Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Israel to keep Palestinian clown in prison without trial

Mohammed Abu Sakha, a circus performer, and Hasan Safadi, a prisoner rights advocate, have both had their administrative detention extended by six months. 

Israeli authorities last week extended the administrative detention of Mohammed Abu Sakha, a Palestinian clown and children’s entertainer, by six months. Abu Sakha, who has been in jail without trial since December 2015, is now not due to be released until June 2017, according to Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer.

The administrative detention of Addameer’s media coordinator, journalist Hasan Safadi, was also extended by six months last week. Safadi will not be released until June 2017, by which time he will have spent over a year in detention.

Administrative detention orders are used by Israel to imprison detainees without charging them or bringing them to trial, on the basis of secret evidence. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely for up to six months at a time. They can also be used to extend the jail time of someone who has finished serving their sentence, as with Bilal Kayed, who was sentenced to administrative detention after completing a 15-year prison term.

Abu Sakha, who has been a member of the Palestinian Circus School since 2007 and taught there until his detention, was arrested on his way to work while crossing a military checkpoint near Nablus, in the West Bank. He was placed in administrative detention shortly after, which has now been extended twice.

At the time, the IDF Spokesperson said that Abu Sakha had been arrested for “his involvement in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” deeming him a “severe security threat.” According to Addameer, that assessment remained unchanged at the time of Abu Sakha’s latest hearing, on December 5.

During one of his hearings, Abu Sakha, who specializes in working with children with special needs, told the court: “I am a circus performer. I am a clown. I have traveled around Europe and met with all kinds of people, Palestinians, Israelis, Americans. I have no intention of engaging in violent acts.”

Safadi, meanwhile, was arrested on May 1, 2016, and put in administrative detention on June 10. The military prosecutor allegedly claimed during his initial trial that he had ties to an illegal organization and that he had visited an enemy country (Lebanon) on more than one occasion. According to Addameer, Safadi was subjected to sleep deprivation and put in stress positions during...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

West Bank demolitions displace 1,500 Palestinians in 2016

Israel ramped up its practice of demolishing Palestinian structures in the West Bank this year, destroying more than twice as many as it did in 2015.

The number of Palestinian structures Israel has destroyed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has passed the 1,000 mark for the year, according to data from the UN humanitarian agency. As of the end of November, Israeli authorities had demolished 1,051 structures, displacing 1,569 Palestinians.

This represents, with a month of the year left to go, a doubling of the equivalent number from 2015, during which Israel demolished 544 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 757 Palestinians.

Most of the demolitions took place in Area C, which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli military security and administrative control. (In November, 25 structures were demolished in Areas A and B, ostensibly under Palestinian administrative control.)

Israel justifies administrative demolitions by arguing that the structures in question have been built without a permit. However, it is almost impossible for Palestinians in Area C to obtain building permits: between 2010 and 2014 the army’s Civil Administration granted just 1.5 percent of requests.

Moreover the IDF admitted earlier this year that when it comes to demolitions in the West Bank, “enforcement against Palestinians is hundreds of percentage points higher [than against Jews].”

Particularly affected — especially by home demolitions, which hit a 10-year high in the first half of 2016 — have been Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, the Jordan Valley and the E1 area around Ma’ale Adumim.

In the South Hebron Hills, the Palestinians living in ‘Firing Zone 918’ — a military training zone unilaterally declared by the Israeli army — are subject to continuous attempts by the army to force them out so their land can be used for military drills. The Jordan Valley is a long-term annexation target of the Israeli government; and Palestinians living in the E1 area around the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim are under ongoing threat of expulsion due to Israel’s plans to create a contiguous territory between Jerusalem and the settlement.

In addition, about 18 percent of the West Bank is declared as a closed military zone reserved for IDF drills, meaning that Palestinians are prohibited from building in these areas. An IDF officer has previously admitted...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Former IDF ethicist tapped to censor 'political speech' in Israeli universities

Professor Asa Kasher, whose code of ethics for the IDF found expression in the devastation of the 2014 Gaza war, is set to decide what lecturers at Israel’s universities and colleges can and can’t say.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett intends to lay down new “ethical rules” for what lecturers at Israel’s centers of higher learning can and can’t say regarding politics, Haaretz reported on Thursday. The move is the latest in a long line of Bennett initiatives aimed at making Israel’s academic institutions more right-wing, more Zionist and more — as he would see it — loyal to the state. Israeli lecturers, spooked by the prospect of further censorship in an already-hostile environment for left-wing academics, have already started a petition against the new proposal.

