Wednesday, February 17, 2010

JAFFA—Usually it is one of those redundant cliches to say how old—and mixed—this place is, four thousand years of volatile history. There is a lot of construction going on, indeed “gentrification.” Hebrew graffiti all over, a lot of Arabic posters shredded or defaced. Today it seemed to be a relatively quiet type of powderkeg. It was very stark to observe the built-up, commercial areas from the concrete neighborhoods, some of which were crumbling. The beauty of this ancient place is somewhat belied by the painful fact that its demographic character (read, Arabic population) is gradually being pushed out, although this correspondent did not see anything to confirm this. A few cranes dot the landscape, and bulldozers roll down a thoroughfare; however, it is difficult to tell what is going on.

According to Nazareth-based British journalist Jonathan Cook, one of the neighborhoods here, Ajami, is undergoing a serious influx of fundamentalist settler-types moving in, which is antagonizing the locals, mostly because a realty company at the center of it will only sell homes to Jews. Ajami was not visited today because, on top of it being hard to find — plus my lack of knowledge of Arabic aside from as-salaam aleikum, which is a good way to convey good will to the decent people who live there) — as well as something heard to the effect of “it’s a bad neighborhood.” You can read about a documentary film concerning the same here.

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