Kvetch and Appreciation

I’m going to start this post with a kvetch about the two major stories of the week but I’ll keep them very short.

The first concerns  the invective of the Israeli Prime Minister delivered—in a room within the Jerusalem District Court—as a warning to the public security system (the police), the prosecution service and the attorney-general as well as the judicial system that he will hesitate at nothing to silence them and render them innocuous—useless, in fact—should they have the temerity to go through what he regards as a sham trial designed by the left-wing, i.e., any persons or organization that disagrees with him, to bring him down and thwart “the will of the the people”. 

Although this blog is called PhotoGeoGraphy and was originally put together as a means to allow me to show some of my own photographs, this outlandish performance still provided the photo of the week and it isn’t one of mine.  As Bibi was delivering his obloquy, he was surrounded by several senior members of the cabinet from his own party, and other Knesset members and a couple of hangers-on, all of them be-masked and thereby symbolically rendered as quiet as little mice who dare not utter a sound while the mouser speaks lest they be damaged eternally. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 11.34.06

His demands included making all the documents in the possession of the prosecution  immediately public so that “the people can judge” and that his trial, when it begins in earnest later in the year hearing evidence be broadcast live, once again, so that “the people will be the judges”.  Therefore, it seems as if there will be two parallel trials, one conducted in the court and one conducted outside through “friendly and sympathetic” people in the media who will then stoke the fires and bring the mob to the streets.  The erdoganization of Israel is well and truly under way.


The intended fate of those all those left-wing opponents!

The other story of the week was, of course, the cummings and goings to Durham and back of the special adviser to the Emperor of the still-just-about United Kingdom who gave a bizarre press conference in the garden of 10 Downing Street, sitting there in his shirtsleeves as if he owned the place without a hint of regret or apology for breaking the rules that he himself had help set.  And not a word of reproach either from his nominal boss that day or the ones following.

But then something happened on Saturday afternoon. I had a short email from a colleague at the University of Colorado at Boulder which said simply: “In case ye haven’t heard. What a career.” and as I read on, I learned that a man called Ron Johnston had died of a heart attack earlier in the day.  For those of us who studied Geography from the late 1960s on, there was no way that you could have missed this nonpareil.  Although most of the readers of this blog will never have heard of Ron Johnston, I make no apology and express no regret for writing what follows.  It is something I felt I just had to do.

Ron was simply a phenomenon; there’s no other word to describe him.  He was born in 1941 in Swindon, Wiltshire, in the West of England.  He graduated with a degree in Geography from the University of Manchester in 1962 just as I was starting my degree course at Trinity College Dublin and got a M.A  a couple of years later.  (He met his wife Rita on an undergraduate field course to Dublin and Killarney.) In 1964, they emigrated to Australia where he worked at Monash University, completing his a PhD on Melbourne’s residential mosaic and in 1967 they moved to the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where he rose through the ranks to a Readership.

He then spent one academic year (1972- 1973) year divided between the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics and returned to New Zealand but the following year was appointed to a chair at the University of Sheffield where he spent 18 years, becoming a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, chairing the university’s main academic planning committee.  Then in 1992, he became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, one of the UK’s top social science universities where he stayed for three years, before taking early retirement, having missed teaching and research while being a senior academic administrator, and joining the University of Bristol.

Ron wasn’t a friend of mine; he was hardly even an acquaintance.  We met a few times at conferences and I always found him friendly and congenial—and helpful—and with a wonderful sense of humour.  I came across him first for the work he had done on residential segregation and then when he published his book with Peter Taylor on the Geography of Elections, I got involved in electoral reform.

But why do we all consider him a phenomenon?  Well, it’s very simple.  He produced about 50 authored books, about 50 edited books, over 230 book chapters, over 700 articles in refereed journals, innumerable entries in encyclopedias, handbooks and the like, book reviews, review articles and much much more.  When you look through his CV and see the number and variety of his collaborators and co-authors, the mind simply boggles. 

