Tag Archives: palestine

The French Ambassador Residence in Jaffa



The French Résidence at Jaffa

The French Résidence at Jaffa

The Residence of the Ambassador of France is located in the Jaffa neighborhood of Ajami. It is a beautiful Bauhaus building in Modern style, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

This villa was designed and built in the years 1936-1938 by an architect named Yitzhak Rapoport. In 1949, the house was sold to the French Republic by the architect, who then transferred the amount of money he received to Ahmed Rahim, its owner who was living in Beirut.

Muhammed al-Rahim (Abu Hassan), an Arab notable from Jaffa, attended the Rotary Club where he met Jews, Arabs and Britishs. He became friendly with Yitzhak Rapoport, a well known and respected Jewish architect born in Ukraine, who built the French and the Dajani Hospitals in Jaffa. Y. Rapoport specialized in Modern International Style and Ahmed Rahim asked him to build a house for him in the neighborhood of Ajami.

The house of Ahmed Rahim would be built according to modernist criteria features, yet it would retain the ideology of a traditional Muslim family home in which public and private spaces were separated, as were rooms for women and men.

During the British Mandate in the 1920’s and 30’s, there was tension between Jews and Arab and pogroms were a constant threat. Despite that, the friendship of these two men would remain intact.

Times were very difficult for the architect. In order to oversee the building in construction, he had to wear a traditional Arab dress which allowed him to pass the lines separating the two communities and then he was taken to the site by car.

The two had a secret, however. Ahmed Rahim was the treasurer of the Arab Organization responsible for perpetrating attacks against Jews and Rapoport was a member of the secret service, the Haganah.

When the 1948 war broke out and the Arabs were defeated, Ahmed Rahim was a signatory to the surrender of Jaffa and decided to leave to Lebanon.  He entrusted the keys and title to his house only to Rapoport, in whom he had great confidence and considered him a true friend, who would defend its interests.

The building was purchased by the French Government in 1949 for 20,000 Pounds Sterling and became the private Residence of the Ambassador.

Oded Rapoport, son of Yitzhak, has himself become an architect. He said that every new tenant of the house wanted to carry out some changes and improvement in the villa.

Oded Rapoport was asked in the 80’s by a wealthy Palestinian from Gaza to build his villa. The first Intifada made it difficult for the architect who could not get to the construction site. Like his father, means were put in place and an ambulance of the Red Cross discretely drove him to the building site .


                      The Residence offers annual Operation ‘Open house’ ‘to the public.

The west corner of the résidence

The west corner of the résidence






The amazing Bialik street – Tel-aviv

Bialik street

Bialik street

Bialik Street is located in the heart of Tel Aviv. It begins on Allenby Street and ends with Bialik Square, where the first City Hall of Tel Aviv was situated.

This is probably one of the most beautiful streets of Tel Aviv. One must take the time to stroll and admire the abundance of beautiful homes and historic monuments, which are a delight to the eyes.

Most of the buildings were renovated in 2009 to celebrate the commemoration of the                                                            Centenary of the City of Tel Aviv.

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

Some of these houses are of great beauty with all architectural styles coming together,                                                     Ecclectic, International, Art Deco and Modernism.

Next to the old Town Hall there is the Felicia Blumental Music Center, dedicated to the pianist of the same name. The building, constructed by the notable Shenkar family, with its orange color also incorporates the Music Library of the city.

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Bialik Street is named after Hayim Nahman Bialik, one of the greatest Hebrew language poets, who today is considered to be the National Poet of Israel.

Born in a religious family he studied in a yeshiva (Talmudic school). After that he moved to Odessa, a mythical city of cultural crossroads , where he met Ahad Ha’am, the spiritual Zionist, who became his friend.

He traveled to Palestine for the first time in 1909. In 1920 his friend Maxim Gorki helped him fleeing the Bolshevik dictatorship and Hayim Bialik left his native Russia.

As a very wealthy man with a great reputation,  he was much in demand by the local figures  and was promised that a street be dedicated to his name, where he would build his house in 1925.

Bialik Street has four museums:

The Bialik House, the Museum of the painter Reuben Rubin, the Bauhaus Museum (house of Shlomo Yafé), and, at the Bialik Square, the new Museum of the History of Tel Aviv – Jaffa, where once stood the Town Hall of Tel Aviv.

Six mayors of Tel Aviv held their functions there : Meir Dizengoff, David Bloch, Moshe Shlush (a few days), Yisrael Rokach, Haim Levanon and Mordechai Namir.

Bialik Street un 1930

Bialik Street un 1930


Cafe Sapphire in 1930

Cafe Sapphire in 1930

At the end of Bialik Street there is a cafe with an unusual history. It was called the Sapphire Café, Café Nightingale, Gan Rave and, for fifteen years Café Bialik.

Since its construction in 1930, it became an attraction for students and intellectuals living in the neighborhood. Hundreds of people would come to admire the fascinating new interior design style of the building. On Thursday evenings, the terrace was used as a dance floor.

During the second Intifada a Palestinian person committed a bomb attack on Cafe Bialik.  One man died and several were wounded. It was quickly reopened, but today it covers only a part of its original surface.

In October 2007, the owner of the building, Danielle Weiss, with the permission of the Mayor of Tel Aviv, wanted to destroy this historical building in order to build a high tower.

How ironic… at that specific time the city was making preparations to celebrate the 100th birthday of the White City….

A petition was then signed by the residents’ associations and friends of Tel Aviv . They succeeded in restraining the decision to tear the cafe down..

Additionally, another scandal  was going to be unveiled: the beautiful mosaic of Nahum Gutman, telling the history of Tel Aviv – Jaffa through time was exposed for many years in the square of the old Town Hall and had disappeared mysteriously!

This mosaic was removed during the renovations of Bialik Square and nobody knew where it was. However, it was found in a very dark and rubble place, ready to be forgotten… This scandal reveals once again that the past has little importance for some notables representing this city.

This piece of art was then installed in a new surrounding between Rothschild Boulevard and Neve tsedek,  at the foot of a tall tower so adored by the Mayor of Tel Aviv …

                       whose dream is…  that Tel Aviv will become a Second New York!


Nahum Gutman mosaic - Bialik Square

Nahum Gutman mosaic – Bialik Square