The fishermen of Jaffa: 'Brothers' now afraid of each other

Jaffa, Israel, fishermen
Two men renovate an old fishing boat during an evening in the port of Jaffa [Al Jazeera]
A fisherman in Jaffa

Jaffa, Israel - Johny Saba, an amiable 58-year-old fisherman, longs for life in the ancient Mediterranean port to return to how it was before the war.

He hoists his young child up into his arms as a colleague repairs a rickety wooden fishing boat in the stillness of the evening.

The shipyard is calm; only a handful of people come and go. Behind Johny, a tattooed, stocky, bald fisherman fixes a tangle of fishing net; he listens to no music, instead, free of distractions, he is lost in his thoughts as he methodically threads the meshed fabric through his hands.

“Before the war, there was no problem here; Jews and [Palestinians] could work together,” Johny says before letting out a sigh.

On the weekends, he says, thousands of people would come to buy fresh fish from local family businesses that had often existed for generations.

He paints a picture of a community of fishermen - Christians, Jews and Muslims co-existing, working along the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast, bound together by the toil and experience of their trade rather than separated from one another by the tensions and divisions that existed between their communities.

“Here we are all like brothers; If everywhere was like Jaffa, it would be paradise,” he reflects.

Source: Al Jazeera