Yesterday, during a bright sunny day, I visited the beautiful Ajami-neighborhood.
Towards the end of the 19th century the Ajami neighborhood , stretching south of ‘Old-Jaffa’ started to be built. In the beginning of the 20th century hundreds of families, mainly Christian-Arabs, settled in Ajami. After 1948, a large Arab population from different parts of the country moved into the fast growing neighborhood, together with new Jewish immigrants from the Balkans and North-Africa. In the 1950s the Municipality of then Tel Aviv-Jaffa came with a foolish-plan to transform Ajami to a modern neighborhood. Many beautiful old homes were destroyed and a large part of the population (Arab and Jewish!) were forced (!) to leave their homes. The neighborhood conditions drastically and quickly deteriorated, while no modern infrastructure was build. Beside, the neighborhood was badly harmed (shame!) by the casting of construction waste (20 meters high!) into its once beautiful shores. During the 1980s the architectural and historical values of the Ajami neighborhood were recognized and a Jewish ‘elite’, mainly from Tel Aviv (started by the architect Ilan Pivko) moved in and started to restore some of, the still left, beautiful ‘palace-houses’. This ‘invasion’ is felt by the old inhabitants of Jaffa as an betrayel (they were told, long time ago, that there was no money for restauration and so they had to leave the neighborhood) and these ‘wounds’ are still felt today.
If you will come on a holiday to Israel, or you are ‘just’ an inhabitant of Tel Aviv of other parts of the country come to see this beautiful mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood.
It is worth a visit (bus 46).
In another 3 weeks (March 7th) we will know of the movie Ajami, will receive the Oscar (Academy Award) in L.A. for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’.
At request: for information about a tour: frits.dewit @ gmail.com