Jaffa pool restricts entry of Arab residents

Omer Ori

Jewish and Arab relations in the city of have always been tense, and Jewish residents’ committees of some of ’s neighborhoods have decide to do something about it, at least where the city pool is concerned: They rent out the pool every two weeks – to Jews only.

“There was quite a bit of violence at the pool on the Arab residents’ part and we had to figure out what to do,” said a source familiar with the subject.

“It’s a city pool and we want people to come here with their children, have a good time and enjoy some peace and quiet. It got to the point where violence was the order of the day and police presence (at the pool) was a common sight.

“Several of the residents decided to come together and carry out a symbolic gesture so that the Jewish families could enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere,” added the source.

“I hate to say this, I wish the Arab residents could join us, and enjoy the pool with us while keeping the peace, but that’s just not happening. They’re looking to cause trouble, and that’s a shame.”

When asked about the response from the Arab residents, the source replied: “None whatsoever. They have the rest of the week for themselves to use the pool, they show up whenever they want, we are the ones who don’t show up because of the violence.”

The pool, revealed another of the neighborhood committees’ member, also has days reserved for the religious congregations, “so what’s the big deal?”

When reminded that the matter in question was the segregation between Jews and , the source still failed to see the problem.

‘Leaving is not an option’

The residents of the Arab neighborhoods in question, however, have been less tolerant of the move. Knesset Member Nadia Hilou (Labor) said that “the problem of violence can be solved by instating a general overreach program, not by implementing a limited one.

“Leaving is not an option. Last year I asked Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter to include Jaffa in the ‘city without violence’ project, and he said that Tel Aviv-Jaffa does not meet the program’s criteria.”

Kamal Agbaria, chairman of the neighborhood committee for Jaffa’s Ajami and Jabaliya neighborhoods in Jaffa, added, “I am shocked and appalled. This is outright racism…to decide to deny Arabs’ entry because they’re ‘bad’? We can’t accept people thinking that. Any official involved in making this decision should resign.”

As for the allegations of violence behavior on part of Arab pool goers, Agbaria reiterated it can have no bearing on the pool: “The police should look into those matters and set things right, but it can’t affect the pool.”