Visit the 'White City'

From Miri

Most recently Tel Aviv has been voted the world's gayest travel destination. This achievement is the result of a campaign launched by the Tel Aviv tourism board and supported by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism to promote the White City as an international gay vacation destination. Activists from the LGBTQ scene, including Israeli ones, consider this campaign an attempt to whitewash, or as they term it “pinkwash”, the public image of Israel and to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians' human rights and instead to promote it as the only democratic and eventually gay friendly state of the Middle East.

Also on the ground, the Tel Aviv municipality, together with the Ministry of Tourism put a lot of effort into presenting a rosy and carefree image to the city's visitors. One vehicle for this are organised walking tours. A lot of those tours naturally focus on the beautiful or fun parts of the city, such as night life or architecture, especially the vast amount of unique Bauhaus buildings that gave the city its nickname - the White City. A visit to the White City is however incomplete without a Jaffa tour
Jaffa, the port city adjacent to Tel Aviv, that dates back to ancient times once constituted one of the region's most affluent and culturally and economically most thriving urban societies. In fact, the cosmopolitan Tel Aviv started out as nothing but a Jewish neighbourhood of Jaffa. Today's Jaffa is officially considered to be part of Tel Aviv, and hardly lives up to its former glory. Apart from its architecture, Jaffa's Old City with its art galleries, gift shops and expensive restaurants hardly bears a sign of its Arab past. While taking visitors through the “picturesque Flea Market, archaeological sites, the Crest Garden, and the renovated alleys and buildings of historic Old Jaffa”, the guides of mainstream tours usually gloss over the expulsion of 90% of Jaffa's Palestinian residents during the events of 1947/1948, or attribute it to a voluntary mass flight.
In order to stick to the myth of Tel Aviv being built on sand and dunes, guides from mainstream tour companies commonly dismiss the fact that parts of the White City were built on top of Arab villages.  Whereas Jaffa tours by alternative guides offer a more accurate historical perspective.
The busy neighbourhood of Manshiyye, for example, once constituted Jaffa's northern border. Today's Manshiyye is mainly comprised of a small park, adjoined by parking lots and a bus stop, as well as of the Charles Clore Park whose grass covered dunes conceal the rubble that remained from the demolition of the neighbourhood and which were pushed to the sea sight. The Hassan Beq mosque and one other building which was turned into the Etzel Museum to commemorate those who captured Manshiyye, are the only indicators for the area's Arab past.
There are always at least two sides to every story. The fact that the more dominant one is, by its nature, more easily accessible to a greater audience, does not mean that it lies closer to the truth.


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