Down … but not out — yet

Perhaps, these days present an opportune moment to reflect on Ogden Nash’s epic poem from his 1931 collection Hard Lines:

REFLECTIONS OF A WICKED WORLD

Purity
Is obscurity

Blemished BIBI

Deeply blemished

After my last post, one of my readers objected in fairly strong terms —”Focus your good eye on grasping what’s interesting on the street and leave politics to the newspapers”.  In theory, of course, he’s quite correct and the title of this blog is so that I can do just that. But sometimes, what happens around me riles me so much that I have to break out and say what’s on my mind.  I always hope that it doesn’t happen too frequently but sometimes for a few minutes, the camera and what it sees have to take second place

In this context—and in these two paragraphs I will end it—there has finally been movement on the corruption cases involving the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu (a.k.a. Bibi).  Having decided 9 months to indict him on three cases of bribery, fraud and breach of trust—subject to hearings, which took place several weeks ago— the Attorney-General, Avichai Mandelblit, a Bibi appointee and a person who had served under him as Cabinet Secretary for three years prior to his being appointed Attorney-General, decided “with heavy heart but wholeheartedly” to go ahead and press the charges.

Bibi’s reaction to the A-G’s decision was to call “for the investigators to be investigated” by means of an “independent commission”, claiming that the police and prosecution service were attempting nothing less than to bring about a coup, a claim endorsed by the transitional Minister-troll of Justice, and this in a democracy—but shades of Trump, no less!  The greatest insult to people’s intelligence and feelings (at least mine) was provided by a senior coalition partner, Aryeh Deri, head of the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party who openly called for full support for the Prime Minister in this, his hour of travail.  Twenty years ago, Deri had his supporters out on the streets singing “He is innocent” following his indictment for taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister (a position he now holds again).  In the event, he was given a three-year jail sentence of which he served 22 months following “good behaviour” while imprisoned, presumably because he didn’t make any attempt to bribe the jailers. Coming from a convicted criminal, this was some support; crook supports suspected crook, well, what else?

And there you are, Micha.  I won’t bother you any more this week!

I start this post on a Tuesday (I think).  However, I know that tomorrow morning at some ungodly hour (actually 06.20 — so it could have been worse), a taxi is coming and with a bit of luck it will to convey me to Ben-Gurion Airport for what will be, I hope, seven days of R&R in London NW3.  The only downside of this trip is that I didn’t choose the date myself as it was chosen for me.  I will be attending the consecration of a tombstone for my late sister-in law on Sunday morning and I only hope that I will be able to remain emotionally stable during this short ceremony.  Somehow, I doubt it.

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And now it’s Thursday afternoon and here I am in London.  Outside, it’s cold and damp although I didn’t expect anything different—one doesn’t often come to the UK for the weather.  I’ve forgotten how early the light ceases in this part of the world at this time of the year; it’s 8ºC outside, it’s going to rain before long and I’m off in a few minutes to watch the London grandchildren at their tennis class. 

Wow

Brrr!!!!!

 

Well, now it’s Friday. I didn’t get much done yesterday.  I did go to the tennis classes and it did rain but I saw the grandchildren and their other grandparents, so that was important, too.  So today is Friday—Black Friday—as every notification that comes up on the computer screen or the phone keeps on reminding me so as I looked out of the bedroom window at 7 o’clock in the morning, I thought I could begin to understand why it’s called that.

Black Friday

However, listening to the weather forecast and if it’s to be believed, there should be no further rain until next Wednesday when I return to Tel Aviv where, I would hope, sooner or later, there should be some rain as well.

So what did I see last week while walking around in the mornings in Tel Aviv.  In the Yarqon Park, just before it empties some of the little water in carries into the Mediterranean Sea (it’s such a small amount of water that the Med doesn’t even notice the dribble), there was the most raucous squawking and barking coming from the opposite bank.  From what I could see a dog was hounding two geese or the two geese were viciously trying to injure the dog.  From where I was standing neither I nor the woman beside me observing the same battle could figure out which was the aggressor and which the retaliator but the show went on up and down the bank for at least five minutes before it subsided.

Dog & geeseDog & geese 1

Although in the two photographs above the development of events is now quite clear, I couldn’t see it at the time and it was only when I crossed the bridge and started walking home along the northern bank that I understood what had been happening a few minutes before.  The goosely honking had been in aid of their gosling offspring, which were being dogged by the mutt; its woofing had all been in vain.  All was placid by the time I got there and I continued on my way.

