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Jaffa (English pronunciation: /ˈdʒæfə/, /ˈdʒɑːfə/; Hebrew: יָפוֹ, Yāfō (help·info); Arabic: يَافَا Yāfā (help·info); Latin: Jóppe; also Japho, Joppa (transliteration from the Greek "Ιόππη") is a southern, oldest part of Tel Aviv - Jaffa municipality (since 1950), an ancient port city (closed as a port in 1965). Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.
The name of the city is mentioned in Egyptian sources and the Amarna Letters as Yapu. There are several legends about the origin of the name Jaffa. Some say it is named for Japheth, one of the sons of Noah, who built it after the Great Flood. The Hellenist tradition links the name to "Iopeia", which is Cassiopeia, the mother of Andromeda. An outcropping of rocks near the harbor is reputed to have been the place from which Andromeda was rescued by Perseus. Pliny the Elder associates the name with Jopa, the daughter of Aeolus, god of wind. The Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi mentions it under the name Yaffa, which is used by Arabic speakers today.History AntiquityMarket at Jaffa, by Gustav Bauernfeind, 1877.
Tel Yafo (Jaffa Hill) rises to a height of 40 meters (130 ft) and offers a commanding view of the coastline; hence its strategic importance in military history. The accumulation of debris and landfill over the centuries made the hill even higher. Archaeological evidence shows that Jaffa was inhabited some 7,500 years BCE. Jaffa's natural harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age.Tuthmosid Period
Jaffa is mentioned in an Ancient Egyptian letter from 1440 BCE, glorifying its conquest by Pharaoh Thutmose III, whose general, Djehuty hid armed Egyptian warriors in large baskets and sent the baskets as a present to the Canaanite city's governor.Amarna Period
The city is also mentioned in the Amarna letters under its Egyptian name Ya-Pho, ( Ya-Pu, EA 296, l.33). The city was under Egyptian rule until around 800 BCE.Biblical Jaffa
Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Hebrew Bible, as one of the cities given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:15), as the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Book of Jonah 1:3) and as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7). Jaffa is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as the territorial border of the Tribe of Dan, hence the modern term "Gush Dan" for the center of the coastal plain. Many descendants of Dan lived along the coast and earned their living from shipmaking and sailing. In the "Song of Deborah" the prophetess asks: "דן למה יגור אוניות": "Why doth Dan dwell in ships?"
After the Canaanite and Philistean domination, King David and his son King Solomon conquered Jaffa and used its port to bring the cedars used in the construction of the First Temple from Tyre. The city remained often in Jewish hands even after the split of the Kingdom of Israel. In 701 BCE, in the days of King Hezekiah (חזקיהו), Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded the region from Jaffa.
After a period of Babylonian occupation, under Persian rule, Jaffa was governed by Phoenicians from Tyre. Then it knew the presence of Alexander the Great's troops and later became a Seleucid Hellenized port until it was taken over by the Maccabean rebels (1 Maccabees x.76, xiv.5) and the refounded Jewish kingdom. During the Roman repression of the Jewish Revolt, Jaffa was captured and burned by Cestius Gallus. The Roman Jewish historian Josephus (Jewish War 2.507-509, 3:414-426) writes that 8,400 inhabitants were massacred. Pirates operating from the rebuilt port incurred the wrath of Vespasian, who razed the city and erected a citadel in its place, installing a Roman garrison there.
