Monday, October 25, 2010

Riots in Safed (Zfat)


Safed (Zfat) is a cozy small town in northern Israel. The Old City is full of cobblestone and ancient Synagogues and surrounded by the new city. Not much to do and there is hardly any work available. As a matter of fact, I keep on asking myself from what the Zfatim (inhabitants of Zfat) live. 

I have been there many times within the past few months and will be there again next week. Sometimes in the mornings I like to walk down one of the two shopping streets in order to go to a bakery and buy some breakfast. This may take place between 7 - 8am and what I have always noticed is that at this hour, more Arabs than Jews populate the shopping street where the bagel place and the municipality are located. Although I know that there are different academies for all kinds of students, I was still surprised about the high amount of Arab students. Simply because I thought that Zfat is a Jewish city and, further down in Tiberias, I have never noticed anything like that happening.

Last Mozzaei Shabbat, a riot started in the Old City of Zfat. First of all, the Palestinians hung up a Palestinian flag on their mosque and the second reason seemed to be that the Chief Rabbi of Zfat made a decree (Cherem) that no Jew in town is allowed to rent out apartments to Arabs. So far, I don't know who fought against whom. It is said that some Chabadnikim and Arabs were involved. When I go there next week, I will find out more and write about it.

Jewish landlords renting out their property to Gentiles such as Muslim or Christians has become a problem lately. Not only renting but those landlords are also willing to sell their house to Arabs. This has been happening a lot in Jerusalem's neighbourhoods Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev or on the French Hill. Arabs usually arrive with a suitcase full of cash and are willing to pay any sum to the Jewish seller. The next morning the Jewish tenants wake up and suddenly have an Arab landlord or an Arab neighbour. 

The same in Tel Aviv where Jewish landlords rent out their places to foreign workers from the Philippines or Africa and thus ruining entire neighbourhoods. For instance: A Philippina accepts a small but extremely expensive apartment and how she pays the rent is to move another five or six Philippinas into the place. 

It looks like the same is now happening in Zfat with the Arabs and I don't understand why the academies cannot provide them with their own dormitories.

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