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By Fakhri Geday
Before1948, Jaffa was the pride of Palestine, the jewel of the Holy Land, the bride of the sea, and the cradle of tolerance. It was the womb that gave birth to most Palestinian nationalist personalities who raised the flag of resistance and independence: among them were Shafi’ Il-Hout, Michel Mitri, and Alfred Roch. Its citizens deeply believed that the secret of happiness is rooted in freedom and that the secret of freedom is the fruit of the pursuit of justice, resistance, and nationalist pride. Thus Jaffa prided itself on being the sceptre of the Holy Land.
Its citizens flourished in the field of economy and became the pioneers of commerce; germinating and excelling in trade, they became the elite of their homeland. Jaffa engulfed the media, the press, and the newspapers. The most famous newspapers, Falastin and Difa’a, were established in Jaffa. The El-Issa family founded Falastin newspaper in 1911. The Dr. Fouad Dajani Hospital was a landmark in the history of Jaffa. The soap factory of Hanna Domiani in the old city of Jaffa was also a landmark in commerce and the regional soap industry. These are only a few of the many commercial and professional enterprises and institutions of Jaffa.
The various clubs in Jaffa, as well as its mosques and churches, are themselves a nostalgia that can never be forgotten. I cherish the glorious days I spent with my friends at memorable places: the Collège des Frères; St. Anthony’s Club; the neighbourhood of Saknet el Hreish, where as children we used to play “Policemen and Thieves”; and the vast compound of the famous “Cliff Hotel” in Ajami, which was under the supervision of the Barakat family. I will always remember and cherish our friendship with the Barakat and Domiani families and the days I spent with George and Nicolas Domiani at the soap factory.
You can be uprooted from your native land, but you can never uproot the love and attachment to your homeland that lie deep within your heart and memory.
Fakhri Geday is a citizen and landmark of Jaffa. Born at the crossroads of Ottoman and British rule, he took charge of his father’s Al-Kamal Pharmacy at the height of Israeli occupation and nursed his parents through the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the growing demise of Jaffa. He raised a family and helped to sustain Arab existence in the city as it slowly succumbed to Jewish invasion. He is now a grandfather of four who spends his days with his wife, Afaf, and their eldest son, Youssef, at the only remaining Arab-owned pharmacy in Jaffa.
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