The New Testament account of St. Peter's resurrection of the widow Tabitha (Dorcas, Gr.) written in Acts 9:36-42 takes place in Jaffa. Acts 10:10-23 relates that while Peter was in Jaffa, he had a vision of a large sheet filled with "clean" and "unclean" animals being lowered from heaven, together with a message from the Holy Spirit to accompany several messengers to Cornelius in Caesaria.Rabbinical Period
In Midrash Tanna'im in its chapter Deuteronomy 33:19, reference is made to Rav Yosi (2nd century) travelling through Jaffa. Jaffa seems to have attracted serious scholars in the 4th and 5th century. The Jerusalem Talmud (compiled 4th and 5th century)in Moed Ketan references Rav Acha of Jaffa; and in Pesachim chapter 1 refers to Rav Phineas of Jaffa. The Babylonian Talmud (compiled 5th century) in Megillah 16b mentions Rav Adda Demin of Jaffa. Leviticus Rabbah (compiled between 5th and 7th century) mentions Rav Nachman of Jaffa. The Pesikta Rabbati (written in the 9th century) in chapter 17 mentions R. Tanchum of Jaffa.Medieval PeriodJaffa Museum in Old Saray building
A fairly unimportant Roman and Byzantine locality during the first centuries of Christianity, Jaffa did not have a bishop until the fifth century AD. In 636 Jaffa was conquered by Arabs. Under Islamic rule, it served as a port of Ramla, then the provincial capital. Jaffa was captured in 1100 after the First Crusade, and was the centre of the County of Jaffa and Ascalon, one of the vassals of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. One of its counts, John of Ibelin, wrote the principal book of the Assizes of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. During the period of the Crusades, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela (1170) sojourned at Jaffa, and found there just one Jew, a dyer by trade.
Saladin conquered Jaffa in 1187. The city surrendered to King Richard the Lionheart on September 10, 1191, three days after the Battle of Arsuf. Despite efforts by Saladin to reoccupy the city in July 1192 (Battle of Jaffa) the city remained in the hands of the Crusaders. On September 2, 1192, the Treaty of Jaffa was formally signed, guaranteeing a three-year truce between the two armies. Frederick II fortified the castle of Jaffa and had two inscriptions carved into city wall, one Latin and the other Arabic. The inscription, deciphered in 2011, describes him as the "Holy Roman Emperor" and bears the date "1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah." In 1268, Jaffa was conquered by Egyptian Mamluks, led by Baibars.
In the 14th century, the city was completely destroyed for fear of new crusades. According to the traveler Cotwyk, Jaffa was a heap of ruins at the end of the 16th century.Ottoman PeriodJewish pre-school, c. 1890sBoatmen waiting to land passengers, c. 1911
In 1515 Jaffa was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I. The seventeenth century saw the beginning of the re-establishment of churches and hostels for Christian pilgrims en route to Jerusalem and the Galilee. During the eighteenth century the coastline around Jaffa was often besieged by pirates and this led to the inhabitants relocating to Ramleh and Lydd where they relied on messages from a solitary guard house to inform them when ships were approaching the harbour. The landing of goods and passengers was notoriously difficult and dangerous. Until well into the twentieth century, ships had to rely on teams of oarsmen to bring their cargo ashore.
On March 7, 1799 Napoleon I of France captured the town in what became known as the Siege of Jaffa, ransacked it, and killed scores of local inhabitants. Napoleon ordered the massacre of thousands of Muslim soldiers who were imprisoned having surrendered to the French. Napoleon's deputy commissioner of war Moit described it thus:"On 10 March 1799 in the afternoon, the prisoners of Jaffa were marched off in the midst of a vast square phalanx formed by the troops of General Bon... The Turks, walking along in total disorder, had already guessed their fate and appeared not even to shed any tears... When they finally arrived in the sand dunes to the south-west of Jaffa, they were ordered to halt beside a pool of yellowish water. The officer commanding the troops then divided the mass of prisoners into small groups, who were led off to several different points and shot... Finally, of all the prisoners there only remained those who were beside the pool of water. Our soldiers had used up their cartridges, so there was nothing to be done but to dispatch them with bayonets and knives. ... The result ... was a terrible pyramid of dead and dying bodies dripping blood and the bodies of those already dead had to be pulled away so as to finish off those unfortunate beings who, concealed under this awful and terrible wall of bodies, had not yet been struck down."
