Tag Archives: Sheinkin Street

Mitzvos on Melchett, shocking on Sheinkin

There is something vaguely disconcerting, disturbing even, about one’s first encounter with gay men having sex.

This I discovered as I walked up Sheinkin, early on Saturday evening, blissfully lost in a sense of well-being from Leeds United having just defeated Championship leaders, Queens Park Rangers, and occupying an automatic promotion spot for the first time this season.

I was shaken out of my reverie, however, by violent grunts and repeated exclamations of the “f” word (my mother insists on vetting these posts) from a first floor apartment on the other side of the street.

I looked up – a knee jerk, you understand – to see . . . well, never mind. But I could see: two males, through the only half-closed double doors from the bedroom to the balcony. And I recoiled, just like I do when witnessing a stray run under the wheels of an oncoming car.

As described in a recent post, living in the centre of Tel Aviv makes any kind of privacy nigh on impossible, with all of us learning far too much about the habits and proclivities of our neighbours . . .

An unknown (I live in hope) female inhabitant of the building opposite ours makes such a racket in the act of copulation – usually on Shabbos “mitzvah” afternoons (cf. our aforementioned friends, on motzei Shabbos, “lehavdil bein kodesh . . . ,” some may suggest)  – that I almost feel that I should applaud from my window at the climax of each gusty performance (which can run to over two hours) or, at least, hold up one of those figure skating marking boards: “9.9, 9.9, . . .” Anyhow, eat yer heart out, Sally Albright!

I do tend to think of myself as reasonably broad-minded, these days, especially in view of a somewhat sheltered childhood and youth in the ‘ghettos’ of Chendon and Golders Green (including sharing the classrooms of my primary and secondary ‘educational’ establishments with melchett mike’s resident gay basher).

But I could not help but wonder, on Saturday evening, whether my instinctive distaste for the scene I had just witnessed – as opposed to my fascination with the ever-titillating and mysterious Melchett “Mitzvah Girl” – makes me, even in some small way, a homophobe (only in relation to gay males, that is . . . indeed, had I chanced upon two women doing whatever they do – and there is no shortage of that, either, in Tel Aviv – my pace would, no doubt, have slowed rather than quickened, facilitating careful assessment of my optimum vantage point).

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A queer kaddish at the Melchett minyan

“Club Tropicana, drinks are free,
Fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone.
All that’s missing is the sea,
But don’t worry, you can suntan!”

With maximum respect to the co-writers of these fine lyrics, when I attended shul on Friday evening to recite kaddish in memory of my late brother Jonathan, I was not expecting to have to compete with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley blaring from an adjacent apartment.

The Melchett minyan, however, situated in the grounds of a kindergarten, is surrounded by residential buildings, the typical inhabitant of which is an Ashkenazi young professional who is quite likely to “bat for the other side” . . . hence my having to recite my initial “Yisgadal veyiskadash” to the accompaniment of two eighties gay icons who never appeared to dress in anything but beachwear. Try to maintain kavanah (the mindset for prayer) – not my strong point to start with – having to do that.

Anyway, while he might have preferred Jimi or the Dead (I would have gone for a Lenny dirge myself), Jonny – whose music blared through my entire childhood – would not have disapproved of the concept.

I had thought, earlier in the day, of attending a minyan where I would be anonymous because, whenever I visit the Melchett one, the gabbeh (the bloke who runs the show) always makes me feel guilty that they only ever see me twice a year. And, sure enough, as I walked in, the puritanical Shmuel – an accountant, appropriately enough, during the week – gave me that look, before walking over and shaking my hand with a distinctly patronising “Welcome,” which I always interpret (correctly) as “What? Yahrzeit again?!”

I have disappointed Shmuel. He had high hopes for me once – at the turn of the millennium – when, during my year of mourning for my father, I was a minyan regular. But, while I had the best of intentions during those twelve months – of continuing my shul-going even after they were up – they all came to nothing with the abruptness of my final “ve’imru amen.”

The Melchett minyan – a whimsical collection of locals whipped into line by Shmuel and a learned, prominent Tel Aviv court judge – has always struggled for numbers. With promises of the World to Come and/or, on occasion, herring, it regularly has to drag in reluctant locals to make up a quorum (of ten men), no enviable or straightforward task in Tel Aviv . . . never mind off Sheinkin, Israel’s secular heartland. But the minyan has also been guilty of the kind of crass stupidity in which synagogues so often seem to specialise, most ludicrously by allowing the formation of a breakaway service – also struggling to obtain a quorum – which competes against it from the adjacent classroom.