His output over five and half decades was more than many whole departments have managed throughout their histories!  There was a time when, if I had an idea, I would go to the library and try and find out if Ron had already published half a dozen articles and a book on a similar topic before I even started thinking — and sometimes, he had!

He never stopped writing or thinking and he did this, apparently right to the very end. I once asked him how he managed to do it and his response was simple and straightforward.  Amongst other things, it was discipline, he said.  Up at 4 in the morning, four hours of writing first and then the day began.  But then, how else could be have done it?  Then I always wondered how he got the time to read and when he managed to do it!

My own direct personal connection with him came down to two two pieces, an article  that I wrote at his invitation for Progress in Human Geography, one of the two leading journals with which he had been closely associated over the years and one that he wrote for a special issue of a journal that I was editing. 

Over 35 years ago, he asked me if I’d be willing to write an article on the development of human geography in Israel.  I was truly flattered and agreed but I was aware enough to realize that it was a double-edged sword in the sense that if I didn’t get it right, I might dent several egos.  I decided to play safe and consequently, I set about locating and reading as much material as I could that had been produced by my Israeli colleagues over the years.  Rather than stand accused of missing some terribly significant piece of research tucked away in an obscure journal, I requested every academic geographer in Israel to let me have his or her current CV and to my great surprise, over 90 per cent responded positively to my initial request and all but one after a single reminder.  The one outstanding was my erstwhile Ph.D supervisor, the late Arieh Shachar of The Hebrew University. 

I tried contacting him but to no avail but finally managed to talk to one of his secretaries who told me that he was travelling but would be in Israel over the following weekend and if I telephoned him at home early on a Friday morning he would speak with me. I called at the appointed hour and told him what I was doing, that everyone else had co-operated and that if I failed to have his CV to hand by early the following week, then I would simply spend a couple of hours in the library and what I found there was what I would use. He promised me that he would send it to me and within three days, I had arrived. However, he also managed to tell me that he really couldn’t understand why I and not he had been invited to write this article, for he was really the person best qualified to do it. 

Notwithstanding, the article was published as “Not just milk and honey, more a way of life—Israeli human geography since the Six-Day War” and a couple of years later, when Shachar and I both were at LSE for short stays and the article had already been out a couple of years, we had a pleasant chat over lunch during which he told me that he thought I had done a very good job, which was nice to hear.  And then, at an Institute of British Geographers Conference in Glasgow in 1990, I found myself sitting on the back seat of a bus next to Ron and decided I’d ask him why he’d invited me of all people to write that particular paper.  His answer was very simple: “You’re the only person I could think of who is both an insider and an outsider”, which, I thought, was a pretty fair evaluation of my position within the community of Israeli geographers.

And then about 20 years ago, I was editing a special issue of GeoJournal with Stanley Brunn, an American colleague, on the subject of Geography and Music.  Ron offered us a chapter entitled: “A most public of musical performances: the English art of change-ringing”, bell-ringing being the pastime he was absolutely passionate about, a piece he had written several years earlier. (He would travel the length and breadth of Britain to participate in bell-ringing competitions.) I thought that it needed some editing, so I did what editors are supposed to do as a result of which I elicited a comment from Ron complimenting me on the fact that nobody in the previous 20 years had rewritten one of his pieces so thoroughly as I had done on this paper on bell-ringing.  As with the invitation to write the “Milk and Honey” article, I regarded that as a more than just a pat on the back. 

Like all people who enjoy a reputation out of the ordinary, there are many stories about him. I have two, one absolutely apocryphal, one probably true. The apocryphal one relates to the year he spent at LSE after his sojourn in the Antipodes and before going on to Sheffield. The story went that at the end of each day, before the cleaners came in, certain members of the LSE department would enter his office to rummage through the wastepaper basket to see if there was anything among the stuff he had thrown out that day that was potentially publishable.

The other story is probably true, given the person from whom I heard it.    At the University of Toronto, somebody bet him that he couldn’t write a publishable piece on the backs of paper serviettes over lunch while they chatted. Ron wrote and they photocopied what he’d written and lo and behold,  it was later published!

