This is a guest post from AKUS
I read The dark side of Abe Hayeem by Dov of dayvidsayffer.com on CiF Watch with great interest, and applaud every word. I want to add some more, focusing on Hayeem’s strange obsessiveness and the distortions in his article, so typical of what appears on CiF.
The whole of Hayeem’s article in the Guardian and the premise that drives Hayeem are totally bizarre. One cannot imagine a similar article being written about any other city in the world, no matter how long their history and how blood-drenched their streets. The crime of Tel Aviv’s success, however, appears to be a worthy target for the Guardian’s condemnation. So they round up self-styled “architect” Abe Hayeem for the attack.
(I have spent an hour looking for any signs at all on the internet of Hayeem’s architectural creations, and have not found a single mention of his work. His name is splashed all over the net typically as “Jewish-British architect Abe Hayeem” or “Abe Hayeem, director of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine”, but I cannot find a single example of his actual architecture).
I live in the US. I do not rush around trying to find a blog to publish an article on “the dark side of London” or the “dark side of Moscow” because the British or the Russian Embassy holds an exhibition showing the best sides of London or Moscow, both of which surely have their “dark sides”. Only when an exhibition is created showing the truly remarkable – miraculous is not too strong a word – growth and success of the vibrant, exciting new city of Tel Aviv after only 100 years do the knee-jerk reflexes of the obsessed Israel-bashers spring into action.
In many ways, this article demonstrates the strange sickness that drives people like Hayeem and his fellow ex-Iraqi Jew Rachel Shabi – an obsession with demonizing a country which they seem to hate with a passion not reserved for any other, including, oddly enough, the very country that tossed them and their families out – Iraq.
I have an image of the Hayeem and Shabi families sitting around the dining room table in London, mourning the fact that one can’t get true Iraqi humus and pita in “exile”, recounting their fantasies of the golden days in Iraq and incessantly blaming Israel for the fact that they cannot return to the country that they had to leave in fear for their lives.
Hayeem even goes so far as to recall how he and his family got on so well with their Moslem neighbors – and then blames Israel because the Iraqis threw the Jews out!! A version, I suppose, of the Stockholm syndrome. His good neighbors were merely helpless actors in a Mossad plot:
Regarding Iraqi Jews, my family loved living in Iraq and spoke fondly of their Arab neighbors. Iraqi Jews always regretted leaving. It is well known how Mossad agents stirred up trouble, to the extent of bombing the Baghdad Synagogue, to frighten Iraqi Jews into leaving.
Israel’s agenda was to create the flight of Arab Jews, to act as a quid pro quo for ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. Many Arab countries like Libya and Morocco tried to stop their Jews from leaving.
What an interesting turn of phrase – and “many Arab countries tried to stop their Jews from leaving”.
Many – but not, apparently Iraq, and with little success – those damn Jews just insisted on getting up and leaving paradise.
“Their Jews” – the Jews they “owned”?
“Stop from leaving” – they were all leaving because the Mossad “stirred up trouble” – in Iraq”? They also had no will of their own and could not rely on the goodwill of their neighbors?
What, after all, is the horrendous crime committed by Tel Aviv and its inhabitants?
The city grew, and flourished, despite wars, despite being bombed by the Egyptians, despite being built on sand dunes where no sensible person would have paid a dollar for the unusable land – whether Hayeem likes to admit it or not. It grew so much that – gasp! horrors! – it absorbed a few miserable nearby Arab villages and their dilapidated hovels into its municipal territory. A “crime” only the Jews could commit, apparently – despite the fact that “as-an-Architect” Hayeem must know that this has happened all over the world, throughout history, to any metropolitan area.
It is the galling success of the Zionist enterprise, and, in this case, this city of Tel Aviv which never existed prior to 1909 that really hurts the Israel-basing misanthropes like Hayeem and Shabi that rush to find fault with every Israeli success. The most cursory inspection of photographs of pre-Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and the reports of those like David Ben Gurion arriving there shows nothing but a dilapidated, dingy, run-down, crumbling set of buildings alongside a little harbor that was almost useless for anything but small fishing boats.
