Monkey Business and all that!

Monkey business

Monkey Business.  Yarqon Park, August 2020

I begin this post on a Sunday afternoon.  I will probably complete it later in the week if and when the Knesset decides whether it should dissolve itself automatically or just hang in there until the next “crisis” is artificially concocted by our so-called elected “representatives”.

The current predicament has been produced by the fact that if a budget is not approved by tomorrow (Monday) at midnight, the Knesset automatically dissolves, presaging new elections.  How has such a situation come about?  After all, a coalition agreement had been signed just a few months ago, following the last election in March (the third in 11 months), and which stated categorically that the budget would be two-year budget, something that the current Prime Minister has pushed for and supported for the past decade or more.

However, suddenly, it seems, he’s changed his mind.  What ever could have brought about such an aberration?  The largest party in the coalition (after Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud) is Blue-White, which is led (sort of) by Mr. Gantz, signed a coalition agreement and is insisting that the agreement it signed (somewhat naïvely, it would seem now, in good faith???) must be upheld; the Prime Minister’s party is equally adamant that if the Knesset refuses to pass a one-year budget, so be it.  On the basis of past “zero hours” in Israeli politics, the likelihood is that about 11.45 p.m. on Monday night, some temporary solution will be found and the crisis will be transmogrified from being acute to one that is ongoing, i.e., until the cycle of lying is has been completed and the scenario repeats itself in a few weeks time.

Could all this somehow be related to the fact that the agreement also contains a clause in which the current Prime Minister (Mr. Netanyahu) and the “alternate” Prime Minister, (Mr. Gantz), agreed to swap jobs a year and half into the life of the current parliament and that once he ceases to be Prime Minister and becomes another minister, however exalted and experienced he may be, he will by law have to resign from the government and thus the last glimmer of hope that he might escape justice by avoiding a trial might be extinguished?  Well, on the basis of past events related to Bibi, perhaps so.

Much of all this nonsense is related to the Israeli electoral system.  I might have mentioned in an earlier post that, cynic as I am, I believe that the vast majority of the 120 Knesset members represent nobody but themselves, least of all the voters, people the likes of which they never have to face on a personal level.

It used to be asked of the late Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli Prime Minister, how one could tell when he was lying, the answer being, of course, “as soon as his mouth was open”.  With the current Prime Minister and Prime Ministerial wannabes during Coronatimes,  now that they all wear masks, it has become more difficult to determine when the untruths begin.

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This is because the electoral system Israel uses continues that employed by the voluntary institutions of the Jewish community under the British Mandate in Palestine in which the extreme proportional system of representation served as a guarantee of cooperation between different political parties. Parties taking part in those voluntary general elections, held before the establishment of the state, were rewarded after each election by receiving a share of the resources (such as British governmental immigration certificates), approximating to the proportion of the valid votes they received so that even some small dogmatic parties cooperated with one another of their own volition.

The roots of the Israeli electoral system, like many other aspects of Israeli society, go back to Central and Eastern Europe in the early years of the twentieth century when the political traditions stressed an “effervescence” of many parties with a broad range among them, stretching from communism to fascism and everything in between. The politics of the Jewish community in British Mandate Palestine, following the tradition of the early Zionist movement reflected this pluralism.

So in order to ensure that all opinions, including minority ones, would be guaranteed expression, representative bodies were elected under a proportional system in which each party had a number of representatives in exact proportion to the number of votes cast for that party so that even parties garnering as little as 1 percent of the total votes would have a voice. This was adopted when Israel gained independence and so it has continued, with just minor changes so that today’s Knesset reflects the heterogeneous population and a multi-party tradition and the only thing that has really changed is that the very low threshold for representation (1%) has risen (to 3.33%).

The “list system” used by Israel is shared with the Netherlands and perhaps some other countries of which I am only vaguely aware.  In other words, when we vote, we do not vote for a candidate representing a party but for a party alone.  If the people on the party list owe allegiance to anybody, then it’s to the paid-up party members who “decide” if they get on to the list in the first place and if so, where they end up on that list.  But unlike the Dutch, we don’t even have the privilege of “promoting” or “demoting” candidates on the list we choose.  It’s a take it or leave it situation — which means that elected members never have to come face to face with the voters at large, something which contributes to the fluidity that comes into being as soon as an election is over, with people switching allegiances as soon as they’re rid of the voters.  This is about as far away as one can get from what the electorate in the USA or the UK are familiar with.