He really was an amazing person.  You could talk to him about geography, elections, segregation, in fact about anything you wanted.  There was absolutely nothing stand-offish about him.  He’ll be sorely missed by many people for and thousand and one reasons.

Puff ball


Temperature, Trials, Tribulations

Is it possible to write a blog post in May 2020 without mentioning you-know-what or you-know-what-19?  I suppose it might be but somehow or other, I don’t think I’m likely to succeed.  Anyway, here I am a little later than planned but here  anyway (Sigh? Grimace? Groan).  Anyway, if you think you detect slight traces of cynicism here and there, then it all it means is that you are plainly alive, probably awake, or possibly even alert.

Over the past fortnight, I’ve seen several posts from Facebook friends in Eastern Canada decrying the fact that when snow fell earlier in this springtime month of May,  their main complaint seems to have been that during the week prior to the return of the snow, they had removed their snow-tires from their cars, something that might make life difficult for them should they venture out on the roads.  The truth is I’d forgotten that such things existed and that people in that part of the world have to change their tires twice a year—but every place is different!

Here in Tel Aviv, we seem to have a contrasting complication.  Last Saturday was rather warm but nothing really insufferable.  However, listening to the weather forecast on the radio, it sounded like this week we were due to be stir-fried should we venture outside.  I went out for my morning walk at 07.30 on Sunday and returned an hour later.  Yes, it was definitely hot.  Below are the temperature readings in the shade at 08.26, just as I was turning into the street and at 09.55 as I sat down to read the newspaper (although I don’t really understand any more why I persist with this ritual).  At 11.47, the temperature was heading for 40 degrees in the afternoon and on Tuesday, at 2.22.p.m. it was 42 degrees with a relative humidity of 10% and we were told that this would be the hottest day of the week and that it will cool considerably on Friday (if we survive the next two days!) Today, Wednesday, is giving yesterday a good run for its money.

Temperature - 1


The heat’s enough to make you tear out your hair!  Weizmann St., Tel Aviv.  May 20 2020

Morning dew

Hot perhaps but still early morning dew.  Yarqon Park

Other than the very unusual weather we’ve been having, we’ve also been treated to a farce the likes of which Brian Rix and the Whitehall Theatre would have been immensely proud!  The farce (defined as “a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations”) was the swearing in on Sunday afternoon of Israel’s 35th government.  Amazing as it may sound, after three inconclusive general elections, a coalition was agreed upon, the main components of which are Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s bit of Blue-White, the bit that was left after he betrayed his voters, having promised for a year and a half through three election campaigns that he would not countenance joining a government headed by a man awaiting indictment, then an indicted person and from next Sunday, a man on trial for suspected bribery, fraud and breach of trust.  But that’s exactly what he did, using the you-know-what pandemic as an excuse to form a “unity government” as what he really wanted to do was not to sit in the Opposition if Netanyahu managed to form a government without him but to be able to provide jobs for the boys (and girls).

Everyone knew that if they managed to hammer out an agreement of some kind that it would  create problems, not least by bringing about the formation of a grossly inflated government of 34 ministers and a large number of deputy cronies (sorry: ministers).  In the event, the curtain was raised on the farce on Thursday afternoon, the date originally scheduled for the swearing-in  but one which had to be postponed because several senior members of Likud who had been expecting to be appointed ministers found that they hadn’t been called by the headmaster to be handed their assignments and announced that they would skip the vote in the Knesset, something that would have caused great embarrassment to the Dear Leader.  The best joke of all was when one of “the hitherto loyal disappointed and disenchanted” actually complained that the appointments of ministers from the Likud party (Bibi’s own) were not being made based on experience or ability but on a political basis only!  What are they?  Politicians or naïfs? Or did they smell a rat?

So the while swearing at the recalcitrant and umbrageous members, the swearing in was put off by three days while things were sorted out.  Mr. Gantz, who a few weeks before had had himself elected Speaker of the Knesset, a post that he had resigned the day before in anticipation of become “alternate prime minister” withdrew his resignation as an insurance policy against any hanky-panky by the Dear Leader, such is the level of trust between them. (It had been known from his personal history that promises of the Dear Leader are not always promises.  Really!)