Kaddish, anyway, just doesn’t do it for me. Neither does yizkor for that matter, or even visiting graves. Not being able to cast off my religious upbringing, I of course do them all, though they just – if you will excuse the expression – leave me cold . . .

And, while I was reciting my second and final kaddish of the evening – accompanied, this time, by Radio Ga Ga (all I heard was “radio ga ga, radio goo goo”) by Queen (further evidence of the Shabbos desecrator’s sexual bent) – it occurred to me that the very best way of remembering Jonny would be to ask you lot to read (or reread) my e-memorial to him, and the many touching comments that follow it.

God bless, Jonny.

I love my old TV: an Israeli populace in dire straits

There is something more than a little surreal about going to pick up a gas mask. And I have been putting off the task for some time now, in spite of regular reminders by post and having been sufficiently aware of the possibility of a heavy, sustained attack on Israel – and Tel Aviv especially – to have blogged about it every few months (most recently in Getting ready to rock ‘n’ roll with Iran and Reflections on Armageddon).            

Gas mask graffiti: man reading sports pages (Rabin Square, Tel Aviv)

Fortunately, it is not in the Israeli “live for today” constitution to lose sleep over such an eventuality, and many of the natives won’t even bother to collect their masks – or “individual protection kits”, to give them their official, Orwellian name – as they consider them a waste of time (and they probably are).             

My friend Itzik, on the other hand, has been preoccupied with the spectre of war for months now. Meeting another friend, an IDF intelligence officer, for the first time recently, Itzik spent the entire evening trying to extract hints as to when he should book his outbound flight. And, ever since discovering my source, Itzik has regularly been enquiring as to whether I have “heard anything”. I, of course, now delight in terrorising him: “Where are you?” I’ll fire as he answers his phone. “How soon can you be at Ben Gurion (Airport)?”             

The recent automated telephone reminders – supplementing the postal ones – to pick up gas masks, however, have started to make me think that something really may be up . . . and imminent.             

Collecting my prehistoric CRT (cathode ray tube) television from repair – show me the Polish Jew who can easily dispose of something that once cost him several hundred pounds! – last week, the workshop owner mentioned that he was born in Iran. Instantly forgetting the dilemma of whether I should leave him the great hulk of mid-nineties Japanese engineering and keep the three hundred shekels in my pocket (an option he offered), I asked Assi whether he thought that Ahmadinejad was “just a big talker”.             

I was looking, I think, for reassurance, from a man with some understanding of the Iranian psyche. I immediately wished, however, that I had stayed shtum.             

“Oh no,” replied Assi confidently (in a now unmistakable Persian accent), “it’s gonna go crazy here . . . and before the chagim (Jewish high holidays, beginning in the middle of next week). If you have got somewhere to go . . . go!”             

The nonchalance with which the TV repair man turned doomsayer delivered his prediction made it no less shocking.

I attempted to calm myself with the recollection that this was the very same man who had informed me, just a few days earlier, that old tellies display a far better quality of picture than state-of-the-art TVs.      

This time, however, Assi had nothing to sell.       

“So why don’t you go?” I retorted.             

“Where am I going to go with my kids? Anyway, I haven’t got the money.”             

I immediately handed over the three hundred shekels and somehow squeezed the giant Sony Trinitron back onto my back seat. And, by the time I had schlepped it back up to my second floor flat, I was determined to collect that gas mask once and for all.             

The postal reminder listed the nearest pickup point to be my local ACE DIY/home improvement store – a kind of B&Q with attitude – which somehow added to the surrealism of the exercise:    

“A pack of double ‘A’ Energizer batteries, some cheap tumblers, a plastic garden chair . . . oh yes, and a gas mask, please, in case of biological or chemical attack.” 

Gas mask distribution point, Ramat Gan

Two young frechot sitting at the rear of the store were checking teudot zehut (ID cards) and handing out the cardboard boxes. And there was a sample mask, in its constituent parts, on the desk in front of them.      

Seeing as I had never worn one – I was at university, in England, when they were last used, during the first Gulf War – and that the girls had informed me that opening the box is prohibited (before you absolutely have to, I interpolated), I enquired as to whether they would be kind enough to show me how. The twin gazes of incredulity, however, that greeted my request – reasonable, I thought, in the circumstances – told me that they had no intention of allowing their discussion of what is new in frecha fashion, or of which Avi, Benny or Yossi had abused them the previous evening, to be interrupted. I scuttled off home.             

Oddly enough, after the danger to those near and dear, the thought that most haunts me about Israel coming under heavy and prolonged attack is not of the ignoble mass party that will undoubtedly break out right across the knuckle-dragging Islamic world, but rather of the sickening glee that it will also bring to the Kaufmans, Galloways and Finkelsteins, not to mention the poisonous little Gerts, of the rest of it.             

