Unpublished In Tel-Aviv

Damn.

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I predicted it, but I still can’t believe it. Netanyahu seems to have done better than expected, but only by decimating Bennett’s Jewish Home. Proportionally, as expected; result to be as expected.

I cannot tell you how horrible it feels to say: I told you so.

AverageExitPollResults

AverageExitPollResults

“It Won’t Stop Until We Talk”: a reflection upon the conflict in daily life.

Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

A Memorial to Future Victims of the Conflict – Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

Living in Tel-Aviv, strange things happen to your conception of risk and danger. On the one hand, it is a remarkably safe city – violent crime is surprisingly rare, and people of any gender, age or sexual orientation can walk at any hour of the day or night undisturbed. Yet, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is incredibly dangerous.

We, here, don’t really think about terrorism, becoming blasé about the reminders of its toll, its randomness, that surround us and punctuate our daly lives. I surf by the site of the Dolphinarium nighclub bombing (1/6/2001, 25 dead); I purchase fruit, vegetables, bread and hummus daily at Carmel Market (1/11/2004, 3 dead, 30 injured); my favourite bar is opposite the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street (19/9/2002, 6 killed, 70 wounded); anything and everything is bought at Dizengoff Centre (4/3/1996, 13 killed, 130 wounded).Yet we don’t think about the dead or the danger, we don’t pause at the memorials that litter the city street. Stabbings, bus-bombings, on and on, heard in passing on the radio, passed on the bike. Life goes on, always…

Only the Memorial to the Victims of Terror in Park Yarkon in Tel-Aviv’s North gives me pause, for whereas the sites of attacks speak of atrocities past and personally avoided, the obelixes of black granite, carved with each victim’s name, are pungent with the stench of unfinished business: they are constructed with plenty of space for those not yet murdered. This future-planning is eerie: who’s name will come next? When?

Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

A Memorial to Future Victims of the Conflict – Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

It is that same sense of fatalistic hopelessness that shook me so deeply today as I passed a small, dour box erected on Rotschild Boulevard. Created by a group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, the installation’s tiny windows peered into a box of mirrors, the single grave stone multiplied out into infinity. The simple message on the stone, in English, Arabic and Hebrew: “We don’t want you here.” This wasn’t a memorial to those whose names were already carved into granite, but rather those victims of the conflict yet to come.

"It Won't Stop Till We Talk"

“It Won’t Stop Till We Talk” – Israeli Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace

And that’s the oft-unrecognised kernel of truth: that suicide bombers blow themselves up, that fighter jets drop bombs, that settlers rampage, that guerrillas fire rockets, that border policemen get bored and test their aim; and at the end of every bullet’s journey, every bomb’s blast, every piece of suicide-belt shrapnel, is a life lost, a family devastated, a community lessened. Each new death breeds and spreads more pain, and that agony is all at once personal, and individual, and collective. It retrenches and divides, even as it also should unite us together, on both sides. We have been killing each other; we have been causing each other’s suffering. We have nobody but ourselves to blame.

As those remarkable families have said: “It won’t stop until we talk.” Amen.

Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

A Memorial to Future Victims of the Conflict – Rothschild Blvd, Tel-Aviv, 14/3/15

King Bibi is Dead! Long Live King Bibi! (Or: why the winner will lose and the loser will win; a short primer on the upcoming Israeli election)

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This coming Tuesday, Israel will vote and once the votes are counted, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog will ‘win’ the election, and Bibi Netanyahu will ‘lose’. And yet Bibi will be the next Prime Minister.

Shenkin, Tel-Aviv: "It's Us Or The Left/Only The Likud/Only Netanyahu"

Shenkin, Tel-Aviv: “It’s Us Or The Left/Only The Likud/Only Netanyahu”

It isn’t an exaggeration to state that Bibi Netanyahu is the most hated man in the country right now. Posters everywhere (except those paid for by his party) vilify him by name and in no uncertain terms. An entire movement (Victory 2015) has sprung up with the sole purpose of toppling him. Everybody, of all political stripes, has a reason: the economic destruction of the Israeli middle class; the go-nowhere war with Gaza that ended in… well, nobody knows exactly; his calculated humiliation of Israel’s largest, most faithful and strongest ally; the secret funding of the settlements; the demonisation of the Israeli left; the attacks on the country’s democracy and civil-society; his bankrolling by and proximity to, a rich, fascistic American tycoon; his obsession with Iran; the embarrassing travails of his delusional, dictatorial wife… The list goes on and on and has alienated supporters and political allies alike. He and his Likud Party (10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 21 seats) have bled support, drowning their recent allies, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) Party (latest polls: 5 seats, down from 13) with them.