Many more died in an epidemic of bubonic plague that broke out soon afterwards. The governor who was appointed after these devastating events, Muhammad Abu-Nabbut, commenced wide-ranging building and restoration work in Jaffa, including the Mahmoudiya Mosque and Sabil Abu Nabbut. During the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine, Jaffa was besieged for forty days by "mountaineers" in revolt against Ibrahim Pasha.
Residential life in the city was reestablished in the early nineteenth century. In 1820 Isaiah Ajiman of Istanbul built a synagogue and hostel for the accommodation of Jews on their way to the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias and Safed. This area became known as Dar al-Yehud (Arabic for "the house of the Jew"); and was the basis of the Jewish community in Jaffa. The appointment of Mahmud Aja as Ottoman governor marked the beginning of a period of stability and growth for the city, interrupted by the 1832 conquest of the city by Muhammed Ali of Egypt.
By 1839 at least 153 Sephardi Jews were living in Jaffa. The community was served for fifty years by Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi from Ragusa. Shortly after Ashkenazi Jews joined them from Europe.Seal of the Jewish community of Jaffa (1892), bearing the biblical phrase: "Unto the Great sea shall be your coast"House of Simon the Tanner, Jaffa, 1891
The city's growth resumed after the 1842 return of the Levant to Ottoman rule, courtesy of the combined efforts of the British and French navies. The city walls were dismantled in 1872. American missionary Ellen Clare Miller, visiting Jaffa in 1867, reported that the town had a population of 'about 5000, 1000 of these being Christians, 800 Jews and the rest Moslems.'
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the population of Jaffa had swelled considerably. A group of Jews left Jaffa for the sand dunes to the north, where in 1909 they held a lottery to divide the lots acquired earlier. The settlement was known at first as Ahuzat Bayit (Hebrew: אחוזת בית), but an assembly of its residents changed its name to Tel Aviv on 21 May 1910. Other Jewish suburbs to Jaffa were founded at about the same time. In 1904, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1864–1935) moved to Palestine and took up the position of chief rabbi of Jaffa. In 1917, the Ottoman authorities expelled the entire civilian population. While the Muslim evacuees were allowed to return before long, the Jewish evacuees remained in camps (and some in Egypt) until after the British conquest.Further information: Battle of Jaffa
During the course of their campaign through Palestine and the Sinai against the Ottomans, the British took Jaffa in November 1917 although it remained under observation and fire from the Ottomans. The battle of Jaffa in late December 1917 pushed back the Ottoman forces securing Jaffa and the line of communication between it and Jerusalem (which had been taken on 11 December.Under the British MandateBritish soldiers outside Jaffa municipality buildingAlhambra Cinema, 1937
After the British took over the area, frequent tensions arose between the Jewish and Arab populations of the city. A wave of Arab attacks during 1920 and 1921 caused many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv, initially a desolate and marginal Jewish neighbourhood north to Jaffa. The Jaffa riots in 1921, (known in Hebrew as Meoraot Tarpa) began with a May Day parade that turned violent. Arab rioters attacked Jewish residents and buildings. The Hebrew author Yosef Haim Brenner was killed in the riots. At the end of 1922, Jaffa had 32,000 residents and Tel Aviv, 15,000. By 1927, the population of Tel Aviv was up to 38,000. The Jews of Jaffa lived on the outskirts of Jaffa, close to Tel Aviv, whereas the old city was predominantly Arab.
The 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, also known as the Great Arab uprising, inflicted great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa. On April 19, 1936, the Arab leadership of Palestine declared a general strike which paralyzed the economy. The strike began in the Port of Jaffa, which had become a symbol of Arab resistance. Military reinforcements were brought in from Malta and Egypt to subdue the rioting which spread throughout the country. Jaffa's old city, with its maze of homes, winding alleyways and underground sewer system, provided an ideal escape route for the rioters fleeing the British army. In May, municipal services were cut off, the old city was barricaded, and access roads were covered with glass shards and nails. In June, British bombers dropped boxes of leaflets in Arabic requesting the inhabitants to evacuate that same day. On the evening of June 17, 1936, 1,500 British soldiers entered Jaffa and a British warship sealed off escape routes by sea. The British Royal Engineers blew up homes from east to west, leaving an open strip that cut through the heart of the city from end to end. On June 29, security forces implemented another stage of the plan, carving a swath from north to south. The mandatory authorities claimed the operation was part of a "facelift" of the old city.
