Monday, May 3, 2010

Mind Wide Shut

The ABC puts out a lavish monthly music/arts/culture magazine (cum program guide) called Limelight. Unfortunately, in its April 2010 issue, it's added another string to its bow: Zionist propaganda.

Tel Aviv, by 'travel writer' Tamara Thiessen, begins with this plea to the reader: Don't let chronic political tension keep you away from Israel. Intensely enriching, human and historic, its dolce vita in the Middle East lifestyle peaks in the pleasure-seeking, seaside city of Tel Aviv."

Dolce vita lifestyle? Tell it to the Palestinians!

Some of the dumber bits (followed by my comments):

"Imagine that you head to Israel without thinking of the country's political-cultural crisis, but with your mind wide open. I ponder this possibility on the plane after finally overcoming a decade-long apprehension of bombs on buses."

Political-cultural crisis? Ethnic cleansing & occupation = a political cultural crisis? Mind wide open? Mind wide shut more like it.

"[O]ver 400 kilometres of a planned 700 km 'fence against terror' has been built along the West Bank borders..."

Along the West Bank borders? Really? Not inside the occupied West Bank?

"Looking over the sun-hazed skyscraper silhouette, I sense how Jewish emigrants envisaged the city a century ago, surging up from the sand dunes only a couple of kilometres from the ancient Arabic port of Jaffa. Their idealism of building a peaceful, modern town was captured in the name Tel Aviv, meaning the Hill of Spring."

Ah yes, sand dunes for a people, for a people without sand dunes. Lest we forget: "The city of Tel Aviv was established in an area where Arab localities existed - particularly Jaffa and its suburbs in the south, but also smaller villages east and north of the city, whose names we still know today. The Arab localities in the Tel Aviv area, as well as their inhabitants, have been largely erased from the maps of the region and from its posted signs. While Hebrew-speakers still make use of the names Abu Kabir, Manshiyya, Summayl, Shaykh Muwannis and Salama, little is known about these places, and what is known is repressed." (Map of Tel Aviv & Its Palestinian Villages,

And as for that "ancient Arabic port of Jaffa," it's now but a shadow of its former self, literally bulldozed by Tel Aviv (aka the Zionist project), its remnant Palestinian population (following the Great Purge of '48) barely hanging on:

"The ground floor of Zaki Khimayl's home is a cafe where patrons can drink mint tea or fresh juice as they smoke on a water pipe. Located by Jaffa's beach, a stone's throw from Tel Aviv, the business should be thriving. Mr Khimayl, however, like hundreds of other families in the Arab neighborhoods of Ajami and Jabaliya, is up to his eyes in debt and trapped in a world of bureaucratic regulations apparently designed with only one end in mind: his eviction from Jaffa. Sitting on the cafe's balcony, Mr Khimayl, 59, said he felt besieged. Bulldozers are tearing up the land by the beach for redevelopment and luxury apartments are springing up all around his dilapidated two-story home. He opened a briefcase, one of five he has stuffed with demands and fines from official bodies, as well as bills from four lawyers dealing with the flood of paperwork. 'I owe 1.8 million shekels [$500,000] in water and business rates alone', he said in exasperation. 'The crazy thing is the municipality recently valued the property and told me it's worth much less than the sum I owe'. Jaffa is one of half a dozen 'mixed cities' in Israel, where Jewish and Palestinian citizens supposedly live together. The rest of Israel's Palestinian minority, relatives of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, live in their own separate and deprived communities. Despite the image of coexistence cultivated by the Israeli authorities, Jaffa is far from offering a shared space for Jews and Palestinians, according to Sami Shehadeh of the Popular Committee for the Defence of Jaffa's Homes. Instead, Palestinian residents live in their own largely segregated neighborhoods, especially Ajami, the city's poorest district. Only last month, Mr Shehadeh said, the Jewish residents' committees proposed creating days when the municpal pool could be used only by Jews. Although Jaffa's 18,000 Palestinian residents constitute one-third of the city's population, they have been left powerless by politically since a municipal fusion with Jaffa's much larger neighbor, Tel Aviv, in 1950. Of the cities' joint population, Palestinians are just 3%. After years of neglect, Mr Shehadeh said, the residents are finally attracting attention from the authorities - but the interest is far from benign. A 'renewal plan' for Jaffa, ostensibly designed to improve the inhabitants' quality of life, is in fact seeking the Palestinian residents' removal on the harshest terms possible, he said. 'The municipality talks a lot about 'developing' and 'rehabilitating' the area, but what it means by development is attracting wealthy Jews looking to live close by Tel Aviv but within view of the sea', he said. 'The Palestinian residents here are simply seen as an obstacle to the plan, so they are being evicted from their homes under any pretext that can be devised. 'Some of the families have lived in these homes since well before the state of Israel was established, and yet they are being left with nothing'. The current pressure on the residents to leave Ajami has painful echoes of the 1948 war that followed that followed Israel's declaration of its existence. Once, Jaffa was the most powerful city in Palestine, its wealth derived from the area's huge orange exports. AS Israeli historians have noted, however, one of the Jewish leadership's main aims in the 1948 war was the expulsion of the Palestinian population from Jaffa, especially given its proximity to Tel Aviv, the new Jewish state's largest city. Ilan Pappe, an historian, writes that the people of Jaffa were 'literally pushed into the sea' to board fishing boats destined for Gaza as 'Jewish troops shot over their heads to hasten their expulsion'. By the end of the war, no more than 4,000 of Jaffa's 70,000 Palestinians remained. The Israeli government nationalized all their property and corralled the residents into the Ajami neighborhood, south of Jaffa port. For two years they were sealed off from the rest of Jaffa behind barbed wire. In the meantime, Jaffa's properties were either demolished or redistributed to new Jewish immigrants. The heart of old Jaffa, next to the port, was developed as a touristic playground, with palatial Palestinian homes turned into exclusive restaurants and art galleries run by Jewish entrepreneurs." (Extract from Jaffa's 'renewal' aims at expulsion of Palestinians, Jonathan Cook,, 16/9/08)

"By the time we leave, I have stopped thinking so much about the differences between Arabs and Jews. We have eaten along with other Jewish people at fantastic Arab eateries and seen Jews and Arabs walking alongside each other as friends. In the New Year they held a peace march together in the streets of Tel Aviv."

And Kevin Rudd is a smart but humble man, and the moon is made of green cheese, and the tooth fairy exists, and...

"Having discovered Israel, I feel more civilised: firstly, by my insights into these two rich cultures, and secondly, from an understanding that there is hope."

Pass the bucket, quick!

Thiessen dares quote Dr Johnson - twice:

"As 18th century writer Samuel Johnson said, 'The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are'."

"Again to quote Dr Johnson, 'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness'."

You want Dr Johnson, Ms Thiessen? Ill give you Dr Johnson: "Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it." Think about it.

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