King George, Tel-Aviv "Herzog/A reliable and considered Prime Minister"

King George, Tel-Aviv “Herzog/A reliable and considered Prime Minister”

You’d think this would be good news for the Labour Party, but that isn’t the case. The once-dominant party in Israel (the party that actually birthed the state, was the state, ran the state with an absolute majority all the way into the 1970s) is floundering for an identity, for a message, for a purpose. So much so that the last leader, Shelly Yachimovitch, point-blank refused to even discuss the existence of the Palestinians during the last election, much to the befuddlement of Labour’s traditional voters to the left. The party has not been electorally compelling since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago, and with this election, that has not changed. Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, their latest leader, should, by rights, be a juggernaut. The sion of a remarkable Israeli family (his relatives are a historical military, social and political who’s who), he has all the right pedigree, but instead of being compelling, he begs the question of where the Labour Party stands if he is the best they can do. His campaign posters make him seem constipated, and his campaign has  been limp and strangely defensive, devoid of any message other than the obvious truism that Bougie is not Bibi. The sad truth is that virtually nobody is voting for Bougie, they are either legacy Labour voters, or rather they are voting against Bibi. This is one of the reasons the Meretz Party (10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 5 seats), ideologically to the left of Labour, is fighting for its own survival: Meretz supporters want anybody but Netanyahu, and mistakenly view a strong Herzog as a viable alternative for Prime Minister.

Namal Tel-Aviv "They call you traitors and you're still undecided?/ Meretz is the Left"

Namal Tel-Aviv “They call you traitors and you’re still undecided?/ Meretz is the Left”

And let’s not waste any breath on Tzipi Livni, Herzog’s partner in the “Zionist Union”: she lived this whole argument once, in 2009, when she ‘won’ the election and spent the entire duration of the government sulking in silent opposition.

No, although a few Likud scragglers may have jumped ship to Labour, most of Bibi’s losses naturally drained to other, more kindred, parties. The more ideological stepped across the breach to Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party (10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 12 seats), the party that makes exclusionary ethnic nationalism sexy and socially acceptable. A succesful tech entrepreneur Bennett was also once a special-ops soldier, and was recently implicated in the 1996 Qana UN compound massacre that helped to bring down the post-Rabin Shimon Peres government. He openly speaks of annexation of the occupied territory and perpetual Jewish rule over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, with ethnically-determined citizenship and rights.

North Jaffa "Lapid raised the cost of housing by 5%/Bennet lowered the cost of living by 5.5%/The facts vote Bennet"

North Jaffa “Lapid raised the cost of housing by 5%/Bennett lowered the cost of living by 5.5%/The facts vote Bennett”

Those who find Bennett to extreme or too ideological, will have found warm welcome in the arms of Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon.

Lapid first: a former boxer and TV host, he set up the Yesh Atid (“There is a Future”) Party and followed his father into the Knesset where he continued his legacy of doing… absolutely nothing. While daddy (“Tommy” Lapid) ran on an anti-religious ticket, the younger Lapi ran a less openly divisive “middle class rights” campaign (in effect the same deal) and then became a damp squib once he was handed the Finance Ministry in the last government. Often believed to be a one-knesset MK he has, unfathomably, managed to guide his party to the big leagues of public support. Yesh Atid are currently predicted to become the third party with a massive 14 seats.

Yair Lapid, leader of “Yesh Atid”

Ex- Likud ex-Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon, unlike Lapid, actually has some achievements to his name. Or, rather: he has one. Rather admirably, he did his job as minister and broke up Israel’s cellular oligopoly in 2009. His Kulanu (“All of Us”) party is tipped to win only 9 seats and is almost guaranteed to be in government. Perhaps then he will be able to do his job again: by breaking up the remaining oligopolies that contribute to Israel’s extreme cost of living crisis.

