Vegetables behind the City Walls

Part 2: With a little help from a friend

Expanding Jerusalem

Expanding Jerusalem

One of the members of the new Mea She’arim’s council, rabbi Moshe Graf feels inspired by his friend’s success. Graf organizes a meeting with a bunch of settlers. The only question on the table is: ‘Can we do what Rivlin did, and establish a new neighborhood’? The answer is a unanimous: ‘Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Let’s call ours Beit Ya’akov!’ That’s the spirit I love!

Let’s have a look in the brand new Beit Ya’akov to see what they have come up with. I have to admit: not much. ‘We will build 70 houses’, Graf and his friends proclaimed time and time again. However, all I see are a couple of houses, some foundations and lots of desolate emptiness. A poorly dressed settler comes up to me and says: ‘I cannot pay the cost. People stay away. Arabs try to attack us. Visitors from Jaffa call us crazy. 1877 is definitely not our year.’ I put my hand on his shoulder: ‘I can imagine you regret living here’. Firmly he pushes away my hand and with fiery eyes he makes his point: ‘Oh no, not at all. This – is – our – land. We will stay here and make it a success. Period.’

Vegetables behind the City Walls

Vegetables behind the City Walls

On Jaffa Road Graf sees his example and inspirator, the one and only Yosef Rivlin. ‘I have a problem, Yosef. My Beit Ya’akov is too far from the Old City for fruit and vegetables.’ Rivlin agrees: ‘Indeed Moshe, you can’t buy food outside the walls. We have to find alternatives so that our residents won’t have to travel all the way to the Old City, while enduring Arab abuses. In the end we want them to spend their money right here. Let’s see if there is a market for a market.’ Posters announce the coming of a food market in the area. A test to see if there is any reaction. Now it’s time to see what happens.

Come and sell

Come and sell

Very slowly Arab merchants from surrounding villages like Lifta and Ain Karim come to sell their fruits and vegetables in this area. In turn Jewish customers find their way to the makeshift market. Rivlin and Graf make the cautious conclusion that the first contours of the market are visible.

NEXT: An emerging market and some wealthy men.


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