In 1945, Jaffa had a population of 101,580, of whom 53,930 were Muslims, 30,820 were Jews and 16,800 were Christians. The Christians were mostly Greek Orthodox and about one sixth of them were Uniate. One of the most prominent members of the Arab Christian community was the Arab Orthodox publisher of Filastin, Issa Daoud El-Issa.1947 UN Partition Plan and 1948 War
In 1947, the UN Special Commission on Palestine recommended that Jaffa be included in the planned Jewish state. Due to the large Arab majority, however, it was instead designated as part of the Arab state in the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
Following the inter-communal violence which broke out following the passing of the UN partition resolution the mayors of Jaffa and Tel Aviv tried to calm their communities. One of the main concerns for the people of Jaffa was the protection of the citrus fruit export trade which had still not reached its pre-Second World War highs. In February Jaffa's Mayor, Yussuf Haykal, contacted David Ben-Gurion through a British intermediary trying to secure a peace agreement with Tel Aviv. But both Ben Gurion's Haganah and the commander of the militia in Jaffa were opposed.
At the beginning of 1948 Jaffa's defenders consisted of one Brigade of around 400 men organised by the Muslim Brotherhood.Ruins of the 'Serrani' after the Irgun bomb attack
On 4 January 1948 the Lehi detonated a truck bomb outside the 3-storey 'Serrani', Jaffa's Ottoman built Town Hall, killing 26 and injuring hundreds. The driver was reported to be wearing the uniform of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
On April 25, 1948, Irgun launched an offensive on Jaffa. This began with a mortar bombardment which went on for three days during which twenty tons of high explosive were fired into the town. On April 27 the British Government, fearing a repetition of the mass exodus from Haifa the week before, ordered the British Army to confront the Irgun and their offensive ended. Simultaneously the Haganah had launched Operation Chametz which overran the villages East of Jaffa and cut the town off from the interior.
The population of Jaffa on the eve of the attack was between 50,000 - 60,000, with some 20,000 people having already left the town. 'Then a strange phenomenon was revealed before our eyes: the mass flight from Jaffa. Arab civilians and a variety of "Arab" fighters suddenly began to leave the town in panic'. By 30 April there were 15,000 - 25,000 remaining. In the following days a further 10,000 - 20,000 people fled by sea. When the Haganah took control of the town on May 14 around 4,000 people were left. The town and harbour's warehouses were extensively looted. The remaining Arab residents were forced into the Ajami neighborhood, surrounded by barbed wire, where they were imprisoned for two years.