Shenkin, Tel-Aviv "Kahlon to the Ministry of Finance/Victory For You!"

Shenkin, Tel-Aviv “Kahlon to the Ministry of Finance/Victory For You!”

The other parties of note are:

– The Joint List (10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 13 seats): A new amalgamation of Israel’s Arab parties, and the Jewish-Arab Communists, it is now Israel’s only non-Zionist political party. This interesting phenomenon is a result of the new election threshold law, whereby only parties gaining 3.25% of the vote or above will be represented in the Knesset. Interesting for two reasons: 1. this entity will siphon votes from the left of Meretz, further threatening their chances of breaking through the minimum threshold; 2. this will be the first time Israel’s Arabs will be a functional and mobilised political entity, with a unified voice loud enough to actively push for the interests of Israel’s Arab minority. More on whether they will effectively grasp the opportunity in a minute…

– The religious: Shas (Sepharadi, last poll: 7 seats), United Torah (Ashkenazi, 10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 6 seats), Yahad (Shas splinter group formed by Eli Yishai, 10/3 Knesset Channel Poll: 4 seats). Religious people vote tribally. ‘Nuff said.

Rokach Blvd, Tel-Aviv "Together We Will Win/Yahad"

Rokach Blvd, Tel-Aviv “Together We Will Win/Yahad”

So, why does this break-down dictate that Bibi will almost certainly be the next Prime Minister? Simple: it’s all about the numbers. Israel’s Knesset has 120 seats. For a coalition to form a government, 61 seats are necessary and these polls dictate that there is no way that Herzog’s Labour, even at 24 seats, can form a lasting and stable coalition. His only natural partner is Meretz, with the possible inclusion of Lapid’s Yesh Atid, but that only brings him to a total of 43 seats (24+5+14). With 18 seats outstanding, he’d have to shop around. Assuming they can dangle enough out to Kahlon, that brings the grand total to 52 seats, still 9 seats shy of the magic 61.

The Joint List would be an obvious and logical inclusion, and it would be interesting to watch Lapid justify to his supporters a coalition with a non-zionist party. But that will probably never happen: even before a vote has been cast, the Joint List has ruled out joining any “Zionist parties” in government.

The Passage, Tel-Aviv "My Answer to Racism/The Joint List"

The Passage, Tel-Aviv “My Answer to Racism/The Joint List”

Announcing perpetual opposition as the Joint List’s sole raison d’etre, is a telling travesty. For years, for lack of political mobilisation, Israel’s Arab minority (1 in every 5 citizens) has been the victim of prejudicial distribution of reasources at every level. Finally, there is a chance not only to redress the balance, to draw attention to the administrative inequality that plagues the community, but also to moderate Israel’s relationship with the West Bank and Gaza, the settlements, and even promote the ever-elusive grand peace. By refusing to cooperate with the state, within the state, at the highest political levels, the Joint List is only adding fuel to the right’s assertion that the Arabs constitute an irredentist and dangerous fifth column in society.

The Tayelet - "Now we will win/Now we Change/Victory 2015"

The Tayelet – “Now we will win/Now we Change/Victory 2015”

So that returns Bougie back to 52 seats. Bennett is an anathema to Labour values and ideals, and though Lieberman could probably be bought quite cheaply, it would involve Meretz breaking a specific campaign pledge. Even then, with 6 seats still outstanding, it is doubtful that either Kahlon or Lapid would agree to team with the representatives of the hated religious communities, crucial in even building up the necessary numbers without taking into account stability or longevity.

Ayalon North, Tel-Aviv "With Bibibenet we will stay stuck with the Palestinians forever/Changing direction. It's in our hands"

Ayalon North, Tel-Aviv “With Bibibenet we will stay stuck with the Palestinians forever/Changing direction. It’s in our hands

Contrast the above with the prospects for a Likud-led coalition. Even at a measly 21 seats, the political lay of the land dictates that it will be easier for Bibi to navigate the minefields of the Israeli political party system. Sure, he could join Herzog is a coalition of national unity, bringing along Lapid and Kahlon for the ride, but why should he? It will be relatively easy for him to collect his natural ‘friends’ – those with whom he has either served with before, or have shared his present, god-forsaken government – and divide up the pie. There is no genuine argument between Likud, Lapid, Kahlon, Bennet and Lieberman, and those 61 seats (21+14+9+12+5) will provide another politically quiet three or four years; a happy family that will, once more, obsess on Iran, subjugate the Palestinians and Israeli civil society, destroy the economy, pour money into the settlements, and oversee Israel’s suicidal drift into the international abyss. Plus ça change.

