Tag Archives: Tel Aviv

A friend in need (of a new car) is a friend indeed

“Thirteen years I have lived in this country,” I ranted to my new classmate as we trudged out of the Hebrew University a few hours ago, “and I still don’t get it . . . in fact, I will never get it!”

I was sharing with Ofer what had been bothering me all day, probably for the very reason that I was not quite sure why . . .

After informing a friend (“Friend”) in Tel Aviv, yesterday (Wednesday) evening, that I was going to be spending today looking for a new car, he mumbled something about waiting for him to speak to the Volkswagen dealership from which he had recently purchased his Polo.

Chaver mavi chaver, I assumed – literally “A friend brings a friend”, a cash incentive common in these parts – and suggested that we split it (as is also common) “chetzi-chetzi” (fifty-fifty). “Yes,” came the reply, without really sounding meant.

Accompanying me on the short walk up Lincoln and onto Yitzhak Sadeh (where the dealership is based), this morning, Friend came clean, informing me that he had told the salesman that he was bringing me and had already negotiated a free service for himself if I, too, purchase a VW.

I ruminated over this combina (see here and here) –  some might call it chutzpah –  all the way up Highway 1, this afternoon . . .

First, there was the knowledge that nothing in this country comes free, and that Friend’s ‘free’ service will definitely be coming off my end of the deal.

Troubling me considerably more, however, was the vulture mentality: What is it about the natives, that they have to get in/have an angle on absolutely bloody everything . . . even a mate forking out 20-25 thousand quid on a new car?! The same friend in England would have negotiated a bigger discount for me, rather than instinctively thinking what he could get out of the deal for himself. And it is not as if he had introduced me to “This wonderful thing called Volkswagen!” The showroom had been top of my list.

Perhaps I am just a meany – indeed, that was Ofer’s take: “Lama ata lo rotzeh lefargen?” (effectively, “Why don’t you want Friend to receive his just reward?”) – though, more likely, it just wasn’t very comfortable having to gaze in the mirror.

[With the time constraints of being back at school, but still getting the occasional urge to write, posts from now on will be shorter . . . if, as above, not sweeter!]

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You see what happens, Hamas . . .

“Don’t be silly,” I reassure Itzik, as we sip on our sachlabs on Rothschild, early last Thursday evening. “Nothing will happen in Tel Aviv.”

It might as well be the cue for the siren.

There are a surreal couple of seconds, during which the occupants of adjacent tables exchange puzzled, yet pregnant, glances: “Is it . . . ? What now . . . ?”

I jump up, as if stabbed with a shot of adrenaline. The dogs bark. We dart inside the café, my spanking new Galaxy S II abandoned alongside the sachlab. Clive Dunn has only been gone a week, and I have already forgotten his famous advice (though discovering that it is true, no one “like[s] it up ’em”). It is the first time I have experienced a siren not marking the commencement of Shabbat or a Holocaust/Remembrance Day.

We all huddle together at the rear of the café. A 60-something female hears my accent and, as if encouraging a boy to consummate his transition to manhood, asks me if it is my “first time”. I nod sheepishly. She imparts advice that I am in no state to listen to.

A distant boom. Perhaps two. And, within half an hour, I am home, packed, and on Highway 1 . . . on my way to the capital. I am ‘caught’ by my neighbours in the act of attempting to wheel my bag quietly out of the building. “I am not escaping,” I protest. “I have a fortieth birthday party in Jerusalem!” And it is true. But I don’t expect them to believe me. And I don’t think they do.

I tease Itzik – a Tel Aviv real estate agent who has continually belittled my second home in Jerusalem – from the car, telling him that he won’t be getting a key (‘forcing’ the coward into having to stay, instead, with his father in Petach Tikva).

