Author(s): Adam LeBor
The ancient port of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, was once known as the 'Bride of Palestine'. It was one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the Mediterranean. Once the centre of Palestinian modernity, Jaffa was the country's cultural and political capital. There Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived, worked, and celebrated together. It was commonplace for the Arabs of Jaffa to attend a wedding at the house of the Jewish Chelouche family and even after 1948 Jews and Arabs gathered at the Jewish-owned spice shop Tiv and the Arab Abulafia family's twenty-four-hour bakery. Through intimate personal interviews and memoirs, letters, and diaries, Adam LeBor gives us a crucial insight into the human lives behind the apparently intractable story of national conflict and a vivid narrative of cataclysmic change. LeBor deftly weaves the personal story of six families, three Jewish and three Arab, into a rich and complex history of Israel and Palestine in the twentieth century. In a special updated afterword, LeBor returns to Jaffa after ten years to find a city greatly changed by gentrification, demolition and waves of new incomers. Rising prices have scattered communities. The exodus of Jaffa's Arabs continues. But with all the changes, the desire for integration endures. LeBor's magnificent history is a story of hope found in the memories of the Levant's once dazzling mosaic of cultures and communities.