So, in addition to a Prime Minister, there is now also an alternate Prime Minister. There’s a Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Social Services, a Ministry of Social Equality and a Ministry of Community Development.  There are Ministers without Portfolio — well, they do have portfolios but they don’t have all that much to put in them.  There’s a Defence Minister and a Minister at the Defence Ministry, there’s a Minister of Education and a Minister of Higher Education (who is also the Minister for Water Resources!), and so on.  And the new Minister of Construction served in previous governments as Minister of Health, where he tried his best to ensure that synagogues and other religious establishments remained open when his own ministry determined that they should be closed.  And then he promised us that the Messiah would arrive before Passover and save us from all this mess — and then he got you-know-what-19 himself!  Goodness know what he’ll do in Housing.

Actually, Gantz & Co. weren’t the only ones who deceived their voters.  The election poster below, which I had missed at the time, was still on a billboard last week and shows what is left of the Israeli “Left”.  The man on the left-hand side of he poster, Nitzan Horowitz is the leader of Meretz, a leftish Social Democratic party; the one in the middle is Amir Peretz, is  the leader of the Labour Party but who has been a serial party hopper over the past 15 years; the woman is Orly Levy-Abekasis, daughter of a former Likud Minister, who began her political career as a member of the then mainly Russian party, Yisrael Beitenu, abandoned them to sit as an independent Knesset member, then last year set up her own party but failed to get herself elected.  All three were afraid that they might not pass the minimum 3.25% threshold needed to gain representation in the Knesset so they ran together as ostensibly a left-wing party interested in social issues.  When Gantz became a turncoat, Peretz followed him with one other Labour member and then Orly, too, fled.  At least she was straight about her skedaddling motives and she joined Likud and was rewarded with the new Ministry of “Community Development”, whatever that means.

What was left of the Israeli Left


Party hopping materiel.  Yirmiyahu Street, Tel Aviv


And here it is, in all its glory! May 2020

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Of course, and I’ve said it before, to my mind, these people, the ministers and members of Knesset—all of them—represent nobody but themselves and such is their fluidity permitted, nay encouraged, by the Israeli electoral system that the last thing on their minds is accountability to any specific group of voters.

Couldn't give a fig

Actually, I really couldn’t give a fig!

(Actually, I had it on good authority that the real reason for the delay in swearing in the government  (one doesn’t need a reason to be able to swear at it!) was that as they knew in advance that it was going to be overcrowded, they had to order a table from IKEA large enough to have them all seated simultaneously 2 metres apart from one another and it took IKEA longer than they expected to flatpack the table.  So there!  A logical explanation for it all!)

Enough! Some pictures, please!

Escaping coronvirus

Discarded Likud ministers on their way out.  May 2020

Private kindergartens opened last week and given the difficulties of looking after the tinies indoors, the best thing to do was to wheel them to the park in their mobile playpens and deal with them there.  They were there again on Tuesday in 40+ degree heat and I would hope that they’ve brought an adequate supply of water with them.

Kindergartens open

The relaxation of rules also meant the reappearance of birthday parties in the park, marked out by boundary dividers.

Birthdays are back

Restaurants, cafés and clubs, we are told, are due to open next Wednesday provided they have room for at least 100 people.  It’s seems like a long time since we’ve been able to enjoy a coffee and croissant in a café, let alone lunch or dinner in a restaurant.  I suppose it will take a while to work through the backlog of hundreds of people with similar feelings.  So until then, we’ll continuing ordering deliveries, picking up orders and taking them away or having them delivered to the car window.

Humus Askara


Death throes

Yea!  At last! Some freedom! Yarqon Park.  Tel Aviv

Paradise gone mad

Looking the worse for wear after 2 months of lockdown

Picasso was here

Picasso in the Park

Pomegranates to be

October’s pomegranates in May.  Yarqon Park

Shofar + owner

Shofar (ram’s horn) on the hoof, also ready for next October?

