazareth's main street, chanting for a peaceful solution to the conflict as well as for equal rights. Afterwards, a short convention took place in the "Friendship House".

One wonders what the cancellation of the demonstration permit really means. If the police think a peaceful women's demo in Tel Aviv is something they cannot take responsibility for, they have a problem. We have a problem. Of course it might also be that "someone" does not want it to be seen that women, Palestinian and Jewish that is, women cooperate.
After all, a demo like that in a central location would have attracted a lot of attention. The last minute move to Nazareth meant there was little press presence.
Also, many women were unable to attend.

For those unable to read Hebrew, the sign reads "In Gaza and Shderot, girls want to live".

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Monday, March 3

Stop the horror in Gaza!

Peaceful demonstration in Jaffa today at 18.00 at "Gan HaShanayim" against the horror in Gaza

Yes, i am aware rockets are falling in Sderot and Ashkelon and that's awful and horrid, yet NOTHING justifies what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza strip. there is only one word for what the IDF is doing in the Gaza strip: war-crime.

It's about time we sat down and talked. Yes: talked to Hamas.

Saturday, March 1

Back to the Ottoman Era?

Once upon a time (and for quite a few centuries), Jaffa was the central government town of a peripheral province of the Ottoman empire.
The Turkish leaders had their offices in the "Seraya Building", the government house, just opposite the Mahmoudieh mosque. A special beautifully decorated entrance to the mosque was made opposite the Seraya building, so the governor and his guests only had to cross the market square in order to go and pray in what at the time was Jaffa's main mosque.
Clock-tower square was Jaffa's main square, from which coaches left to all parts of the empire. There were market stalls mostly selling vegetables and cafes, where well to do men would drink their coffee, play sheshbesh and exchange gossip or make business.
Close by were the jewellery stores of the Chelouche family and in the second half of the 19th century Boustrous street (today's Raziel street) was constructed, Jaffa's fancy stores and offices street.
Early in 1905 the clock-tower was constructed.

In 1918, at the end of the Ottoman empire and the beginning of the British Mandate, the Turks left Palestine.
Over time the Seraya building became a soup kitchen for poor children and the municipality moved to its new premises on Nouzha Boulevard (today's Jerusalem Boulevard), whereas the Brits had their offices in the area behind what is now the "Noga" theatre.
During the forties, the lovely Seraya building was bombed by Jewish terrorists and most of it was left in ruins.
Over the last few years the building complex is being renovated and it seems a little of Jaffa's Ottoman past is being resurrected, as the Turkish Cultural Center is about to open in what used to be the Ottoman Seraya Building.
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Reuven Abergil released after shabak interrogation

Ron Hulday, the Jaffa - Tel Aviv mayor, is getting worried. In November this year the municipal elections will take place. Hulday serves his wealthy cronies well, yet in the south of the city more and more people are loosing their patience.
After many years of being oppressed and discriminated against, they have had enough. The demolition of several houses in Kfar Shalem some weeks ago and the 495 eviction orders and demolitions in Jaffa are simply too much.

This wednesday Reuven Abergil was questionned by Israel's internal security forces (shabak). After having been questioned and his fingerprint taken, they released him. So much for the freedom of speech. Criticizing Hulday has become a dangerous activity.

Abergil, an educator and life long social activist who was among the founders of the Black Panter movement in Israel, spoke during a demonstration against the evictions and demolitions. Reuven Abergil wants to prevent violence. "It is the municipality who are violent", he said. "And this violence may eventually lead to violent reactions. Children who see their home destroyed, and their parents forcefully evicted, may well become traumatized and this trauma, in combination with prolonged discrimination, may eventually lead to them reacting in a violent way". Abergil's words were taken out of context by a Tel Aviv weekly and Hulday felt threatened and complained Reuven Abergil had threatened him, no less!

The eviction and home demolitions of the homes of tens of families from Kfar Shalem are acts of extreme violence against people who have been forced to give up their strength.
It's the shabak who are using techniques of intimidation to put a stop to certain social activities, thereby limiting free speech .
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