Peace Cycle Takes Bikers Through West Bank

peace-cycleWe’ve posted here before about a Walk About Love, a hike for Israel and a bike ride to benefit Israel’s environment. This October, get a more regional view through Peace Cycle, a bike trip from Amman to Jerusalem.

While the rough terrain and stunning views will certainly be rewarding, Peace Cycle’s main purpose is activism on behalf of Palestinians. The trail will start in refugee camps in Jordan, wend through the  Arab villages outside of Israeli cities Haifa and Nazereth, and then hit the major urban centers of the West Bank – Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. Jerusalem is last.

Proceeds from the bike ride will go to the Oyooni Mobile Eye Clinic, which helps treat glaucoma and diabetes complications in the West Bank.

As a warning to potential bikers – the Peace Cycle is quite adamant about its Middle East stance, having biked to the European Parliament from the Hague to protest Israel’s human rights records and demand suspension of trade relations.

However, the group has been running bike rides through the Middle East through 2004 and may be a great way to see the region on an intimate level.

If you want to sign up, the trip will be from Oct. 9-23, 2009. More info here.

(Photo from PeaceCycle.com).

::Thepeacecycle.com

3. Gentrification in Jaffa
In political Israel, even gentrification takes on nationa tones. Yuval Tamari teaches at the public Weitzman school in Jaffa, which for years only had Jewish students. But in the last few years Arab families have moved into the school’s neighborhood, and Jewish parents worry that their children won’t feel at home when they can’t understand the banter at the playground. Tamari has been part of the school committee that decided to diversify the environment by hiring Arab teachers, celebrating Jewish and Arab holidays, and maintaining a 50-50 quota.

In the traditionally Arab Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa, once neglected and run-down neighborhoods have caught the attention of wealthy Jews, who are renovating classic homes and building gated apartment complexes along the shore. A yeshiva just opened in the neighborhood as well. As Ajami grows in prestige and desirability, Israel has begun to clamp down on building codes, and has demolished about 500 homes built or expanded without permits over the past few decades.

In a 1,200 word piece accompanied by photos, I will explore the two sides of changing neighborhoods in Jaffa, and how Jews and Arabs are adapting to or fighting the new living arrangements. Interviews will include Yuval Tamari, Arab leaders in Jaffa, members of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa city council and both Jewish and Arab residents.

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