Southern Neighborhood, Tayibe

“Double homicide in Tayibe. Two men were shot to death from a moving vehicle. The police have reached the crime scene and now searching for the shooters.” Yet another violent episode in Tayibe, one of many. This is the lens through which the average Israeli comes to know this Israeli Arab city.

Tayibe was officially declared a city in 1990, but its mentality remained a village, a traditional place with strict social rules. In terms of the urban planning as well, Tayibe remained low scale and piecemeal, and the extra funding allotted to places designated as “city” does not manifest itself in infrastructure or municipal services. And indeed, a stroll through the city gives an impression that the place has grown without proper planning or order.The result is an illegible environment that is difficult to navigate. However, unlike the (lack of) urban planning within the city, Tayibe’s borders are clear and sharp, as they are restricted by its master plan, preventing the city from growing outwards as a manifestation of the ethno-political atmosphere in Israel. From the city’s southern edge, the residential towers of the Jewish village of Zur Izhak are visibly clear, marking Tayibe’s south boundary.

The visit in Tayibe was different from our other tours. We were assisted by Nasrin and Sajed, local residents, to navigate around the city. We visited the historic center and then a new neighborhood in the southern part of the city. It was difficult to grasp the new neighborhood’s boundaries and the imbalanced distribution of infrastructure and paved roads created a feeling of arbitrary, random buildings spread out across the space. A sharp contrast was noticeable between the ostentatious, extravagant private homes and the poorly maintained public domain. Nobody walks on those streets and only occasionally could we spot any movement in one of the well manicured, fenced-off yards.

Exhausted from the heat, we got back to Nasrin and Sajed’s house, and there, over lunch, we discussed the future of Tayibe as they see it. Sajed is alarmed by the direction the city is heading, especially now, when he has two young daughters. His response is to start, or at least try to start, a cultural revolution in Tayibe. In order to do so, he formed a voluntary association named Tashreen with the goal of encouraging cultural activities in the city. “In Tayibe we have dozens of luxurious mosques”, he says, “but nothing other than that. No public debate, no creative work, nothing. We need to teach our children who they are, their identity, their culture”.

How to cite:
‘The Israeli Habitat: Southern Neighborhood, Tayibe’, Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design,
Tel Aviv University, Israel, July 2011.