Negotiations of Memory and Space
Negotiations of Memory and Space
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter starts by tracing strands of current discourse of modern Israel and Palestine back to their historical antecedents. It approximates a genealogy of everyday interactions in Haifa — interactions that draw meaning from the history of settlement and resettlement. The daily physical, political, and discursive contestations over identity are traced out as they are played out across urban space — buildings being razed; streets being renamed; wealth moving uphill; Arabs replacing Jews replacing Arabs in downtown neighborhoods. These struggles over space have generated spatial symbols of identity — from the appearance of homes to the language of newspapers — and mirror, constitute, and constrain the negotiation of identity.
My first—and last—encounter with “the field” came at Israel's airport. In 1990, when I traveled to Haifa to begin fieldwork, Israel had only one major airport, the Ben-Gurion International Airport,1 and so most visitors encountered Israel first through the adjacent city of Lod. Or Lydda.
The British built the airport in the 1920s while they were the mandated colonial government in Palestine. The airport was located near the Arab town of Lydda, which was conveniently central in Palestine—roughly halfway between Tel Aviv (or Jaffa)2 in the east, Jerusalem in the west, the Galilee in the north, and the Negev in the south (see fig. 2.2).
Lod is the Hebrew name given to the (formerly) Arab town of Lydda. Hundreds of places in Israel/Palestine have been renamed by the Jewish immigrants and Israeli authorities.3 In some cases the Hebrew names revive Biblical names, but in most cases the older Arabic names were merely hebraicized—changed slightly to conform to the sound patterns of Hebrew. I don't know which case Lod/Lydda falls under, but the dual place names recall this process.
What was long known as The Lydda International Airport was renamed the Ben-Gurion International Airport, after Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. The (formerly) Arab town of Lydda has receded even further.
Lod/Lydda was a vital strategic nexus in the conflict between Jews and Arabs from 1947 to 1949—a conflict that Israelis now call milxemet hashixrur, “The War of Independence,” and which Palestinians call an-nakba,4 “The Defeat.” In July 1948, the Israeli military commander Moshe Dayan (p.30)(p.31) captured the airport, as well as nearby (Arab) towns, for the Israelis (Sachar 1989:331). As part of these military actions nearly 100,000 of the local (Arab) inhabitants were encouraged to leave their towns and villages (Sachar 1989:334).
Much of the property owned by Palestinian residents of Lydda was essentially confiscated, and in the early 1950s, when hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants arrived in Israel from the Arab and Muslim countries of the Middle East, many were settled in “abandoned” homes of Lydda/Lod.
Today the Lydda/Lod/Ben-Gurion International Airport is a place of great discomfort for Palestinian Israelis.
This was a story I heard many times from Palestinians I interviewed: Arabs in Israel feel discrimination most when they leave the country—at the airport. Israel claims to provide equal treatment to all of its citizens, but the issue of “security” severely tests this doctrine. At the airport extraordinary security precautions are taken to prevent hijackings. All luggage is thoroughly searched, and all travelers are interviewed. Jewish Israelis, as well as Americans with Jewish-sounding names (like me), pass through relatively quickly, but Palestinians, other Arabs, and even swarthy or dark-haired tourists who happen to look Arab, are often subjected to very different treatment.5
(p.32) I did not perceive the many resonances of the Ben-Gurion Airport when I arrived there in December 1990. I was exhausted, weighted down by a bulky computer and an enormous box of blank cassette tapes, and I was desperately hoping that I would recognize, after ten years, the uncle who had promised to pick me up. But with the benefit of hindsight—the kind of hindsight that comes from two years of participating in and observing Israeli life, from interviewing Israeli people, from reading Israeli newspapers, and from learning Israeli languages—I have come to think of the image of the airport as representing well the frame within which Israelis negotiate identity.
The acquisition of this hindsight is the craft of the ethnographer. Its textualization is the craft of the anthropologist. Much has been written recently about anthropologists' descriptions of their first encounter with “the field.” As Mary Louise Pratt (1986:31–32) puts it,
In the years since James Clifford, George Marcus, and other critics of “ethnographic authority” helped revolutionize the writing of ethnographies (see Clifford and Marcus 1986; Marcus and Fischer 1986), anthropologists have made major changes in the tropes they use to introduce, and ground, their work. Such experiments may underestimate, though, the parallels between the visiting anthropologist's representation (in the text) of his/her primal encounter with the “native” and the resident “native's” representation of his/her own primal encounter with the ethnographer. Opening scenes are memorable because they stand for something important. It goes without saying that these tropes stand—in the text—for something different from what they represented at the time.
opening narratives commonly recount the writer's arrival at the field site, for instance, the initial reception by the inhabitants, the slow, agonizing process of learning the language and overcoming rejection, the anguish and loss at leaving…. They play the crucial role of anchoring that description in the intense and authority-giving personal experience of fieldwork. Symbolically and ideologically rich, they often turn out to be the most memorable segments of an ethnographic work…. Always they are responsible for setting up the initial positionings of the subjects of the ethnographic text: the ethnographer, the native, and the reader.
The ethnographic project—both as encounter and as textualization—involves a negotiation of meaning in “space” from the structures and practices of “place.” As visitor, the ethnographer seeks both to learn the meanings attached to particular places and to communicate those meanings to others. But everyday life too involves a negotiation of meaning in “space” from the structures and practices of “place.” People structure spaces through their symbolic practices, and spaces structure peoples' sense of identity by insisting upon a particular frame within which symbolic practice unfolds. Such recursive narratives of space-making accumulate over time, generating dialogic webs of reference and comprising a community's historical memory.
In Israel/Palestine this dynamic of space and place implicates a struggle over historical memory and the very definition of history and is central to the production of and contestation over identity. The negotiation of identities in everyday Israeli life is critically influenced by the place within which it occurs. Zionist imaginings of homeland (p.33) were based on narratives of place (Herzl 1988 ), but Israeli constructions of nation are heavily tied to the making and remaking of spaces, through such practices as architectural construction and archeological excavation (Abu El-Haj 1997). Palestinian imaginings of home are similarly rooted in the narrativization of place, and the struggle over constructing Arab space is deeply inscribed in Palestinian towns, villages, and neighborhoods. Historical memory is not solely the history of the Self, but rather is constructed out of the Self's relation to the Other. Israelis use the ideas, images, and terms of history in their face-to-face struggles over identity. And these struggles are inscribed onto the physical terrain, in Israeli places. The dialectic of space and place, with its emphasis on narrative as collective memory, provides a way to understand the importance both of historical memory and of urban geographies in the negotiation of identities in Haifa, Israel.
During my stay in Israel I often spent weekends with my aunt and uncle on their citrus farm in the central part of the country. After the visit I would take a long bus ride from their moshav6 to Haifa (see fig. 2.2), where my research was based, and where I shared a small apartment with two Israeli college students. I loved this ride from Bnai Zion to Haifa. I never tired of watching the physical beauty of the landscape as it flowed past the bus window. And I was always fascinated to watch the physical markers of Israeli history and social structure as they flew past the window as my bus traveled north.
