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.