Unit 11: Time Passes, a Place Changes
The story of Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood

This Unit focuses on a single location, Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood. We’ll use it to learn about two events that occurred at two different times: 1948 – when the Palestinian inhabitants of the neighborhood were expelled, and 1959 – the beginning of an organized struggle of Jews from Arab countries against the discrimination and repression perpetrated by the Israeli establishment. We’ll examine these historical events that occurred in the neighborhood using photographs, readings, and an excerpt from a film, as well as by making use of concepts such as “hegemony,” “violence”, and “periphery.”

Goals:
• To become familiar with the story of the Nakba and with the struggle of Jews from Arab countries in Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood.
• To examine a place where two historical events occurred which are not part of the hegemonic historical account.
• To use the events of Wadi Salib in order to understand the concept of “periphery” as it applies to Israel.
• To think about the future of Wadi Salib after having learned about its history and residents.

Keywords: Place, Histories

Activity
1.  Introduction:  The teacher will post three photographs on the board (cf. Supplementary Material 1), in the following order:
The right-hand photograph – showing the expulsion of Palestinians from Haifa in 1948.
The center photograph – a current scenic view of buildings in the neighborhood.
The left-hand photograph – a scene from the 1959 rebellion in Wadi Salib.

The teacher will ask the class:
What do you see in the photographs? When do you think they were taken? Where were they taken?
The photographs show two events that occurred in the place we’ll talk about today – Wadi Salib, in Haifa. The first photograph shows the flight of Palestinians from Haifa in April, 1948; the second is a photograph of the Wadi Salib neighborhood that was taken in 2008 – it is desolate and deserted; and the third shows a scene from the 1959 rebellion in Wadi Salib, from the side of the Jews from Arab countries. Today we’ll examine one location, in one neighborhood, in one city: Wadi Salib, Haifa. We’ll install a camera and look at the neighborhood at two points in time. The camera will remain pointed at the same location, while we’ll travel through time. We’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of the people who lived there by focusing on the events shown in the photographs.

The history we’ll study today isn’t hegemonic history. You can’t find it in official Israeli

history books. We’ll ask whether there are any connections between two different events that occurred in Wadi Salib during a brief period of time: the Nakba in 1948 and, eleven years later, in 1959, the struggle of Jews from Arab countries that began in Wadi Salib.

To the teacher:  Try to introduce the lesson dramatically, in a way that will excite the students to the topic.

2. Draw a table:
The teacher will put the following table on the board. Include the row and column headings. Fill in the table together with the class as the lesson progresses.

 

1948

1959

Who lives in the neighborhood?

Palestinians

Jews from Arab countries

Who are the residents?

How do they make a living?

Middle-class, railroad employees

Most are laborers or unemployed; they want to work in commerce

What language do they speak?

Arabic

Arabic, Hebrew

Who are the forces fighting against the residents?

Jewish military forces – the “Haganah”

The Israeli Police

Who leads the residents?

The Arab National Committee of Haifa and the Arab Higher Committee

David Ben Haroush – a café owner


3. The Nakba in Haifa and in Wadi Salib: Give the class the page of readings (cf. Supplementary Material 2), and read together the section about the Nakba in Haifa and in Wadi Salib.

Questions to help students understand the text:  Fill in the column of the table referring to 1948, and ask: Why did the Palestinians leave? 
Continue reading the texts together with the students – the excerpts dealing with Palestinians leaving Haifa.

According to the excerpts, the statements made by Jewish leaders after the expulsion don’t match with what the military did in Haifa.
What does this difference tell us about that period? How can we explain the difference?

4.  The events in Wadi Salib: The teacher should show the students the photograph of Jews from Arab countries demonstrating in Wadi Salib that we saw at the beginning of the lesson, and say: “let's put aside the Nakba for a moment. Keep pointing the camera at Wadi Salib, but take a picture of another moment in time, eleven years later, in 1959.  We’ll watch an excerpt from a film about the struggle of Jews from Arab countries in Wadi Salib. The events in Wadi Salib occurred on June 8-9, 1959. They included protest demonstrations and civil disobedience by Jews from Arab countries because of the  discrimination and injustices they suffered from the Ashkenazi Israeli establishment since arriving in the country at the end of the 1940s - beginning of the 1950s. The demonstrations were harshly suppressed by the police and the government.  Demonstrations by Jews from Arab countries erupted in different parts of the country during this period because they were discriminated. The demonstrations were harshly suppressed, but the events of Wadi Salib remained etched in the collective memory of the struggle of Jews from Arab countries in Israel, and every struggle since then by Jews from Arab countries refers to Wadi Salib. The Israeli Black Panthers, for example, the protest movement of Jews from Arab countries during the 1970s, was inspired by the Wadi Salib protest.”

We suggest watching the excerpt from the “David Ben Haroush” episode of the series from 2000, “HaKol Anashim”, by Mudi Bar On and Anat Zeltzer, produced by the Israeli Educational Television channel (see Supplementary Material 3).

Before showing the excerpt, ask:
Who lived in Wadi Salib? How did they make a living? Who was David Ben Haroush, and what was his role in the neighborhood?

5.  Class discussion: Answer the questions that were asked before the class watched the film, and fill in the table.
What happened on July 8-9, 1959? Describe the events in your own words.
Why did these events occur?
What were the principal allegations made by the residents of the neighborhood, and what were their demands?
Imagine that you were a child born today in the neighborhood. What would it be like to be born in a neighborhood with such a history?

