Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine

Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine

Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine

Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine

Synopsis

Binational cities play a pivotal role in situations of long-term conflict, and few places have been more marked by the tension between intimate proximity and visceral hostility than Jaffa, one of the "mixed towns" of Israel/Palestine. In this nuanced ethnographic and historical study, Daniel Monterescu argues that such places challenge our assumptions about cities and nationalism, calling into question the Israeli state's policy of maintaining homogeneous, segregated, and ethnically stable spaces. Analyzing everyday interactions, life stories, and histories of violence, he reveals the politics of gentrification and the circumstantial coalitions that define the city. Drawing on key theorists in anthropology, sociology, urban studies, and political science, he outlines a new relational theory of sociality and spatiality.

Excerpt

“Me” or “Him”—
Thus begins the war. But it
Ends with an awkward encounter:
“Me and him.”

—MAHMOUD darwish, State of Siege

Awkward encounters

On the eve of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, in what would be his last interview with an Israeli journalist, Edward Said proposed a highly perceptive reading of Palestinian-Israeli entangled histories: “When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. a very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes—opposites in the Hegelian sense—that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.”

The main protagonists in this dialectic “series of tragedies,” namely, the Jewish and the Palestinian national movements, have long been vying for control over the contested space of “the Land”—its villages, towns, and cities. More than sixty years after the 1948 War, in Haifa, Jaffa, Lydda, Ramle, and Acre the struggle still goes on. in these ethni-

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