Takanori Hayao from the "City of Coexistence" Haifa

8 November, 2007 HAYAO Takanori

There are several reasons to proclaim Haifa as a city of “coexistence”.

Haifa is one of the three big cities of Israel, along with Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Geopolitically, the actual capital Tel Aviv in a sense is the city, where jewization is most “complete”, and the percentage of students of Arab background is extremely low. Jerusalem with its focus on the Israel political fight for unification of Israel and monopolization of the Holy Land, and the expulsion of Arab-Palestinians by a 8-meter concrete “isolation wall” becomes more and more an exclusive space.
Compared to them Haifa, situated in the Northern district, is relatively aside from the focus of political struggle and due to its proximity to Galilee, somehow was/is maybe offering a comfortable space to Arabs. On the streets and in the university one can hear Arabic more often than in West Jerusalem Hebrew University and Tel Aviv, and the voices speaking in Arabic seem louder here.
There is little/no clear distinction as in Jerusalem of “East Jerusalem(Arab area)”/”West Jerusalem(Jewish area)” , and in the center of Haifa, although there is an Arab block, it is a mixed and hybrid area.
The writer Anton Shamas is the one who coined the name “Bilingual Haifa”. However a careful look at the signs on the streets and the shops or at the newspapers, sold in front of the shops and the books, read in the buses, one would notice that there is another language besides Hebrew and Arabic. Russian.
More than half of the Russian immigrants that have moved here during the last decade after the end of the Soviet Union are said to be Christians, worker immigrants, who came relying on distant relatives. Because their identity as Jews is weak or absent, they lack motivation in studying Hebrew. This immigrants from Russia have spread throughout Israel, but their percentage is reportedly high. Probably “Bilingual Haifa”, “The City of Coexistence Haifa” has made room for them.
Bilingual Haifa is changing to “Trilingual Haifa”.
 In addition, immigrants of Ethiopian origin are rapidly increasing in Haifa. In contrast to Jerusalem with its large population of pious Jews, and Tel Aviv with its large number of Jews with high economic standards, Haifa is known as a city, offering easier access to Russians and marginalized immigrants. In this way, Haifa by the centrifugal force it exercises on a variety of immigrants actually fosters multiculturalization. Is it something we should simply enjoy?
Actually the strategic introduction of immigrants of Jewish(like) descent from Russia and Ethiopia at its base is dictated by a Zionistic motif of lowering the percentage of Arab-Palestinian population.
While even the Palestinians, refugees from this region are denied their “right of homecoming” to their birthplace, Russians and Ethiopians with no connection to this land are being introduced as a tool of a demographic strategy. Perhaps the Russian and the Palestinian immigrants are considered a response to the increasing ration of Arab-Palestinians in Israel, due to their high birth rate. In other words, the multiculturalization of Haifa is advancing by negating Arabic culture. This is a strange situation of anti-Arab tactics and overt racism, which form the platform of an actual multiculturalization. (Translated by Dennitza Gabrakova)

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