Not that any electoral system is perfect.  Even Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in the UK last December, in which the Conservatives won 56% of the seats, was achieved with less than 44% of the popular vote.  In the USA, despite Donald Trump’s claims otherwise, Hillary Clinton won 48% of the popular vote to Trump’s 46%.  But in both the UK and USA, elected members of parliament or Congress have to go back and face their voters whereas in Israel, voters and their “elected representatives” are that much further removed from one another.

Add to this the fact that Israel has no such thing as postal voting or an absentee ballot — one can only vote in person at the polling booth designated by the address that appears in one’s ID card and the lunacy of calling a fourth election just a few months after the last one, in the midst of coronavirus restrictions seems even madder than it might otherwise appear.  And, as I’ve already mentioned, I believe that the vast majority of  Knesset members really represent nobody but themselves, the voters being little more than irritating appendages.

Anyway, it’s now Tuesday morning, a couple of days after I started this post and it would appear that I was a little out in my estimate of timing because two hours before the deadline the Knesset approved legislation that would extend it the day by which the budget is to be passed by 120 days.  The Prime Minister had appeared on television on  Sunday night to announce that he was ready to compromise (a performance that I didn’t  bother to watch, preferring the highlights of the cricket match between England and Pakistan, something more exciting and less predictable than another Bibi show).  The televised discussion of the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday afternoon had all the value of a circus show with a superabundance of clowns in action.

And the Prime Minister’s words yesterday evening that this is a time for unity and not one for sowing hatred wouldn’t even make it on to a list of the thousand worst jokes told in the last year.  Currently reading Julian Jackson’s book A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle, I came across a sentence that might be appropriate here.  It refers to the extreme-right-wing writer Charles Maurras, whose newspaper Action française was dedicated to opposing France’s parliamentary Republic.  ‘He created for himself a world into which his deafness had imprisoned him. Perhaps that is an explanation for the final aberrations of this solitary individual, who was cut off from the world and because of this became unhinged.’

Enough!  Quite some rant!


Wow!  That was quite a rant, wasn’t it?

Hi, there, Kohlrabi

Tel Aviv Municipality has taken to reminding people how they can break the chain of infection — wear a mask, maintain a distance from others of at least 2 metres and be diligent to maintain hygiene, all accompanied by the slogan “The return to normality is in your hands”.

Masks, please

But not everyone is in agreement that masks help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.  The label at the bottom of the picture below taken in the Yarqon Park the other day informs us that masks do no more than defraud the public.

Public fraud

And not far away the birds enjoy their hebdomadary Sunday feast day before the spoilsport cleaner outs an end to it all!

Sunday morning

Avian Feast Day (Sunday in the Park without George)


So they might as well vent their anger on parked cars!

Park under a tree, summer in T-A


On my way home from my morning walk, I found the footpaths littered with yellow notices.  Curious as to what they might be, I decided to have a look and discovered that for 100 shekels (about $28 or £23) I can be 2 grams of marijuana.  However, I have to be over 18 and must order via WhatsApp.  Delivery is apparently free.

Grass for saleGrass for sale 1

After use, you might need to use one of these!


And just after I took this photograph of these vehicles of mass annoyance, which, once used, can be (and are) dumped anywhere being returned to their “official” parking places …

Scooter collection

… I espied the latest in summer maternity wear walking along the opposite side of the street.

Maternity wear, summer in T-A

And one day last week I strayed and crossed the Ayalon “river”.  The valley of the Ayalon was mentioned in the Book of Joshua where Joshua defeated five Amorite kings, asking the Lord to lengthen the day by uttering the command: “Sun, stand thou still on Gibeon and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ayalon”.   God seemingly acceded to this request.   These days, the Ayalon is a more mundane thing, with the northbound freeway on the left, the southbound on the right, the railway in the middle and the piddly little Ayalon alongside.


And I couldn’t resist taking this tempting photo in the park of a man awaiting his fate!

Awaiting one's fate

I do not know what fate awaits me


And to end with, three images I came across yesterday while looking for something I thought I had photographed but, as usual, I couldn’t find.



