City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa

Overview

A profoundly human take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen through the eyes of six families, three Arab and three Jewish.
The millennia-old port of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, was once known as the "Bride of Palestine," one of the truly cosmopolitan cities of the Mediterranean. There Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived, worked, and celebrated together—and it was commonplace for the Arabs of Jaffa to attend a wedding at the house of the Jewish Chelouche family or for Jews...

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City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa

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Overview

A profoundly human take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen through the eyes of six families, three Arab and three Jewish.
The millennia-old port of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, was once known as the "Bride of Palestine," one of the truly cosmopolitan cities of the Mediterranean. There Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived, worked, and celebrated together—and it was commonplace for the Arabs of Jaffa to attend a wedding at the house of the Jewish Chelouche family or for Jews and Arabs to both gather at the Jewish spice shop Tiv and the Arab Khamis Abulafia's twenty-four-hour bakery. Through intimate personal interviews and generations-old memoirs, letters, and diaries, Adam LeBor gives us a crucial look at the human lives behind the headlines—and a vivid narrative of cataclysmic change.

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Editorial Reviews

The Independent
The curious reader with no ideological axe to grind, but an interest in the people and their fate, could do no better than start here.— Linda Grant
The Independent - Linda Grant
“The curious reader with no ideological axe to grind, but an interest in the people and their fate, could do no better than start here.”
Linda Grant - The Independent
“The curious reader with no ideological axe to grind, but an interest in the people and their fate, could do no better than start here.”
Publishers Weekly

As any student of the Middle East can attest, there's almost no way to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with objectivity; virtually every word about it comes weighted with ideology or political mission. But English journalist LeBor (the Times) has achieved the near-impossible. While ostensibly telling the story of one town, he sketches the tale of Israel's birth and concomitant Palestinian nakba(catastrophe), with the knotted lives of Jaffa's Arab and Jewish residents serving as a humanizing lens. Though not a rigorous academic study, this history encompasses both the familiar (nonstop wars) and the lesser-known (Syria's 1949 peace overtures). Dotted with delightful period details, it gives individual opinion free rein, reporting contradictions without judgment. The history of both peoples is marked by trauma and courage, and neither side has really managed to listen to the other—because, LeBor notes, "any recognition of each other's losses is a kind of surrender in the endless battle for memory as well as territory." He quietly condemns the worst excesses of both sides—Israeli occupation, Palestinian corruption, Israeli racism, Palestinian suicide terrorism—and comes down on the side of compromise. Some readers will noisily object, but those looking for a well-rounded and truly human insight into the conflict will enjoy this account. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393329841
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/7/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 601,780
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam LeBor was born in London. As a journalist he has covered the Yugoslav wars for the Independent and The Times, where he is now the Central Europe correspondent. He lives in Budapest.

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Table of Contents


Maps     xii
Illustrations     xv
Dramatis personae     xxi
Author's note     xxvii
Introduction     xxix
Part 1
A Bartered Bride     3
Tel Aviv Is Born     15
Jaffa Strikes     34
A Widening Divide     48
Palestine Beckons     62
Days of Hunger     75
The White City Shines     88
Jaffa Prepares for War     100
Al-Nakba-The Catastrophe     112
Jaffa Has New Masters     135
Sofia-by-the-Sea     148
Part 2
Coming Home to Jaffa     163
New Lives     175
Repopulating Jaffa     187
Saving Old Jaffa     199
Six Days That Shook the World     213
The Ghosts of Old Jaffa     228
War, Once More     239
Talking and Fighting     253
Seaside Urban Sprawl     267
Going Home to the Sea     279
Gaza Comes to Jaffa     296
Separation     313
Islam on the March     327
A Possible Future     343
Afterword     359
Notes     368
Chronology     382
Bibliography     389
Acknowledgements     395
Permissions     399
Index     401
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    This book is fairly admirable.

    City of Oranges tells the story of several Jewish and Palestinian families from Mandate times to the present. The only problem with it is that, in my opinion, it's slanted in favor of the Israeli side. The book discusses terrorism carried out by several of its subjects who were members of the Stern gang, without a murmur of disapproval. Also, it seems to agree that the Jews had a right to take over Palestine, though perhaps they shouldn't have kicked out the Arab inhabitants.
    However, just the act of telling the different families' stories is highly positive. This book is to be recommended to all but the fanatics on both sides.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2007

    Bitter Oranges.

    In the book 'City of Oranges¿ the ¿intimate¿ history of the Jews and Arabs in the ancient Israeli town of Jaffa is presented in an engaging form of interviews and personal narratives collected masterly by a seasoned journalist Adam LeBor. The book succeeded to illuminate the tense coexistence between the parallel worlds of the Arab and the Jew. The communities of Arab Muslims and Christians, Zionist activists, Jewish refugees from Europe and the lands of Islam do not mix, but collide with each other like prisms in a kaleidoscope forming bizarre configurations with each turn of the historical tube. The most fantastic narrative in the modern history ¿ the rebirth of the Jewish State - serves as a background for the tales of ever-shifting fortunes of Jaffa communities. While the personal and family narratives of the Yaffans are compelling, touching and enormously educating, the background narrative ¿ creation of modern Israel ¿ is, unfortunately, a rehash of Palestinian victim-hood lore, as created by, widely quoted in the book, Israeli 'new historians' and journalists Benny Morris and Tom Segev. The individual Jewish soldiers and officers in the War of Independence and, later, the Israeli state officials 'come out¿, mostly, as decent people. On the other hand, the attitude of the State of Israel toward its Arabs and Jews from the Muslim lands is presented as inconsistent and inconsiderate. The word ¿racism¿ is used several times, but only to blame the Jewish, not the Arab attitudes. Nevertheless, the book raises questions, which are seldom answered in discussions about the response of the Arab population to the fast changing situation in Mandatory Palestine of 1947-48. What caused the flight of the Palestinian middle class and nobility many months before the eruption of full-scale war with the Jews? What caused the flight of Arab town-folks and villagers while the British Army was still in Palestine and under orders to prevent the Jewish takeover? Could it be that the rumors of mass-murder and rapes allegedly committed by the Jews, which the Arab radio stations were feeding to the Arab population degenerated into a mass hysteria and panic flight from Palestine? While the answers are outside the scope of the book, it at least brings forward those questions for the reader to think about and, perhaps, to explore further by himself. And, finally, the book is also about the transformation of Israeli Arabs from passive remnants of vanquished people to a Palestinian Muslim society. The interviews with younger generation of Jaffa Muslims leave no doubt that, in their mind, their future is with the Arab world rather than with the State of Israel. Those who still believe in the reconciliation between communities ought to read the book ¿City of Oranges¿. The conclusion the reader might come to is that the future for coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Israel is far from being secured. The separation between communities might be a better solution for all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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