Dog & geese 2

And while in the park, I watched a bird with a quandary.  Someone had tossed yesterday’s (or maybe last week’s) bread into the river and there’s far more than even a very hungry bird can consume a one go.  What to do?  Call in your friends?  Hack it into smaller and smaller pieces?  Bring them home?  Eat them there?  What a dilemma (or an octilemma, in this case)!

How to get it home

But it’s not only the ducks and geese in the park that attract attention.  Although the park is a public space, it’s packed with “personal trainers” who use it as a gym or exercise space.  These people don’t like being photographed and often tend to be upset when I do because personal training apparently is mostly a cash business, and it seems as if they think that I might be from the Income Tax Authority.  Some even tell me that it’s forbidden to photograph people in the park in which case I have to explain to them that the park is a public space and that their personal exercise space is also my outdoor studio and if they don’t want to be photographed, they should move inside to some private space where I won’t be a bother to them.

Personal trainer

Personal trainer, personal space

In addition to providing workspace for personal trainers and nosey photographers, the park also provides adequate bathing space for its avian residents and their guests …

Bathtime

… and if you look up as well as down, it’s possible to observe that winter is a little late in coming this year (not only because of the dearth of rain) but because the cormorants have arrived a bit later than usual.

Autumn arrives late 1

And while looking down towards the stream and them up while turning the camera through 180º, I was able to get this somewhat surreal picture of the Reading Power Station.

Reading 1

On my way home along Nordau Boulevard, I saw the figure of a woman standing in front of a car.  Initially, I thought she was waiting for someone to pick her up but then I thought that perhaps she was a traffic warden or policeperson so I waited a little longer until her identity was indeed confirmed.

Gotcha!

Gotcha!!!

And on the same stretch of street, where parking is at a premium—at least until 8 in the morning—you may be able to find a space to park your car but that’s only half the problem.  Once you’ve found it you have to be able to get out and then in again. Though contortionists have little problem with this, normal human beings may find it difficult especially when they wish to hang on to their purse and its contents.

Space for the car — but for me???

And not so very far away from this, on Hayarkon Street, a new hotel is going up.  Actually, they’ve been working on the site for two or three years but there was a lot of clearance to do before foundations could be laid; in fact, it looked to me as if the hotel is being constructed over water and sewage mains but I suppose that the engineers that signed off on the plans knew what they were doing.  Nevertheless it’s potentially hazardous work.  One might fall off a ladder …

Steel rods

… and end up like the gentleman below, observed in Tel Aviv Port.

Murder in the parkMurder in the park 1

In my last post, I included a picture of a cyclist—one of many—inflicted with “arrow-blindness”, i.e. cycling in the opposite direction to the orientational arrow that is painted clearly in white on the bicycle lanes around town.  This week, while waiting to cross Hayarkon Street at the pedestrian crossing towards Nordau, I managed to photograph two (of many) passing drivers who seem to think that slowly moving traffic jam is as good a time and place as any to catch up on WhatsApp chats, Tweets, and the like …

DriveTextDriveText 1

… all of which is accomplished to the obvious disgruntlement of the trees that see it every day all the time but can’t do too much about it except to make the appropriate facial expression.

Grotesque

And yet, here I am again in London for a few days trying to catch up on myself once again.

Learning geography

Revising his geography (sort of).  Pall Mall, London

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It’s raining rockets again

Paradise

Bird of Paradise flower, Pinkas Street, Tel Aviv

As I begin to write this post, it’s mid-November and it’s almost 11 in the morning. Outside, it’s 30ºC and there’s bright sunshine.

Beer and bubbles

The warm weather’s a boon for the brewers!

