Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth -

Nazareth’s souq

Unlike the other galleries, these are mainly personal photographs from my time spent in Nazareth. I hope they convey a little of the atmosphere of Israel’s only Palestinian city, what I think of as a “de-developed” space, a term American academic Sara Roy coined in a different context, when talking about Gaza under Israeli occupation. The souq (old market), where I lived for many years, includes wonderful old Palestinian buildings, including the palaces of Nazareth’s once-wealthy landowners, that are now falling into chronic disrepair…

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Little stands in the way of these buildings eventual destruction: the choked space of the souq offers few entrepreneurial opportunities for Nazarenes; families cannot afford the upkeep of these large buildings; there have been few tourists who might appreciate the souq’s ambience and reward service providers in the area; the local municipality, which has been starved of funds by the government, is not in a position to restore the homes; and Israeli law, protecting only buildings constructed before 1700, gives homeowners a free hand to do what they like with them.

Many of the souq’s homes are now rented by poor Nazareth families who often make their own quick-fix solutions to the crumbling architecture. In Nablus, similar palatial homes are being preserved and repaired by the United Nations Development Programme. Nazareth, on the other hand, must rely on the Israeli government’s largesse. The signs, so far, are not hopeful.

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