From central Israel, where my relatives' moshav was located, the bus passed through a fertile belt of citrus farm: acre after acre of orange groves with their deep green leaves, broken only momentarily by fields of vegetables or roads to small towns. This is the Sharon Valley, the agricultural heartland of Israel, one manifestation of the Zionist dream of “making the desert bloom.”
In the 1880s European Jews began “returning” to Palestine. The Jewish romantic nationalist movement, called Zionism, was gaining adherents throughout eastern Europe, as Jews suffered discrimination and repression. The notorious Dreyfus Affair in France added fuel to the fire—ironically because France had been the most progressive of European countries in granting Jews citizenship, liberties, and belonging (Hertzberg 1959).
In moving from Europe—where most had been landless—to Palestine, Jews began to buy land (Sachar 1989). Theodor Herzl, who was to become the most important spokesman for the new Zionist philosophy, called the movement a “return,” evoking Biblical times when Jews had lived there. Herzl thought of Palestine as “a land without people for a people without land” (see Herzl 1988 ).
But of course there were people already living in Palestine toward the end of the nineteenth century. Clearly Herzl did not think that Palestine was literally uninhabited—but rather that Palestine was, like many non-European places, underinhabited. This is a view that he shared with many Europeans of his time.7 Colonies were thought of as places where European (p.34)(p.35) technology and industriousness could improve both land and people—if the latter were willing. When Zionist pioneers looked at the swampy valleys, rocky hills, and sand-swept plains of nineteenth-century Palestine, they envisioned land that could be remade into productive farmland.
The land looked prosperous and fertile, but appearances can fool. Here and there in the midst of a sea of luscious green were blotches of brown—plots of land where the citrus trees were no longer being irrigated. During my stay in Israel I watched these brown flecks grow and multiply, as the “bloom” returned to desert. The escalating price of water had long overtaken the profitability of exporting fruit, and in the early 1990s few would have grown oranges if not for government subsidies.
My uncle was one such citrus farmer (see fig. 2.3). For thirty years he cultivated ten acres of oranges along the Haifa road, but during my stay in Israel, the family decided to sell their farm and move to a city apartment. A wealthy businessman bought their house, and my uncle anticipated that he would turn much of the orchard into a swimming pool.8
The Sharon Valley is the narrow “neck” of Israel (see fig. 2.2). At Ra'anana Junction only ten miles of Israel separate the Mediterranean Sea from the West Bank—I walked most of the way across Israel one afternoon after getting on the wrong bus by mistake. Road signs here point in one direction to the Israeli cities of Ra'anana and Netanya, and in the opposite direction to the West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Tulkarm. Israelis old enough to remember the “Six Day War” in 1967 recall fearing that the invading Jordanian army would cut the country in half at this point. To Israeli Jews this narrow neck symbolizes vulnerability, but as an American I did not feel vulnerable.
Closer to Haifa the main road hugs the coast, and through the bus window I saw salt marshes and sand dunes. At one point the road comes very close to an Arab village. From the bus I saw unpaved streets, open sewers, and crumbling buildings—telltale signs of poverty and victimization that reminded me how Israel's creation as a Jewish state came at the expense of Palestinians.
For Palestinians, Zionism was an intrusion. As Jewish pioneers came to Palestine and began to buy up land, many rural and poor Palestinians were displaced. In a common scenario, Jews purchased parcels of land from wealthy Palestinians who owned the land but did not themselves farm it. For centuries, Palestinian farmers had worked land owned by others.
The displacement was caused in part by a strange articulation with Jewish history. Zionism sought to escape the stigma and oppression that had accompanied Jews in Europe by creating a brand-new Jewish identity. This “New Jew” would “return” to productive, manual labor, tilling the soil, operating factories, and fighting wars. The phrase kibush ha-avoda, “conquest of labor,” encapsulates this core Zionist ideal, and the fabulously successful communal farms known as kibbutzim were a direct result.
An indirect result was that as Jews gained ownership of land, the fellahin, the Arab peasantry, were unable to continue to work the land. Such displacement led on the one hand to a growing proletarianization of the Palestinian peasantry (Rosenfeld 1978) and on the other hand to growing resentment and conflict.
At the outskirts of Haifa natural beauty overwhelms the eye. Long stretches of beach divide the placid blue of the Mediterranean Sea from the magnificent escarpment of Mount Carmel. White cliffs and bands of rock jut out toward the sea. A cable car leads up sheer cliffs to a Carmelite monastery that commands spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Midway up the cliff face lie Elijah's Caves, biblical places holy to Jews and Moslems. A bit further down the road lie the gardens of the Bahai Temple. Haifa is one of three world centers of the Bahai religion.
This, too, is Haifa, is Israel, is the Holy Land, but Haifa is neither a particularly ancient nor a particularly holy city—at least not in the context of the Holy Land. Although Haifa was built on a natural harbor (see fig. 2.4), other towns were much more prominent historically. Acre and Caesaria, for example, coastal towns twenty miles north and south of Haifa, respectively, were strongholds for successive empires: Roman, Arab, Crusader, and Ottoman. Haifa, in contrast, grew up in this century, becoming an important center of trade, industry, and culture during the British Mandate.
The territory called Palestine was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire for hundreds of years before the British arrived. This empire collapsed, however, in the wake of World War I, and France and England divvied up the spoils. England took Palestine. The League of Nations granted England a mandate to govern Palestine in 1917.
While in power, the British constructed a port, oil terminal, and refinery at Haifa, and eventually constructed a railway line that connected oil fields in Iraq with the Haifa industrial facilities. Haifa grew steadily during the (p.37)(p.38) mandate period. Heavy Jewish immigration brought new businesses, and the development also attracted Palestinians to the city seeking employment. By 1948 there were more than 100,000 residents in Haifa, half Palestinian and half Jewish (Sachar 1989:332).
The British era was a stormy one. Jewish immigration increased, as did Arab resistance. In 1914 the British issued the Balfour Declaration, which put Britain on record as advocating the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Subsequent administrative actions and policy declarations, however, vacillated between support for Jewish immigration and support for Arab control. Sectarian violence broke out in the 1920s and again, much worse, in the mid 1930s. By the end of World War II, the British were relieved to abandon the Holy Land to the Jews and the Palestinians.
At the approach to Haifa, the bus passed the neighborhood of Sha'ar Aliya (see fig. 2.4). Out the window I saw blocks of modern but lifeless apartment buildings. The neighborhoods resembled a parking lot, with three- to four-story apartment buildings lined up on grids facing each other, separated by neglected semicourtyards, presenting their backsides to the road. The buildings are cinderblock and ugly. No one seems to tend the exteriors or the communal areas. Ironically, these apartments were built in keeping with the communal spirit of Israeli socialism—pragmatic, robust, egalitarian—but these values didn't show up well in architecture.
Zionism was a European movement, and from the beginning of the “return” in the 1880s to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, the vast majority of immigrants to Palestine came from Europe. In the wake of the 1948 wars, however, hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Middle East—from Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and other places—flooded into Israel. During the decade from 1948 to 1958 the Jewish population of Israel doubled, and most of the new immigrants came from the Middle East.
