Thursday, December 16, 2004


Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Selim Nassib, an Arab Jewish writer and journalist, has a piece in Le Monde Diplomatique about the world of difference between the two neighboring cities of Tel Aviv (a European Jewish city) and Jaffa (and Arab city). I found it beautifully written and moving (perhaps as a result of having spent time in both places), and I certainly recommend it. It does a very good job of presenting the atmosphere of Tel Aviv, one in which Israel's problems are imagined to be somewhere distant. Nassib writes:
It’s not that the city has turned its back on the country; it’s just standing off to the side, on the margins, like an island or an apple, a little New York, that other city that never sleeps.
In many ways, the article emphasizes the separation within Israeli society. One in which fear rules, in which the Palestinians inside Israel are being pushed out of the picture, in which the idea of peace seems foreign. In one brilliant paragraph, Nassib captures this:
Motorcycle shops line the streets of a run-down neighbourhood in northern Tel Aviv, populated mainly by immigrants, Falashas and lower-middle-class families and now the locale for a few trendy cafes. I am trying to rent a scooter but it is not easy, and a young motorcycle salesman helps find me one. He says that his family was forced to leave Baghdad in the 1950s, abandoning all their belongings. His uncle took revenge by helping to prepare the air raid on Osirak, the Iraqi nuclear facility, in 1981. Current policy does not interest him much. "It’s always going to be war," he says. "The only difference is that my father thought this was a good war and I think it’s shit."

It was a beautifully written article. Certainly the best 10 minutes I spent all morning at work.

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