” ‘The world,’ he resumed after a short pause, ‘has no faith in any man’s conversion; it never forgets what he was, it never believes him anything better, it is an inexorable and stupid judge.'” Uncle Silas
This past Friday, a friend and I made an impulsive decision to go to Jaffa for Friday and Saturday, and what a great decision that was. Jaffa (in Arabic it’s pronounced Yaffa and in Hebrew it’s Yafo) is 2.5 km south of Tel Aviv and is a hauntingly beautiful city.
It was an Arab city but post-1948, there were about 4,000 residents left from a beginning number of about 80,000. Most fled when the fighting started. The Tel Aviv municipality had been accused of trying to erase the city’s Arab past – in the 1950s there were many Arabic street names that were replaced with Hebrew names. From the 1990s, though there were efforts to restore Arab and Islamic landmarks in the city, though that has meant this:
So we did a lot of walking around and eating really really good seafood and at the oldest bakery in Jaffa (established in like 1802 or something ridiculous like that). Old Jaffa is really charming with beautiful old doors, and situated on the sea, it’s just beautiful. But it’s also sad to know the history behind it.
There’s also this fantastic paved walking path along the sea between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, so on Saturday morning with a lot of things closed for Shabbat, we walked it and sat on the beach in Tel Aviv for a couple hours, and then walked back to Jaffa and had a fantastic meal at an Arab restaurant. Though our meal was somewhat interrupted by a group of 8 American adults who had to be of that retirement-group-from-Florida type tour who were really amusing to listen to – “oh my god, it’s tapas!” or “it’s coleslaw!” or “is this stuff beets?” or “how do you eat this?” or the one woman who kept repeating “baba ganoush!” Then we laid on the beach in a food coma for a couple of hours in Jaffa, then had a hell of a time trying to get back to Ramallah on Saturday night.
With it being Shabbat, we had to wait until 6pm until the Israeli buses started running again to Jerusalem, then when we finally get on the Arab bus to Ramallah, of course Qalandia checkpoint is just at a dead standstill. First, of course, there’s an Israeli tank in the middle of the street right in front of the checkpoint (when you’re heading from Jerusalem to Ramallah you don’t stop at the checkpoint), forcing all the cars to attempt to drive around it, which obviously slowed down traffic. Then, because the line of cars trying to pass through the checkpoint on the way to Jerusalem was so backed up, there was no place for the cars trying to get to Ramallah to go. There’s no way to explain how cars drive to get in line at checkpoints. There are no rules. You drive up over barriers, you drive in between whatever spaces you can find, you drive on the opposite side of the road for as far as you can, dodging the concrete road blocks that Israel has put in the middle of the road, so when one side of the checkpoint is backed up – both sides are. So we sat on the bus for a solid 30 minutes going nowhere, ended up getting out and walking until past the traffic jam, and picking up another service to take us the rest of the way.
Yet again, another fantastic public transportation attempt – but still, yet again, I was very happy to be back in the comfort that is the West Bank, no joke.
And then the next day, Sunday, we took a trip to Nablus, which I’ll post about tomorrow, inshallah!