JERUSALEM — 1 February 2013 A port city since the Bronze Age, Jaffa is a place where two conflicting stories of this Holy Land may be seen in stark contrast.
Called Yafa in Arabic, it was a majority Muslim population in the early twentieth century, a hub of Palestinian culture and economic activity, envisioned by some as a leading city of the Arab world. The very same real estate known in four different books of the Hebrew Bible, Yafo was the landing for the second wave of Zionist immigration, beginning in 1904, that gave rise to the city of Tel Aviv, which has far outpaced Jaffa in economic development and stature.
In one telling it is the emergence of modern Israel as homeland for a hounded people. In another telling it is part of the story Palestinians have named "Nakba!" (The Catastrophe!) Yafa? Yafo? What a difference a vowel makes!
Our explorations of the city, its history and hopes, were led by two scholars telling single-lens narratives, side-by-side, one Arab-Palestinian, one Jewish-Israeli. Near the end of our visit, in a hilltop park overlooking the port, a bystander who had overheard one of the presentations came up to us and angrily declared that we were not hearing "the right story."
I'm not sure what "the right story" is but, short of peace with justice, I have to believe that the right story is one yet to be told.