Sheinkin Street, in the heart of Tel Aviv, is arguably the most common symbol of secular, modern Israel, with trendy youngsters from all over the country converging on its chic boutiques every Friday morning. Even Sheinkin, however, could not have been prepared for what it witnessed yesterday evening.
Whilst out with my dogs, I noticed a man of about forty slowly walking down the street in a pair of tightish, silky running shorts, while two teenage girls, sitting on a wall, laughed hysterically. I then noticed (one couldn’t help but) that – how should I put it – the man was in a heightened state of arousal. Having passed the girls, he turned around and walked past them once again. There was something so sickening about the display that it shook even me – with my background in criminal defence law (and the various perverts to whom I was unavoidably, excuse the pun, exposed) – to the very core. I looked for a police officer, but to no avail.
Following such a distasteful experience, I wouldn’t have imagined that anything else could have disturbed my equilibrium further yesterday evening . . . until I opened my copy of Ha’aretz, that is.
Ha’aretz is Israel’s equivalent of The Guardian – left-wing, (supposedly) highbrow, and often unjustifiably self-righteous. I read the English version rather than its right-wing competitor, The Jerusalem Post, not because I share its political and social leanings (I am somewhere in-between the two), but because it feels more genuinely ‘Israeli’. Reading The Jerusalem Post is often like reading Britain’s parochial Jewish Chronicle . . . and I didn’t come here for that.
The next perversion to disturb my post-work tranquility was the reason (as reported by Ha’aretz) of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader in Gaza, for the movement’s boycott of talks with rival West Bank faction, Fatah, scheduled to begin in Cairo yesterday. He is apparently protesting the 400 Hamas activists held in West Bank jails. Is this the same Ismail Haniyeh who has been holding Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, now 22, for 869 days?!
And did even one of the eleven European parliamentarians – including, I am ashamed to say, nine from the British Isles, among them former cabinet minister, Clare Short – who had sailed from Cyprus to Gaza, as a show of solidarity to Gazans, pick Haniyeh up on this? You can bet not. They probably just lapped it all up, the muppets that they are.
The final perversion, and somehow the most sickening, lay in wait, somewhat surprisingly, on Ha’aretz’s sports page. In a self-indulgent article on his participation (who cares?!) in last weekend’s Tel Aviv half marathon, Palestinian Affairs correspondent, Avi Issacharoff, juxtaposed Tel Aviv’s “beautiful and young” with those in “Jerusalem where everyone looks nervous, ugly and old”. In its mindless intolerance and offensiveness (not to mention stupidity) – in relation to the population of an entire city, no less (a third of whom are Muslims . . . I am sure he wouldn’t have wanted to offend them) – this resembled something out of Der Stürmer.
Where I do agree with you, however, Mr. Issacharoff, is in your conclusion – you are, indeed, “an idiot” . . . but not because you ran 21 kilometers.