European Zionists were as unprepared for the encounter with Mizrahi Jews as they had been for the encounter with Palestinian Arabs, but the Israeli establishment took a very different approach to the Middle Eastern Jews. While Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants (including the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Holocaust) were settled in the growing cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, Mizrahi Jews were disproportionately settled in ayarot pituax, “development towns,” in rural areas, often along the borders with Arab states, and in ma'abarot, “transition camps,” on the margins of the cities. The Mizrahim entered Israel as a working class, subordinated to the entrenched Ashkenazi elite.
Sha'ar Aliya was once a ma'abara. The blokim, “blocks,” as the apartment complexes are called,9 are the reminders of the Jewish Other in Israel—the residues of the ma'abarot, where immigrants of the 1950s were housed in tents (sometimes for years) until permanent housing could be found. In many cases it is as if the walls of the tents were merely solidified into the brick walls of the blokim. Many of the camps are now (p.39) neighborhoods in which ethnic inequality within the Jewish community is played out. This neighborhood's name, Sha'ar Aliya, means either “Gate of Ascent,” or “Immigrant Portal.” The Hebrew word for “ascent,” aliya, is used metaphorically to mean “immigration to Israel,” an ironic usage in the context of these neighborhoods at the very bottom of Haifa's mountain, which formed dead-ends, rather than portals, for so many of Israel's immigrants from Middle Eastern countries.
Just beyond Sha'ar Aliya is downtown Haifa.
Ascending Mount Carmel
Haifa is like an archeological site embossed on Mount Carmel: the steep slopes, from the Mediterranean Sea at its base to the Druze villages Isfiyya and Daliat Ha-Carmel10 at its top, traverse historical periods of settlement and social strata of status, wealth, and identity. Topography is interwoven with history and social structure, as the slopes provide the physical, historical, and social framework upon which ideas of “Haifa” and “Haifans” are constructed.
Just a hundred yards or so from the shores of the Mediterranean lies downtown Haifa. From there the city spreads out and up the steep flanks of Mount Carmel. From any particular point in the city one perceives only a small portion of the whole mountain, but from almost everywhere one sees the steepness. Neighborhoods cling precariously to the slope. Houses are perched on pockets hewn from the rock. Roads are scratched onto the sides, curling up and around outcrops, dangling over sheer cliffs. The slope is so steep that street level on two sides of an apartment building may differ by three or four stories.
Walls are everywhere. Made of rough-cut stone, they hold back the mountain to make way for roads and building (see fig. 2.5). In many places the slope is so severe that stairways replace sidewalks (see fig. 2.6), and the quickest pedestrian route threads its way between homes, back doors, laundry lines, playgrounds, olive trees. Built of yellow stone and equipped with blue handrails, the stairways are everywhere the same, and everywhere unique. Unlike the massive streets, which rip apart Haifa's natural beauty, the poetic stairways merge with the landscape and the neighborhoods they bisect. One hundred and twelve stairs separated the entrance to my apartment building from the bus stop I used to go to work each day.
Haifa is Israel's third largest metropolitan area, but it differs from the larger cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the bustling fashion and nightlife center of Israel (sometimes called “The Big Orange,” in joking comparison to New York), and Jerusalem is the intellectual and spiritual center, with its government institutions, prestigious university, and hallowed religious sites. Haifa, in contrast, is known as a “family city.” Many people, and especially the upwardly mobile, leave Haifa for more exciting places while they are young, only to return to the city to raise a family.
Haifa is a working-class city with a strong tradition of labor-oriented government. It is Israel's old port city and the site of much of the country's heavy industry. Noise from the heavy machinery at the port wafted up the (p.40)hill and intruded insistently into my apartment; the smoke stacks of an enormous factory dominated the view from my window.
Three openings cut into the mountain's slope, and it was on these landings, Hadar, Carmel, and Ahuza,11 that successive waves of residential and commercial development occurred. At the top of the mountain is the University of Haifa, recognizable by its monumental forty-story office tower protruding from the ridgeline like the proverbial sore thumb. And beyond the university, further along the Carmel ridge, are Druze villages: Isfiyya, Daliat Ha-Carmel, and others.
Rounding a downtown corner, the bus turned briefly onto a magnificent boulevard lined with stately cedar trees—Ben-Gurion Street—then continued upward, toward Wadi Nisnas, a large valley that leads up to Hadar, the first of the three landings. Wadi Nisnas is Haifa's largest and most important Arab neighborhood.12
Ben-Gurion Street is the name given to a beautiful, tree-lined avenue with a stately view of the Mediterranean Sea in one direction and the slopes of Mount Carmel in the other.
Israeli street names—like Ben-Gurion Street—seemed oddly nationalistic to me. As an American I was used to the kind of bland, systematic street names Israel never uses: Israeli cities do not have a “Main Street,” (p.41)(p.42) nor do they have sequentially numbered streets, or streets named after trees and flowers. Growing up in the United States I was so accustomed to the recurrence of such names in city after city that it had come to seem natural. In Israel, though, I was amused that every town and city seemed to have streets named after famous men from Zionist history like: Trumpeldor, Balfour, Tschernikofsky, Sprintzak, Arlozoroff, Herzl—and, of course, Ben-Gurion. And every town and city seemed to have streets named after Zionist concepts, like atzma'ut (freedom), halutz (Zionist pioneering), ma'apilim (another kind of Zionist pioneering), and Tziyonut (Zionism).
Tziyonut Street was particularly interesting, and I often thought of it as the bus passed into the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. One of my favorite restaurants was located on Tziyonut Street, just where the bus makes a big turn. It is an Arab restaurant frequented by tourists, Israeli Jews, and Palestinian residents of Wadi Nisnas. Its name, “UN Restaurant,” intrigued me, but it was the blue-and-white décor that really puzzled me, since those are the colors of the Israeli flag.13
I later found out that the road I knew as Tziyonut, “Zionism,” was earlier called “UN Street,” in celebration of the United Nations' 1947 proclamation establishing the Jewish state of Israel. In 1975, however, the United Nations passed a declaration strongly condemning Israel (by equating Zionism with racism), and Israel renamed the street “Zionism” in defiance. The Arab restaurant therefore carries the original name of the street it is on, and, in the context of the subsequent renaming, now constitutes a poignant (and pointed) opposition to the hegemony of Israeli symbolism. The reversal in symbolic associations is an interesting example of the spiraling struggle over memory and place.
The power of this naming is palpable. I noticed, for example, that one young Palestinian friend, whose family happened to live on Tziyonut Street, seemed uncomfortable when pronouncing his address out loud. Perhaps he felt the irony himself, or perhaps he feared that others would feel the irony of a Palestinian living on Zionism Street. I was reminded of my own region of central Texas, where the large, and historically prior Hispanic population had to pronounce the town “Llano” as [læno], rather than [yano]—at least in English.
The bus turned off Tziyonut Street and entered Khouri Street, a steep uphill that traverses the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood on its way to Hadar. Wadi Nisnas is a crowded neighborhood, with narrow winding streets and few open spaces—the kind of neighborhood not made for cars. The three- and four-story houses are built of yellow stone block, in an old, established Arab style. The buildings look dusty, in need of cleaning or repair, but sturdy and solid.