As for rain, as of Tuesday, there was not even a smidgen of an indication that it might happen.  The skies were a clear sky-blue in reality and on the rain radar map of the Israeli Meteorological Service.  The weather forecast for the next fortnight is for much of the same, if perhaps a little cooler. (It’s now three days since I wrote the last sentence and the Israel Meteorological Service seems to think that there’s a possibility of scattered showers at the weekend.)  It seems as if either those who pray devoutly for rain three times daily aren’t doing it hard enough or else the Almighty urgently needs to see an ENT specialist and arrange for a hearing aid.  Either way, although we had two or three days with rain last month, serious rain is late this year.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 11.03.46

Earlier this week, we had a little excitement here in Tel Aviv.  I had just entered the Yarqon Park when I got a forwarded message from Shuli & Tami, which they had received from the parents’ committee at the school that my granddaughters attend.   It read: “Good morning.  As a result of the instructions of the Home Front Command, there will be no school today. Hoping for quieter days.”  So I thought to myself: “This might be an interesting day.”  A few minutes later, sirens were heard all over Tel Aviv and, about 60 seconds later, a loud boom as yet another round in the never-ending cycle of violence between Israel and the militias in Gaza erupted, waking up at least one of those people who choose to sleep peacefully overnight in the park.

Good morning, Tel Aviv 1Good morning, Tel Aviv 0

This round went on for two days and hopefully it’s over until the next time.  This time, it was a case of a targeted assassination preceded by and followed by random rocket fire (several hundred in the months before this round and around 400 over 2½ days this time).

Of course, as is customary in what is becoming a deeply divided society, one of the issues being bandied about here is regards the timing.  The Prime Minister in his address later on the day the “fun” began stated that the decision to eliminate the person concerned, one Baha Abu al-Ata, the commander of Islamic Jihad in the northern Gaza Strip and apparently a thug who could be controlled neither by Islamic Jihad itself nor Hamas, the organisation with civilian responsibilities in Gaza and had become a law unto himself, had been taken in Cabinet ten days previously.  The specific timing of the event was because  a “window of opportunity” had presented itself.  Other reports suggest that the decision had been taken as long as two years ago and that the “window of opportunity” was Mr. Netanyahu’s, his way of making sure that efforts to form a coalition government without him would fail.

Who knows? All we lay people can say is that it would be unusual for Bibi to decide that something like this should happen without taking possible political profit into consideration. So it looks as if a “permanent” government in Israel other than a transition government (which is what we’ve had for a year now) will have to wait until after yet another election, which will, it seems, be held in March — not that that would change anything. On the other hand, almost anything is possible and as Mr. Ganyz’ mandate has another few days to run, agreement might well be reached at the very last minute.  Par for the course.

Meanwhile, the country (and Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters) await the decision of the Attorney-General was to whether to indict him on three separate counts of bribery, fraud and/or breach of trust, a decision that might, on the face of it, change the rules of the political game in Israel.  But the A-G  is a man who won’t be hurried or do anything rash.  Moreover, the State Prosecutor, who has been at the forefront of the investigations into the assumed wrongdoings of the Prime Minister is due to complete his tenure shortly, it is worthwhile (from Netanyahu’s standpoint) doing everything possible to hang around until an opportunity arises for someone new and more congenial is appointed and chooses to “review the situation”.

Some things never seem to alter…whereas it’s amazing how other things can change out of all recognition.

I took early retirement in October 2004, at the ripe young age of almost 59, which, in retrospect, might have been a trifle too early.  However, after four years doing whatever I had been doing in London (and I enjoyed what I had been doing in London) I decided at the time that, for better or for worse, I really wasn’t all that keen on returning to an active role as a Professor of Geography at the University of Haifa.  I had enjoyed a fairly lengthy absence from the department with which I had been associated for over 30 years (a sabbatical and a half followed by 2½ years leave of absence).  The likelihood that I could attract even a single doctoral student seemed at the time to be as close as it was possible to get to nil and with the thought of attending departmental meetings, which seemed to have a cycle of six or seven years (i.e., the same topics come around for discussion repeatedly, the songs that were sung were the same only the performers differed—although sometimes even they were the same), I decided it was best to call it a day.  In doing this, I graduated (or was I elevated?) to the status of Professor Emeritus, the term usually used to describe the former holder of a professorial office who has retired but is allowed to retain the title as an honour. (What a shame the same does not apply to politicians!)

So as an Emeritus Professor, I receive a pension in the guise of a salary (or a salary in the guise of a pension), messages from my department and the Faculty I once headed, as well as from various other offices within the university.  These keep me informed as to when the electricity will be cut off, when the server will not be working, when the ants, roaches and so forth are to be stamped out of the corridors and offices, when the roads in and out of the campus are to be temporarily closed as well as other such details that are the food of life of an Emeritus Professor.

