Wednesday, 4 July 2018

There's a War Zone in South Tel Aviv, but Jewish Residents Don't See It



‘I wouldn’t go to the police’
Lisa Hanania, 30, born and raised in central Jaffa, works in high-tech, administers the Facebook page “Secret Jaffa,” is married and about to have her first child
“I went to Tabeetha, a private primary school [operated by the Scottish Church], and to Ironi 4 in [Jewish] north Tel Aviv. Being there was an electrifying experience, and also hard and unpleasant. The distance was a problem – an hour’s travel from Jaffa. It’s supposedly a left-wing high school, but I was called a ‘stinking Arab,’ and on Holocaust Day the teachers watched me to see how I behaved. I went there because there was no other choice. In Jaffa there was only Ironi 7, a [Jewish] school with a great deal of violence, and in that period the administration also ensured that there would be no more than 30 percent Arab students there. The racism there was worse than at Ironi 4. The dropout rate in the Arab schools was very high, and in the private schools you couldn’t do an Israeli matriculation, so the best option for me was north Tel Aviv. There were only three Arab girls in my year. Now it’s more common.
“There was always violence in Jaffa. One of my first childhood memories is of seeing someone shoot someone else at 7 o’clock in the morning, in front of my face, as I was about to get into the car with my parents. But it has to be said that people who went to private schools, like me, were less exposed to Jaffa’s poverty and violence. The first time I really encountered poverty and the difficulties that breed violence was when I did a volunteer year with children, after high school. I saw things like children in higher grades who couldn’t read or write, or children whose parents never showed interest in them, or children walking around without shoes.
“When I was 19, I received a scholarship from the Abraham Fund Initiatives and I went to Brandeis University and studied international relations and African-American studies. I then returned to Jaffa, worked in the Sadka-Reut organization, and then for a few years in the British Embassy as political adviser to the ambassador on Arab society.
“Secret Jaffa is one of the largest Jaffa communities on Facebook. We’re an activist group that engages with community, political and social issues, and also a little with the question of where to get the most delicious ice cream. Right now, there are many discussions about violence in Jaffa, and in particular violence against women.
“We always felt that this wasn’t something that happened to us, and suddenly four women are murdered in one month. Some people try to claim that it involves families not originally from Jaffa, ‘not ours.’ Families of Palestinians [from the territories] who collaborated with Israel were relocated to Jaffa. Their children are growing up in Jaffa, but the surrounding society doesn’t accept them. They are not Jaffans, they’re not familiar with our culture. They are also considered traitors, because they collaborated with Israel against our people. The children aren’t to blame, but the families are subject to plenty of suspicion and anger, because they caused a great deal of harm. After the two sisters, Nura and Hayat Maluk, were murdered by their brother, we went to demonstrate and people attacked us and said they were women from a collaborationist family, not from Jaffa, and that it’s not our affair.
“I also thought that Jaffa women were not murdered [by their families], but I knew that women do suffer from sexual, physical and verbal violence. The second murder was of Samar Khatib, also from a family of collaborators, but she grew up in Jaffa and went to school here and became a Jaffan. Her murder was more shocking to people. Despite her background, she was known and very much loved in the community. But again some people said: A family of collaborators. They tried to slander her, to say that she had connections to a crime family.
“But this isn’t just something that’s suddenly happening now, in 2018. It follows years of neglect and abandonment of Jaffa, and years of gentrification, which has made everything more expensive and more difficult, and has also created tension domestically. People think there’s no violence among Christian families, and that’s not true, either. There are Christian homes in Jaffa where the men beat the women and everyone is silent.
“The murder of Padilla Cadis truly shocked me. I was afraid, because of the ease with which people are murdered in Jaffa, over any little thing. I myself am on the frontline of social struggles. How will I know if someone whom I rub the wrong way will want to attack me, too? In the case of Fadia Kadis’ family, you can’t say that they are collaborators, or not from Jaffa, or that she was a dubious character. People will find it hard to get over this incident.
“I personally have no trust in the police. I tremble when I see the police – and I don’t wear a hijab or look like a stereotypical Arab. If I were to experience domestic violence, heaven forbid, I don’t know where I would go – certainly not to the police. The Jews come to Jaffa because it’s a beautiful place, but they ignore the problems. They have power and they could change things, but instead they are creating a completely separate life for themselves – it’s artificial.

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