Let’s stick together.  Belsize Park, October 2011

Hanging in there

Like everyone else, just hanging on in there.  South Bank, London.  August 2015


Guess Who’s Looking at You?  Trafalgar Square, March 2014

I love V


A new normal

Since the arrival of the novel Coronavirus over half a year ago, people have been talking about adjusting to a “new normal” although quite what they mean by a “new normal”, what it will be like and when it will begin to function is anyone’s guess.  Maybe it will start before the end of 2020 or maybe it will be with us until the next decade.  Who knows?

Meanwhile, for me, the term “new normal” has taken a particularly personal twist.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already almost four weeks since I’ve had to come to terms with the concept that I’ll be living alone for the foreseeable future.  Most of the time, I try to get on with things — which means that I try to keep myself occupied, whether it’s exercising or reading or watching TV or writing this blog.  But every now and then my mind slips or someone calls me or writes to me, saying something that causes me to remember things as they were and not as they are or will be.  And when that happens, I think of that beautiful melody composed by Charlie Chaplin as an instrumental theme for the soundtrack of his 1936 film Modern Times on which a song, Smile, (sung here by Nat King Cole to lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) was based, and after a few tears, I smile and things brighten up again.

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just


The day before yesterday (Monday), it rained in Tel Aviv.


Rain in August

Rain in August in the part of the world is so unusual that it warranted a photograph even though what fell in my part of North Tel Aviv was but a few drops.  However, I am reliably informed that 3 km north of where I live, they thought that winter was already on its way (no hope of that being the case—maybe in two or three months) as the heavens really opened with a proper shower.

However, during summer months in Tel Aviv, most of the time the damp comes seeping through from the inside out — even before 07.00 hrs.

07.20 T-A, August

Wet Walker, Yarqon Park. T-A. August 2020


Hot enough for shoes!

Others are more relaxed about the heat and the humidity.

8 a.m., Just arrived

Just arrived.  Cigarette still alight at 07.55, Yarqon Park, T-A

Just arrived. Good morning!

Just arrived.  Too tired for a fag at 07.55.  Dizengoff Street, T-A

Everyone to his own

Everyone finds his own comfort zone. 07.30, Yarqon Park, T-A


At first glance, I thought he was exercising. 07.20, Yarqon Park, T-A

Meantime, one topic outweighs all others when you tune in to radio or television or read the newspapers to find out what’s going on — Corona, Corona, Corona.  And in these Corona times, new forms of litter that we hadn’t been familiar with before turn up.

Corona garbage

In fact, masks are everywhere.

Masked men

Even our hydrants are wearing them these days.

Hydra mask

And there are some people who don’t seem to be able to get enough of them!

Masking the truth

Mask, face guard, scarf, gloves, sox and boots — and 30+ºC!


I even came across the man finally (after several months without one) tasked with steering Israel through the coronavirus crisis, Ronni Gamzu, (the so-called Corona Czar) in the park on Saturday morning, taking a break from his run to answer what I presume was a Corona-related call on his phone.  As he ran past me a few minutes later, I noticed that he was maskenfrei, which I thought a little odd as I’d only seen him on TV a couple of days earlier explaining to the population at large why it was necessary to enshroud one’s face.  But it was explained to me later by someone who takes an interest in these things that when running, masks are not required.


Why a mask is not a requisite when jogging but is necessary when walking is yet another of the less than logical mysteries of these Corona times.  However, it is not as big a mystery as explaining how, when interior gatherings are [supposedly] restricted to 10 or 20 people, thousands of guests, many of them without masks and many of them failing to observe anything resembling social distancing attended a wedding in the central study hall of the Belz Hasidic community in Jerusalem last week, blatantly violating the ban on gatherings imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.  Though the police apparently turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the contravention at the time, it was later reported that they had decided to open a criminal investigation into the proceedings. 

The Mayor of Jerusalem reportedly accused critics of the shenani-gangs who attended the wedding shenanigans of hypocrisy, stating that mass demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s residence have not been met with similar condemnation.  But then, why should they?  Social distancing and masking have been observed to a large extent at these demonstrations, which are an essential part of living in a democracy.  Perhaps His Honour, the mayor, was unfamiliar with the fact that demonstrations against the Prime Minister and his alleged corruption have been taking place all over the country and for several weeks now—and not just outside the Prime Minister’s residence. 

