Monday, May 21, 2012

Quiet times and Arab violence


Politics, worldly affairs, business and all kinds of stress ... these are issues Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have to deal with but not northern Israel. Everything goes slower in the northern regions and people have their own issues and problems. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are far away. There are times when they seem to be as far away as another planet. 

However, the Galilee cannot escape all worldly affairs. Plenty of Palestinians have settled in the area and a bit more than a year ago, Zfat was facing a severe problem: The local small university has a high amount of Arab students and it was them causing trouble downtown. Yelling at Jews and driving the nearby Chabad Yeshiva nuts with loud music on Shabbat. Furthermore, many young Arabs run after Jewish girls and try getting them into an intermarriage. Those Arabs even succeed in convincing haredi girls marrying them. This is a huge problem all over Israel. 

Jewish teenage girls from poor families like the expensive gifts Arab boys make them. The girls tell themselves that this particular Arab guy running after her is nice and not a suicide bomber. He must be nice when he is giving her presents and taking her out to expensive restaurants. Once the girls run away with the Arab boyfriend, their families kick them out. Thus the girls end up in the nearby Arab villages and then hell begins. The formerly nice boyfriend turns out to be a molester beating his Jewish wife. 

Not every Arab marrying a Jew girl ends up beating her but there are plenty of stories going around. For instance, Nazareth, a town divided between Arabs and Jews, has been facing an extremely high amount of intermarriage between Jews and Muslims. It is mostly Arab guys marrying Jewish women and not vice versa. 

The second problem the Galilee is facing is the high amount of unemployed inhabitants. There is no real infrastructure and factories or other businesses like to settle at the coast and not in Tiberias, Zfat or Beit Shean. If enterpreneurs decide opening a company in the north, then it will be mainly Haifa but not the Upper Galilee. 

Tiberias and Zfat live from tourism. The latter rather from Jewish tourists who come for a visit searching for the remains of the medieval Kabbalists and any kind of spirituality. There isn't too much to do for Gentiles except for walking through the alleyways of the Old City, enjoying the great view and passing the art galleries. 

Nevertheless, Zfat is worth a visit and if you are in Tiberias and have some time, take the VEOLIA bus no. 450 from the Central Bus Station. Zfat is about 30km far away on a mountain top overlooking the Kinneret. The ride is inexpensive (15,50 Shekels one way / approx. 3,5 $). Get off at the final stop - the Central Bus Station in Zfat and you are already in the Old City. 

The yellow press doesn't mention it: The MADONNA - House in Zfat. The "Kabbalah - Lady" wanted to build her own villa in Zfat. Madonna together with the Kabbalah Center. The Zfat inhabitants went wild and Madonna gave up. Until today you can see the former construction site but the house has never been finished.  

Downtown Zfat

Tourismus & Art = The two most important industries in Zfat.

There is definitely no lack of art galleries in town.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

1 comment:

  1. B"H

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