Jaffa has become a part of Tel-Aviv few decades later after the city of Tel Aviv was formed in 1909. In particular, in 1949 Jaffa and Tel-Aviv merged together into one city Tel Aviv-Yafo. At that time, Jaffa had already existed for centuries. It is one of the oldest cities and ports in the world (LeVine 2).It is important to note that Jewish and Palestinian Arab identities have formed before 1948. However, the continuous battle for national identity has been the major cause of struggle for the Palestinian population, followed by the struggle for land.

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The desire of the Palestinian population to promote their national identity has created struggles over political authority and religious power. Tel-Aviv was formed in 1909 to provide people with a separate suburb with a European style of living. While Tel-Aviv was meant to become the Jewish suburb, Jaffa remained administratively and culturally Arab with adjacent Arab farms. Today, Jaffa is considered a part of Tel-Aviv. Until the late 1920s, the situation was reversed. The Palestinians struggled when overthrowing Jaffa. Jaffa and its numerous villages were “erased” by the first Hebrew city in the modern world (LeVine 2). For example, the growing inflow of Jews into a what was before a uniformly Palestinian Arab economy caused troubles for the Palestinians as they had to resist the construction of new buildings in the Jaffa region (LeVine 48). The confrontation tended to exacerbate into physical violence. The physical violence in Jaffa that started in December 1947. The fight ended on May 13, 1948. The fight in Jaffa had great consequences for the Palestinian Arab population as 64,500 out of 70,000 opted out for the flight (LeVine 215). The city collapsed as a result of the fighting. Adjacent Arab villages were emptied (LeVine 215). Thus, the Palestinians were forced to fight for their identity and land.

Since the inception of Tel-Aviv, the majority of Palestinian residents have acknowledged Jaffa’s distinctiveness (LeVine 6). However, the Palestinians do not have political and municipal representation to promote cultural and historical distinctiveness of Arab Jaffa. The struggles of the Palestinians come from the fact they were forced to live in the same region with various unassimilable European Jewish immigrants. Also, LeVine informs that most Zionists and British officials enforced a view that Arab Jaffa and the surrounding Arab villages symbolized the backwardness of modernity. Their view promoted the idea of non-modernity of Jaffa as opposed to the increasingly modern Jewish city surrounding the Palestinians. The Zionist and British modernist discourses assumed that the Palestinians were less education or sophisticated. The European-inspired view of modernity harmed the Palestinians because this view created many problems for the Palestinian residents of Jaffa, such as poor political representation and inferiority in general.

Also, the Palestinians struggle for their rich architectural heritage and public image. The current spatial policies of the Tel Aviv municipality result in patterns of struggle and contestation for the Palestinian population. For example, LeVine argues that Tel Aviv’s architectural focus on modernity has obscured an impressive architectural heritage of Arab Jaffa (216). Architectural design plays an important role when it comes to the discussion of the struggles faced by the Palestinian population. In particular, according to LeVine, architecture has been used as a tool for limiting the control and identity of the Palestinians (216). To be more specific, architectural planning and development of the late 1980s and 1990s have made Jaffa into an ideal tourism side. At the same time, the daily media and television have created a perception of Jaffa as poor and crime-ridden. Thus, another struggle faced by the Palestinians in Jaffa is an ongoing battle over rich architectural heritage and public image.

  • LeVine, Mark. Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. University of California Press, 2005.