Shops line both sides of the main streets. Restaurants and bakeries dominate the lower part of Khouri Street, while clothing boutiques and electronics stores are located higher up. Entering the neighborhood, one encounters the pleasant aroma of roasting coffee. Further in, straddling the boundary between formal and informal markets, the mall opens out into a vegetable market, where old women in black clothing sit in front of their shops shucking beans or selling leeks.
As an American Jew, one aspect of Israeli life that I really appreciated was having my own religious holidays be the nationally recognized holidays. I especially noticed this on Yom Kippur. The most important of the Jewish holidays, and one of the few that I regularly observed, Yom Kippur is also one of the most difficult to fit into a Christian (or secular) work schedule. In Israel—for once—I was not faced with the awkward choice between requesting time off from work and observing my religious holiday.
So it came as quite a surprise to me that in Israel I felt nostalgia for home most intensely during a walk through Wadi Nisnas in December. For the first time in two years I heard the familiar Christmas songs as I walked along the streets, and I saw decorated Christmas trees in shop windows. An intense wave of homesickness swept over me, and my eyes welled up with tears. The nostalgia had more to do with a season I missed, I'm sure, than with the Christmas holiday itself. Nonetheless, the experience served to underscore the degree to which symbols of Arab identity are repressed in Haifa, for the music was played softly and the trees displayed modestly, and this was the only place I saw such trappings. I recognized the situation of being a small and different minority combating the cultural onslaught of the majority.
Further still into the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood is a new pedestrian walk, not quite finished, with pleasant amenities like stone benches and a little fountain. A gleaming school and community center have been built recently in the middle of the neighborhood. Nearby is a lighted and fenced soccer field and playground—among the nicest such facilities in Haifa. Part of an effort to encourage the merchants, perhaps, or to entice more Jewish shoppers, or to repay campaign debts. In the center of the mall is the Communist Party headquarters with its own recreation facilities nearby. The Communist Party was a significant center of Arab community when I arrived in Israel, but it was much less prominent by the time I left.14
This area is a popular shopping place on most days, but on Saturdays it is absolutely packed. Nonreligious (“secular”) Israeli Jews (who comprise the vast majority of Jews in Israel) come here to shop on the Sabbath, when most Jewish stores (even those owned by secular Jews) are closed. Christian butchers also do a brisk business selling basar lavan, literally “white meat,” which is Israeli euphemistic slang for “pork,” which both Jewish and Muslim dietary laws forbid.
Walking in one of Haifa's “mixed” neighborhoods—where both Jews and Arabs reside—I stopped by a small kiosk to buy an Arabic-language newspaper. A huge assortment of newspapers in Hebrew and Russian were prominently displayed on the sidewalk outside the kiosk, but no Arabic papers were in evidence. I asked the owner, but he told me he didn't sell them. I asked if he knew where I could get one, and he said he didn't know.
Crossing the street and walking uphill a few yards, I came to another, very similar kiosk, this one owned by a Palestinian man. In a corner, against an inside wall were stacks of the two Arabic-language weeklies: Kul Al-'Arab and Al-Sinnara. I wondered why the first kiosk owner had not suggested I buy an Arabic newspaper from his Palestinian neighbor.15(p.44)
Russians comprised a smaller proportion of the Haifa population than Palestinians, yet every kiosk sold five or six Russian-language daily papers. But only in Arab neighborhoods could one buy an Arabic newspaper.
Wadi Nisnas is a place where one can buy Arabic papers.
At the end of the steep climb up through Wadi Nisnas the bus emerged at Hadar, the first of the three major terraces, or landings, on Mount Carmel. Hadar is Haifa's commercial, cultural, and municipal center. The streets are jammed all day with traffic that is maddeningly slow, in part because just about every Haifa bus line converges there.
The bus enters Hadar on Herzl Street, which is lined with small, owner-operated shops selling clothing, household goods, newspapers, candy, lotto tickets, and the like. Prices are reasonable on Herzl Street, a solidly middle-class shopping district. One street above Herzl is Nordau Street,16 a fashionable pedestrian mall lined with travel agencies and expensive restaurants and boutiques. One street below Herzl is Halutz Street, a low-end shopping area. One end of Halutz Street is dominated by falafel vendors and bakeries selling pita bread. The other end is Shuk Talpiyot, “Talpiyot Market,” Haifa's main open-air fruit and vegetable market.
Hadar Elyon, “Upper Hadar,” is a crowded residential quarter just above the commercial hub. In the 1930s this was Haifa's most elegant neighborhood.17 A street aptly named Emek Ha-Zeitim, “Valley of the Olive Trees,” winds its way uphill. About half of the houses here are built in the old stone style; half are newer, more modest stucco. Balconies look out over courtyards, and elegant entranceways are shaded by magnificent olive trees (see fig. 2.7). Hadar is one of the few neighborhoods in Haifa where these beautiful trees can still be seen.
But Hadar has changed. The once picturesque streets are now choked with automobile traffic—dangerous for crossing and impossible for parking. The old stone houses are in disrepair, and the aesthetics of the fancy stone entrances were ruined in 1967, when, in the months before the “Six Day War,” massive cement walls were built in front of each entrance as protection in case of house-to-house fighting.
Each war between the Jews and the Arabs of Israel/Palestine has brought about dramatic changes in the physical and social shape of neighborhoods, as one longtime resident of Hadar recalled: (p.45) (p.46) (p.47) (p.48)
From the bustle of Hadar's main square the bus continued south and east, traversing the mountain. Just past Shuk Talpiyot is Wadi Salib. Or was Wadi Salib. Now a huge field of rubble. Here and there a lone building remains standing. The most prominent of these is a beautiful church with a graceful dome. At first I assumed I was looking at the remains of an Arab neighborhood—and once it had been an Arab neighborhood—but more recently it had been a Moroccan Jewish immigrant neighborhood. The historian of Israel Howard Sachar (1989:422) recounts a critical moment in shaping this place:
July 9, 1959 … a sordid barroom brawl in Wadi Salib, one of the shabbier slums of the formerly Arab section of Haifa. With its ramshackle tenements and narrow winding alleys, its overcrowded one- and two-room apartments opening onto dilapidated courtyards, Wadi Salib bore all the lineaments of a classical Near Eastern mellah.19 Nearly all of its 15,000 inhabitants were Orientals,20 and a third of these were Moroccans. As the brawl developed, police were called to the scene. In the ensuing melee a drunken Moroccan was shot and wounded resisting arrest. He was taken immediately to a hospital, where his condition was described as serious but not dangerous. Nevertheless, the rumor quickly circulated that he had died, the victim of “police brutality.”
Early the next morning a large crowd of Moroccan immigrants surrounded the Wadi Salib police station, demanding “revenge.” At first the police allowed the demonstration, but unrest continued sporadically throughout the day. Shortly before 6:00 PM, therefore, a police task force (p.49) stormed and dispersed the crowd. By then thirteen policemen and two civilians were injured, most of them by stones thrown from roofs. Thirty two persons were arrested. Extensive damage was caused to property in the lower slum areas of the city. Parked cars were burned, twenty shops and cafes wrecked; a Mapai club and the Histadrut21 club were completely gutted. An account of the riots appeared on the front pages of all of Israel's newspapers. It was quite apparent that some sort of mass protest was being registered by the Oriental community, with implications far deeper than a barroom fracas.
