22 February 2010

Haifa - the city of co-existence

Haifa is considered to be a city of peaceful co-existence by many. But is it indeed?
(1) I've lived most of my life in Jewish neighborhoods, and still I am annoyed when people give me a second look when I speak Arabic on the phone.
(2) Spending time with my daughter at the neighborhood public parks when she was little, the other kids would either play with her or ignore her. She would be treated like any other kid. Nothing about her would betray the fact that she is part Arab, her being blond with blue eyes, with a non-Arabic name. Until she'd call me "mama" and ask me something in Arabic. Then all the heads - those of children, parents and grandparents would shoot all in perfect harmony and accusation towards me. How dare I (dirty up their neat little lives)?
(3) Teenagers sitting in the back of the bus usually play songs on their mobile phones. Back when I didn't have a car I'd ride the bus everyday and just listen to people's conversations. I've noticed that whenever a song in English or Hebrew would play from the back seats, the passengers would be content. However, every time, and I mean every single time, that a song in Arabic would come from those back seats, there would always be one passenger who'd ask them to turn the music off, as it was annoying. And when the kids would ignore the passenger, she/he would then ask the bus driver to make them turn it off. A verbal argument would follow.
(4) My partner was once asked by a bus driver NOT to speak in Arabic on his phone.

This is only a tiny fragment of the co-existence of Haifa.
Think again!


  1. This is an enlightening post, Khulud. Of course, you probably know I'm no stranger to knowing the realities of life where you live... I'm immune to what I see on television because I know it's not the reality. Sometimes the media is fair, but most of the time it isn't. And I'll take your word any day, because I know these are not mere "stories".

    I left a reply to your comment on my blog, by the way. I'm not sure what happened, but it seemed like your blog disappeared, at least for me, for a day. I went to click on it yesterday and I got a message that it doesn't exist. And when I clicked on it again today, there it was... but I was gone from your followers list. At any rate, I added myself again.


  2. Guess what. I have such a different experience of 10 years in Haifa. No one has ever told me about the co-existence thing until some day they took my class to Beit HaGefen. After that I realized that there is something called co-existence and apparently I'm living in it without even knowing (!), but still no one told me who the Arabs are, and they also forgot to mention the little fact of Haifa being an Arab city. I suppose the concept of co-existence relies on the erasure of history as much as on the denial of the present.

  3. Nevine: glad the technical issue has been solved. Yes, mainstream media tends to twist reality and to push the marginalized even further to the margins.

    Inna: darling! Welcome to my blog! hope you enjoy reading it. Yeah, I figured we all have our "romantic" notions of the co-existence in Haifa. I remember in 10th grade we went to meet Jewish pupils in Givat Haviva, and we felt like aliens... they didn't know anything about Arabs. It's so hazui.
    hugs to both of you


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