With principals being threatened by the Education Ministry for inviting Breaking the Silence representatives to speak in their classrooms; teachers being hounded for criticizing the Israeli army; and books being banned in high schools for depicting a Jewish-Arab love story, this new initiative is worrying enough on its own. But it’s made even more sinister by the man Bennett has tapped to draft the rules: Professor Asa Kasher, the Israeli army’s former in-house “ethicist.”

Kasher’s name popped up across the international press in the summer of 2014, when the high civilian death toll in that year’s Gaza war prompted scrutiny of the Israel Defense Forces’ rules of engagement. Kasher acknowledged that his premise of putting the lives of “our” soldiers above those of “their” civilians (which runs contrary to international law) had largely been internalized by the military in Gaza — most clearly seen in the mass destruction caused by artillery shelling — and declared himself pleased with the IDF’s conduct during the war.

Israel’s newspaper of record — as far as the increasingly anti-democratic Netanyahu government is concernedcalled the professor “the man who keeps a close watch on our national moral compass.” With Kasher now set to turn that close watch onto Israel’s universities and colleges, +972 Magazine has collected quotes on a range of topics from interviews with the éminence grise of Israeli military ethics.

On the media: “A very problematic force in a democratic society. Every power is supposed to be restrained. The government is restrained, the Knesset is restrained, the Supreme Court is restrained, the army is restrained, the...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

From Palestine to South Carolina, justice is scarce for victims of police violence

The trials of two police officers in Israel-Palestine and the U.S. collapsed within hours of each other on Monday. Both cases prove how difficult it is to secure justice for Palestinian and African-American victims of state violence.

On May 15, 2014, three Palestinian teenagers were shot by Israeli security forces with live ammunition as they attended a Nakba Day protest in the West Bank town of Beitunia. Nadim Nawara, 17, and Muhammed Abu al-Thahir, 16, were both killed. Fifteen-year-old Muhammed Azzeh survived, despite having been shot in the lung.

Just under a year later, over 6,000 miles away, a police officer in South Carolina shot Walter Scott, a 50-year-old African-American, in the back five times as Scott was running away from a traffic stop, killing him.

All four shootings were caught on camera, the gold standard for evidence of a crime. They were among the most clear-cut of the countless uses of lethal force by security forces in Israel-Palestine and the United States that have taken place over the last few years. But as so many bereaved families know, justice is thin on the ground when the victim is a member of a minority, and the perpetrator a man in uniform.

Of the three shootings that occurred in Beitunia, only one — that of Nawara — came to trial. Border Police officer Ben Deri was arrested six months after the event on suspicion of murder, with the charge reduced to manslaughter by the time his trial began. Michael Slager, the North Charleston police officer who shot Scott, was arrested shortly after the incident and went on trial for murder last month.

Both men protested their innocence over the killings: Ben Deri repeatedly insisted that no live bullets had come from his gun and that he had only shot rubber-coated rounds, a claim that was disproved by forensic evidence. (I was present at the demonstration when Azzeh was shot, and it was clear to all that we were witnessing the use of live ammunition.) Slager, meanwhile, claimed that Scott had tried to grab his Taser and that he was in fear for his life. His version of events was entirely debunked by the video footage that emerged almost immediately after the incident, showing that Slager did not appear in any danger when he unloaded five bullets into the fleeing, unarmed Scott’s back.

Why am I...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Trump's win poses a challenge we must respond to

The nativist rabble-rousing and promises of expulsion and exclusion that carried Donald Trump to victory are worryingly similar to the resurgence of Meir Kahane’s Kach movement in Israel. Neither can be ignored.

On the eve of the U.S. presidential elections I stood opposite an alcove in Kraków’s High Synagogue, gazing into an empty socket in which a Torah scroll once stood. The synagogue — named for the fact that the prayer hall was installed on the first floor, in order to protect its Jewish congregants from the Christian gathering-places nearby — is no longer active, but evidence of its past remains: the circular window at the top of the building, the case of tattered religious books, the patches of Hebrew murals that look like scraps of parchment rescued from a fire. But it is the Torah ark and its present-absent void that offers the starkest metaphor for what had been and is no longer.