Bennett

I can’t be the only one to see it, right?!?!?!

So, the largest party can’t form a government, and the balance of power lies with those smaller parties with 5 or 9 or 13 seats. We’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again. In effect, the will of the majority will be decided by the whims, promises, or narrow interests of the smaller parties, though it could be argued that Israel’s political system naturally skews in the direction of the general ideological mood, with a large bulge in a fragmented and antagonistic centre. There is no constitution in Israel (there are a series of basic laws, a constitution of sorts), but the only way to change the political system to something more stable is through a two-thirds majority vote in the Knesset. Labour would definitely vote for a change to the electoral system, Likud possibly too, but in order to reach the 91 vote threshold, not one but rather many of those smaller parties – the very kingmakers whose MKs and supporters who have enjoyed seeing their interests disproportionately represented – would have to agree to curtail their power and effectively commit suicide in the process.

That’ll never happen of course, and neither coups or revolutions are really the Israeli way (that’s for another post). So what we’re left with is the present status-quo, and two-to-four more years of toxic leadership.

King Bibi is dead. Long live King Bibi.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A very bookish protest…

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Last night: what could be more absurd than the sight of museum employees demonstrating for fair employment conditions? A scraggly group of a few dozen camped out in front of the old town hall (most recently the site of the Lebanese US Embassy in ‘Homeland’), singing songs and chanting slogans; the friends and family of the tour guides at Beit Bialik, the former home of Haim Nahman Bialik, Israel’s first National Poet. Scruffy, academic, educated, solidly middle-class, these were not the typical downtrodden and destitute, not residents of Channel4’s ‘Benefits Street’. Yet here they were on a chilly winter night, protesting the Tel-Aviv municipality’s hiring policy that condemned them to life on ‘freelancer’ contracts devoid of social security, health benefits or a state pension, and banned them from unionising or even talking amongst themselves while on the job. In the build-up to the protest, two “troublemakers” had already been fired without warning.

On September 3rd 2011, one in every 14 Israelis made their way to Tel-Aviv and marched from Habima Square to Kikar Hamedina in the name of social justice. On that sweltering summer night, the country euphorically announced its frustration with the economic status quo, a simmering anger that saw dozens of encampments spring up, all taking their lead from the hundreds of tents on Rothschild Boulevard, at the centre of the UNESCO White City.

A boy holds a sign reading “Social Justice”; September 3rd, 2011, Kikar Hamedina, Tel-Aviv

Israel suffers from a parasitic industrial ‘free-market’ oligopoly. In the early 2000s, Bibi Netanyahu, as Finance Minister, privatised a swathe of state industries but didn’t disolve the monopolies those giant companies had enjoyed since the state’s independence. Buoyed by a captive, skewed market, a few ‘industrialist’ families (relabelled as the notorious ‘tycoons’) became very very wealthy, and a city that was already the most expensive in the Middle East saw prices skyrocket even as income stagnated.

After that night the euphoria broke like a fever dream, and the balmy summer passed. The people went home, the tents disappeared, and the city enacted a series of underhanded measures to make sure that the door was closed on a season of remarkably courteous, civil rage. All that remained was the status-quo-ante, and the pockets of protest that periodically fizzle into life (sometimes with tragic consequences) before extinguishing again into darkness.

 

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Of course, yesterday there were the usual suspects of hard-core protesters and representatives of the local communist party, there to whip the crowd into a frenzy and elicit support for the next election, but generally this was a good natured protest of quiet, young, educated people (many of the slogans were puns on Bialik’s works) asking for the basic security that a public-sector job should provide.