Back in Sheinkin, I treated myself to a comfort sabich and chips. I had needed something rather more substantial than the information, provided by Assi, that “many Iranians secretly listen to Israel Radio English news”.             

David, a Welshman, still here some twenty years after meeting an Israeli girl in a Camden Town pub, joined me.             

“Do you think about it much?” I asked him, my head still in gas masks.             

“There’s not much to think about,” replied David. “You either stay or you go. And I’m not going.”             

And, after investing fifty-odd quid in that old telly, nor am I . . . but will – like a good Polish boy – be seeing out Assi’s three-month guarantee, at the very least!     

http://www.justgiving.com/melchettmike

Taking the SMS: Avi the Texting Masseur

Just when you think that the chutzpah can’t get any worse, the Israeli will usually surprise you . . .

During a massage, last week, in her holiday home in Herzliya Pituach – the hot destination, these days, for British “Deckchair Zionists” – my friend Donna’s blissful indulgence was intermittently disturbed by a faint clicking sound.

She ignored it.

Opening her eyes, however, towards the end of the one-hour session, Donna caught her masseur, Avi, with one hand on her foot and the other typing a text (SMS) message on his mobile phone.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but I would say that a masseur on 300 shekels (50 British pounds) an hour can reasonably be expected to use both hands!

The incident reminded me of a university flatmate whose girlfriend, in the middle of doing something to him that he could not do to himself – would we males ever leave the house? – looked up to find him channel-hopping with the TV remote. (In his defence, there was footie on the box . . . but she gave him a mouthful anyway. The cheeky chappie, meanwhile, eventually migrated to his natural habitat . . . Israel.)

Such chutzpadik multitasking was also exhibited by an Israeli first date of mine who, on arrival at the pretty garden café handpicked by me – and having evidently resolved that I was not as attractive as I considered her – insisted on sitting inside, so that she would not miss any of the goings-on in the Israeli Big Brother house.

Indeed, the Israeli is a multitasker nonpareil, who can, for instance, smoke, devour garinim (sunflower seeds) and cuff the kids and/or missus . . . all while driving at excess speed, with one foot on the dashboard, cursing down his mobile and gesticulating at other road users.

While now – having lived here for over ten years – conditioned to Israeli chutzpah (and not averse to dishing out some of my own when required), I am also far less likely to put up with it . . .

Overhearing, in my local hummus place on Sheinkin, that I was flying back to London the following morning, an Israeli woman who I know from the area enquired whether I would mind taking something for her son, sojourning in Wood Green (of all places).

“Of course not,” I foolishly replied.

The woman scuttled away, returning a quarter of an hour later not with the latest Amos Oz novel or Arik Einstein disc, but with a plastic bag – from the makolet (supermarket) over the road – weighing several kilos and bursting with family-sized bottles of Osem tomato ketchup.

“He is used to it,” she declared, as if that should have been of interest to me.

Some years earlier, I would have been so taken aback by such chutzpah that my only reaction would have been momentary paralysis, an awkward smile, and a hasty unpacking of my suitcase to accommodate the condimentally-challenged nincompoops. And I may even have thanked her for selecting me for the honour.

But no longer.

“I’m not taking that,” I laughed, almost contemptuously. “I am already overweight.” I wasn’t. “Anyway, what’s wrong with Heinz?!”

What could she say? She had been outchutzpah’d.

You see, it is just that on encountering foreign accents – usually accompanied by indications of (relative) meekness – many of the natives see a flashing “Freier!” (sucker) sign.

And not to be taken advantage of here, one, regrettably, must become like them.

Avi “the Texting Masseur” no doubt calculated that – unlike his Israeli clients – Donna would not mind him sending SMS messages while he was supposed to be giving her a massage . . . and that, even if she did, the English lady would not say a word.

And he was, at least, half right.

http://www.justgiving.com/melchettmike

The Good, the Sad and the Ugly

There have been two stories dominating the news in Israel this past week. While the first demonstrates everything that is good about today’s Jewish State, the second shows it at its most ugly.

18th MaccabiahAnd the good story does not relate to the start of the eighteenth Maccabiah Games. I can’t get too excited about a “Jewish Olympics” . . . which, for me, is about as interesting as an Islamic beer, or Christian Klezmer music, festival.