I looked into that empty space believing that the following day, I would watch the U.S. deliver a resounding rebuke to the kind of ideology and rhetoric that can snowball into such crimes. Forty-eight hours later, the extent of my misplaced confidence has been made crystal clear. As a queer Jew, I am deeply disturbed by what has happened in the U.S.; as a woman, I’m furious. And as a British-Israeli, I’m wondering how many more godawful Groundhog Days there will be to come.   

Indeed, the scale of the challenge now facing America, and by extension much of the world, will be familiar to many Israelis. Just like Netanyahu, Trump lied, bullied, fear-mongered and incited his way to the nation’s highest office, and there is so far little evidence to suggest that his approach, demeanor and cataloging of personal vendettas will cease once he’s in the Oval Office. The current witch-hunt in Israel against an amorphous, elastically-defined left-wing “elite” — as the populist Right defines it — is also an ominous portent of what could develop in the U.S., including the demonization of and call for restrictions on the free media

An additional parallel with Israel is more disturbing still. Even if the unthinkable happens and the pivot that Trump proved incapable of as a candidate materializes when he is president, the swirling currents of violent and unabashed misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia will be extremely difficult...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Yes, Israel does differentiate between Jewish and Palestinian terror

When Palestinians demand their attackers receive the same punishments as those who target Jews, the pretense of equal treatment before the law slips away.

Some of Israel’s most hardline politicians are fond of saying that they don’t differentiate between terror attacks perpetrated by Jews and Palestinians. In the wake of the Duma arson that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family, the likes of Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuMiri Regev, Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett were all heard singing variations on the theme of “terror is terror, no matter whether Jewish or Arab.”

The Israeli state and its judges, however, continue to prove that this talk of equality through zero tolerance is for appearances only. Whereas Israel regularly demolishes the homes belonging to the families of Palestinian attackers, it refuses to do so when the perpetrators are Jewish.

On Wednesday, the state told the High Court that there was no need to demolish the homes of the three Jewish Israelis who murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, because of the difference in the “scope” of terror attacks committed by Jews and Palestinians. The state, which was responding to a petition filed by the Abu Khdeir family, further claimed that the fact that the three were sentenced in court was deterrent enough.

This is not an outlying decision. Back in June, the Defense Ministry wrote to the Abu Khdeir family’s lawyer that deterrence is not necessary among the Jewish public, meaning that there was no need to demolish the perpetrators’ homes. The state deployed the same logic in court two years ago while defending its practice of punitively demolishing Palestinians’, but not Jews’, homes. High Court Justice Noam Sohlberg made the same argument in November 2015.

Let’s be clear: punitive home demolitions are a form of collective punishment, and collective punishment is not only morally wrong, it’s also illegal under international law. The end goal should be to end all punitive home demolitions, not to mete out unjust punishments equally to Jews and Palestinians alike.

Part of that process needs to be recognizing the deceptive nature of claims that Israel doesn’t discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian terror.

 

View article: AAA
Share article

Jerusalem mayor believes collective punishment is key to coexistence

How does one go about fostering neighborly relations in Jerusalem? It’s very simple, according to the city’s mayor: curfews, closures, concrete blocks and lots of police.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat regularly holds forth about how his city’s various demographics can rub along in peace and quiet. Back in July, in deference to the city’s ultra-Orthodox population, he announced he wouldn’t attend Jerusalem’s Pride parade. Barkat’s decision, taken so as not to “harm” Jerusalem’s Haredi community, came one year after an ultra-Orthodox man was so outraged at the presence of LGBTQs in the city that he stabbed six people at the same event, murdering one of them.

In August, Barkat told a group of Likud activists that a stop for Jerusalem’s planned cable car will be placed in the Palestinian town of Silwan so as to show “who really owns this city.” As a reminder, Silwan is already at boiling point due to the encroachment of settlers and settler organizations both over– and underground.   

And last week, again speaking with Likud activists, Barkat waxed rhapsodical about his “philosophy of coexistence” for Jerusalem, a term he used after explaining how he has collaborated with the security forces to impose collective punishment on the city’s Palestinians.

“We’ve developed some very, very interesting models. The first is cooperation between the Shin Bet, police, law enforcement and the municipality… I’ve requested closures and curfews in Jerusalem… We’ve put nearly 30 closures (in place). If you walk around the entrance and exit of the (Palestinian) villages today, you’ll see concrete blocks… This philosophy creates a very high level of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in the city.”

