The Kalandya-Meter and the Aboulafia Index

Sep 17, 2007 Published under Definitions by DL, Middle East


Tamar Hermann produces a very valuable "Peace Index" that tracks vital signs in the mood of Israelis and Palestinians with regards to attitudes about ending the conflict, and moods and opinions regarding Israeli-Arab peace making.  Here, for example, is their Peace Index for July 2007.

But short of their professional work, I have four empirical indices that gage the mood of the people and the beat of the region surprisingly well.

The first is the Aboulafia Index.  Aboulafia is an Arab bakery in the entrance of Jaffo that used to be extraordinarily popular among Israelis in the early 90s.  You had to stand in line for several minutes to get one of their warm pieces of bread right out of their wood oven.  If you visited it in 2001 or 2002, it was stark: there was not one Israeli Jew to be found there, or for that matter almost anyone else.  Jews just did not visit Arab establishments in Jaffo those days. 

Today, Aboulafia is not what it used to be but it is certainly back to having a steady clientele, and Jaffo itself is becoming a very popular neighborhood, almost too popular as far as some Arab locals are concerned, who feel they will be pushed out by higher real estate pressures, akin to the pressures Hispanics are feeling in Spanish Harlem in Manhattan, and blacks are feeling in West Harlem.  But overall, at least as far as Jewish-Arab relations are concerned in Jaffo, things are significantly better than they used to be in 2002.  There is still a long way to go and there was a tough low after the divisive Lebanon war last summer, but some slow healing is taking place.

Then there is the Kalandia (or Qalandya) Checkpoint.  At times desolate and phantom-like, it is now bustling like never before.  The parking lot of Kalandya is my Kalandya-Meter to the state of business affairs in Ramallah.  Judging from my last few visits, the West Bank is witnessing a lot of activity and movement.  You couldn’t even find a spot, whereas in the lot was practically empty.  Here are a couple bad shots of the Kalandia parking lot:

 IMG_0099 IMG_0100 IMG_0101 IMG_0102


By contrast, Erez Checkpoint is quiet, quiet, underlying the paucity of activity and transit between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Ben Gurion Airport’s level of activity, and hotel occupancy rates, are of course very good measurements of the perception of travelers about the safety of coming to Israel, though they have to be adjusted for seasonality.  Overall 2007 is marking steady increases in visits and travel.

Israeli Restaurant Activity is another important Index to sense the mood and safety comfort of Israelis. 

In Jerusalem, things are relatively quiet, better than in the early 2000s, but nothing like in Tel Aviv.

Nowadays, if you don’t have a reservation at a restaurant in Tel Aviv, you may not get a table.  Israelis are determined to live their lives.

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