And Itzik is the first to call me, gloating, the following early evening, within seconds of the siren sounding in the capital. I have darted into the stairwell, where the neighbours are quickly gathering, before shooting back in for my flatmates. My Orthodox neighbour overcomes her fear of Stuey and Dexxy, whom, until now, she has refused to even pass on the stairs. “Shit,” I exclaim, in an attempt to lighten the tension, “I left the back window open.” But the attempt at humour is lost.

I meet an American woman on Saturday who is considering taking refuge in London. Who am I to judge? I still do. And I delete an old law school friend from Facebook after he publishes this photo (right) with the caption: “Address this, Mark Regev . . .”

In fact, the next time I hear a Palestinian talk about ‘his’ olive tree, I will make it my job to find said plant, uproot it, and stick it up his . . . well, in a place that it will get no light. These people attach no value to human life, never mind olive trees.

Make no mistake, when Hamas talks about an “end to the Occupation” (which, in principle, I am also in favour of ending), it is talking about an end to Israel. And, if it was up to me, I would bring those fuckers [complaints, please, to John Fisher – he doesn’t approve of the asterisk] to their knees before even agreeing to listen to talk about a ceasefire.

There is a wonderful feeling of togetherness here at present. I had been putting the finishing touches to a blog critical of Israelis. But I can’t publish it now. These are special people. And they are giving their all for our People . . . and – if the world would only open its eyes – for the values that civilised people everywhere hold dear.

To the residents of the south, we should have empathised more fully with your sacrifice and suffering, and with the intolerable circumstances under which you have had to live this past decade. To former Defence Minister Amir Peretz, respect for promoting – when few believed in it (or you) – Iron Dome. And to the soldiers awaiting your orders on the edge of Gaza, though it looks unlikely now that you will receive them, chazak ve’ematz.

Once again, however, I leave the last words to the great – though oft misunderstood – Walter Sobchak . . .

CLICK HERE

Hamas would have done well to heed the lesson of Mr. Sobchak – as, from now on, would Iran and even Egypt (which, respectively, have supplied and allowed unhindered passage of the missiles used to attack us) – though I sincerely hope that the IDF has been picking its targets rather more calmly and prudently!

[See also Airstrike on Gaza: Israel’s Right of Self-DefenceF*ck you, too and Days of Awe, Heroes and Whores . . . sadly, all still as relevant today as they were nearly four years ago.]

Foot in Mouth Disease: The Shortest Date

I recently had my shortest ever date (excluding, of course, the lovely Odelia). It lasted a grand total of six minutes. And it was still too long.

I am not quite sure why I agreed to meet Irit. She was a nagger even on the phone. But there was something appealing about her JDate mugshot that led me to grant her an audience.

We met on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, the last day of July. And as Irit approached the agreed meeting point (the corner of Gordon and Shlomo Hamelech), a waddling breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, the cumulation of recent dating disappointments at once got the better of me.

“I just can’t do this anymore,” I wailed to myself, even as I was squeezing Irit’s chubby hand. “Yet another wasted hour and a half, with my brain switched off and my tongue on autopilot.”

Until that infamous afternoon, I had always been the perfect(ish) gentleman on blind dates, not budging until the ninety minutes were up (this had always seemed to me, for no good reason in particular, the minimum decent amount of time to give someone, however little interest I had in the contents of their cranial cavity and/or underwear).

On this occasion, however, as I slouched back in the moulded plastic café seat, I could not have made it any clearer to Irit, however unconsciously, that I just did not want to be there.

My initial faux pas was asking Irit to remind me where her father – estranged from her mother I seemed to recall, from our single telephone conversation the previous week – lived in the States.

“That must have been another woman,” came the reply, without so much as a smidgeon of amusement.

It had been. And while I managed to come up with some feeble, muttered excuse for that blunder, the daggers were clearly about to turn to tears – I was also, it would seem, the final straw in Irit’s dating disappointments – when, next question up, I mistook her folks’ Jerusalem-area moshav for the other’s mother’s Yavneh kibbutz.