There you have it: not only are repressive military tactics now a philosophy; they are also, according to Nir “Sun Tzu” Barkat, a means by which to foster harmonious relations between Jews and Palestinians. Of course, the “co” is somewhat undermined by the fact that the two groups in this equation exist at opposite ends of the barrel of a gun. But Barkat’s philosophy springs from the same logic as keeping Israel’s eternal, undivided capital in one piece by liberally sowing concrete blocks and barriers along its streets. So the mayor of Jerusalem is, at least, consistent.

Newsletter bannerRead More

View article: AAA
Share article

For Israel's military gov't, PR trumps freedom of information

When Israel’s military government needs to provide Palestinians with crucial information about the rules that affect their lives, money and Arabic-speaking staff are apparently in short supply. When it comes to PR, resources are seemingly on tap.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman this week announced his new “carrot and stick” plan for Palestinians living in the West Bank, which roughly works out as: if you behave, we will give your towns and communities economic benefits; if you don’t, there will be more demolitions, more arrests, more raids, more canceled permits.

Within Liberman’s plan is a proposal for an Arabic-language news website to be run by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Ministry of Defense body that oversees Israel’s military government in the West Bank and its policies vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip. The website is scheduled to launch at the end of January 2017 at a cost of NIS 10 million and will, according to Liberman, tell the news “from our perspective.” Or in other words, it’s a ‘hasbara’ initiative.

This announcement followed a report in Walla! two weeks prior, according to which the Ministry of Defense has assigned a budget of millions of shekels to set up a “new media” unit within COGAT with the express purpose of increasing Israel’s influence on the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza.

These sound like relatively straightforward, if cynical, proposals. Except that COGAT’s recent history with building websites and providing materials in Arabic has been a rather unhappy one, as +972 Magazine has previously reported on here, here, here and here.

COGAT — whose operating budget in 2015 was nearly half a billion shekels — has been without a fully-functioning official website since June 2015, apparently due to a technical problem. It currently has a “temporary” website hosted by Wix, which went online in December 2015 and has enjoyed sporadic updates since. The relaunch of the full website, meanwhile, is continually pushed back as the organization repeatedly misses its self-appointed deadlines.

COGAT has also, since May 2014, been locked in an ongoing court battle with Israeli civil rights NGO Gisha over its continuing failure to translate all of its policies and procedures into Arabic and publish them, despite its own promises and court orders compelling it to do so.

In not providing this information COGAT is knowingly breaking the law, not to mention preventing the...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

West Bank home demolitions hit 10-year high

Israeli military authorities have demolished at least 180 Palestinian homes since the start of 2016 alone, and over 1,100 in the past decade, according to B’Tselem and the UN.

Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank thus far in 2016 than in any other calendar year in the last decade, according to data provided by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem Wednesday and statistics from the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA.

B’Tselem’s statistics show that the Civil Administration, the Israeli military’s governing arm in the West Bank, destroyed 168 Palestinian homes between January 1 and June 30, 2016, displacing 740 people, including 348 children. A further 12 West Bank Palestinian dwellings were destroyed between July 1 and July 18, displacing a further 62 people, according to figures provided to +972 Magazine by OCHA. This brings the total for the year so far to at least 180 homes demolished — surpassing the previous high of the 175 dwellings destroyed in 2013.

Since 2006, B’Tselem reports, Israel has destroyed at least 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, not including punitive home demolitions. As a result, at least 5,199 Palestinians have been displaced, around half of whom are minors.

All of the demolitions have taken place in Area C, which is under full Israeli military security and administrative control. Israel justifies administrative demolitions by arguing that the structures in question have been built without a permit. However, it is almost impossible for Palestinians in Area C to obtain building permits: between 2010 and 2014 the army’s Civil Administration granted just 1.5 percent of requests. Moreover, the IDF recently admitted that when it comes to demolitions in the West Bank, “enforcement against Palestinians is hundreds of percentage points higher [than against Jews].”

There are currently around 11,000 outstanding demolition orders in Area C, affecting roughly 17,000 Palestinian structures — homes and others. Israel has issued 14,000 of these orders since 1988; as of the end of 2015, around 3,000 of these had been executed.