So here we are towards the end of May 2020. It’s very hot and summer, with its oppressive humidity, is just around the corner.  We have a new government.  How it will function or malfunction is anyone’s guess.  The Prime Minister’s trial is due to open next Sunday in Jerusalem.  He has requested the court that he not be obliged to attend in person because it is essentially a “technical” hearing and if he brings his full phalanx of bodyguards with him, they would be flouting his own government’s social distancing regulations!  Anyway, he’s a busy man and having to do something as mundane as appearing in court would interfere with him doing his job in the way required of him.  And he would also be seen as little different from the rest of the population, something that for the Netanyahus would be particularly hard to swallow.

Never a dull moment!

No focus

It’s all a blur but still a nice picture.  Yehuda HaMaccabi Street, Tel Aviv


Garbage Collectors of the Soul

This week and for the following fortnight and a half, had things gone according to plan and had there been no crass interruption from the deadly Coronavirus, I would have been crouched somewhere in the Recanati Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, lining up shots of the competitors at the 16th Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition, just as I did in 2014 and 2017.  However, this year is different and there will be no competition until the world reverts to normal or emerges into a new normal, whatever and whenever that might be. In that respect, your guess is as good as mine, as is anyone else’s.

So instead of crouching on the steps of the auditorium or peering through cracks and openings from backstage, searching for the perfect shot, we are being given a treat at home every day at 18.00 hrs Israel time (GMT+3) on Facebook and thereafter on YouTube featuring winners of and contestants in previous iterations of the Rubinstein Competition.


To tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure that I could have managed a fortnight and more of this kind of event any more.  It’s a lot of effort for the few photographs that might be used by the organizers for publicity and advertising and, as I discovered six years ago although it took me the two weeks for it to sink in, one only needs a minimal number of pictures of each competitor—a bow to the audience prior to performing, deep concentration before hands touch the keyboard, some facial expressions during performance and the raising of the arms above the head at the conclusion of what most of the contestants think is their prize-winning recital/concert—except for the expression of utter failure on the part of those who just know that it isn’t.

And then, when you succeed in taking a really good photo and the organizers do use it and you find that you haven’t been credited, it’s a little annoying, as was the case with the picture below, which appeared in the Wigmore Hall programme for his prizewinner’s recital later in 2017.  But such is life.  Notwithstanding my kvetching, it was a wonderful experience.  The first one, six years ago, was the best photography workshop I could have attended; I learned so much on the job, as it were.  And there were so many interesting people from all over the world to chat with.  Vivien tells me that I would return each day on a high although I can’t honestly say that I remember it quite that way!

Pressler 1

Menahem Pressler.  Rubinstein 2017, Tel Aviv Museum


Nehring original

Szymon Nehring (Poland), 1st Prize 2017, (with Omer Meir Welber (Conductor)

Daniel Ciobanu and Sara Daneshpour, 2nd and 3rd Prizewinners, 2017

Jury 2017

Arthur Rubinstein Competition Jury 2017

So what do we do these days? We spend some of the time watching TV, listening to radio (preferably not to the news) and reading.  One the more interesting items we watched this week was a four-way Zoom conversation between four orchestra conductors.  This conversation was hosted by Alan Gilbert, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic currently resident in Sweden, and included Simon Rattle, Music Director of the LSO, who lives in Berlin, Daniel Harding a youngish British conductor living in Paris, and a relative newcomer to the scene, Karina Canellakis, conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra whose mentors were Gilbert and Rattle


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It was a fascinating conversation and some of the the things they had to say sounded vaguely familiar.  OK, so they’re artists and consequently, they all miss performing in front of an audience and I know that because I hear the same complaint from both our daughters who are professional musicians and miss performances as well as the meagre income it brings because there are no performances, no concerts, a point made by Simon Rattle re the musicians in his LSO, who are not salaried.  He reckoned that most could probably manage until the summer after which they would be facing a major problem.