“Look,” I said, with a completely unjustified air of defiance, “you are not the only woman I have spoken to . . .”

“It is just insulting,” Irit cut me off, clearly determined to twist the knife even further in my, now nearly fully flaked, veneer of decency. And she was, of course, entirely justified (why oh why hadn’t I heeded my own advice – see the final subheading in Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed – to keep notes?!)

85 minutes now seemed like a very long time indeed – an Israeli woman in revolt and one I had no interest in placating – and there was only one thing for it . . .

“Look, Irit, you don’t have to stay. I’ll get the drinks.”

And, while far from proud of my performance (even our Cilla would have had difficulty laughing it off), I was feeling more relief than guilt as Irit took me up on my offer, getting up and departing the scene. Indeed, I supped my iced coffee engrossed not in self-loathing but in Yediot’s air conditioner ads, and still with the presence of mind to get Irit’s untouched order removed from the bill!

But had I behaved any better (if less deceitfully) than the dread Odelia, who had blown me out (cf. off) with a babysitter-mayse before we had even taken our seats?

Rather than be driven to this, or nasty porkies à la Odelia, an instantaneous shake of the head and direct, Simon Cowell-style “I don’t think so (You Are Not Mike’s New Talent)” must surely be a better way, for all concerned, of terminating a date with about as much of a future as a certain chinless Syrian.

Dating Israeli Women (Part II): Freeing the Dirty Dog Within

Well, it wasn’t really The End (see Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed). J . . . oh, f*ck it, Jennifer forgave that e-mail, and granted me a stay of execution. A brief one. We saw each other twice more, before that dreaded pregnant pause on the telephone, on the evening before our fifth date . . .

“Mike, you are a great guy, but you feel more like a friend.”

I consider proposing friendship with “extras” – Jennifer is an almost indisputable “9”, and I haven’t had too many of those – but refrain.

So, where am I going wrong?

"Could I score with a zoynoh?"

As I explained to a friend, last week, I think I have lost that predator’s instinct. When I was less serious about settling down – and preoccupied not with the future but, largely (if not merely), on gaining access to the Kodesh Kedoshim (Holey of Holeys) – I had a far lower goal:attempts ratio. Now, however, I am like Fernando Torres (right), a forlorn centre-forward who can no longer rely on his nose for goal, but who has started to think too much . . . rather than just poking, sliding or slamming the ball into the back of the net.

Let’s face it, when it comes to matters sexual, we are animals. And I could certainly learn a thing or two from Stuey and Dexxy in that regard: When they come across a hitherto unknown canine, they don’t agonize for weeks on end about a little excess facial hair or slightly imperfect hind symmetry, but rather head, without hesitation, straight for the “box”, where they have a jolly good sniff, often a bit of a lick, and decide, purely on the basis of that, whether or not to take it on from there. (The object of this attention does, on occasion, not take too kindly to it, though – very unlike their owner – neither Stuey nor Dexxy have ever been accused of going too fast, or of being interested only in one thing.)

Therefore – while incumbent upon humans to add a moral dimension to their behaviour (take note, most recent “dirty dog”) – the great scorers, both footballing and otherwise, will be in maximum sync with their animal sides (hence the sobriquet of my childhood hero, Allan “Sniffer” Clarke).

Human blind dates, however, are – to my shagrin – considerably more fraught than their canine equivalents. And, while it is perhaps inadvisable to follow the example of the romantic JDater (of Persian origin) who, twenty minutes into his first meeting with my friend in Manhattan, announced “I want to be inside you now” (she ran out), we are guilty of complicating the natural and straightforward . . . when we should, instead, be finding and releasing that hidden dog (or, at least, centre-forward) within.

I have come to see dates in terms of the motor vehicle . . .

