Thursday, June 26, 2008


There were about thirty guys at Hamooda's Nargila place tonight, all cheering for Turkey, which played beautifully against the invincibly determined Germans. In Palestinian-Israeli Jaffa it's typical to side with the team wearing red, be it Hapo'el Tel-Aviv, associated with left leaning (i.e. pro-Palestinian) Israel, or B'nei Sachnin, which is Palestinian-Israeli to begin with. Tonight too I felt that the support stemmed from a sense of cultural connection. The Arabs of Jaffa look more like the Turks then like the Germans, they share the Turks' cuisine and follow the same religion.

What most of them don't realize is that there's a deep gap in culture between them and the Turks, one that displayed itself strongly tonight. I've been to Nargila joints in turkey and they were full of women. There were religious girls wearing Hijabs exhaling white, apple scented smoke next to modern girls in jeans. In Hamooda's place girls are welcome. I've sat there with Efros, with Osnat, with downtown lover and with several feminine out-of-town guests, but I've never seen a woman there that I did not know and tonight there were indeed none.

There's no shortage of female football fans. The cameras in Basel showed bleachers full of ladies wearing both white and red, waving the German tricolor and the Turkish crescent. Angela Merkel jumped up in joy when Klose opened a 2:1 advantage on the 79th minute. At her parents home near Jerusalem, downtown lover was meanwhile biting her nails in hope for the Turks to get even. When the game ended at 3:2 for Germany, my only condolance was the notion that the biggest football fan I know, Anna Kemper, is rejoicing somewhere in Berlin.

So why was the Jaffa crowd so homogenous? Arab society in Israel and Palestine is just too patriarchal. Living so much within this society, this is one thing I find difficult to come to terms with. I remember being envious when seeing how sexually diverse Istanbul's cafes are. Though I'm sure things are far from perfect for Turkey's women, It turns out it's possible for a Middle Eastern, muslim nation to be more open towards the place of women in society. In Turkey this can't be blamed on occidental, colonialist influence. There's some form of homegrown acceptence of women being out and about there and too little of it at Hamooda's tonight. This may or may not change eventually. In the meantime it's Germany 3, Turkey 2, Jaffa 0.

1 comment:

anna said...

yes, i waqs rejoicing indeed!