However, one of the major points made was that they all thought that during this Coronavirus-enforced time off, spending more time at home, they would all have the time to study scores they would be performing some time later in the year or next year and they all found that it was well nigh impossible to concentrate.  They were also of the opinion that when things are “over” and they can get back to work, they will find that there is a “new normal” and it may take time before they’d be able to conduct a full orchestra of 100-120 players playing to an audience of 2,000.  Indeed, they thought that it might be altogether impossible for a long time, which might mean adjusting their programmes and putting in place pieces they could form with smaller ensembles.

Probably the most fascinating point of all was raised by Simon Rattle who said  “If we’re learning anything from this, it’s how vitally important it [the arts in general and music in particular] is.  The wonderful stage director and actor from England, Simon McBurney, said to me ‘One day people will also realize that we [artists] are also essential workers.  We’re the garbage collectors of the soul.  They’re going to need everything the arts can give and we should be ready to give it at a moment’s notice.'”

All of this reminded me of a quotation that appeared in Robert Philip’s book Performing Music in the Age of Recording in which the author, E.M. Forster, a regular attendee at the famous chamber music concerts at London’s National Gallery run by the pianist Dame Myra Hess every weekday during World War II. Forster, who wasn’t a musician, wrote an essay on what it was like to be in the audience:

“ … If the soul of an audience could be photographed it would resemble a flight of scattering dipping birds, who belong neither to the air nor the water nor the earth. In theory the audience is a solid slab, provided with a single pair of enormous ears, which listen, and with a pair of hands, which clap. Actually it is that that elusive scattering flight of winged creatures, darting around, and spending much of its time where it shouldn’t, thinking now ‘How lovely!’, now ‘My foot’s gone to sleep’, and passing in the beat of a bar from ‘There’s Beethoven back in C minor again’ and ‘Did I turn the gas off or I do think he might have shaved’.  Meanwhile Beethoven persists, Beethoven does not flicker, Beethoven plays himself through. Applause. The piano was closed, the instruments re-enter their cases, the audience disperses more widely, the concert is over.

Over? But is the concert over? Here was the end, had anything an end, but experience proves that strange filaments cling to us after we have been with music, that the feet of the birds have, as it were, become entangled in snares of heaven, that while we swooped hither and thither so aimlessly we were gathering something, and carrying it away for future use … The concert is not over when the sweet voices die. It vibrates elsewhere. It discovers treasures which would have remained hidden, and they are the chief part of the human heritage.”

And that’s how much we need music and the rest of the arts in these days of Coronavirus!

Slowly but surely the lockdown in Israel is being lifted.  Whether this is due primarily to good scientific reasoning, political expediency, or public pressure in the form of  “we’ve had enough of being confined to our homes for almost two months” is a moot point.  Probably it’s a combination of these factors and more.  Interviewed on a TV news broadcast at the weekend on a beautiful spring day, one Tel Aviv resident explained to the interviewer when asked why he had chosen to go out without a mask and into an area in which the 2-metre social distancing concept appeared to have become just a memory, his response was very straightforward: “I’d prefer to pay a 500 shekel fine to the government than to pay a psychiatrist 1,000 shekels.”  As simple and uncomplicated as that.  And when you think about it a little, people have been locked in their homes for so long in Tel Aviv and have been pretty diligent about distancing and masks, how many people are there around to get infected by to contaminate?

No masks No distancing

Socially distanced? Masked? Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

Still things are far from being normal.  Grades 1-3 and 11-12  have returned to school with strict social distancing, very regular hand-washing and other strict rules the order of the day.

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Back to School.   Ramat Aviv, May 2020

One of the more disturbing aspects of the spread of this disease and the whole lockdown episode is the publication through social media of umpteen+1 conspiracy theories, many of which involve the suppose roles played by Jews in general and Israel in particular in the origin and diffusion of the virus.