The blind date car

And – unlike the meeting/clash of eyes across a crowded room, of trolleys in the supermarket aisle (the SuperSol on Tel Aviv’s Ben Yehuda Street is even said to stage a weekly, unofficial p’nuyim/p’nuyot [unattached] evening), or (for the benefit of Daniel Marks) of body parts in a nightclub lavatory, where the wheels of love/lust are at once in motion – the blind date car is entirely stationary . . . and facing an extremely steep hill.

As the driver, I consider what is in front of me and decide, (rightly or wrongly) more or less instinctively, what gear to put my brain in.

On occasions, the battery is completely dead, and all attempts to start the vehicle are futile. You both want to say (though neither of you has the courage): “Listen, there is no point. Let’s just go.”

On others – a recent Saturday morning, for example, when I met a lovely woman for breakfast in Modi’in, but just couldn’t imagine filling up – I go straight into cruise control. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours, before I sent her a text message, that evening, stating that “something, I don’t know what [a white lie], was missing.”

I suffered no such shortage of imagination with Jennifer. But after screeching off in first, and moving swiftly and smoothly into second, I hit trouble in third . . . and never reached fourth. In the old days, I would have been in fifth before I (and certainly she) knew it. My changes, however, have got a little rusty, and women, I think, sense that hesitancy.

Well, the gear box is definitely due some attention. A thorough service and oiling should do it, followed by a few spins around the block (prompting me to wonder whether I should be amending the “languages spoken” field in my JDate searches to Russian).

And, as Fernando Torres must also be reminding himself – it is comforting to know that I am not alone – it only takes a second to score a goal.

Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed

“You have to find an English speaker,” opined John over lunch on Hashmona’im Street last week, as I whinged about my latest debacle with Israel’s finest.

And John may well have a point. But it takes a strong-willed man to settle for fish and chips or a Big Mac and fries, when he could, instead, feast on a Me’urav Yerushalmi (Jerusalem mixed grill).

J, Israeli, 40 and divorced (plus none) – whom I had met through JDate (I am, depressingly, back . . . again) – was that perfect Ashkenazi father/Sephardi mother combo: tall, willowy, olive skin, and taltalim (those unmistakably Israeli curls). And clever to boot. A Me’urevet Tel Avivit (Tel Aviv mix), if you like. And we had been on two extremely encouraging dates before the start of the fun and games . . .

Our third meeting – preceded by a discernible tailing-off in our flirtatious, daily text messaging – is cancelled by J, by sms, on the very same evening, with more excuses than a Hasmo boy: “pressure at work . . . not feeling well . . . Will call you.” But no call.

Just to be one hundred percent that my intuition is correct – I know that I will not be able to cope with the teasing thought that that body, skin and hair (and, of course, mind) might, just might . . . – I text J to tell her that I have got the message (that she is “not particularly interested in pursuing this”).

“Wrong again,” she texts back. “Will call the second I leave work.” But, again, nada.

The following morning, I receive an e-mail from J containing the exact same excuses. Petulant and keyboard happy as ever, I cannot resist the knee-jerk response: “Not looking for great dates at this stage. Or excuses. Or promises of phone calls.”

The End.

As usual, I search for possible reasons for this latest failure. I ponder, for example, whether having been bolder, more forthright, more Israeli, and having made a move in the second date tapas bar might, just might, have paid dividends. Most Israeli guys would have in the first date pub. (I take with a pinch of salt, these days, the Israeli woman’s oft-heard assertion that she likes English manners. They most like what they are used to.)

There is little, however, to be gained from idle speculation or self-flagellation. But why is it so damn difficult to meet a nice, genuine, uncomplicated woman in this city? Yes, yes (you slaves to your therapists), I know: I must take my share of the responsibility. It must be my fault, too. And sometimes it is. But more often, like this time, it just isn’t.

Finding attractive women in Tel Aviv is, of course, not a problem. Walking its streets and boulevards, or whiling away the hours in its cafés and bars, most male visitors (of a heterosexual bent, at least) come to believe that they have found themselves in some kind of female wonderland. Indeed, so high is the general standard of totty here that many people (or, at least, those who don’t know me that well!) cannot understand why I am still single, or not, at the very least, having a lot more fun than I am (but it’s sex with someone I love!) And I can understand their bemusement: stick your very average Tel Avivit– one whom an Israeli guy would not look at twice – in a London “Jew do,” and the males will think that all their Hanukkahs have come at once.

The empirical evidence, however, can be more than a little misleading. And dating Israeli women, while often enjoyable, even memorable, rarely comes – for the non-native, at least – without substantial challenges, stresses and aggravation. Indeed, the lure of more attractive, hotter blooded females – accompanied, as it usually is, with better, more frequent, and certainly swifter (as in earlier, rather than shorter) rumpy-pumpy – is offset by behaviour that can range from the puzzling to the downright objectionable.

So, for the uninitiated, here are a few tips – of a “do as I say,” rather than “as I do,” nature – gleaned from my experiences dating Israeli women and, especially, Tel Aviviot (who, as with Jews, are “just like everybody else, only more so”) . . .

Don’t even attempt to understand them. It isn’t possible. This is even truer of Israeli women than of the fairer [snort!] sex in general. You will have great dates after which they won’t answer/return your calls, and dire ones following which they will demand to know why you haven’t called.

Don’t be shocked by anything. From inappropriate, even outrageous, remarks and conversation on the date, to last minute (and I mean minute!) cancellations before it (see previous posts: T.A. Woman: Feeling a Lemon in the Big Orange, Suicide is Painless: Dating Etiquette in the Holy Land, and The Tel Avivit’s Subtle Art of Seduction). First date sex is also far from unusual here: if you are a nice Jewish boy from a nice Jewish community – like North-West London, for instance, where “getting to know” a Jewish girl on a first date would be far more newsworthy than anything on the front page of the JC – but that is what you are after, Aliyah may be the best move you ever make!

Take any criticism levelled at you, but (unless you are planning to dump them anyway) avoid the temptation to give any back. Most Israeli women can’t take it. I recently went out with a Rebecca, who, on our second date, and without warning, saw fit to pat the (negligible) protuberance from my t-shirt. “Yesh lecha keress!” (you have a pot belly), she exclaimed, clearly delighted with herself, as if having discovered a new planet. When she brought up the subject again, on the fourth date – evidently, neither my ‘corpulence’ nor Rebecca’s ‘frankness’ were deal breakers (40-something beggars, especially, can’t be choosers) – I was better prepared: I informed her that I like my breasts large (not true, incidentally), and enquired whether she might be willing to go under the knife for me. Her face! What a picture! She looked like she had just swallowed a Beit Hashita hot pepper whole. (Neither did Rebecca care for me asking her not to throw every scrap of food that she wanted to bin to Stuey and Dexxy instead, thus reducing her sorties to the garbage . . . though she had absolutely no problem telling me that it was inappropriate to joke with her 5-year old daughter about locking her in the fridge (was it?))

If you feel that you are being used, that is because you probably are. I also recently dated a Maya, who demanded a detailed date plan (verbal) ahead of each of our meetings. And she vetoed many of my suggestions (especially of dining options), leaving me with the distinct impression that she saw me as a kind of TimeOut Tel Aviv with a MasterCard . . . or, more accurately, she was the TimeOut, I was the MasterCard.

Multiple date. It is almost an unwritten rule that simultaneous/multiple dating is fine until you have been on three or four dates with the same person (and, sometimes, even after you have had sex). Nearly everyone here – or in Tel Aviv, at least – does so, so put your chutz la’aretz (out of Israel) values to one side and get on the same playing field! And as a corollary . . .

Keep notes. I once simultaneously dated a woman with an Afghani mother, and another with an Afghani ex-mother-in-law. I got my wires crossed, and mentioned the wrong one to the wrong woman. This might not seem a particularly big deal when dealing with Afghani matriarchs (and I extricated myself easily), but it would have been a huge one if I had referred to the wrong date about ­– and this is not an invented scenario – the inspection, by JFK security on ‘her’ departure from the US, of the other’s collection of dildos. I would even recommend keeping a brief, identifying note following each name in your mobile phone: an age thing perhaps, but I find it harder and harder to remember, and to differentiate between, Hebrew names. Not so long ago, I called the wrong woman, informing her that I was on my way to pick her up. “What are you talking about?!” she squealed. Realising my mistake, I panicked and hung up, and, there being no way back from that, deleted her details from my phone.

You may well, by this stage, be asking yourself why you would possibly want to heed the dating advice of a single 44-year old who lives with his two dogs . . . and you’d be quite right!

Good luck.

On yer bike: The myth of the caring Israeli society?

I have not made the most auspicious of starts to the New Year.

Perhaps I am in some way to blame, having taken my bike out on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah . . . though I don’t really believe that He would have sent those brothers – one aged 14, the other around 10 – to crash their large korkinet (electric scooter) into me, head-on, on the bicycle path near the Mandarin Hotel on the Tel Aviv/Herzliya border.

The boys were riding the korkinet (resembling the one pictured, though with larger, fatter tires) together – little brother standing in front of big one, both without helmets – on the wrong half of the path (their left), heading north; while I was on the right (in both senses) side, cycling in the opposite direction. My front wheel (photographed below) totally buckled under the impact with theirs.

Following a knee-jerk “Atem meshuga’im?!” (Are you crazy?!), I surprised even myself with the speed of my composure-recovery time: “You are just kids,” I comforted the boys, who, while unhurt, were in visible shock from the instantaneous haematoma protruding like a golf ball from my right shin.

A long walk back to Jaffa – or, indeed, to anywhere – was clearly not an option. “Just call your father, and ask him to drop me home . . . oh yes, and tell him to bring some ice!” I was thoroughly enjoying my new found civility.

“I’ll take you part of the way,” said the boys’ father, Amir, on arrival on the scene – my bike still sprawled across the path – some seven or eight minutes later, “we’ve got guests coming in an hour.”

As it was, the 40-something couldn’t fit my bike into the boot of his snazzy BMW – just when I could have done with a 4×4! – and refused to risk scratching the cream leather seats in its rear; and he eventually drove us, boot open, the few hundred metres to his plush apartment complex (the boys returning on their unscathed korkinet), where he instructed the concierge to phone for a cab.

The aftermath

As we sat and awaited the taxi’s arrival, and still revelling in my bonhomie, I reassured Amir – who seemed like a decent enough chap – that I wouldn’t make a big deal of the incident, or of my injury, but “If [he] could just replace the wheel” (I own an expensive-ish bike, and feared that a new rim could set me back 500 shekels plus).

“We’ll settle it next week,” Amir reassured me. And, after debating the chag (holiday) fare with the cabby, he handed over the reduced one – of 100 shekels – for me to be driven home. Saving my number – he preferred this to giving me his – on his phone as I got in, Amir’s parting words were: “I assure you, I will make sure this never happens again.” I repeated to him that I had done far worse as a boy, and that he shouldn’t be too harsh on either of his.

Googling his full name – which he had provided, when asked, in the course of our conversation – I discovered Amir, who had said he was “in property,” to be a senior executive and shareholder at a leading Israeli investment house.

All that was on the Thursday afternoon. I didn’t go straight to A&E because, with my mother expecting me for Yom Tov dinner, I feared that it would be seriously understaffed. I had also once suffered a similar-looking injury playing football. So, I satisfied myself with a phone call to a doctor-colleague, who informed me that there was nothing that could be done anyway, and that I should just keep the haematoma well iced (the shin is still bruised and sore, some three weeks later, and I have been sent for an X-ray and ultrasound).

I was still somewhat surprised, disappointed even, that it took Amir until the Sunday morning – three days after the incident – to call and check on the injury caused by his children, though also by his lack of adequate supervision of them (I knew that, if the boot had been on the other foot, I would have called that very evening). I was in a meeting with my boss at the time, and whispered to Amir that I would call him back, which I did every day until the Wednesday, when the clearly overworked executive finally found the time to call again. He enquired about the state of my leg, but was extremely careful to offer no apology, just assuring me that he would no longer allow the boys to ride on the korkinet together.

Seeing as the phone call was clearly going nowhere, I decided to bring up the subject of the wheel. “I walked up and down Hashmonaim [Tel Aviv’s bicycle shop street] for an hour on Monday [not wishing to cause Amir too much expense, I had] and found the cheapest possible replacement, the odd wheel from a set. It cost 250 shekels [just under £45]. Where should I send the receipt?”

There followed a long, awkwardish silence . . . and then, “We should each pay half.”

Even amongst the rich tapestry of Israeli chutzpah, with which I have become all too familiar, I thought I was hearing things.

“Atah loh mitbayesh?!” (Aren’t you ashamed?!)

“You have to take your share of responsibility, too, for what happened.”

Naturally, if I had known that two boys were riding a motorized vehicle towards me in the wrong lane, and with little control, I would have got off the bicycle path altogether. But to equate our relative culpability was outrageous. Either Amir’s sons had fed him a load of porkies, or – more likely, to my mind – knowing that there were no witnesses, he just knew that he could get away with it. And I could only imagine the shtook Amir would have seen to it that I would have been in had the roles been reversed, with me being the one on the korkinet.

I told Amir to keep his 250 shekels, but that I would now be going to the police. And following a thinly-veiled threat – that “I shouldn’t misinterpret [his] [wait for it . . . ] softness”!  – I terminated the call.

Always one to feel guilty, however (even when I am far from), I still wished to resolve the matter civilly, and I sent Amir a text message, that evening, suggesting that he, instead, sponsor my upcoming charity bike ride (for which I had informed him that I was in training). Numerous folk, on hearing the sorry tale, have opined that Israelis, however wrong they might be in any given situation, never want to be – or, perhaps more to the point, to be seen to be – the freier. So I had given Amir a way out. Needless to say, he hasn’t taken it.

Perhaps I am too sensitive (and naive?) a soul, but the whole incident, to my surprise, has filled me with real sadness, saying so much, for me, about the current state of Israeli society and all too many of its citizens.

Of course it is “not everybody,” but what I can say with some degree of confidence is that the bollocks that we are often fed – that Israelis may be rude and arrogant, but that, when push comes to shove (how appropriate the idiom!), they will be there for you – is now at least, in the main, exactly that (i.e., bollocks): Whether in business, professional relationships, ‘queues,’ on the roads, in restaurants, shops or hotels, or with their children or dogs, my sad experience and conclusion – and that of most people (natives included) to whom I have related the unfortunate tale (some even expressed their surprise that I had expected anything more) – is that too many Israelis these days just couldn’t give a flying felafel about anybody or anything but themselves and theirs. It was once, I am told, very different.

Several days following the incident, I happened to be walking up my former happy hunting ground, Rothschild, as the individuals dressed up here as police officers were evicting the last tent dwellers from the Boulevard. And, after months of not taking the protest too seriously (see here), I now kind of recognized the attitude that has driven so many other Israelis – perhaps the ‘weaker,’ less ambitious and/or aggressive of the species – to despair.

My guess (and it is just a guess) is that Amir was an above-average soldier, who served in an IDF combat unit, perhaps even reaching the rank of officer. And as with a former friend – who, on the basis of such a CV (and all the while considering himself a noble human being), believes that it is just fine for him to screw other men’s wives – this (like the big-paying job he landed on military record, rather than intellectual/academic ability) gives Amir the arrogance to believe that he can do whatever he wishes in civil life, shitting on any poor bugger unfortunate enough to cross his path. (And, if this was how Amir saw fit to act in this situation, one can only imagine what he must be doing with client money!)

Naming and shaming  Amir – surname, position, company – has, of course, been hugely tempting. But this post is not the tool of my revenge. Perhaps, however, Amir will read it – I will forward him the link – and at least attempt to comprehend why I felt compelled to write it.

Perhaps, too, he will try to bring up those nice – and they were – boys into adults that this country can be proud of . . . rather than individuals, like their father, seemingly without moral compass.

Chag sameyach!

[http://www.justgiving.com/mike-isaacson/ . . . only 88 quid to go!]

Stop, hey, look what’s going down on Rothschild

“There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear . . .”

The closest I have come to tasting revolution since 1967 – the year in which Stephen Stills sang those words, and the one, too, in which I was born – was witnessing Johny Finn stand up in a crowded Holders Hill Road examination hall and (following, it must be said, no little provocation) cut Rabbi Abrahams, aka “Abie,”  (even further) down to size with the now legendary “You chutzpadik little man.”

That uprising, however, ended there. And, following the exchanged glances of horror (and of respect for our classmate), our heads immediately returned to the University of London exam papers from whence they had risen. Moreover, Armitage Road’s answer to Che Guevara is now a successful (and, what is more unusual in that line of work, well-liked) Jerusalem property developer.

Following some encouraging early signs of rebelliousness, the only type of revolting ever associated with me had nothing whatever to do with changing society for the better (or, indeed, at all). And, at our Shderot Rothschild architect’s office, yesterday afternoon, my partners and I – entirely oblivious to the tent-ridden Boulevard outside – were, somewhat obscenely in the circumstances, arguing the toss about whether we should invest an extra 15% for Schüco (German) windows with a spec befitting a gas chamber (as you can perhaps tell, I was against).

Observing the day-by-day growth of the Rothschild tent protest, however, has left me in no doubt that we are witnessing something truly historic and society-changing here. Something is clearly rotten in the state of Israel: twenty-odd families, effectively, control its economy (Bloomberg article), while insane property prices and high food costs – ludicrously, much Israeli produce costs far more here than abroad – cause significant hardship for most Israelis, whose low salaries are completely out of sync with the cost of living. But it is not in the interests of the vested interests – said families, the Israel Lands Administration, property developers, and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats – to make life more affordable for the ordinary Israeli.

Rothschild Boulevard, yesterday evening

It would, of course, be entirely hypocritical of me to overdo the empathy bit with the tent-dwellers. And, of course, no one likes a protesting student: what exactly have they got to “protest” about? Doing f*ck all for four years?! The movement has also been hijacked, to some extent, by agitators, crusties and downright lazies, many of whom appear to believe that the world owes them a living. I observed one such yesterday – who looked like he regretted ever leaving Goa – appropriate water from a fire hydrant to fill (and to the brim) a large plastic swimming pool. For all of these reasons (and because I am just like that), I have turned a blind eye to Stuey raising his hind leg – walk after walk, and day after day – against tent after tent (see July’s Mensch of the Month). It is, after all, his Boulevard, too.

Nonetheless, it has been quite something witnessing this public awakening and mobilization – and the intensity of debate being conducted – on Rothschild, until only recently the bastion of Tel Aviv superficiality, vacuity and bullshit. And, if you haven’t seen it for yourself, it is well worth a visit.

Tomorrow morning, I will once again walk Stuey and Dexxy down Rothschild . . . and will once again confront the harrowing sight of early-20-something Israeli females emerging in their skimpy pyjamas – in this humidity, merely shorts and a vest – into the virgin sunlight from the night’s makeshift erections (their tents, I mean!) And it is not an easy sight to behold, I can tell you.

Though there is nothing to be gained, either, from looking the other way or burying one’s head in the sand . . . so, may the struggle continue!

Photos from Rothschild, the following morning: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150745740155160.720923.611810159

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