Page 2:  Our Trip -   Kfar Shalem

But  let's start talking about our trip with one of our "listening" stops, and point out - as Eunice convinced me - that talking about problems (as opposed to just "common values") can be helpful.  One of the places we visited in Israel was located in the slums of Tel Aviv.  We were there at twilight and it was hard to photograph, but we have a few.

A shack in the slumsanother sluminterior of cluttered home

How did this particular slum, Kfar Shalem, come about?  Well, it was a Palestinian community, in Jaffa - that's the Palestinian city of which Tel Aviv was once a little Jewish suburb, in 1948. The residents fled, or were expelled, in the 1948 war.  Everyone, I think, hoped they'd be back in a few days or a few weeks, but it didn't happen.  And then a bunch of Jewish refugees arrived from Yemen and some other Muslim countries, and they needed housing.  The Israeli government put them in these vacant houses, saying it was "temporary."   And they are still there,  close to 60 years later.

poor neihborhood with highrise in background     These people feel very discriminated against.  European refugees were settled in agricultural villages, the kibbutzim and moshavim, and got title to the land they were on. When the suburbs reached that land, many of them sold it at high prices.  The so-called Mizrachi, or Eastern Jews, who were settled in these poor Palestinian houses, never got title to them.  The government has always treated them as temporary tenants.  Because they never had title, they could never get home improvement loans and could not get building permits to fix up the places.  So they are now slums, surrounded by modern high-rise expensive apartment buildings.

    They need urban renewal - slum clearance.  But you know how controversial that was in the US - there were times when the residents of slums got booted out with no place to go. The slang was "Negro Removal."  In Israel one might say, "Yemenite Removal."

      This is not a group of anti-Israelis. They are patriotic Israelis, many are army careerists as the army is regarded as more welcoming to Mizrachis than many other institutions in Israeli society. And they are active and practicing Jews - the neighborhood is dense with synagogues that are still organized along the lines of the places they came from when they came to Israel.  (More pictures available...)

     Well, our group  visited there. We got information from the locals about what was going on.  And as we talked to other groups, members of our group told them about it.  Some of the other groups knew more about lawyers, courts, how to agitate at the Knesset (the parliament).  These included Rabbis for Human Rights and The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. And so as a result of a group of Americans visiting and talking about the problem, it got on the political map.  The evictions have been postponed and there are some negotiations going on. I understand the government is now (Sept 2007) offering about $60,000 to each family group being evicted.  That doesn't really solve the problem, because the people want to stay together in a community, near their jobs, near their synagogues, and I doubt that $60,000 is enough even for a down payment  in the neighborhood once it is modernized - but at least the problem is now on the map and being argued.


Ordman Net Home
Israel/Palestine Info Home

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2:  Kfar Shalem
Next >  Page 3: Duheisha Refugee Camp
Page 4:  Universities
Page 5: The Wall / Security Barrier
Page 6:  Bethlehem
Page 7:  Efrat
Page 8: Hebron
(More to come)