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

Hair

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

Parties

Party hopping materiel.  Yirmiyahu Street, Tel Aviv

 

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

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 13.04.00

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

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