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  • The Beaten Path: Baha'i Haifa, Banana St. and the ultimate Other (part 3)

    From afar, the flight of the fancy complex and the boxy city appear rather harmonious. It is upon close inspection that they are revealed to be made up of entirely contradicting notions. The second stop on Yuval Ben-Ami's journey to deconstruct Israel's well-worn tourist trail is something of an exception, in every sense of the word. Welcome to Haifa's Baha'i Gardens. A few weeks ago, my dear friend Osnat had an interesting experience on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. It happened when she came to visit the famed Baha'i Gardens: an astounding pillar of greenery rising up from Haifa's port district,…

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  • Finding a place in the Middle East through music

    Although the racism and hatred between Israel and its neighbors seems as entrenched as ever, many Mizrahi artists are connecting to their Arab roots. Does this trend portend a brighter future for the Middle East? By Mati Shemoelof and Ophir Toubul In an interview with Al Arabiya several years ago, popular Israeli singer Zehava Ben stated that she was interested in performing throughout the Arab world, and especially in Beirut and Gaza. Israel's security system forbade her entrance into the Strip, due to the fact that Hamas rules the territory. In a later interview, she said that her dream is…

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  • What Israeli Arabs really want from their leaders

    It's not what the Jewish majority likes to believe.  A common Jewish Israeli criticism of Arab Knesset members is that they do a disservice to their constituents by focusing on high politics, mainly the Palestinian issue, instead of dealing with bread-and-butter economic issues that would really help them. (There may be something self-serving about this line of criticism, but who knows?) Last week I went to Jedeida-Makker, an Israeli Arab village a couple of miles inland from Acre, to hear Balad MK Haneen Zoabi give a campaign speech. The residents, including the local council head, indeed told her that she…

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  • Why is Acre afraid of old signs?

    An artist placed re-designed street signs, from the Turkish period, in Acre – and Israelis think this “undermines law and order.” Why? Artist Walid Qashash took a political stand (Hebrew): He designed street signs for the Old City of Acre, as they would look under the Turkish rulers, and hanged them near the normal street signs. Suddenly, after sixty and more years of repression, the street of Sahed Abboud reemerges; Suddenly, Genoa Square, a relic of the town’s crusader past, emerges again from the mists. Qashash has invoked the ghosts the Jews of Israel have been trying to banish, unsuccessfully,…

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  • Knesset passes segregation law

    The Knesset passed a segregation bill today. Palestinian Israelis are not allowed to live in Jewish localities built on land confiscated from them. Government policy also makes sure they cannot build on the little private land that was left in their ownership. How long can Jewish Israelis continue pretending that Palestinians do not exist? In a session lasting well after midnight, the Knesset passed (Hebrew) a new law, which allows communities of up to 400 members, in the Negev and Galilee (the south and north of Israel, respectively) to form "acceptance committees" that will screen candidates who wish to live in…

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  • Mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel: not separate and not equal

    10 percent of the Palestinian-Israelis live in what we like to call mixed cities. What do we know about their reality and how is it different, if at all, from the reality of the Palestinian-Israeli villages and cities? By Issa Edward Boursheh The Central Bureau of Statistics defines the following cities as mixed cities in Israel: Acre (27.2% Palestinian-Israelis), Lid/Lod (24.4%), Ramleh/Ramla (22.5%), Haifa (10%), Jaffa (31.2%), Nazareth-Illit/Upper Nazareth (14.5%) and Ma’alot-Tarshiha (22.1%). Aside from Nazareth-Illit and Tarshiha-Ma’alot, the current reality in these cities is the direct outcome of the 1948 war and the collapse of the urban life of…

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