Moreover, the demonstrators are not “leftists” or “anarchists”, whatever these terms are supposed to mean beyond disagreeing with or disapproving of the man himself and his policies. Nor are they “aliens” (a turn of phrase used by the unemployed 29-year old Mr. Netanyahu junior, the Prime Minister’s self-appointed (or mom-appointed?) friend in need) but mostly by people who have been out of work for half a year with little or no compensation from government, while the Knesset passed a law awarding Mr. Netanyahu over a quarter million dollars retroactively for renovations to his private home in Caesarea—and this is a man whose net worth was estimated by Forbes magazine last year at approximately $14 million!  “Bad timing”, he was reported to have said at the time. Perhaps the demonstrators feel that the politicians are just playing games and lining their own pockets, and they’d be right.

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Three-quarters of the Carmel String Quartet among thousands of non-alien demonstrators outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, Jerusalem,  11/viii/2020. (Photo: Maxim Reider)

And although the picture below is what I see when I look out of my living room each morning and I know that it’s a poster than calls for a demand for an inquiry into alleged corrupt practices, I don’t like to be constantly reminded visually through an image of the man who is manhandling the country and its institutions in order to keep himself out of prison.


And while on this loathsome subject, I will repeat what I wrote in a post at the start of 2020.  When Netanyahu’s immediate predecessor as Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, had been indicted on counts of obtaining by fraud under aggravating circumstances, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and tax evasion, the then Leader of the Opposition, a man by the name Binyamin Netanyahu, said in a live television interview that he believed that he (Olmert) should resign, making it very clear that he thought that in such a situation, the Prime Minister had no moral mandate to continue serving in office. He said: “We are dealing with a prime minister who is up to his neck in criminal cases”For good measure, he added that Olmert would be “so preoccupied with the investigations against him that he had to withdraw because the weight of the criminal prosecution hanging above him might influence him not to make decisions that are in the best interest of the nation and that he might place his own personal considerations above those of the nation!” 

Well, well well!  How the time and the same man have changed!  And today (Wednesday), there was a debate in the Knesset over whether there should be legislation to prevent a person indicted on criminal offences from being allowed to form a government.  The main coalition partner led by Mr. Gantz chose not to aattend the session and the motion was defeated.  Surprise, surprise?!  And it looks like Israeli might be headed towards its fourth election in a year and half.

When one looks at things objectively (if such a thing were possible in Israeli politics) it’s not exactly a flattering accolade in favour of Israel’s already stained society that such a person, a man who regularly spreads the gospel of divisiveness and hatred, heads the government and at the first available opportunity, will try to legislate a way out of his ongoing trial.  I can understand why the man doesn’t want so spend several years in prison (after all, we’ve had a former President, former Prime Minister, and former Finance Minister, among others who’ve been there, so he knows what awaits him).  He could sign a plea bargain but that would be admitting guilt.  For several years his mantra had been “They’ll find nothing because there’s nothing to find!” but after they found something, the mantra changed to “Everybody’s against me and it’s personal” — the police, prosecution service, the press, the judiciary, so in order to keep out of jail, I’ll dismantle the state by hook or by crook (with emphasis on the latter word, please).  It really does beggar belief

And, of course, the root of all this skulduggery is the determination to stay in power, fuelled by the blind fealty of the spineless lackeys and flunkeys who surround the Prime Minister, people who never have to face the voters and answer to them directly as individuals, such are the vagaries of the Israeli electoral system. Perhaps I’ll write something about Israeli politicians and the electoral system in a future post but enough of this for the moment.

Getting away from Coronavirus and politics is this country is difficult.  Nevertheless, a  visit to the Friday Farmers’ Market at Tel Aviv Port always yields colourful images.

SweetsSweets 1

Go, Man, Go

Go, Man, Go!

But can it really be this colourful?  Really!?

In public?

Can he really be doing what he seems he might be doing?

And the route through the park en route to the Farmers’ Market is also hardly devoid of worthy images .


Just checking that you’re on your way!  I’ll keep an eye on the house for you!

Deep end

One, two, three—and off we go!

CactusBrick wallBoat

Boat on river

And en route home, construction work.


And so ends my first post with a “political”body to it, written without a constraining voice to keep me out of trouble.  I hope I haven’t overdone it!


This vehicle belonged to Robert and Clara Schumann

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