In the late 1960s, grand schemes were laid for rebuilding old and impoverished slum neighborhoods like Wadi Salib, and for integrating Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews. As a first step, the Israeli and Haifa authorities encouraged, and then forced, the residents of Wadi Salib to move out. Low-cost housing was built in other areas of the city, and preferential purchase terms were offered as incentives. Many jumped at this opportunity, but for others leaving the Wadi Salib community was not attractive. For the government had split up families and friends in its eagerness to integrate evacuees into wealthier neighborhoods.
After the evacuation the buildings were torn down. Included in the government's scheme were redevelopment plans for the area, but that part has not been carried out. It was hard for me to understand why this land wasn't built on, given the severe and persistent housing crisis in the early 1990s and the huge influx of Russian immigrants.
Herzl Street ends in a steep and winding hill down to, and over, an ancient bridge across a deep canyon. As the bus crossed this precarious bridge I could look up and see the Neve Sha'anan and Carmel Center neighborhoods on opposite sides of the gully. It is a majestic view.
Just ahead, though, the bus approached a much less majestic view: Halisa, a depressed and stigmatized neighborhood. The bus stopped at a modest cluster of shops near a dreary lawn. There is a rehabilitation clinic at this corner, which explains the concentration of drunks, junkies, and down-and-out people at this bus stop. Most people would avoid the place if not for its post office branch, the only one in the area.
A steep hill leads up into Halisa. Near its top stands a mosque.
There are two main Arab neighborhoods in Haifa—Wadi Nisnas, which is largely Christian, and Halisa, which is largely Muslim. This division of neighborhoods parallels more general cleavages among Palestinian Israelis. Most of the Palestinians who live in cities, for example, are Christian, while most of the Palestinians who live in towns and villages are Muslim.22 This difference has socioeconomic parallels as well, as Christian Arabs are wealthier and better educated, on average, than Muslim Arabs.
The Israeli government does everything possible to reinforce this distinction. While I lived in Israel, for example, the military attempted to enlist Christian, but not Muslim, Palestinians.23
(p.50) No bus actually enters Halisa. A bus stop at the bottom of the hill services the neighborhood, but from the bus stop to where most people live is a long and steep climb. For some I think it would have been easier to come down from the top. High up the mountain is Neve Sha'anan, a spiffy middle-class neighborhood that is served by many bus lines. But to get to Halisa from Neve Sha'anan one has to find a dirt trail that begins behind a parking lot and follow it around a basketball court and down through prickly pear cactus plants. It is a scenic walk (see fig. 2.8), but most Halisa residents walked up from the bottom.
(p.54) The story of Nabil's family during 1948 is by no means unusual. Most of the Palestinians I spoke with told similar histories. Hundreds of villages were obliterated. The prickly pear cactus, which traditionally marked the boundaries of Arab villages, forms a poignant reminder of the dislocation of Arab life. In many places where Israeli forests were planted over the remains of an Arab village (see fig. 2.8), the long-lived and stubborn cactus plants can still be seen (Swedenburg 1995). A well-known story by A. B. Yehoshua tells of an old Arab man who works as caretaker of such a forest; the man sets fire to the forest, thereby revealing the outlines of the village where he had lived (Yehoshua 1991).29
In 1948 the British Mandate in Palestine came to an end when the United Nations called for a partition of mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab State. The Zionist leadership accepted partition; the Palestinian Arab leadership did not accept the partition. In the ensuing war, Zionist forces occupied much of the land slated to have become a Palestinian state, as well as maintaining control of the area originally allotted to them.
Of greater significance than the territorial gain was the fate that befell the Palestinian population. Of roughly 900,000 Palestinians living in the (p.55) territory that became Israel, 700,000 ended up outside its borders and became refugees. Urban populations were hardest hit. In Haifa, for example, where prewar Jewish and Arab populations were about equal (50,000), nearly 95 percent of the Arab population left. Or was forced out.
Indeed the Palestinian population of Haifa is only now back to its prewar level of 50,000, and this recent increase is due to significant in-migration from towns and villages. Nakhleh and Zureik (1980) note that prior to 1948 Jews owned only 8 to 9 percent of the land, but by the 1970s Jewish ownership was listed for over 90 percent. After “independence” in 1948, Israel decreed that land owned by absentee landlords would become state property. But the symbolic dispossession is as powerful as the material, physical dispossession: Israeli domination of its Arab “minority” is critically accomplished by remaking the land, the space, the language into an Israeli, if not Jewish, form.
From the bus stop at the post office below Halisa, the bus turned onto a steep and winding road, Yad la-Banim, that quickly passed what little could be seen of the Arab neighborhood of Halisa and moved into the Jewish neighborhood of Tel Amal. The neighborhoods border one another, and the transition between them is abrupt.
Haifa is said to be the best example of what Israelis call a “mixed” city. Haifa's population is largely Jewish. Most are Ashkenazi, but significant numbers of Palestinians and Mizrahim live in the city as well. In this sense, Haifa is a typical Israeli city. The cities are, in general, Jewish places, since the Palestinian population that remained in Israel after the 1948 fighting was largely rural, the urban population having left in disproportionate numbers. The cities are also, in general, Ashkenazi places, since Mizrahim were disproportionately settled either in rural frontier settlements on the periphery of Israel or in ma'abarot on the margins of cities (Swirski 1989).
But by calling Haifa a “mixed” city, Israelis are referring to the Palestinian population: Haifa is a place where Arabs and Jews live within the same municipal boundaries.
Before going to Israel, while still preparing my research project, I asked a number of Israelis where I should do my fieldwork. They all insisted that I go to Haifa because of the “good relations” between Arabs and Jews there.30 I took their advice, but as my research evolved this discourse of “good relations” became increasingly problematic. Despite widespread agreement on the description—both Arabs and Jews described Haifa that way—people differed as to what they meant by it.
Haifa is about 15 percent Arab and 85 percent Jewish. This proportion is roughly comparable to the proportion of Arabs and Jews in Israel as a whole.31 Yet the two groups are quite separate. (p.56)
When I first arrived in Israel to begin my fieldwork, I lived in the student dormitories at the University of Haifa in order to improve my language skills while I looked for a more permanent place to live, ideally in a neighborhood suitable for my research.
I was looking for an integrated neighborhood, where there was natural contact and communication between Arabs and Jews. I noticed some census data showing a neighborhood called “Halisa” about 50 percent Arab and 50 percent Jewish. This seemed ideal, but when I visited the neighborhood, I saw two distinct neighborhoods—one Jewish and one Palestinian—conflated by a census unit. Between these neighborhoods was a physical boundary as stark as any I saw in Israel.
Several times I heard Jewish Israelis joke that the most significant point of contact and communication between Arabs and Jews in Israel, and the one domain in which true equality reigns, is in the drug trade and the crime world.
Eventually I moved into an apartment at the edge of Tel Amal, the Jewish neighborhood that borders Halisa, the Palestinian neighborhood. A stark no-man'sland divides the two. Halisa had been Arab and Muslim until 1948, when its population was evacuated to a different location in Haifa for the duration of the war. After the war, immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, in particular Iraq, were housed in the “abandoned” Arab homes (see text 1.2). More recently, the neighborhood has returned to being a Muslim place, as Jewish families have moved“up” the mountain and Muslim families have moved back. Now, the mosque high on the hill looks like it belongs, while the synagogues at the bottom of the hill seem out of place.
