Last month, NIF Media & Policy Director Elisheva Goldberg won a Rockower award for excellence in journalism for a magazine article she wrote for Jewish Currents titled “Road to Nowhere” exploring the legal history of unrecognized Arab villages in Israel.
The Rockower award, granted by the American Jewish Press Association, is awarded annually in various categories. “Road to Nowhere” won first place for magazine writing in the category of “Social Justice and Humanitarian Work.”
The award notes touted the piece as combining “meticulous reporting with great writing to shine a spotlight on a problem involving housing and basic rights that has gone unsolved for too long.”
The piece appeared in Jewish Currents’ fall 2020 Housing issue. It begins with a description of the town of Dahmash:
IN ISRAEL there is a town where the people have no addresses. Some 800 people live there, in 130 buildings on 55 acres, just 20 minutes southeast of Tel Aviv, in the shadow of the high rises of Lod and Ramle. But the town, for all official purposes, does not exist. Because it does not exist, it looks nothing like most of the cities that span Israel’s populated center. The villagers pile up their garbage because no municipality collects it. There is no hookup to Israel’s state electrical grid; before one resident paid for a private line, the entire village operated on gas. The village has no streetlights, no proper sewage system. Every time it rains, says the town’s attorney, the town transforms into “an Arab Venice.” This town is called Dahmash.
Over 30 years ago, Farida Shaban married a man who was born in Dahmash and went to live with him. In 2003, they built a house there. Because it had no official permit, the house was immediately slapped with a demolition order. For four years, they waited. Then, early one morning, the authorities came. Shaban was getting ready to take her kids to school in nearby Lod when she saw a large group of police officers amassing nearby. She made her way back to her house with her children and locked the doors. At the time, her youngest daughter was three. The kids, she said, refused to leave the house. The older ones told the officers, “If you want to destroy it, destroy it while [we’re in it].”