Opposition to the demolition of the Beidas House, one of the last remains of Sheikh Muwanis in Tel Aviv
By: Esther Zandberg
31/07/2003

The Zochrot organization is acting to prevent the demolition of the house of the Beidas family on the site of the Ramat Aviv Hotel in Tel Aviv, planned in the framework of the residential construction project Savyonei Ramat Aviv. The house is a magnificent structure adorned by arches, which was constructed around 1900 by Mahmoud Beidas in the village Sheikh Muwanis, and remains impressive even today. The organization, which is involved in studying Palestinian living heritage in the state of Israel and passing it on to the Jewish public, turned this week to various bodies, including the preservation department at Tel Aviv city hall, the municipal engineer, the Council for the Preservation of Sites and the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense, with the request that they act to preserve the building.  

Parties connected with the preservation of structures in Tel Aviv are not aware of the existence of the Beidas house – lack of knowledge that undoubtedly testifies to the importance of the activities of the Zochrot organization. According to the Director of the organization, Eitan Bronstein, the house is among the last few remains of the village Sheikh Muwanis which was located in the area until the establishment of the state of Israel, and the large part of which was destroyed. Besides the house there remain, as far as is known, only part of the cemetery of the village and the “Green House,” which was renovated ten years ago and serves today as the faculty club of Tel Aviv University. Inquiries by Zochrot revealed that the descendants of the Beidas family still live in Israel.

The request to demolish the house was submitted to the Tel Aviv municipality by the Africa Israel company, which is carrying out the residential project, but a decision on the matter has not yet been reached. The organization believes that this is the last opportunity to save the structure, which has cultural and historical importance as well as considerable aesthetic value, and that it would be possible to integrate the structure into the new project, as is customary among many real estate developers in the world. The organization hopes that “the structure will be preserved, like the Green House on the university campus, and that it will contain some mention the history of the Sheikh Muwanis.”

The site, the area of which is about 45 dunams, also contains the central structure of the Ramat Aviv Hotel, built in a modern style in 1951, with a vacation atmosphere that reminded Tel Avivians of the beaches of Florida. In addition to the central structure, the hotel included 21 country-style gazebos. The gazebos have already been razed and the hotel, an elegant and eye-pleasing structure, is sadly also slated for demolition.

The Savyonei Ramat Aviv project is currently in the construction stages. The site will include, in total, a commercial and sporting area and ten residential buildings – two towers (one has already been erected), and additional terraced buildings. The preservation of the existing structures and their integration into the new, sterile and one-dimensional project, would undoubtedly add a lay of culture and perhaps also some economic benefit.

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