6.  The teacher reads an excerpt from an article by journalist Uri Avnery published in “HaOlam HaZeh” right after the Wadi Salib demonstrations:  “Whoever starts by shooting at Muhammad, will wind up shooting at Rahamim. Whoever arrests and expels Suleiman, without due process and without a trial, will wind up arresting and expelling Nissim. Whoever spits in Fatimah’s face today, will spit tomorrow in Mazal’s. What happened yesterday in Wadi Nisnas, will inevitably occur today in Wadi Salib”.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Explain.

7.  Concluding discussion:

To the teacher:  We suggest two possible ways of concluding the lesson. If the class discussion moves in a more theoretical, abstract direction – focus on the first question, dealing with violence and periphery. If the discussion is a more practical one – focus on the second question, about the neighborhood’s future. 

We placed a camera in Wadi Salib and saw a place that can tell many stories.  It’s a location having a history of conflict with “Israeli-ness”, with hegemonic Israel. Both the events we saw were violent, and both occurred in the same place. 

1. How does violence shift from one group to another? Is it because of the location, because of its geography? How is that related to the concept of “periphery”? Where is the Israeli periphery, and who lives there today? Why do you think that is? What can we learn from Wadi Salib about the structure of Israeli society and the Israeli regime?
2. Today, Wadi Salib is deserted and in ruins. The Haifa municipality planned to transform it into an expensive artists’ quarter, but (for now) that hasn’t happened.  The destruction of the neighborhood continues. What do you think will be the next story to be told here?

Supplementary Materials Index:
Supplementary Material 1:  Photographs
Three photographs of Haifa and Wadi Salib.
1. Photographer: Fred Chesnik, JNF archives, 1948
2. Photographer: Mohammad Badarna, 2008
3. Photographer: Oskar Tauber, 1959

Supplementary Material 2:  Readings
Readings about the Nakba in Haifa and in Wadi Salib

Supplementary Material 3:  An episode from a TV series
“David Ben Haroush,” an episode from the TV series, “HaKol Anashim” (2000), by Mudi Bar On and Anat Zeltzer, produced by Israel’s Educational Television channel.  Unfortunately, copyright restrictions prevent us from including in the Study Guide an excerpt from that episode. Teachers usually have access to educational television programs, which can be obtained in school libraries or through the Ministry of Education.  You could also show an excerpt from the chapter entitled “The Second Israel”, from the documentary series, “T’kuma”, produced by Channel 1.

Theoretical background
“Those who have the power to shape the physical space to suit their needs can easily shape it to suit their values and narrative - not only to obtain for their values and narratives a hegemonic stature, but also in accordance with them, to reshape the city. We may formulate this simple state of things in the following paradoxical rule: a city is always a realization of the stories that it tells about itself.” (Sharon Rotbard)

Spatial history focuses on a specific location. Spatial history applies knowledge from different fields (such as history, geography, economics, sociology, etc.) to understand processes of political, social, economic, and environmental change. Understanding such processes can lead to the creation of new knowledge and insights regarding historical changes in space and time, and allow us to understand our own reality.

The location (the city, the neighborhood, the village) is shaped in a way that allows us to recognize the hegemonic historical, cultural, and social stories it tells about itself. The story we’re usually familiar with is the one told by whomever had the power to shape the place. But every place also contains tales that have been silenced and walled off.  Focusing on them allows us to get to know it better - its various layers, its contemporary reality. Becoming familiar with a particular location makes it possible to examine broader processes in detail, close up – to see the macro and the micro at the same time.

Pedagogical rationale
In this Unit we examine the historical, social, and cultural aspects of one specific location, Wadi Salib, at two points in time - 1948 and 1959. 1948 is the story of the expulsion of the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood, and 1959 is the story of the struggle of Jews from Arab countries against the discrimination and injustices they suffered in Israel.

Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood was established as a Palestinian neighborhood at the end of the nineteenth century. Originally intended for railway workers, houses were later built for the Arab middle class. With the capture of Haifa in April 1948, the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood were expelled. During and after the war, Jews were moved in. The vast majority of them were from North Africa, particularly from Morocco. The buildings in the neighborhood were taken over by the government by virtue of the “Law of Absentee Property”. In 1959, some 15,000 people, many of them poor and unemployed, were crowded into the neighborhood. A combination of factors made conditions ripe for the struggle on the side of the Jews coming from Arab countries to break out in Wadi Salib in 1959: poor living conditions, together with the economic and social deprivation of the residents, as well as scorn and indifference expressed by the Ashkenazi residents of Haifa’s better-off neighborhood with regards to the Arab cultural heritage of the Jews from North Africa in Wadi Salib created a political reality which excluded them from power positions and the upcoming national elections.

We’ll learn about 1948 by reading excerpts from historical documents describing the reasons for which most of Haifa’s Arab residents fled or were expelled, and examine the attitude of the country’s Jewish leadership to those events. We’ll learn about what happened in 1959 by watching excerpts from “David Ben Haroush”, from the series “HaKol Anashim”, by Mudi Bar On and Anat Zeltzer (2000). The segment describes the reasons for the outbreak of the struggle undergone by Jews from Arab countries, and shows the events that occurred, as well as what followed, focusing on the leader of the struggle in the Wadi – David Ben Haroush.

By learning about what happened at these two points in time, we will try to examine the attitude of the Israeli forces that won the war and that of the establishment towards the two groups of residents.  We’ll also raise questions about the concept of “periphery” in
contemporary Israeli society. Answering questions such as “who is located on the Israeli periphery” and “what does that tell us about Israeli society” can broaden our understanding of the various forces operating in Israeli society, as well as how the relationship between center and periphery is structured.

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1. Avnery, U. (1959), “The Moroccan revolt”, HaOlam HaZeh, 15.7.1959, No. 1137, p. 3 (Hebrew).

2  Rotbard, S. (2015), White City, Black City. Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, London: Pluto Press, p. 3.

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