The struggle over place and identity presented itself clearly when I walked from my apartment in Tel Amal to Halisa. The route went uphill to a height-of-land, then downhill into the Arab neighborhood. The pavement implied continuity between Tel Amal and Halisa, but the streets defined discontinuity and an unmistakable boundary. At the crest of the hill the street in front of my apartment building, David Raziel Street (named after a Zionist hero), changed abruptly from a one-way street to a two-way street. As a result, cars coming from Halisa encountered a dead end. The buses that rumbled through Tel Amal once an hour turned sharply around a 180-degree hairpin curve, vaulting from David Raziel Street to Pe'er Street, which took them from the brink of Halisa safely back into Tel Amal.
Across the divide formed at the height-of-land by the traffic patterns is a rocky hillside where children sometimes played and sheep sometimes grazed. The hillside is littered with partially destroyed cement foundations, brick stairwells, and rusting iron rods. Just beyond this wasteland are several old stone homes, in which most of the windows have been sealed with cinderblocks and cement. In a four-story building, for example, only one floor still had functioning windows. Walking along this street toward the heart of Halisa seemed like traveling back in time: successive buildings showed greater habitation, but I knew that these buildings would soon meet the same fate as the ones that once stood on the hillside behind me. The municipal government condemned these buildings, and, though legal rulings prevent the eviction of current residents, no new residents could move in. As acts of resistance, Palestinian families (p.57) steadfastly remain in their apartments, sometimes living for decades as the only occupants in a building the authorities want to demolish.32
If Haifa is the place where relations between Jews and Arabs are “good”—and agreement on that is striking—still, the referent of “good relations” is quite different, as two narratives of personal memory, quite possibly referring to the same Haifa neighborhood, make clear.
Sasson Somekh, a Jewish professor of Arabic literature who was born in Iraq, recalls that his family moved to Israel in the 1950s, when he was a young boy. His first impression of Haifa was bewildering and disorienting, and he spent a long time wandering around the strange streets, not understanding a word of the strange language spoken there (Hebrew). He didn't begin feeling comfortable, he says, until he wandered by chance into Wadi Nisnas, an Arab neighborhood, and into Arab shops, where he heard Arabic spoken by people who welcomed him.33
Anton Shammas, a Palestinian novelist who grew up in Haifa, recalls being sent as a young boy on an errand to buy something from a Jewish-owned store in the neighborhood. His mother prepared him with all the Hebrew words he would need for the transaction, words which he carefully memorized and practiced, but the storekeeper asked him a question that exceeded young Shammas' repertoire. A Mizrahi woman, who spoke Arabic, came to his rescue, but Shammas vividly remembers that she then chided him for failing to recognize the Hebrew word for “salt,”which is very similar to the Arabic word.34
Common to these two narratives is the idea of the Mizrahi Israeli as a bridge between Palestinian (Arab) and European (Jew): the experience of the Oriental Jewish immigrant who feels uncomfortable and unwelcome among Ashkenazi Jews, and is more comfortable among Arabs, who, though not Jewish, speak his language and act his culture. And the experience of Palestinians, who, thrust into contact with the foreign Hebrew society, are helped by the link to Mizrahi Jews, but whose experience of this contact is subordinating. This idea lies deep within Israeli discourses of identity, but its failure to be manifested in the physical environment of lived spaces in Israel contests its message.
The bus crawled up the steep hill of Yad La-Banim Street, a busy thoroughfare with heavy car traffic and so many bus lines that it seems as if there is always at least one bus noisily laboring up the incline. At the first hairpin all but one of these lines continue upward, rounding the 180-degree turn that encloses a tiny park and playground, hurrying on to the middle-class neighborhood of Neve Sha'anan, above.
A mammoth stone wall (see fig. 2.5) demarcates the boundary between Neve Sha'anan, above, and Neve Yosef, below. The latter neighborhood is little known, lying to the side of Haifa, the very definition of marginalization. Few Haifans recognize (p.58) the name, and fewer still know where it is. And those who do hold strong prejudices. One resident told me that a merchant once refused to accept her check because she lived in Neve Yosef.
The Ashkenazi Jewish character of Israeli cities is augmented by the fact that both Palestinian and Mizrahi urban populations tend to be concentrated in socially marginal neighborhoods on the geographic periphery of the cities. In Haifa, as in Israel generally, Arab-Jewish residence patterns are almost completely segregated, with Palestinians living primarily in two or three neighborhoods where very few Jews live. While there is considerable residential integration of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, there is in Haifa, as in Israel generally, an ethnic segregation that takes the form of differentiation between rich and poor neighborhoods.
Neve Yosef comes off at the apex of the hairpin curve in Yad La-Banim Street. Crossing the street here is a truly hair-raising undertaking, since there is no point at which pedestrians can be seen by cars coming both from above and from below. A school for religious girls and a shiny new community center—the pride of the neighborhood—grace the upbeat entrance to the neighborhood. A row of shops and modern, attractive apartment buildings round out the nicer section of Neve Yosef—what residents call l'mala, “above.” A few blocks' walk brings one to bifnim, “inside,” where the cement high-rise blokim take over. The main street ends in a huge cul-de-sac that the one bus line that comes into the neighborhood uses to turn around and exit from Neve Yosef. Neighborhood boys use the cul-de-sac for soccer games. Beyond the pavement is a railing, which marks the boundary of the neighborhood, and beyond the railing is a steep and rocky slope, covered with brush, empty land. Far below lies Checkpost, a shopping, entertainment, and transportation hub, and the gateway to the eastern suburbs called the Krayot.35 Most Neve Yosef residents have friends or relatives who live in the Krayot, and, as the crow flies, it's not far, but there is no road that connects Neve Yosef with Checkpost or the Krayot. In fact, there is no road leading out of Neve Yosef at all.
Neve Yosef is a Moroccan neighborhood. In the beginning it was planned as a place to settle Palmach veterans,36 but plans were quickly changed, and in the early 1960s the blokim were built to house m'funim, “evacuees,” from Wadi Salib. Recently many new Russian immigrants have moved in, following earlier waves of immigration, but the neighborhood somehow retains its Moroccan majority and character.
Winding its way up the mountain, high above the neighborhoods of Hadar, Halisa, and Neve Yosef, the bus approached Carmel Center, the second of Mount Carmel's three landings.42 The road that leads to Carmel Center is appropriately named Yefe Nof, “Beautiful View,” since the houses on this street have a truly beautiful view of downtown Haifa, the Mediterranean Sea, and many points north and south. Wealthy Palestinians of an earlier era built mansions along Yefe Nof, and Herzl's utopian novel, Altneuland, extols the virtues of this street (Herzl 1960 ). A row of nightclubs from a more recent era sizzle and scream with excitement and bulge with teenagers on Saturday nights. Carmel Center is home to skyscraping hotels, sidewalk cafes, Italian restaurants, and fashionable stores. The sidewalks are packed with children. This is where the good ice cream is sold, where movie theaters and concert halls are, where Israeli teens come for a night out.