Initially, the mayor of Jaffa, Yousef Heikal, told the residents not to leave. He left the country for three days. Upon his return, he reported that Jaffa would soon be occupied by Israel and he was leaving with his family. According to an old-time resident, "People then started to leave by ships and trains. All the routes to the Arab countries were opened, and people could leave for free. The Arab countries were responsible. After a week there was nothing left but cats and dogs. We few families who stayed went to live in the orange groves."Boundary demarcation of Tel Aviv-JaffaAlleyway in Jaffa's Old CityBuilding in Jaffa's American colonyJaffa Light
The boundaries of Tel Aviv and Jaffa became a matter of contention between the Tel Aviv municipality and the Israeli government during 1948. The former wished to incorporate only the northern Jewish suburbs of Jaffa, while the latter wanted a more complete unification. The issue also had international sensitivity, since the main part of Jaffa was in the Arab portion of the United Nations Partition Plan, whereas Tel Aviv was not, and no armistice agreements had yet been signed. On 10 December 1948, the government announced the annexation to Tel Aviv of Jaffa's Jewish suburbs, the Arab neighborhood of Abu Kabir, the Arab village of Salama and some of its agricultural land, and the Jewish 'Hatikva' slum. On 25 February 1949, the abandoned Arab village of Sheikh Muanis was also annexed to Tel Aviv. On 18 May 1949, the Arab neighborhood of Manshiya and part of Jaffa's central zone were added, for the first time including land that had been in the Arab portion of the UN partition plan. The government decided on a permanent unification of Tel Aviv and Jaffa on 4 October 1949, but the actual unification was delayed until 24 April 1950 due to concerted opposition from Tel Aviv's mayor Israel Rokach. The name of the unified city was Tel Aviv until 19 August 1950, when it was renamed as Tel Aviv-Yafo in order to preserve the historical name Jaffa.Economy
In the 19th century, Jaffa was best known for its soap industry. Modern industry emerged in the late 1880s. The most successful enterprises were metalworking factories, among them the machine shop run by the Templers that employed over 100 workers in 1910. Other factories produced orange-crates, barrels, corks, noodles, ice, seltzer, candy, soap, olive oil, leather, alkali, wine, cosmetics and ink. Most of the newspapers and books printed in Palestine were published in Jaffa.
In 1859, a Jewish visitor, Dr L.A. Frankl, found sixty-five Jewish families living in Jaffa, 'about 400 soul in all.' Of these four were shoemakers, three tailors, one silversmith and one watchmaker. There were also merchants and shopkeepers and 'many live by manual labour, porters, sailors, messengers, etc.'
Until the mid-19th century, Jaffa's orange groves were mainly owned by Arabs, who employed traditional methods of farming. The pioneers of modern agriculture in Jaffa were American settlers, who brought in farm machinery in the 1850s and 1860s, followed by the Templers and the Jews. From the 1880s, real estate became an important branch of the economy. A 'biarah' (a watered garden) cost 100,000 piastres and annually produced 15,000, of which the farming costs were 5,000: 'A very fair percentage return on the investment.' Water for the gardens was easily accessible with wells between ten and forty feet deep. Jaffa's citrus industry began to flourish in the last quarter of the 19th century. E.C. Miller records that 'about ten million' oranges were being exported annually, and that the town was surrounded by 'three or four hundred orange gardens, each containing upwards of one thousand trees'. Shamuti oranges were the major crop, but citrons, lemons and mandarin oranges were also grown. Jaffa had a reputation for producing the best pomegranates.DemographyPort of Jaffa.
Modern Jaffa has a heterogeneous population of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Jaffa currently has 46,000 residents, of whom 16,000 are Arab citizens of Israel and 30,000 are Jews. The majority of the Arab population lives in the renewed southwestern neighborhood of Ajami. Tabeetha School in Jaffa was founded in 1863. It is owned by the Church of Scotland; it provides education in English to children from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds.Socioeconomic and political problems
Jaffa suffers from drug problems, high crime rates and violence. Some Arab residents have alleged that the Israeli authorities are attempting to Judaize Jaffa by evicting Arab residents from houses owned by the Amidar government-operated public housing company. Amidar representatives say the residents are illegal squatters. The 2010 film Port of Memory explores these themes. The Tel Aviv municipality had been accused of trying to erase the city's Arab past. In the early 1950s, many Arabic street names were replaced by Hebrew names.Urban development
From the 1990s onwards, efforts have been made to restore Arab and Islamic landmarks, such as the Mosque of the Sea and Hassan Bek Mosque, and document the history of Jaffa's Arab population. Parts of the Old City have been renovated, turning Jaffa into a tourist attraction featuring old restored buildings, art galleries, theaters, souvenir shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and promenades. Many artists have moved their studios from Tel Aviv to the Old City and its surroundings, such as the Jaffa port, the American–Germany Colony and the flea market. Beyond the Old City and tourist sites, many neighborhoods of Jaffa are poor and underdeveloped. However, real-estate prices have risen sharply due to gentrification projects in al-Ajami and Lev Yafo. The municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is currently working to beautify and modernize the port area.Landmarks Sights and museumsJaffa clock-tower.