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They are hardly alone: when I worked in the Knesset in the mid-2000s, I was stunned to discover that the diligent, talented researcher ants at the Knesset’s own internal Research and Information Centre, as well as being squirrelled away in a windowless, airless subterranean room beneath the amphitheatre, were all on short-term contracts for which they had to reapply every six months.

You’d expect issues like this to gain traction, but Israel is not a normal country, and Tel-Aviv is not a normal city. There is always the Palestinian threat, the Iranian threat, the ‘infiltrator’ Sudanese-Eritrean threat; always the simmering culture wars between Eastern and Western Jews, between the religious and the secular. Police have been given powers to break up threatening protests while intimidating potential popular leaders, and the economy is so concentrated that one break could send shockwaves throughout the country.

So a good-natured demonstration with very valid concerns splutters for an hour as locals gaze at the hubub as they walk their dogs, and a police car sprays everyone with blue lights as the cops themselves, bored, play with their phones. Then everyone goes home, and another cause is lost to the Tel-Aviv night.

Of loss…

Loss.

Last week, my wife lost her father. It was as sudden as it was expected; as expected as bolts of lightning can ever be. And in the time since, our entire little tiny world which was just beginning to come together, has crumbled to its core.

He was a wonderful man. A grizzled New Yorker; an endangered species. Lou Reed is gone. Bob Dylan’s surely not far behind. Steel-tough yet soft and sentimental, he was always genuinely pleased to see me. He always offered an ear and a shoulder, and more than once offered too much of his time and invaluable help when others disappointed.

He was a great, quiet man, and he is greatly missed.

All that is left is the vacuum of his absence. My wife is a mess. My daughter is internalising all the sadness that surrounds her and is acting up and lashing out. Others that I have come to care deeply about are scarred and damaged. Everyone is walking wounded, doing little more than existing in the moment in the most basic, inhuman way.

Like now: my wife is lying beside me. My own brother – who came for the shiva (seven days of mourning) – is meeting his office colleagues even as he could not find the time to meet me. And my wife doses, wakes in fits and starts. I am no help to her. Not here. But not not here, either. And so I exist as this presence that does absolutely nothing. That can do nothing, even as I am hurting in my own, tiny, insignificant way.

There is only one thing worse than seeing those we love in pain: being unable to heal that pain.

Reviewing ethics…

Here’s a picture of someone else’s cat.

An author, unpublished or not, knows. Knows the process, knows the joy, knows the pain. We should (if we’re good), peddle in empathy, in understanding. After all, there are differences in approach, in aim, in style, in purpose. So perhaps we shouldn’t comment on the fruit of others’ toil – at least not in the negative. Maybe if we don’t like, we just don’t get it.

But what to do if you read a book so brazen in its smug shittiness, so flawed in its reach and scope, so nauseatingly shallow and undercooked that it offends the craft? And then: what if that book in all its conceited mediocrity has been heralded as the second-coming, as a great work by a new literary genius, as the voice of a till-now silent minority? What would you do then?

I’ve browsed Goodreads for user reviews and the majority are glowing, even though they seldom delve deeper than “I like the book because it had a good story” (no it didn’t). I’ve also googled journalistic reviews, and most puffed and fluffed and praised; only one cut to the core of my criticism with deft precision. In a world so skewed, isn’t it also my job to alert others this pretender, to point and laugh and sneer and yell: “she’s naked!” and bring the whole house of cards tumbling down?

But…

What if one day someone did the same to me? And what if one day, finally published and beginning the slog towards a body of work, my secret (guilty?) reviews are unearthed and my tastes, over and above my produce, are deconstructed and used to colour my books themselves? Should I be quiet now in fear of the future, or should I yell and stab and redress the balance and then simply settle back and wait for blowback that may never arrive? Also: are my views less valid by virtue of my literary aspirations or, on the contrary, are they more valid and even necessary?

Or – do I just think too much? (A distinct probability.)

On another note: what do you do when you discover that a successfully published friend has submitted glowing reviews of their own books on Goodreads under a pseudonym? OK, so the reviews and their five-star ratings are probably lost in the impenetrable maze of computational matrices – assuming that this is this is the only pseudonym used – but is that not a bit… immoral?