Off the main drag are residential neighborhoods with low-rise, three- and four-story apartment buildings built in the 1950s. These buildings face the street and have yards in front. Effort has gone into their design and aesthetics.
Language, too, is different higher up the mountain. Arabic is rarely heard—and rarely seen. Gone are the trilingual street signs that grace many of the streets in the older Hadar neighborhood.43 Whereas in Hadar one sometimes hears older people speaking Yiddish, here one often hears German. And everywhere, English and Russian. American sailors from the Sixth Fleet, which takes shore leave in Haifa, flood the restaurants and clubs every few weeks.
Above Carmel Center the bus traveled along wide, four-lane avenues named Moria and Horev. At Ahuza the city was widening the street, paving the median strips with patterned brickwork, and landscaping the traffic circles with flowerbeds. At Denya a new subdivision was being built (fig. 2.9). The building boom was spurred by the Russian immigration, but these houses were high up the hill—they were not the low-rent units that immigrants would occupy. These were the houses that veteran Israelis would move up into when new immigrants moved into their old houses lower down.
Haifa leans back along the Carmel ridge at this point, still rising, but now more gradually. Moriah Street runs along the crest of the knife-edged ridge, and neighborhoods fall away dramatically to both sides. To the west established neighborhoods were being augmented; to the east new neighborhoods were being built. Deep, forested gorges swoop down from ridge crest to sea. The Israeli Nature Protection Society built trails down several of these gorges, allowing one to hike from shopping center to beach.
Just past Denya, at the very top of Mount Carmel, my bus arrived at its final destination: Haifa University. The campus commands spectacular views in all directions, and borders
The Druze appear to be a classic ethnic group. In Israel, Lebanon, and Syria they constitute minority populations that are residentially concentrated and socially isolated. Historically, the Druze stem from a religious split in the Muslim community, and since about the turn of the first millennium they have survived as a surprisingly influential religious minority among more numerous and more-powerful Christian and Muslim Arab communities. The comparison to Jews comes readily to mind.
Arabic is the language of Druze homes in Israel—as it is in Syria and Lebanon—but historical forces have conspired with the Israeli Druze to create for them a complex position in the Israeli identity structure. For centuries the Druze had conflictual relations with Muslim Ottoman authorities and with Muslim neighbors. In the Galilee region of Palestine, which became Israel, residential segregation was high, and most Druze lived either in all-Druze villages or in villages shared with Christian communities. In the 1940s when the Jewish settlers were vying with the British and the Palestinian Arabs for control over Palestine, an informal alliance was forged between the Jews and the Druze.
Since 1948 the differences between the Druze and other Palestinian, Arabic-speaking communities have been magnified by Israeli policies. For example, Druze men must serve in the Israeli military, while neither Muslim nor Christian Arab men are required to do so. Indeed, a relatively high percentage of Druze make a career of service in various branches of the Israeli security apparatus.
(1.) At least two additional airports have been built in Israel/Palestine since 1990, one in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat, and one in the Palestinian Autonomous region of Gaza.
(2.) Jaffa is the Palestinian city adjacent to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. In the late nineteenth century, when Jews first began to settle in Palestine, Jaffa was an important center of culture and commerce, while Tel Aviv barely existed. In the century since then, Tel Aviv has become Israel's largest city, while the fortunes of Palestinian Jaffa have declined.
(4.) In general I have transliterated Arabic words and phrases so as to represent actual pronunciations, rather than underlying forms. The Arabic term an-nakba, for example, is underlyingly ⁄al-nakba/, but a morphophonological process assimilates the consonant of the definite article, ⁄al/, to following coronal consonants, leading to geminates. Exceptions to this practice include names and phrases that have conventional romanizations, such as the names of Arabic-language newspapers.
(5.) I once experienced this thorough investigation myself—by mistake. I first traveled to Israel as a thirteen-year-old boy. My family was spending a year in Vienna, Austria, where my father had a sabbatical, and we flew to Israel for my school's Christmas vacation. Our travel arrangements were somewhat complicated. My mother took my sister and me with her, and my father, who had some business to attend to, came separately. As my mother encountered the security check, the Israeli airline official asked what we (Americans) were doing in Vienna, and why my father was not travelling with us. My mother explained that he worked in “Laxenburg” (a small town just south of Vienna), but the agent heard it as “Luxembourg” (a country quite far from Vienna). This initiated a series of pointed questions. Once the misunderstanding was cleared up we were able to proceed. When my mother realized why we had been interrogated, she felt secure because the Israeli system had been so thorough. Before that, however, she (and her children) had experienced the anxiety of being interrogated. My family's discomfort stemmed from a mistake, but the discomfort Palestinian Israelis feel every time they pass through their airport stems from the indelible mark of their identity.
(6.) A moshav is a semicommunal settlement in Israel, in which families may own their own (p.276) homes and fields, while sharing with their neighbors communal ownership of community buildings, marketing cooperatives, and some fields.
(7.) In fact, it can be argued that many Zionist ideas about Palestine came from the European Christian rediscovery of the Holy Land in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The paintings of David Roberts and the cartography of Edward Robinson are two influential examples of European Christian representation of Palestine that shows up in early Zionist imaginings of a Jewish homeland. Ben-Arieh (1979) and Idinopulos (1998) provide interesting discussions of this point.
(8.) The moshav was close enough to Tel Aviv that many such farms had been incorporated into exurbia.
(9.) The Hebrew word blok (plural: blokim) is a borrowing from English, “block,” and has roughly the same range of meanings, from “apartment block” (as here), to “city block,” to “cement block.”
(10.) Isfiyya and Daliat Ha-Carmel are Druze villages where Arabic is the home language. In Arabic the latter town's name is Daliat al-Karmel. I have transliterated the Hebrew name for this town in keeping with the way the names appear on Israeli maps, and consistent with the politics of language use in Druze communities in Israel (see text 2.6).
(11.) I have adopted the conventional romanizations for these place names, as they appear in English on many Haifa street signs. Phonetically, Ahuza would be represented axuza.
(12.) Wadi Nisnas is an Arab neighborhood, and its name is sometimes pronounced—even when speaking Hebrew—as it would be in Arabic. The name means “Nisnas Valley,” wadi being the Arabic word for a small valley. Hebrew and Arabic are closely related languages, and the cognate Hebrew word, vadi, has the same meaning. Israelis therefore sometimes refer to this neighborhood as Vadi Nisnas, but I use the Arabicized name in this text.
(13.) As was common in Israel among restaurants that catered in part to the tourist crowd, the restaurant's name appeared in three languages, Arabic, Hebrew, and English. The three versions were direct translations of each other.
(14.) The Israeli Communist Party lost support and influence coincident with the fall of communism in the Soviet Union.
(15.) This incident actually took place in the ‘Abbas neighborhood of Haifa, which is both physically close to the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood described earlier and demographically similar to it.
(17.) The name Hadar comes from Hebrew words meaning “elegance.”
(18.) Hagana, “defense,” is the name used to refer to the umbrella organization of Jewish paramilitary forces during the British Mandate. After Israeli independence in 1948 the Hagana formed the core of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
(19.) Mellah is a term used to refer to the old Jewish quarters of Middle Eastern cities.