The Clock Square with its distinctive clocktower was built in 1906 in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The Saraya (governor's palace) was built in the 1890s. Andromeda rock is the rock to which beautiful Andromeda was chained in Greek mythology. The Zodiac alleys are a maze of restored alleys leading to the harbor. Jaffa Hill is a center for archaeological finds, including restored Egyptian gates, about 3,500 years old. Jaffa Lighthouse is an inactive lighthouse located in the old port.
The Jaffa Museum is located in an 18th century Ottoman building constructed on the remains of a Crusader fortress. In 1811, Abu Nabout turned it into his seat of government. In the late 19th century, the governmental moved to the "New Saraya," and the building was sold to a wealthy Greek-Orthodox family who established a soap factory there. Since the 1960s, it has housed an archaeological museum, which ıs currently closed to the general public.
The Libyan Synagogue (Beit Zunana) was a synagogue built by a Jewish landlord, Zunana, in the 18th century. It was turned into a hotel and then a soap factory, and reopened as a synagogue for Libyan Jewish immigrants after 1948. In 1995, it became a museum.
Other museums and galleries in the area include the Farkash Gallery collection.Churches and monasteries
The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Archangel Michael (Patriarchate of Jerusalem) near Jaffa Port also has Romanian and Russian communities in its compound. The Church of St. Peter and St. Tabitha built in 1894 serves the Russian Orthodox Christian community, with services in Russian and Hebrew; underneath the chapel nearby there is what is believed to be the tomb od St Tabitha.St. Peter's Church in Jaffa
St. Peter's Church is a Franciscan Roman-Catholic basilica and hospice built in the 19th century on the remains of a Crusaders fortress; Napoleon is believed to have stayed there.Easter parade in Jaffa, 2011
Immanuel Church, built 1904, serves today a Lutheran congregation with services in English and Hebrew.MosquesAl-Bahr overlooking Jaffa seashore
Al-Bahr Mosque, overlooking the harbor, is depicted in a painting from 1675 by the Dutch painter Lebrun. It may be Jaffa's oldest existing mosque, although the original date of construction is unknown and changes to the structure have been made since then, such as the addition of a second floor and reconstruction of the upper part of the minaret. It was used by fishermen and sailors frequenting the port, and residents of the surrounding area. According to local legend, the wives of sailors living in Jaffa prayed there for the safe return of their husbands. The mosque was renovated in 1997.
Mahmoudia Mosque was built in 1812 by Abu Nabbut, governor of Jaffa from 1810-1820. Outside the mosque is a water fountain (sabil) for pilgrims. Nouzha Mosque on Jerusalem Boulevard is Jaffa's main mosque today.Archaeology
Excavations on Rabbi Pinchas Street in the flea market have revealed walls and water conduits dating to the Iron Age, Hellenistic period, early Islamic period, Crusader period and Ottoman era. A limestone slab (50 cm × 50 cm or 20 in × 20 in) engraved with a menorah discovered on Tanchum Street is believed to be the door of a tomb.TransportationJaffa promenadeJaffa flea market
Jaffa is served by the Dan Bus Company, which operates buses to various neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and Bat Yam. The Red Line of the planned Tel Aviv Light Rail will cross Jaffa north to south along Jerusalem Boulevard. Jaffa Railway Station was the first railway station in the Middle East. It served as the terminus for the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway. The station opened in 1891 and closed in 1948. In 2005-2009, the station was restored and converted into an entertainment and leisure venue.Cultural references
Clash of the Titans (1981 film) is set in ancient Joppa. The 2009 Oscar-nominated film Ajami is set in modern Jaffa.Notable residentsShmuel Yosef Agnon