Divis-ity

Israel – or at least Haifa, but I think on the whole as well – is a bizarre conglomerate of “west” and Middle East. Arab culture abounds here at the bottom of the hill. In fact, if it weren’t for the Hebrew signage everywhere (and the lack of places to get a cup of Arabic coffee or tea to go), I could be in any Arab city in the Middle East. On top of this heritage, there are also a decent numbers of signifiers of “progress” (from the Orientalist perspective). Traffic is less chaotic than in Amman, household appliances are nicer and newer, and toilets actually flush. And if you journey to the top of the hill where the Israelis and wealthy Palestinians live, it definitely feels like a hodgepodge of pseudo-America but definitive Middle East.

As diverse as Haifa seems to be – its busier commercial districts have a mix of spoken Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Russian, and that just from the people who live in the city – it is divided. I don’t know where the line is if one exists, but the streets in my vicinity are not labeled, are narrow, and feel much like East Amman. While the streets up the hill are also narrow, the fences and gardens and walls dividing the houses from their roads are well-kept, tidy, and clean. Down here, they are more, shall we say, well-worn. Well-loved.

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