For some peculiar reason, I tend to read the stuff that comes from the department and just scan the rest before junking it.  There is a weekly bulletin issued from the Office of the University President (a one-time colleague who is responsible for suggesting the title of my most cited article) and there is a monthly announcement from the Office of the University Rector, another erstwhile colleague from the Sociology Department, which provides information on those faculty members who have had the good fortune to have been promoted at the most recent meeting of the University’s Promotions and Tenure Committee.  It is a sign of the times these days that not only do I not recognise the names of almost all of these lucky individuals (actually, most of them are not lucky at all but have worked very hard to get to the positions they have achieved) but I have difficulty identifying the departments, schools, or faculties to which they belong.  It’s a truth (sad in some ways, glorious in others) that I have been I out of things for so long that it seems like another world entirely.

However, having said all this, and as if to compensate for my ignorance of things present, I must also note that the University’s Department of Human Resources (what used to be called the Personnel Department) sends out at irregular intervals and as the need arises, obituary notices. And this is where, in a somewhat strange way, I feel that I am among friends.  Am I being overly morbid? Macabre, even?  Maybe a little—but as I wrote above, it’s amazing how circumstances change.  That’s life!

As for the images that appear in this post, well, you know the usual package.  Entering the Yarqon Park, I noticed for the first time—a full month after the reconstruction of the playground had been completed—that the swings and see-saws and things were not the usual simple ups and downs that we had got used to over the years but that they had been carefully designed to appeal to kids (and their parents and grandparents).

Ant 1

Out on the street, I’ve been fascinated for some time now by the bicycles and the bicycle lanes that were so carefully created by Tel Aviv Municipality.  Reluctantly, I have had to come to the conclusion that these carefully drawn and painted white lines and symbols are simply decorative things and mean nothing to most of the people for whom they were fashioned.  (I waited patiently for this one!)

Street art (arrows)

Walking along the northern end of Dizengoff Street, I was able to discern the skills needed in household gas distribution.  Get it right and people can cook their dinner, have a hot shower or whatever but get it wrong and you will need to look for shoes two or three sizes smaller.

Gas delivery 0

Gas delivery 1

Gas delivery 2

And on Nordau Boulevard, a different set of skills was on display as a father cycled to the kindergarten balancing the cake in one hand while simultaneously trying to avoid pedestrians coming in the opposite direction.

… and now for the cake …

While on my through the park en route to Tel Aviv Port, I espied this hand.  I tried to see if there was a body attached but I couldn’t be quite see one …

Hand

… but when I eventually reached my destination, I took this double exposure of the crane that sits in the port as a reminder of what used to take place there.

Crane, T-A Port

Then during the week, I took a detour from my usual route and walked down to the Carmel Market where I encountered lots of photographable objects, including this tray of persimmons.

Persimmon

And on the way, I also noticed that although Tel Aviv’s White City is a World Heritage site, not all the Bauhaus buildings in it are all that white any more.

Bauhaus dilapidated

King George V St., Tel Aviv

Near the entrance to the market, I came across this stand selling novelty clocks.  I took the photo at around 08.20 though I don’t think there was a single clock there that corresponded with the one in the camera.  I stood there and watched the person who owns the “shop” for five minutes as he brought the clocks out for display, one by one, and sometimes two at a time, a slow and deliberate process.  When I passed by on my way out of the market half an hour later (you can check that against the times displayed—if you can find the same clock), I noted that the locations of several of the clocks had been altered in the interim.  Colourful, if nothing else.

… and the time is … 0

… and the time is … 1

Closer to home, I came across this marrow/pumpkin/squash murdered by the local greengrocer and which I thought worth a photograph.

Murder of an innocent marrow - 1.jpeg

Finally, as I was walking along the northern end of Ibn Gvirol Street, I came across this canine tied up outside a supermarket while his owner went inside to do whatever one does in a supermarket.  The poor hound looked so miserable, left all alone like that but what really fascinated me was the light green colour of his eyes.  However, there was something else that I didn’t notice at the time I took the picture and it was only when I came to edit it that I realised that even among doggies, when they’re left alone with nothing else to do, that they start to daydream and fantasise and their doggie mind begins to wander all over the place.  

Lonely doggie 1

 

 

 

 

 

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