Or: if in an election a politician can anonymously vote for himself once, is it so wrong for the author to review his or her own book? Just because I wrote the damn thing, does that necessarily invalidate my opinion?

Who knows. Don’t mind me. Keep moving. Nothing to see here. Madman talking and all that…

Enjoy the cat.

One is the Loneliest Number (but not in Tel-Aviv)…

Alone, not lonely.

Much of our lives are experienced alone. How strange then to realise that cities respond to this aloneness in different ways.

Now back in London for a few weeks – bereft of The Baby, The Wife and also The Dog – I am surprised at how unwelcoming this city, my city, is to the one without the two.

It’s not overt or aggressive – there have been no altercations or open rudeness. But there is a definite suspicion that surrounds me and an unease that defines every interaction: an unspoken question-mark that seems to hover over me even in bastions of solitude such as the coffee shop, the cinema, the museum or the park.

Has it always been there, here? Though the feeling is definitely familiar, perhaps I’m only able to quantify it now because my time in Tel-Aviv has allowed me to view London with an outsider’s eyes. Perhaps it is naiveté, but had I to guess, I would have supposed that the larger, more populous and heterogenous city would be the more accepting, but the opposite seems true. In London, much of life is to be experienced in private: grief,  joy – even children – all to be locked away in the confines of a limited group. All that should remain visible are the anodyne vessels (never singular), crucial to the smooth-running of the town. Minimal friction between constituent parts.

London in macro has no time for individual stories, and so someone standing alone (bereft of companionship, of conversation, of an easily identifiable current purpose) threatens to demand a relationship beyond the please, the thank-you, the sorry.

Maybe that’s all London’s famous politeness is: the avoidance of extraneous humanity.

Tel-Aviv is the polar opposite. It is a rambunctious city that heaves along in fits and starts, propelled onwards by its interactions and a continuous, mutual, and many-sided explosion of minute relationships. The solo is welcomed, enveloped, even celebrated and rather than precluding inclusion in society’s activities, being alone dictates participation.  It’s exhausting, but it also removes the stigma from the uncertain and drags the lone individual from the shadows and into the light.

There are consequences of this systemic openness. I have never seen pain so public, nor chronic isolation and vulnerability so visible as in Tel-Aviv, and I have never been made to feel more awkward in daily life. But I have also never felt so un-judged, so comfortable irrespective of circumstance, so free to just do, to just be. And whereas the pangs of uncertainty that I am now feeling here in the city of my birth, tripped off by loneliness, can spiral – invisibly – out of control, in Tel-Aviv they are kept in check by the brazen – and sometimes infuriating – inquisitiveness of its people.

There is something incredibly life-affirming in visibility.

Violence for violence’s sake…

In our neighbourhood:

Car parked; baby and wife disembarking. A car barrels down the road far too fast, driver staring out of side window, and barely misses them. Freaked out, I yell:

“Hey! What the hell are you doing? Watch out!”

The car comes to a complete stop and then, sloooooowly, reverses backwards towards me, the door opening. A man glares at us with cold, dead eyes. He doesn’t utter a word.

“There’s a child here,” I say, but my wife was already white and shaking and telling me in hushed tones to just stop talking, turn and walk away.

She starts yelling, screaming, shaking, crying: “What, is this what you do? When all a man tries to do is protect his child?”

I have learned to trust my wife’s instinct about this place, and so by this point I was turning the corner. Every step he follows me with those cold, dead eyes.

When we regroup a few streets away, she is a mess. He had been brandishing a hammer.

He never said a single word.

The worst bit is that this is not the first time I’ve been threatened in my own neighbourhood for simply acting like a human being. This city is full of wonderful people. It is a place full of debate and argument and creative energy and the best of humanity. It is also full of animals, far larger, far less moral, and far more dangerous than its dogs and cats.

Yemenite Sh!t,,fit,,,

You can’t make this up…

 

These were posted all around our neighbourhood. Bear in mind we are both not Yemenite, and have dog. Oops.

Important Message

To the renters and the new apartment owners who

in the last few years or months

joined our beloved neighbourhood, THE Kerem Hataymanim

Our fathers are the founders in 1905.