One Iranian TV channel has apparently asserted that Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of coronavirus specifically for use against Iran, one journalist tweeting that he’d rather take his chances with the virus than consume an Israeli vaccine.  Various Arab media outlets have accused both Israel and the United States of creating and spreading COVID-19 as well as bird flu and SARS.  The supposition that Jews manufactured COVID-19 to precipitate a global stock market collapse and thereby profit via insider trading has also been aired, as has the idea that Israel will come up with a vaccine, which it will then sell to Big Pharm thereby profiting from the world’s ills.  One columnist for a Turkish outlet even asserted that such a vaccine might just be a scheme to carry out global mass sterilization!  Jews have also been accused by the alt-Right in the United States for perpetuating the lockdowns in various states, thereby endangering the well-being of U.S. businesses.  

So in order to escape from these antisemitic innuendoes, I decided to re-read a novel based on some real antisemitism, Robert Harris’s An Officer and a Spy, which I read six years ago and “enjoyed”.  This time, I read it from beginning to end in a day and a half.  I’d forgotten how much information was in it and how Harris’s in-depth research and reading and wonderful writing turns an unfortunate historical event into a unputdownable thriller.  Alas, it also made me wonder how antisemitism was so deeply rooted in France (as in many other places)—and why.

Of course, the extended length of time we’ve been forced to spend at home means that some us have discovered hidden talents.  Tami, who in normal times plays cello, has found that painting is relaxing although she relates that until a couple of weeks ago, she’d never held a paintbrush in her hand!

Tami's bird - 1

And last week saw Independence Day …

Independence Day - 1

… and May Day.

Mayday, Mayday

One of my neighbours was quite happy about celebrating both these events draping the Israeli flag alongside a red one.  He’s also neglected to remove the election banner informing all and sundry that he’s a supporter of the Joint Arab List, which is an unusual sight in this part of the world, in North Tel Aviv.


On Independence Day, the park authorities were so concerned that social distancing should prevail and that people should be prevented from barbecuing and turning the park into one large cloud of searing flesh smelling smoke…

Independence Day BBQ

Independence Day, Yarqon Park.  April 2012

… that they actually locked all the public toilets in the park the day before — to the consternation of those 75-year olds and older who enjoy a walk in the park but find that they have more and narrower “windows of opportunities” than before! …

Public loo locked

… and here we are, a week later, and they’re still locked, something that has required me to become a bushman on more than one occasion!

This year, Independence Day in the park seemed even quieter than the Day of Atonement so empty was it!  In fact, it was so empty that these two crows were convinced that they had the whole place to themselves and were able to take full pleasure in whatever had entered their birdbrains!

Agony and Ecstasy

Enjoying the agony and ecstasy.  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv.  Independence Day, 2020

A reminder

Masks are now obligatory and not wearing one outside is reason to apply a fine.  Here and there, the public is reminded that they need to be worn though I suppose the most efficient way ensuring that this ruling is complied with is by giving hefty fines, as I discovered yesterday when I went to the greengrocer and was told to replace the mask that I’d just moved down to my chin as it seems as if they received a fine the previous day for not wearing masks in the section of the shop that is open to the street.

One gets used to masks and they appear to have mutated into fashion accessories for some over the past fortnight or so.

Masks - 1

Style1 - 1

At prayer

Style - 1

And then at Tel Aviv Port, all sorts of activity.


Showing off, Tel Aviv Port.  May 2020






But how to they add up the bill if only subtraction is allowed? Tel Aviv Port, May 2020

Anyway, it’s springtime.  The jacarandas are in blossom and like spring, they won’t last long.  Let’s hope that the scientists are right and come the summer and hot weather, Coronavirus won’t last long on surfaces and we won’t have to continue wearing masks because they’re uncomfortable enough in warm mild weather; I can’t imagine what it will be like in 35 degrees Centigrade and 80 percent Relative Humidity,


Oh!  I almost forgot.  Today, Israel will have a new government  (not the one I would have liked to see) headed by the Israel’s 21st century equivalent of Harry Houdini, a.k.a. Bibi Netanyahu, whose message to his supporters can be seen on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, and appears below.

Vote Bibi

Have a wonderful week!