Editorial: Karm a- dalak

A Community Organizes to Thwart its Eviction Karem a-Dalak: We’re on the Map!

Since May the Arabs of Karem a-Dalak in Jaffa have been living under the threat of eviction. Finally, on August 1, the neighborhood’s 32 families organized a cultural program with the leitmotif, ‘Karem a-Dalak is on the Map!’ About 500 people -- both Arabs and Jews – took part in the event to show their solidarity with the families.

While paying lip-service to coexistence between Arabs and Jews, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality has for two decades been implementing a major scheme, slowly ousting the Arab families of Jaffa in order to erect posh new neighborhoods. These will become expensive suburbs of Tel-Aviv for the super-rich -- mostly Jews and a few wealthy Arabs. The plan provides neither alternative housing nor adequate compensation to the Arabs who will be evicted. The municipality will therefore be "modernizing" and "beautifying" Jaffa at their expense. To the Arabs, it is a cover for brutal economic transfer. The evictions have long been underway – house by house, street by street. Karem a-Dalak is the first neighborhood that the Tel Aviv municipality has tried to gobble up whole. The absence of a competent Arab leadership in Jaffa misled the civic authorities into believing that they could push the mass eviction through. Instead, the municipality’s roughshod approach propelled the neighborhood to form a committee that would fight the plan. The committee first demanded that the municipality’s Arab members resign from Mayor Roni Milo’s coalition. It then told Milo, "If you want to negotiate with us, first withdraw the eviction orders." Members of the al-Baqa Center in Jaffa, including progressive Jews and Arabs, also established a ‘Committee of Solidarity with Karem a-Dalak.’ The two committees jointly organized a unique event, combining culture with solidarity. Forty-five artists, Arabs and Jews, spent a whole day converting the houses and alleys of the neighborhood into a temporary gallery, the first of its kind in Israel. Famous artists presented their work alongside amateurs, some painting directly onto the walls of buildings. The next afternoon, on August 1, this outdoor-indoor gallery was opened to the public. Later that evening eighteen singers and bands gave performances. Hundreds of Jaffans and their Jewish supporters attended the show, which was covered by local newspapers, cable TV and the Arab press. A Jewish youth group from Beit Za’it (a village near Jerusalem) closed the evening with a display of fire. They lit up selected segments of a wire screen to read: ‘Karem a-Dalak al ha-mapa’ -- ‘Karem a-Dalak on the map!’ in Hebrew, and ‘Huna bakun’ – ‘We are here!’ in Arabic. The event was a concrete example of solidarity. This is coexistence in action.

Readers’ Letters To Mr. Roni Milo Mayor, Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Dear Sir, I am deeply concerned about the recurring attempts to decrease the Arab population of Jaffa and replace it with a wealthier, Jewish one. Jaffa is a mixed city. It is of utmost importance that any development plan include both its Arab and Jewish residents. Any attempt at increasing tolerance between Arabs and Jews is futile unless it is accompanied by policies of affirmative action. I, therefore, appeal to you, the mayor of the largest metropolis in Israel, to terminate the silent evacuation of Arabs from Jaffa. Sincerely, Amalia Sa’ar, Boston University, USA.

We sincerely thank readers who have written similar letters. Because of constraints of space, we were able to excerpt only one. We urge other readers also to register their protest by writing or faxing to the following:

Mr. Roni Milo, Mayor Address: Tel-Aviv/Jaffa Municipality Fax: 972-3-523-7754

Don’t forget to send Challenge a copy of the letter! Address: P.O. Box 41199, Jaffa 61411, Israel Fax: 972-2-679-2270 E-mail: o...@netvision.net.il

Correction: In our previous issue we stated that there were 250 families in Karem a-Dalak (page 20). The correct number is 32. We apologize for the error.

Captions 1. Preparing for the big event on August 1. A week before, 25 volunteers from al-Baqa Center in Majd al-Krum helped the local and solidarity committees clean the neighborhood. 2. Nariman Salame, a member of the local committee: "We Jaffans must take responsibility for our fate. We urge our representatives to withdraw at once from the coalition headed by Mayor Roni Milo." 3. Israeli singer Meir Ariel: "I hope my modest contribution will help you stay here." 4. Paintings from the open-air gallery. 5. Jewish youth group’s light show.