Nearly 60 percent of the demolition orders Israel has issued are hanging over structures belonging to communities in Area C that straddle the boundaries of areas A or B, a spatial distribution that is entirely deliberate. Almost all Israeli settlements are in Area C, and most Palestinian cities and larger towns are in areas A and B. The result is that major Palestinian population centers such as Nablus, Ramallah and Qalqiliyah have most, if...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Homophobia rears its ugly head in Pride month in Israel

‘Sick,’ ‘perverts,’ ‘abomination,’ ‘blasphemers,’ ‘handicapped’: Hate speech against Israel’s LGBTQ community has reached fever pitch this week, and comes as police have detained queer activists and the High Court has capitulated to homophobia.

The last seven days in Israel have been particularly hostile for the country’s LGBTQ community. A steady stream of homophobic slander from nationalist and ultra-Orthodox rabbis has been bookended by two major pride parades facing serious threats and calls for counter-demonstrations.

The sequence of events began with Be’er Sheva’s pride parade, slated to take place Thursday last week. It would have been the southern Israeli city’s first march, in lieu of an annual demonstration and in spite of mayor Ruvik Danilovich’s refusal to fund the event. The police, however, decided to withdraw the permit for the parade’s intended route along the main thoroughfare, citing credible, serious threats to participants and the fact that the march would “deeply hurt religious sentiments.”

Religious members of Be’er Sheva’s council threatened to resign over the parade and the High Court rejected a petition to reinstate the original path for the march. The police detained a number of local LGBTQ activists the day before the parade — apparently largely without cause — and in protest at the court’s capitulation, the event’s organizers canceled the parade in order to stage a protest. Ofer Kardi, the deputy mayor and chair of Be’er Sheva’s Shas movement, expressed his satisfaction that the “extremist” parade would no longer be taking place.

As this was going on, a separate controversy began when Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, the co-head of a prominent pre-military academy in a West Bank settlement, repeatedly referred to LGBTQs as “perverts” while addressing a conference about the impact of Reform Judaism on identity in Israel. (This incident came at the tail-end of another media brawl that erupted when the IDF nominated Rabbi Eyal Karim as the army’s next chief rabbi, a religious figure who in addition to being notorious for egregious comments on rape also referred to LGBTQs as “sick or disabled.”)

It should be noted that Levenstein’s comments earned him condemnation from across the political spectrum as well as from some of his students, who declared their intention to march at this year’s pride parade in Jerusalem. Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett, too, censured Levenstein, saying that one cannot label an entire community and then “hide behind halakha [Jewish religious law],” although he and his party are staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage.

But Levenstein and...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Why won't Israel's military gov't translate its policies into Arabic?

The inaccessibility of Israel’s military procedures means Palestinians are often forced to navigate the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the occupation in the dark.

The Civil Administration, the arm of Israel’s military government that rules over 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank, has once again broken its own commitment to publish all its policies and procedures in Arabic.

After being slapped with a near-unprecedented rebuke by a Jerusalem District Court judge in May over its continuing failure to make these procedures available, the Civil Administration was ordered to finish translating and publish all of its regulations within six weeks of the court’s ruling, which was issued on May 3.

With the deadline having passed, Israeli human rights NGO Gisha — which has been petitioning the Civil Administration since December 2014 to publish all of its policies and procedures in Arabic, as per its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act — requested on June 21 that the state be held in contempt of court. The judge has given the government until July 10 to respond.

The documents in question dictate fundamental, day-to-day processes for Palestinians in the West Bank, such as obtaining travel and work visas, getting entry permits into Israel and dealing with medical requests. Palestinians’ ability to go abroad, attend weddings, visit sick relatives and live in one place or another are all subject to these procedures.

Access to this information in Arabic is therefore critical for Palestinians subject to Israel’s military regime, in order for them to know what their rights are and how they can claim them. The inaccessibility of this information means that in many cases, Palestinians are forced to try and navigate the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the occupation in the dark.

Moreover, says Gisha’s Legal Director Dr. Nomi Heger, the Civil Administration didn’t even honor its own commitments to the court. “The legal proceedings ended with an unequivocal, explicit verdict, after the Civil Administration committed yet again to publish all the remaining procedures but it failed to do so in Hebrew or Arabic,” Heger told +972.