Indeed, to call the Maccabiah amateurish would be unkind to much non-professional sport. In the men’s 100 metres final (stumbled across whilst channel-hopping), all the sprinters were in their blocks and the starter’s gun raised . . . when this guy appears out of nowhere, unchanged and remonstrating. Not having the heart to send him, un-run, back to Canada (I think that’s where the nincompoop was from), the sprinters were made to get out of their blocks and wait while he changed in front of a ‘live’ national TV audience. The commentator’s observation, that “something like this would never happen at the real Olympics” (in fact, it was pure Hasmonean Sports Day), was more than a little redundant.

Like the role of British polytechnics (now renamed “universities” . . . though everyone knows what you really are) – to enable those who can’t get into a ‘proper’ university to obtain a (worthless) “-ology” – the primary purpose of the Maccabiah is to allow yiddishe mamas whose children could not become doctors, lawyers or accountants, but who had a little sporting ability (a lot for a Jew), to kvell (gush) about something:

“Have you heard?! Darren’s been chosen to represent Great Britain in kalooki!!”

What Mrs. Shepnaches omits to mention is that: kalooki is a card game, Darren is only 37 – and should still be participating in active sports (like lawn bowls) – and he is only going to be representing Great Britain’s 280,000 Hebrews (less than half a percent of its total population).

The Maccabiah is all a bit sad, and perhaps the time has come to question its relevance and its future.

No, the stories that I am referring to are the victory of Israel’s men’s Davis Cup tennis team over the world number ones, Russia, last weekend, and the charedi (ultra-Orthodox) riots in Jerusalem these past few days.

Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich celebrate victory over RussiaFor a sporting “minnow” like Israel – which, less than four years ago, was on the brink of virtual disappearance from the international tennis map – to beat the mighty Russia 4-1 and reach the Davis Cup semi-final (in Spain, in September) is little short of sensational. Indeed, alongside Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team’s five European Cups, it must go down as one of Israel’s greatest sporting achievements (and further poetic justice following Sweden’s spineless capitulation to Islamofascists in the previous round).

More importantly, however, and as opined by David Horovitz in his weekend Jerusalem Post Editor’s Notes (aptly subtitled “Wonderful things can happen when everybody pulls in the same direction”), it demonstrated how – as we have seen in so many of Israel’s “against all odds” military victories – a spirit of unity and solidarity can enable this miraculous little country to far out-punch its weight.

The riots in Jerusalem, conversely, illuminate the ugly side of Israeli Jewish society and a chasm of as much concern, if not more, than that between Jew and Arab. And it is one which serves to further weaken the country in the eyes of its many, queuing, detractors (see, too, Horovitz’s weekend editorial). Thousands of charedim went on the rampage after a woman belonging to a radical anti-Zionist hassidic sect, and believed to be suffering from mental illness, was arrested on suspicion that she had almost starved her three-year old son to death. Tens of police officers were injured in the clashes, with over half a million shekels worth of damage caused to municipal property. The rioters’ leaders remained silent.

Haredi protesters confront policeThese anti-Zionists do not recognise the sovereignty or legitimacy of the secular State of Israel, and – like other, merely non-Zionist, charedim (for a brief background on charedim and Zionism, click here) – pay relatively little or no tax (the vast majority don’t work), and (with a negligible number of exceptions) do not serve in the military. If I were the parent of an IDF combat soldier, I would want to know why my son has to risk – or had to sacrifice – his young life, when charedi boys of the same age get away with sitting in yeshivot (Talmudic seminaries) all day?

And please don’t insult us with the disingenuous nonsense that learning and praying have been as much a part of Israel’s great military victories as the heroism and selflessness of its young soldiers. I had to suffer more than enough of that from the feebleminded Jewish studies ‘teachers’ of my childhood and youth. We saw how much good prayer did us in Auschwitz and Treblinka. In fact, if charedim had (perish the thought) been leading this country at any one of  its many times of existential crisis, we would all now be fish food somewhere at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

I don’t hate charedim. I am from charedi stock, and most ‘connected’ to my Galician and Lithuanian roots. Indeed, should I ever be viewed as truly chiloni – secular, in the rather extreme Israeli definition of the word – I might consider it time to head back to the Diaspora.

I am, however, convinced that charedim have rather lost the plot in modern day Israel. The hassidic choice of clothing, especially, which had some rationale in Eastern Europe, is positive madness in a country with an average summer high (even in Jerusalem) pushing 30°C. No wonder Stuey and Dexxy bark when they walk past! Even the most sacred and entrenched of Jewish traditions – and the wearing of such garb could never be classed as that – have been adapted to the relevant environment and other circumstances.

There are communities of Ger and Belz hassidim living in in a spirit of peaceful coexistence in my Sheinkin area of Tel Aviv, considered the ultimate symbol of modern, chiloni Israel. I was shocked, however, to be told recently by one of their number that that he doesn’t consider chilonim to be Jews.

