8 Chapters
Medium 9780253016713

Conclusion The City of the Forking Paths: Imagining the Futures of Binational Urbanism

Daniel Monterescu Indiana University Press ePub

This land is a traitor

and can’t be trusted.

This land doesn’t remember love.

This land is a whore

holding out a hand to the years,

as it manages a ballroom

on the barber pier. . . .

It laughs in every language

and bit by bit, with its hip,

feeds all who come to it.


A land that devours its inhabitants

And flows with milk and honey and blue skies

Sometimes itself stoops to plunder

The sheep of the poor.

NATAN YONATHAN, “A Song to the Land”

In the agonistic landscape of Israel/Palestine, no place has been more continuously inflected by the tension between intimate proximity and visceral violence than ethnically “mixed” towns. The immanent ambivalence of the binational encounter bespeaks the paradox of the copresence of political Others who are also immediate neighbors. This book has proposed a historical ethnography of binational urbanism by scrutinizing sites of daily interaction and ongoing conflict in contested urban spaces since 1948. Recapturing the longue durée of ethnic mix in the Mediterranean, the Ottoman legacy of confessional sectarianism, and the enduring effect of British colonial rule, I have conceptualized the intricate relations between ethnicity, capital, and binational sociality in these cities and beyond.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253016713

3 The “Mother of the Stranger”: Palestinian Presence and the Ambivalence of Sumud

Daniel Monterescu Indiana University Press ePub

Yafa! My tears have dried up.

I weep for you with stricken eye.

Will I ever see you?

Will I live long enough?

How are your sister towns? How are they?

I long for them

As if each were a paradise.

And those we left behind?

Those we left for dead.

I’m weary! I’m weary!

But in my weariness I only complain to God

And to no one else.

Yafa. Yafa!

MAHMOUD SALIM AL-HOUT, “Yafa,” translated by Reem Kelani and Christopher Somes-Charlton

In the late 1990s, on the crumbling wall of Jaffa’s Kazakhane Muslim graveyard overlooking the Mediterranean, faded graffiti comprising a drawing of an orange reads in black and orange colors, “Jaffa, the city of the sad orange that will smile again” (Yafa madinat al-burtuqala al-hazina allati satabtasim). A direct reference to Ghassan Kanafani’s The Land of the Sad Orange (Kanafani 1980), this statement reflects the tragic transformation of the former orchard city known in the Palestinian discourse as “the city of flowers” (madinat al-zuhur).1 The unbridgeable gap between reality and memory is metaphorically represented in the opposition between the “sad orange” and the mythical “Bride of Palestine” (‘Arus Falastin). “Jaffa came a long way since its golden days before the occupation, the days of the Arabs [ayyam al-‘Arab],” I was told by my Palestinian walking companion. “Back then, Jaffa was known as ‘the Bride of the Sea’ [‘Arus al-Bahr]. Today, ‘Arus al-Bahr is no more than a crappy local newspaper.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253016713

1 Spatial Relationality: Theorizing Space and Sociality in Jewish-Arab “Mixed Towns”

Daniel Monterescu Indiana University Press ePub

In the Mediterranean, birthplace of the City-State, the State, whether it be inside or outside the city, always remains brutal and powerless, violent but weak, unifying but always undermined, under threat. . . . Every form of hegemony and homogeneity are refused in the Mediterranean. . . . The very idea of centrality is refused because each group, each entity, each religion and each culture considers itself a center. . . . The polyrhythmy of Mediterranean cities highlights their common character through their differences.

HENRI LEFEBVRE, “Rhythmanalysis of Mediterranean Cities”

The large-scale protest demonstrations staged by the Palestinian citizens of Israel throughout the country in the first two weeks of October 2000, now widely known as “the October 2000 events,” did not bypass Jaffa. For a few days in early October, Palestinian youngsters marched through the streets in solidarity with the casualties of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, destroying public symbols and state institutions including banks, post offices, and Jewish-owned stores.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253016713

2 The Bridled “Bride of Palestine”: Urban Orientalism and the Zionist Quest for Place

Daniel Monterescu Indiana University Press ePub

Above the mosques the moon is rising

Above your house the neon lights are lit

And again the jasmine bush gives its scent

And again we’re here by the clock tower

And again a girl without “why” or “how come”

My hands are holding yours

There’s something strange and unknown

Something wonderful about this town

The seagulls flew from the dock

The sea has gone silent

This is Jaffa, girl, this is Jaffa

That penetrates the blood like wine.

YOSSI GAMZU, “This Is Jaffa”

The gentrified city is a cultural space of unyielding desire for the quality of life lost in the metropolitan chaos or in the emptiness of suburban sprawl. Imagining a new authentic lifestyle in the erstwhile disinvested yet quaint “inner city” is bound to cause considerable adaptation pains for the individual(ist) newcomer, but these are often overshadowed by the promise of a new enabling environment—a horizon of creative possibilities for the “new middle class.” In cities like Jaffa, located at the periphery of the metropolitan center, gentrification bridges the anonymous functionality of the big city and the communal intimacy of the neighborhood. Seen as a convoluted shell of negation and passion, alienation and purpose, the cultural problem of gentrification echoes early formulations of the modern city as a site of “bitter hatred” as well as the seat for urbanites’ “most unsatisfied yearnings” (Simmel [1903] 1950, 420).

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253016713

5 To Buy or Not to Be: Trespassing the Gated Community

Daniel Monterescu Indiana University Press ePub

The city is intimidated, the city is breathing its last, the woman on the rock does not hope for anything anymore! Or perhaps she does? I recall the beginning of the work in Acropolis. I was hoping for something other than the architecture of the thick cardboard, the stone mask of death. . . . Jaffa—a theater bereft of actors where tourists move about. A thousand years may pass till the dragon licks this festering sore, and till Andromeda, filled with shame, steps out of the Hammam, the nightclub, to found the old city anew. This is an “Old City” resembling an “Ancient City”—says Jouha with a sad expression on his face.

ARCHITECT LEON GENEVA, in a publication of the Rabita

Walking with a group of Palestinian and Jewish guests, we silently crossed the iron gate of the luxurious gated community. Slowly, we traversed the premises toward the western viewpoint overlooking the Jaffa port. Enjoying the breathtaking sunset we sat on the bench, still thrilled by the relative ease of our entry. Suddenly, as if reading our minds, a woman of around sixty approached us and exclaimed in Hebrew, which she then translated into English, “You can pass but you can’t stay!” Slightly alarmed but somewhat amused by her response, we nevertheless remained seated.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters