August in Tel Aviv continues in its apparent perspirituity. The heat and humidity are awful and I’ve concluded that it’s detrimental to people’s physical and mental health. Moreover, everybody seems to be away enjoying themselves in cooler climes, which hardly makes me feel better.
So while all and sundry are living it up abroad, I continue to be fascinated only by what I can observe on the streets in North Tel Aviv!
For instance, this morning, while walking along the river, I espied some bright colour where there generally isn’t such. I would have preferred to have had a different lens on the camera at the time but one must make do with what one has. I tried from several angles and this is the one I chose.
Leaving the house this morning and yesterday, I encountered a phenomenon that seems to have become more common recently. People clear out their closets and give away old clothes but rather than take them to one of the bins provided, they dump them on the street benches, the nearest one of which was literally outside the gate, with the others about 100 meters away. Any semblance of civic pride seems to have gone out the door—and straight onto the street!
Not far away, I couldn’t resist commenting upon this little macabre juxtaposition. Electricity pylons on the streets carry a warning from the Israel Electric Corporation that reads in Hebrew, English and Arabic “High Voltage: Danger of Death”. Directly underneath this one was a notice informing passers-by of the death of one the residents of the street, who had seemingly passed away a few days before. Being me, I couldn’t help wondering if poor Carmela didn’t read any of these languages and as a result …
Turning the corner on to Yehuda HaMaccabi Street, I came across an ambulance, which, in a way, sums up part of the Israel story quite well.
And yesterday on Nordau Boulevard, I observed this guy for some time, obviously in need of a fix. I waited several minutes to see whether a sympathetic driver might stop and give his battery the jerk that it so obviously needed but although least a dozen cars and vans passed him by and his plight was plainly visible to all, none stopped or even slowed up, so figuring that I needed to be home within the half hour, I reluctantly left him and his jump cables standing beside his immobile automobile.
On the way home, on Brandeis Street, I found yet another example of urban drip irrigation — or perhaps it’s spray irrigation. I didn’t hang around to have a closer look.
Passing a small grocery store on the way home and looking at the sugar for sale in the form of chilled soft drinks …
… I was reminded of a song that was popular 60 years ago!
And yesterday morning, just after I spotted the kingfisher, I noticed an unusual number of individuals, apparently dressed for cooler weather although it was already 27ºC and not yet 8 a.m. They came across the footbridge near the river mouth in their droves and I walked along with a small number of them just to see where they were headed. They stopped when they arrived at the sea and gazed at it for several minutes in what appeared to be absolute wonderment. Perhaps it was the first time they had seen the sea and hadn’t realised it was made of water and wet—and salty, too. Who knows? Anyway, after a few minutes I concluded that they probably weren’t going to supply me with any more (or any better) images and I left them there pondering.
And they wondered and pondered, I found that yet another song had somehow or other lodged itself in my head and as I left them, I was humming along!
I debated for quite a long time with myself whether this post should be politics-free and after much exchange of views between me, myself and my alter ego, I decided that there’s too much politics going on in the world that bothers me, so why shouldn’t involve you as well? After all, the mess that has been brewing in Italy for months finally has come to a head, Boris Kerfuffle is refusing to budge, Corbyn fancies that he can become Prime Minister by almost as democratic a method as Boris did, Trump becomes more outrageous, obnoxious and appalling day by day and is dragging a more than willing Israeli Prime Minister along with him … so…
As you alight the Number 25 bus on King George V Street in Tel Aviv just before it reaches the headquarters of the Likud party and look across the street at what is undoubtedly one of the ugliest buildings in the city, these days you are reminded that Israel’s Prime Minister is fighting not only for his political life but also for his personal freedom. Somehow, his utterances and decisions over the past few weeks and months suggest that he’s losing the plot and the Lord only help us if and when he finds it again!
Win the election, the second of this year, in four weeks’ time and we’re in for another few years with him and company, by which time the disassembly of the institutions of a democratic state will probably have been completed; lose it and there’s every chance that there will be a move from the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, which his wife seemingly abhors anyway, to even less comfortable surroundings in Maasiyahu Prison in the city of Ramla, southeast of Tel Aviv, an institution that has in recent years been home to Mr. Netanyahu’s predecessor, to a former President of the state and to several individuals who served as ministers in Israeli governments, not to mention a former Chief Rabbi.
Last time around, in April, Mr. Netanyahu tried to convince voters that he belongs “in a different league” by decorating the hideous building with an image of himself shaking hands with the President of the United States. Move ahead four months and this time around, in his efforts to convince Israeli voters that he is a senior member of the Premier League of world leaders, in fact the only person who can keep the Israeli ship afloat, the Likud building on King George Street has recently been adorned on three of its four sides by large images of the Prime Minister with some of his “friends”. These have been designed to illustrate that not only is he best friends with Mr. Trump (as he was last March/April) but that he simultaneously has more friends like him all over the world. (Shades of a nascent North Korean look about, I fear.)
The interesting thing here (to my addled mind, at any rate) is that when Bibi looks outwards from his window on the world at large, he can catch a glimpse of many friends in high places but when he looks around him inside the confined borders of this itty-bitty state, all he seems to be able to perceive are enemies, who surround him day and night. Some of these enemies were actually once very close allies indeed, if not exactly friends, three of them so much so that if Mr. Netanyahu fails to get a majority in the Knesset that will do his bidding and change the law so that a sitting Prime Minister will be granted immunity from prosecution (and in his mind, persecution), they are willing to turn state’s evidence and testify against their former puppeteer. Bibi knows where he’s likely headed if things go wrong for him and will do everything to avoid that situation. And on that score, I can’t really blame him although maybe he should have given that some more thought several years ago.
And if he fails to win the election, then perhaps we might regard his fate as being similar to young Albert in the story recounted by Stanley Holloway. (BTW, you might need to listen to it more than once if you’re not familiar with a broad Lancashire accent.)