Devils' embraceAnyway, my suggestion to all of those charedim who don’t like it here in Israel, do not recognise and respect the country’s laws, and/or who oppose the very basis of the State – like the Neturei Karta filth who demonstrate against Israel alongside the most hateful of anti-Semites, attend Holocaust-denial conferences in Tehran (right), and who, on Thursday, paid a visit to Hamas in Gaza – is that they return to live in the shtetls (small towns) of Poland and Eastern Europe. Perhaps life will be better for them there, where they will be more or less self-governing and left to their own devices.

Charedim such as these, living in Israel, are no better than parasites. And to add chutzpah to injury, whilst considering themselves not subject to the law, they – again, like all charedim (about 8% of Israel’s citizens) – try to influence how the rest of us lead our lives.

They can’t, however, have it both ways. If they expect to enjoy the fruits of Israeli citizenship, they must obey and fulfil the same rules and obligations as the rest of us. If they are unwilling to, I am certain that the Poles, etc, will welcome them back with open arms (or, at least, blades).

Sometimes, I think that they deserve each other.

The Buyer’s a Freier: Shopping, Israel-Style

Most people will be familiar with the doctrine “Let the buyer beware (or, for those who didn’t attend a crap school, Caveat emptor). Retailers in Israel, however, have significantly extended the scope of the doctrine and renamed it “The buyer is a freier” (Yiddish-derived Hebrew for “sucker”).

I am destined never to get fit. After getting into working out for the first time in my life, my local gym, on Sheinkin Street, recently closed following a serious fire. Apparently, a female member (who said “of course”?!) – whose time might have been better spent on mental exercises – left her towel on the sauna heater.

Now, knowing Israel and its natives as I do, approximately a week after the conflagration – and with no sign of the gym reopening – I decided, to be on the safe side, to cancel the direct debit (after notifying the gym). And, sure enough, it continued collecting payments from those who hadn’t.

The gym reopened last week, when I phoned to renew my membership. “Naturally,” I informed the irritatingly camp manager Gidi, “I expect to be credited with the one month I had frozen” (earlier in the year, whilst I was abroad).

“Of course not,” he squeaked, “you cancelled the contract.”

I started explaining the contractual principles of consideration and frustration to him – that, following the fire, I was receiving absolutely zilch for my payments, and that the contract had now become impossible to perform.

When, however, the squeaking started up again – and sensing the onset of a rage which might have been wrongly perceived as homo-, rather than “no one can really be this camp-”, phobic – I requested the details of the gym owner.

Eddie was an altogether more serious proposition. And, sitting opposite him in his office, I tried a less legalistic tack, testing whether an Israeli could comprehend the principle that “The customer is always right.” What works in Brent Cross, however, will not necessarily on Sheinkin. And Eddie merely added insult to injury by stating that I would also have to pay a fresh joining fee.

It is as if the whole Israeli retail industry is run on the principles of the shuk (market). It is quite common in these parts, even in large chain stores, to haggle over prices. And, on Thursday, my kiosk friend Avi described the bewilderment of a Fifth Avenue (New York) shop assistant, who – after Avi had purchased a pair of shoes – could not comprehend why he was demanding a gratis pair of socks and/or shoe polish.

The Israeli attitude towards customers has caused me to “lose it” on several occasions since my Aliyah (and I relate such not out of pride, but in the interests of authenticity) . . .

I lost my Israeli consumer ‘virginity’ towards the end of the 1990s on a well-deserving Dizengoff Street kiosk owner, who refused to believe – me . . . an Englishman! – that The Jerusalem Post I had purchased from him merely an hour earlier had its TV guide section missing.

His temerity so incensed me that I picked up another copy and ran for it. He gave chase, but I ended up losing him in the garden of some side street (for many months following, however, I had to take detours to avoid passing him).

Then, last year, in two separate incidents on King George Street – and provoked by unbelievable rudeness – I called a hardware store owner a “Polani” (Pole), and hurled a frozen yogurt back at the woman who had only just served it to me.

You are probably thinking that I need to attend anger management classes. And perhaps I do. But when you have to deal with such attitudes on a daily basis, the odd outburst is inevitable for all but the most placid of souls (and I have never been described as that).

I leave my favourite Israeli shopping story, however, till last. Walking out of a shop on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street, and inspecting the roll of fax paper that he had just purchased, my cousin Marc realised that it was the wrong size.

Making an immediate about-turn, and politely requesting that the shop owner exchange it for the correct one, he was greeted with the now legendary reply, “Where do you think you are . . . in America?!”

One thing is for sure – the term “retail therapy” does not have its origins in Israel.

Perversions

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.