The neighborhood Neve Zait lies in the center of Lod, a mixed ethnicity city. While Neve Zait has clearly defined administrative borders, they are difficult to observe in the physical space. When asked about the borders, both residents of the neighborhood and residents of adjacent neighborhoods found them equally difficult to define. A welcome ambiguity: the neighborhoods, although officially distinct, are merged with one another.
The neighborhood, like greater Lod, is part of the Israel Ministry of Construction and Housing’s “Neighborhood Rehabilitation” (Shikum Schunot) program. Despite its nearness to the Gush Dan Metropolis, location in the geographic center of the country, proximity to the Israel’s major international airport, army bases and central highways, the city has earned the image of Tel Aviv’s back yard. Local leadership issues, finite resources and a negative image, paint a gloomy outlook. But reality is more complicated. While one resident didn’t understand why the bulldozers don’t come to give Lod a fresh start, his neighbor says Neve Zait is the best neighborhood in the city.
The complexities of the city required focused observation, including meetings with the local head of the “Neighborhood Rehabilitation” program, multiple visits and interviews with residences. The issue of the mixed character of Lod came up in every conversation; Jewish residents, when asked, expressed substantial conflicts and significant fear. Meir Nitzan the current mayor of Lod, who previously turned Rishon Letzion into one of Israel’s leading cities, cites his substantial experience as legitimization to his optimistic outlook for the future of the city. “There is a beautiful and grand future for Lod. We have no choice other than to learn to live together, Jews and Arabs.”
‘The Israeli Habitat: Neve Zait Neighborhood, Lod, Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design,
Tel Aviv University, Israel, March 2011