Jaffa: Neighborly noise dispute turns nasty (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Yoav Zitun Published: 12.09.10, 23:14)
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Hundreds of Jaffa Muslims, Christians to protest against complaints
from neighbors over noisy churches and mosques. ´It´s an integral
part of city, these complaints reek of racism,´ protesters say
Jaffa Arabs against Jewish neighbors: Hundreds will protest on Friday
in front of the exclusive Jaffa Andromeda Hills residential project
to convey their message: ´Jews endanger religious activity in Jaffa,
we will not be silenced´.
The protest, scheduled for last week and postponed due to the Carmel
fires, is against Jewish residents who have complained that the
muezzin´s calls in the mosques and the bells from the church are
disturbing the peace in the neighborhood.
Over the last few weeks, the heads of mosques were summoned to
the ´Green Police´ offices of the Ministry of Environmental
Protection. There it was claimed that the muezzin´s calls to prayer,
which can be heard from the Siksik mosque and the Jebalya mosque in
the Ajami neighborhood, disturb the other residents in the area and
make too much noise.
St. George Church on Louis Pasteur street also came under scrutiny.
Police officers are sent there regularly during prayer time to
request that the priest and that the scouts choir lower their voices,
because of complaints from Jewish residents in the area.
The issue came to a head last week when Yoav Shnitzer, a lawyer
representing the residents of Andromeda Hills which is adjacent to
the church, approached the church´s management. He threatened that if
the noise continued, lawsuits would be brought against those
responsible for the devaluation of the property.
´Church here since 1870´
The steps taken by the Andromeda Hills residents have led the Muslim
and Christian communities in Jaffa to join together and demonstrate
in a vocal protest march around the exclusive project.
"The last time the police came I told them: ´Are you crazy? Do you
think I would go to the police over a cantor´s prayers?´" Chairman of
the Jaffa Orthodox Church Association Gabriel Cadis noted
angrily. "This isn´t Ramat Aviv or Ramat Ha´sharon."
Cadis told Ynet that the church had been there since 1870, long
before the Andromeda Hills project. This is a major threat to
religious activity, he said, and an attempt to prevent freedom of
religion which is prescribed in the Basic Laws.
´Integral part of city´
There are 25,000 Arabs in Jaffa today. Some 7,000 of them are
Christians; 5,000 belong to the Orthodox Church. Leaders of the
Muslim community, including local council member Omar Siksik, will be
taking part in Friday´s protest. Siksik was interrogated by
the ´Green Police´ due to complaints made over the noise in the
mosque his family has been running since 1883.
Next week, Siksik is to meet with the ´Green Police´ in order to try
and solve the conflict. "They need to understand that even if we
lower the decibel level, the muezzin´s call will still be heard in
nearby buildings in the early hours of the morning," he said.
"Mosques and churches are an integral part of the Jaffa scenery, just
as much as the old framers and cobblers. There are many veteran
Jewish residents who live near the mosque and with whom we have had
good neighborly relations for years; they aren´t bothered by the
"There is no doubt that these complaints reek of racism. Anyone who
comes to live in Jaffa and thinks there are no mosques or churches,
is an ignoramus who should go live somewhere else".
´The noise in intolerable´
Mr. Shnitzer, representative of the Andromeda Hills residents,
explained the other side of the story to Ynet: "The State has rules
against noise disturbance, and it doesnít matter if these
disturbances are 500 years old.
"We understand the sensitivity of the issue, and for the most part,
there are good people there, but after being there a few times, the
noise is simply intolerable. Legally, when there is a nuisance or
injustice then an attempt to sue those responsible is allowed."
Shnitzer claims that the church has yet to answer his calls. "We
cannot continue under the precincts of the community committee," he
says. "If it doesn´t end well, we will have to go to court and no one
wants this to end up there. The main problem is the use of
loudspeakers by the church choir. Every resident in Tel Aviv and in
Israel is entitled to live in peace and quiet.
"Our goal is to end this in the best way possible, in a neighborly
and friendly fashion, and we fail to understand why the noise levels
can´t be lowered. Every expert we have brought in, on a number of
times, has stated that the noise levels exceeded the standard."
(Copyright 2010 © Yedioth Internet 12/09/10)
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