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Business Development Tel Aviv

The Arab Riots of the early 20th century was really a catalyst for the development of Tel Aviv.

Before and after World War I the relationship between the Arabs and Jews in the Land of Israel were not the best. However, after World War I and the transfer of control of the land from the Ottomans to the British this relationship became increasingly worse.

It is not my goal to give the reasons for this but rather to talk about the results of this bad relationship.

One of the first things done by the Tel Aviv Jews when they returned from the exile forced upon them by the Ottoman government during World War I, was to bring about the development of their city, Tel Aviv.  Tel Aviv was recognized as a township in 1921 and then as a city in 1934. They hired the famous Scottish town planner, Patrick Geddes, to plan out their city and they began to build and enlarge the city.

Despite the above, commerce and business was mostly conducted by them in Jaffa.

Business Development of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv was a bedroom community of Jaffa.

The opening of new businesses in Tel Aviv was not encouraged. However, this began to change in 1921. Despite rules to the contrary, many Jewish businessmen desired to move their businesses from Jaffa to or nearer to Tel Aviv.

One such businessman, Menachem Gilutz tried to organize a group of businessmen to do this as early as 1920.  The Tel Aviv Committee that ran the town did not agree.

However, Menachem Gilutz did not give up!

Gilutz held a meeting of Jewish business owners in his house in Tel Aviv in the beginning of 1921.  At this meeting it was decided to ask the Tel Aviv Committee to assist them in purchasing lands south of the rail road tracks in order to build a neighborhood commercial center.

This time the Tel Aviv committee agreed.

You may ask, what has all this have to do with the Arab riots? The answer is that not all the Jewish businessmen agreed to move their businesses.  Several plots of land were purchased in Jaffa in order to build more shops.

Development of Tel Aviv

However, the Arab riots of May 1, 1921 changed all that.

On that day Jews living in Jaffa and on the border between the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Zedek , Neve Shalom and the Arab neighborhood of Manshiya, were attacked.  Many Jewish shops and businesses were attacked, pillaged and destroyed. Many Jews from those areas fled their homes and moved into Tel Aviv, living at first in tents. Many of the Jewish businessmen who did not see the urgency to move their businesses before, were now convinced the move was necessary.

Newly preserved building in Tel Aviv

Land was purchased south of the train tracks. A neighborhood called the “New Commercial Center” was built.

The buildings there were of mixed use – shops, offices and residential apartments. The buildings were built attached to one another. This became the center of commerce and trade in Tel Aviv that serviced not only Tel Aviv but all the Jewish settlements in the area.

Map of New Commercial Center, Tel Aviv

The commercial center, which is located between the street Yaffo-Tel Aviv, Wolfson, Ha’aliya and Markolet was run by the businessowners for 37 years. Several years later the neighborhoods of Florentin, Neve Sha’anan, as well as other neighborhoods south of the original neighborhoods of Tel Aviv were built.

By the beginning of the 1930’s Tel Aviv was one of the biggest city in the Land of Israel.

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