From the Original Keremites

IT’S TIME THAT YOU UNDERSTOOD THAT YOU ARE GUESTS in our neighbourhood AND NOT THE RULERS,, You were accepted in a very cordial way,,, This is how we are,,!!!, Appreciate it,, It seems as if a few of you are trying in a very ugly and conniving way to cause a split in the people of the neighbourhood,, For your benefit,, personally and it seems also politically,, KNOW THAT WE ARE AWARE OF THAT AND OUR EYES ARE OPEN to vehemently keeping the tradition, the beauty and the character of our neighbourhood,, You are trying to supposedly show a wish to improve our neighbourhood especially its cleanliness,, Just so you know you are the ones making our neighbourhood dirty with the astonishing number of dogs that you have brought with you into our small

neighbourhood,, YOUR DOG POO HAS BECOME LIKE MINES in the streets of the neighbourhood, there have never been dogs (maybe very few) in our neighbourhood,, And from this it is understood that very few of you bother to clean after your dog poo,,,,,,,

Firstly you should,,, Look at how you behave,, Personally to keep the cleanliness of your environment,, And then when you will get to a level of keeping clean we will happily hear comments in writing or in saying to improve

Our neighbourhood,,,,

Be humble in your approach, This is message number 1

We will not snooze and we will not sleep!

The neighbourhood veterans! Its lovers and those who are always proud of it forever !!!!!

 

Being an Unpublished Author, I’m tempted to comment. But really: I think it just speaks for itself,,,

Four wheels bad, two wheels good…

My (sympathetically pimped) corkinet.

Tel-Aviv is a tiny, ultra-dense city (at least the part of it you’d want to visit is – not counting the sprawling ‘gush dan‘ suburbs). About 8km long (from Jaffa to the Yarkon River) and 2km wide (from the sea to the Ayalon Highway) it’s plagued by the twin hells of terrible traffic (about 500,000 cars commute into the city every day) and scant public transport. No wonder locals try and find ways to live a car-free existence.

Bike lanes have proliferated in the past few years (along with the lurid neon-green Tel-O-Fun rental bikes), usually divvying up the boulevards between two legs and two wheels. Cycling is fine in the winter, but in the summer, with temperatures hovering around 35C (95F) and humidity in the mid 80%s, it’s not exactly pleasant. So intrepid Tel-Avivians have searched for another, less exerting, form of transportation that maintains all the convenience of the bike without the exertion.

Enter the “corkinet”.

I have no idea why it’s called that, when all it is, in essence, is one of those kiddie-scooters with an electric motor on the back. Technically, they’re not legal, but as any true Israeli will argue (at length), they’re not illegal, and that’s what matters. You can’t import them, but you can import the parts and assemble them here. It’s a truly competitive market, with at least four bona-fide manufacturers spread throughout the city.

Although you’re not (technically) allowed to ride them on the pavements, or (technically) on the bike-lanes, or (technically) on the street, that makes it a free-for-all: basically you can do what you want and the police just turn a blind eye.

I must admit, at the beginning I was saddled with the typical Londoner snobbishness. I had to fight to hold the Lazy bastard! in whenever I huffed and puffed in the sweltering heat only to be overtaken by someone looking effortlessly cool, straddling their corkinet as if they were surfing. But when an orthopaedic medical issue (don’t worry – soon to be repaired) fucked up my mobility and meant I could not longer cycle, on my wife’s orders I grudgingly made my way to Gan Hachashmal’s Trekker ( the closest dealer) and walked out with a white board suspended between two tiny wheels.

And you know what? Perhaps I could have been a bit wrong. Just a little bit.

My corkinet is immense fun. It is also economical to run, cheap to buy, and quite simply the fastest mode of transport there is. In such a compact city, with a top speed of 25kmph and a range of about 20km on a full charge, it just makes so much sense and is proving to be pretty much the perfect method of urban transportation. And I can even convince myself I look young and cool (though I know I don’t).

People have taken to accessorising them with seats, baby-chairs (I’ve seen a dad, two kids and a baby squeezed on one) and all kinds of baskets, bags and surf-board holders. Me? I just kept mine simple: a few decals and a bag for the lock.

Now if only I could convince The Wife to let me put The Baby on the back…

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