Yet Hayeem, quoting Yonathan Mendel, miraculously transforms Jaffa in 1909 from a miserable little seaside village forgotten in Palestine to a “Palestinian city” even before the Palestinians learned from Arafat to call themselves “Palestinians”, carefully conflating it with the much improved situation is achieved due to the flourishing sister-city next door:
probably the most prosperous and cosmopolitan of all Palestinian cities, with a port, an industry (Jaffa oranges), an international school system and a lively cultural life.
In fact – most likely not, until Tel Aviv was funded and eventually created, the market for goods and labor that allowed Jaffa to start growing after a millennium of somnolence.
The “Jaffa oranges” owe their success to –the Templars and – Jewish settlers of mandatory Palestine:
According to the Hope Simpson Royal Commission Report of 1930,
The cultivation of the orange, introduced by the Arabs before the commencement of Jewish settlement, has developed to a very great extent in consequence of that settlement [i.e., the Zionist settlers working the land; emphasis added]. There is no doubt that the pitch of perfection to which the technique of plantation and cultivation of the orange and grape-fruit have been brought in Palestine is due to the scientific methods of the Jewish agriculturist. [emphasis added]
Take a look at this map of Jaffa and environs from 1912.
The “industry of “Jaffa Oranges” was simply the few groves of oranges visible in the map, a fraction of what later became, in fact, a major export industry for the Yishuv and Israel due to those Jewish improvements in the quality and yield mentioned in the Simpson report and at the time of Tel Aviv’s founding was little more than a substance crop. The river you see is the Yarkon – el Awja in Arabic, and just north of it is Sheikh Munis, mentioned by Hayeem, now buried under Ramat Aviv, and if there was no traffic, about a 10 minute drive from central Tel Aviv. Once again, the tiny scale of geography in Israel is lost in Hayeem’s article. Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, would fit very comfortably in any of the world’s major metropolises.
Then look at this photograph
or this photograph from a similar period
and this view of the “port” showing, probably, Andromeda’s Rocks.
Not exactly a picture of a “prosperous and cosmopolitan” “city” that Hayeem paints (a miserable, run down sea-side village was the reality).
It was the establishment of its sister city, Tel Aviv and the rest of the Yishuv enterprise which resulted in enormous economic benefits to Jaffa as they did throughout Mandate Palestine. Rather than condemning Tel Aviv, Hayeem should have come to praise it – Jaffa’s spectacular growth, like so much of the Arab areas in mandatory Palestine, was a direct consequence of Jewish immigration and the rapidly growing economy in the area as a result!
Hayeem sneaks in the usual myth about Jews and Arabs living happily together (under the Ottomans, no less!!) – Jews become “Palestinian Jews” living in Jaffa, to make sure we understand that the entire area now known as Israel is really “Palestine” – with the exception, of course, of Jordan, which in fact really is “Palestine” as envisaged and set up by the British Colonial Office!!
For an excellent example of how unhappily the two communities in fact lived together in 1921 – 12 years after the founding of Tel Aviv, see here. This report includes the following:
The riot resulted in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, with 146 Jews and 73 Arabs being wounded. Most Arab casualties resulted from clashes with British forces attempting to restore order.
Thousands of Jewish residents of Jaffa fled for Tel Aviv and were temporarily housed in tent camps on the beach. Tel Aviv had been previously lobbying for independent status [and] became a separate city due in part to the riots. However Tel Aviv was still dependent on Jaffa [it had only been founded two years earlier], which supplied it with food, services, and was the place of employment for most residents of the new city.
Finally, we have the usual cry of one of the Guardian’s “as-a-Jews” – the attempt to draw a line between “good Jews” and those nasty “Zionist Jews”. He refers to the “Palestinian Jews” as a sort of “good Jew” – we are intended to believe that these are dark-skinned Jews happily living with their Arab neighbors, since, according to Hayeem, it was those “other Jews” who are the evil ones – the Jews who founded Tel Aviv are “white European Jews” indulging in a “colonial enterprise” – by buying 12 acres of some unoccupied sand-dunes. This of course plays to another of the favorite exiled-British Iraqi Jewish themes – the ill-treatment of Mizrachi Jews by their Ashkenazi cousins so celebrated by Shabi.
Well, I could go on and on – the whole article is a tissue of lies, fabrications, and baseless insinuations strung together by a desperate Israel-basher, seeking any stick with which to beat Israel – especially for its successes.