(20.) The Hebrew term Mizrahim is sometimes translated as “Orientals,” as here. The Hebrew word literally means “easterners,” derived from mizrah, the ordinary word for “east.” See chapter 3 for more on the politics of this language use.
(21.) Mapai is a Hebrew acronym that forms the name of the Israeli political party in power at the time of the Wadi Salib riots. The acronym stands for mifleget po 'ale yisra 'el, “Party of the Workers of Israel.” Histadrut is the name of the national Israeli labor union.
(22.) Christians comprise only about 10 percent of the total Palestinian population in Israel, but these proportions are reversed in cities like Haifa.
(23.) Jewish Israelis, both male and female, are required to do mandatory military service at age eighteen. Non-Jewish Israelis are, in general, exempt (in fact, prohibited) from military service, but there are two notable exceptions: Druze men are required to serve, and Bedouin (p.277) men may serve voluntarily (and many do). The policy referred to in the text sought to change the status of Christian (Arab) men to that of Bedouin men. Arab women are not conscripted.
(24.) Nabil grew up in Rami, a small Palestinian town in northern Israel.
(25.) Nabil is describing the location of the old Palestinian town, Iqrit, in terms of two Jewish towns, Ilon and Shomera. He has correctly assumed that Nurit, the young Jewish Israeli research assistant, is not familiar with the names of Arab Israeli towns.
(26.) Nabil is referring to David Grossman's book, Noxaxim Nifkadim, literally “Present Absentees,” which was published in 1992, shortly after our interview. Chapter 13 of this book tells the story of Nabil's family and village. (The English translation appeared under the title Sleeping on a Wire.)
(27.) Bagatz is a Hebrew acronym that stands for bet din gavoa l'tzedek, “High Court for Justice.” Its function is similar to that of the federal appeals courts in the United States.
(28.) David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, led the country from 1948 to 1953 and again from 1955 to 1963.
(29.) This point is discussed in greater detail in chapter 6.
(30.) An interesting example of this discourse comes from a recent tour guide to Israel. Frommer's 2000 edition of its Israel guide includes the following description of Haifa: “In a society unlike any other in the Middle East, Jews and Arabs live and work side by side; 25% of Haifa's population is either Muslim or Christian. In 1898, Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, wrote his prophecy of the Jewish homeland that would one day be reborn: ‘Next to our temples, you find Christian, Mohammedan, Buddhist, and Brahmin houses of divine worship … my comrades and I make no distinction between people. We ask for no one's religion or race but let him be a Man, that is enough.’ With its Baha'i Center, churches, synagogues, and mosques, as well as its politically progressive, hard working Jewish and Arabic population, Haifa, more than any other city in Israel, has come to fit that vision” (Ullian 2000:299).
(31.) Statistics on the percentage of Arabs in Haifa are very sensitive to how the boundaries of the urban area are defined. According to the Statistical Abstract of Israel, Arabs comprised 18 percent of Israel's total population in 1998, 21 percent of the population of Haifa District (a census district that includes many of the towns surrounding Haifa), and 8 percent of the population of the city of Haifa itself.
(32.) Ironically, at the other end of David Raziel Street, at the end farthest from Halisa, the very same kind of building, the old stone houses built in a Middle Eastern style, are maintained as fashionable and desirable homes of middle-class Jews.
(33.) This anecdote comes from a talk Somekh gave at a ceremony honoring the great Palestinian writer Emil Habibi. The ceremony was held in Haifa in 1992. Habibi has since passed away.
(34.) This anecdote comes from a talk Shammas gave at the University of Texas in Austin in 1993. See the discussion of pharyngeal variables in chapter 7 for a fuller discussion of the pronunciation of Hebrew and Arabic words for “salt.”
(35.) Krayot is the plural form of the Hebrew word kirya, “village.” East of Haifa are a number of relatively new communities that begin with the word kirya, as in Kiryat Motzkin, “Motzkin Village.” Collectively these communities are known as the Krayot.
(36.) “Palmach” is the common romanization of palmax, a Hebrew acronym for plugot maxatz, “strike units,” one of the elite units in the Hagana (Jewish paramilitary force) in mandatory Palestine.
(37.) T'un tipuax (plural: t'une tipuax) is the official Hebrew phrase for “disadvantaged child.” The phrase means literally “in need of care.”
(39.) Ako is the Hebrew name for Acre, a medium-sized town on the Mediterranean coast of Israel about midway between Haifa and Israel's border with Lebanon. Acre is famous among tourists for its Roman ruins.
(40.) Isha l'Isha is the name of a large women's organization in Israel. The Hebrew means “Woman to Woman.”
(41.) “The Carmel” refers to the wealthier, more fashionable, primarily middle-class, and heavily Ashkenazi neighborhoods that lie higher up the slopes of Mount Carmel.
(42.) Bus routes do not actually link Neve Yosef with Carmel Center. I have taken poetic license, conflating two actual routes into a single trip in order to include a full range of neighborhoods within a single trajectory.
(43.) Street signs on major thoroughfares and large intersections are trilingual in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, but most other signs exclude Arabic. See chapter 5, or Spolsky and Cooper (1991), for further discussion of the language of street signs in Israel.
(44.) Eged is the name of the Israeli national transportation cooperative best known for running the public bus system. Atzma'ut Street is a main thoroughfare in downtown Haifa. Atzma'ut is Hebrew for “independence.”
(45.) Kiryat Eliezer is a working-class Jewish neighborhood in downtown Haifa. Many interviewees mentioned this particular high school as a model of coexistence. By the early 1990s, however, its curriculum and structure had long since changed.
(46.) In the aftermath of World War II, Germany made reparations payments to victims of the Holocaust and their families. Such payments had a significant effect both on Israel's fiscal solvency in the 1950s and on the rise to middle-class status of individuals who received them.
(47.) Bet ha-Kranot (literally, “Foundation House”) refers to a prominent square in central Hadar. Haifans referred to the whole area by the name of the most prominent building on the square. Bet ha-Kranot was much closer to Ya'el's parents' home than was Café Pe'er, which was higher up at Carmel Center.
(48.) Bet She'an is a development town in northeastern Israel that was populated in the 1950s by Mizrahi immigrants from Morocco. The town is a popular tourist site due to a well-preserved Roman amphitheater.
(49.) Bet She'an gained national notoriety as the home and political base of David Levi, the best known and most successful Mizrahi politician at the time. Levi served as the Israeli foreign minister several times in the 1980s and 1990s, in the cabinets of the Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak.
(50.) Gush Emunim, “Block of the Faithful,” is the Jewish nationalist religious political organization that has actively supported Jewish settlement activity in the Occupied Territories.
(51.) Ahlan is colloquial Arabic for “hello,” and shalom is the same in Hebrew. Salman is suggesting, I think, that Bet She'an residents began to greet him in Arabic and Hebrew to show their acceptance of him as a Palestinian, but ahlan is also a common borrowing into Hebrew, often used as a slang greeting in casual conversation among Jewish Israelis.
(52.) Moledet, “homeland,” is the name of an ultra right-wing Israeli political party.
(53.) Farid Al-Atrash and Umm Kulthum are famous Egyptian pop singers.