According to a recent article, residents of Tel Aviv, tired of the life of violence they have endured for decades, are determined to make the latest peace initiative work.
The story must refer to the latest Rabin Square protest in favor of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan, right? Wrong.
The article is actually from The Gleaner, the Jamaican daily, and the Tel Aviv it refers to is a gang-ruled, violence-infested neighborhood in the capital city of Kingston. Apparently, members of rival gangs in the area are now sitting down and trying to work things out through the facilitation of the Kingston Central Police superintendent Victor Hamilton.
The longstanding conflict in Kingston’s Tel Aviv stems from rivalry dating back to the 1970s between gangs in that neighborhood loyal to the People’s National Party and gangs backing the Jamaica Labor Party whose turf was the adjacent Southside enclave.
“The decades of violence has taken a heavy toll on the community with deteriorating housing stock, abandoned factories and business places underlining the poverty in the area,” states the Gleaner article.
So, would members of Kingston’s Jewish community have any idea why this downtrodden area the city is named after the first modern, Hebrew city? It seems not.
Even Ainsley Henriques, the 75-year-old de facto Jamaican Jewish community leader and historical authority has no idea how the name came about.
“People give areas in the city names. We call these ‘yard names,’” he explained to The Times of Israel. “This name has nothing to do with Israel, as far as I know.”
Henriques surmises that “Tel Aviv,” which is how the rough neighborhood has been called for the past 25 to 30 years, might have taken hold when a gang leader heard or read something about the Israeli city and identified with it.
“Maybe it had to do with the First Intifada, but I really don’t know. I never really sat down to question it,” he said.
What Henriques is sure of is that no Jews, whose history in Jamaica goes back to the 17th century, have ever lived in what is now known as Tel Aviv. However, he himself drives through the neighborhood rather regularly. “Kingston is less dangerous than the perception of it,” he asserted.
Tel Aviv-Yafo has nearly three-dozen official twin cities around the world. Kingston is not among them. Nonetheless, the attempts at peacemaking in the Jamaican capital’s Tel Aviv could perhaps serve as inspiration for the real deal.
What does Mayor Ron Huldai and his team members think about this?
“The Municipality does not have anything to say on the matter,” said Tel Aviv international press director Mira Marcus.