Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I was walking around Rahavia this morning and feeling more or less alright. Rahavia is an old bourgeois neighborhood from the 1920s-1940s; a lot of German Jews settled here in the 1930s when they left Germany (Walter Benjamin's friend, Gershaom Shalom, is perhaps the most famous). When I lived here, I think everybody in my building had ancestors from Vienna or Germany, except me that is. But today most of the original residents are very old or dead, and it's more a students' neighborhood. I lived here for a year, as did many of my friends at the time. Many of the houses are real gems, Bauhaus architecture. The streets are called after Jewish scholars of the middle ages. Alfasi; Ben Maymon; Rabbi David Kimhi; the Tibonim; Ramban; Ibn-Ezra; Ibn-Shafrut. The streets are lined with carob streets, and you can find carobs on the floor.

It was sunny and I enjoyed all the new graffiti. I might take pictures and post them here. Graffiti last in Jerusalem for ages, nobody cares much about taking them off. The one saying Zionenut ("ZioOnanism") has been on the wall of the Zionist Federation for the last two years. A more recent one says:
Join the armed resistance
Fall in Love

But then I saw someone with a T-shirt saying in bold letters "I buy from Jews only", and I felt like throwing up.

* * *

This time of year is very good for skipping in Jerusalem. Spring clean is reinforced here as a religious tradition: Jews have to clean their house thoroughly before Passover. So the streets are full of wonders. So far I've found a wicker armchair, a few shirts, and a shoulder strap bag. Arbel is especially good at skipping. Yesterday she found a beautiful black tin box, marked from the outside "19 STEN". Inside it were newspaper clippings, yellowish and crumbling. There's no date on them, but from the content I can tell it's probably from 1951. The text reads like from another century - but then again, it is. This is how Israel was once upon a time, or at least believed itself to be:

A Miraculous Development in All Fields of Life: Industry, investments, Electricity, Education...
When the state was proclaimed, we had 277 agricultural settlement. In three years 254 more agricultural settlements were added to this, and all the Jewish congregations, from Europe, Asia, Africa and America participated in this important project. We have 75 new villages of East European immigrants, 46 of Yemenite immigrants, 32 of North African immigrants, 8 of Iraqis, 8 of Bulgarian, 8 of English and American, 7 of Persian immigrants, 5 of Turkish immigrants, 4 of Yoguslavia, 2 of Indians, and 2 of South American immigrants.
This project of settlement has changed the face of the land, and transformed the entire reality ... Modern history does not record such projects in such a short time: the projects of immigration and settlement. The settlement is just one side of the reception of new immigrants. The other side was the expansion of industry. Here as well we're facing a phenomenal growth ... The number of workers employed in industry increased by 140 percent, the annual income by 155 percent, exports doubled...
The Zionist-socialist workers' camp will gather its all might. Our struggle is on the very essence: the creation of a labouring people, in command of its land, its state and its mission - the gathering of Jews of the Diaspora.

All this is from a speech by David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. Below, in a black box in bold letters:
Because of power cuts most of the news items and telegrams were not included in this edition.


Post a Comment

<< Home