Wednesday, July 30

Shooting at Jaffa's "Shem HaGdolim" Housing Estate, No One Physically Hurt

Twelve year old M is very scared. His slightly older brother plays it cool, but i notice he is not comfortable. Looking around, watching his back. Their mother screams from the window, she wants them to come home, upstairs, now, right now. She asks me to come up as well, a coffee, a drink whatever. Just have the kids come upstairs, where it is safe. And for once they listen to her, and run up to the second floor flat they share with their mum and their many bothers and sisters.
The police are all around. Looking for evidence and signs, spent cartridges, whatever.
Some two hours ago in bright daylight, 2 hooded men shot at someone in the Shem HaGdolim housing estate.
Several young children were playing outside when the two arrived, shot at someone or in the direction of someone and escaped.
From what i heard no one was hurt, but everyone is scared. The police arrived but by then the attackers had escaped and in any case they could not be recognised. Besides, as still shaking , 12 year old, M told me, "even if i knew who they were, i would be too scared to say anything".
Two weeks ago they tried to kidnap someone from the neighborhood. Somehow it was prevented. Says M.; "They would have found his body floating in the sea after a few weeks, that's how they do it. Or perhaps never. That's how people disappear". M is only 12 years old, but wise for his age.

Sunday, July 27

Jaffa for sale

"Keter Plastic" (or the "Keter Group") is one of the world's leading plastic consumers' products manufacturers. Almost completely privately owned, little information is available in the public domain.
"Keter" was (is?) one of the main sponsors of the HaPoel Tel Aviv soccer team. I don't know a thing about soccer, but HaPoel and Bloomfield and Jaffa go together and i do not have to listen to the news to know the outcome of a game: i can hear the shouting and screaming from my home in Ajami, which is not exactly close to "Bloomfield".
"Keter" was started by Sami Sagol's (one of the current owners) father as a small plastic facory in Jaffa, between the flea market , the Siksik Mosque and Jerusalem Boulevard, many years ago.
One of those places providing employment under fair conditions to many of Jaffa's people, from all backgrounds.
Over time the Jaffa premises became too small and new factories were opened all over the country and then the world.
However, so i was told, Sami could not face the idea of sending the workers, who had served his father so well, home, and kept the Jaffa premises open for many years. There was something special between the owner of the huge international plastic conglomerate and the employees of the "old place" that went beyond "employer - employees'" relations.
Over time the employees became old and the factory stopped operating. The store was kept open.
Last week the factory premises were sold for some 27 million $ to developers.
There is something sad about loosing a place of employment. It's even sadder, when that loss adds directly to the current gentrification process in Jaffa.
And what will happen to do "Siksik Mosque located on those premises? It used to belong, and perhaps still does, to the Siksik Waqf, a family run charity. They never sold the mosque.

Sweet water, orchards and memory

Jerusalem Boulevard is being prepared for the underground (which in Jaffa will be above ground) or light railway or whatever they want to call that train of long planning but little practice.
As a result, parts of the road are blocked for various preparations. Traffic jams are the obvious result and swearing drivers of short patience-span the unavoidable outcome.
During the works in the northern part of the boulevard archeological findings caused a further stop in order to investigate the nature of the findings; Apparently during the Byzantine period there were wells and pools for the irrigation of the orchards surrounding Jaffa at that time (way before the Orange of Jaffa fame was introduced).
Jaffa was a wealthy town due to its natural harbour, sweet water wells (now destryoed by our less than carefull use of water as well as pollution - almost no water well in Tel Aviv west of the Ayalon is usable) and good land.
The archeological findings surrounding the oldder parts of the town, which started expanding during the 19th century) all point to Jaffa's wealthy past.
It is said that in the past a small stream ran along what is now Jerusalem Boulevard. Perhaps. On old maps it is indicated.
Most drivers swear when they hear about yet another arechological dig (there's another one going on on a small street leading from Boustrous (or Raziel, if you prefer today's name) to "Dr. Leck".
I'm quite moved by them, excited. A little bit of the past. I wonder what archeologists in another 500 years or so will excavate and think of us :) with our plastic bottles, plastic bags and other bits of garbage to last eternity.

Monday, July 7

Sheikh Bassam

Sheikh Bassam was buried yesterday at Tassa, the cemetary he fought for.

Sheikh Bassam is on of those people everybody in Jaffa knew. A religious leader to some, a good listener to others.
careful with his judgement and supportive of those in distress.
Sheikh Bassam had been ill for many years, and as a result of his illness he drove around Jaffa in a small cart, always with a smile, always with patience for the many people who encountered him on the streets and asked for his assistance, his ideas or maybe just a listening ear.

The burial ceremony left from the Mahmoudia Mosque and was attended by many people form Jaffa and from all over the country