Having now broken its own commitments six times in the past 18 months, the Civil Administration’s “contempt for the court and contempt for the public’s right to know are glaring,” she added.

In addition, many of the Arabic procedures have, according to Gisha, been poorly translated, making them difficult to understand. A number of...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Nearly 1,000 Bedouin structures demolished in past year

Over 1,700 structures were self-demolished by their owners over the past three years following pressure by police and state inspectors. Around half the demolitions were carried out in recognized Bedouin villages.

Israel demolished 1,041 Bedouin structures in the Negev between 2013 and 2015, with a further 1,711 structures being destroyed by their owners after receiving demolition orders, according to a new report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF). In 2015 alone, nearly 1,000 structures were demolished in the Negev — 365 by the Israeli authorities, and 617 by the homeowners themselves.

The waves of demolitions have displaced thousands of Bedouin over the past three years, according to Michal Rotem, the author of the report. Those who demolished their own homes were pushed into doing so by police officers and state inspectors, who frequently turned up at their door to put pressure on them. The same tactics were used to coerce around 210 home owners into demolishing their own homes even though they hadn’t received demolition orders, under the threat that one would be issued if their home stayed standing.

Most of the limited attention the situation of the Negev’s Bedouin receives tends to revolve around the area’s unrecognized villages — localities that the state does not recognize as legal, and which are therefore ineligible for basic municipal services and are not connected to electricity grids or water networks. These villages were the subject of the notorious Prawer Plan, currently back off the table, which sought to forcibly relocate the residents of these villages into designated townships. Some localities are still vulnerable to total demolition in order to be replaced with Jewish towns, as is the fate looming over Umm el-Hiran and Atir.

But according to statistics from the Southern Directorate, which oversees the demolition policy in the Negev, around half of these demolitions are carried out in recognized villages. In 2014, Rotem reveals, 46 percent of demolitions took place in unrecognized villages, while the remaining 54 percent were carried out in recognized villages.

This makes clear that the threats facing the Negev’s Bedouin residents extend far beyond the more publicized issues surrounding unrecognized dwellings. As the report states, while 34 percent of the population in the area is Bedouin, only 18 of 144 settlements are earmarked for these communities — a housing crisis greatly exacerbated by what even the Southern Directorate admits is...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Wiping Palestinian history off the map in Jaffa

A tourist map of Jaffa presents a reimagined, Zionist version of the city: Jaffa 2.0 is a boutique neighborhood of Tel Aviv, with a smattering of ‘local’ (read: native) color. But the map itself simply represents a much broader process of destruction and reconstruction.

If you go into Jaffa’s tourist information centers (run by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality) and ask for a map, you’ll receive a colorful, user-friendly guide promising to tell you the best places to go to sample Jaffa’s food, markets, history and more — and in four different languages, no less.

The problem is that the version of Jaffa the map presents is a narrow, carefully-curated one, of chic boutiques, European-style art galleries and a smattering of Christian history. None of those four languages are Arabic, and a quick scan of the rest of the official tourist information center’s materials also reveals a dearth of Arabic.

On one side of the map, a zoomed-in view of the Old City, only two Muslim sites are labeled: the al-Bahr Mosque (also known as the Sea Mosque), thought to be the oldest in Jaffa, and the Mahmoudiya Mosque next to the flea market.

Only the al-Bahr mosque gets a minaret icon — which on one side of the map is partly obscured by a church spire and on the other side is the same color as the background. Neither mosque receives an explanation in the map’s key. On the zoomed-out side of the map, the Mahmoudiya Mosque does not appear at all.

Meanwhile, numerous churches are labeled with either an icon of a cross or an image of a spire. Several Christian sites receive explanations in the map’s key, which also refers to “Jewish and Christian traditions.”

The words “Palestinian,” “Arab,” and “Muslim” do not appear in the map’s key or descriptions once. The word “oriental” does feature, however— as a category of restaurant, which fits neatly into the colonialist model of either erasing or subsuming the native culture and then passing off the safely fractured remnants as ‘local color.’

When asked about the map — which features the logos of city-owned tourism and development companies — a municipality spokesperson first denied that the logos appear, then accepted that they do but said that it had no official ties with the map. Instead, the city spokesperson told +972 Magazine, “municipal bodies with logos on the map pay for their complexes to be detailed...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article
© 2010 - 2017 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website powered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel