Animal Farm

The Netherlands 17, Israel 13

The Dutch, who managed to elect 17 parties to their 150-seat parliament last week were hands down victors this virtual competition; Israel could only manage 13 parties in its 120-seat Knesset this week. Still, that was quite an achievement as several years ago, the quota for gaining representation in Israel’s parliament was raised to 3.25% of the total valid vote supposedly in order to prevent small parties from interfering with the smooth running of government.  It seems as if those political machinations by some myopic politicians who thought they were being very farsighted haven’t really succeeded.

And as in a saying often attributed to Albert Einstein, but apparently misattributed because according to Google, someone traced the original back to a mystery novelist, Rita Mae Brown, who credited the quote to a fictional “Jane Fulton” in her 1983 book “Sudden Death“.  Ms. Brown wrote: “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’”

Whether it was Einstein or a fictional character in a mystery novel published by Bantam Books in 1983, Israeli voters (or about two-thirds of them) went to the polls for the fourth time in under two years with the sole purpose of providing the serving Prime Minister with the gift of a LXI majority, the 61 votes he needs to make it a retroactive law that a sitting Prime Minister cannot be put on trial.

Some went to the polls enthusiastically; others less so.

Israeli voters head to the polls again for the fourth time in under two years.

Prior to the election, the electorate was subjected to all sorts of promises and untruths by the candidates, speaking on behalf of their nebulous parties (Israel’s elected politicians never have to face the voters as responsible individuals) all of which boiled down to whether or not one wished to see the same man ru[i]n the country or give someone else (anyone else, it seems, irrespective of any clear plans they might have had) the opportunity to do something.

We were beckoned by the politicians over the past two months since the election campaign officially began (unofficially, it started immediately after the results of the third election were announced) to come forward and cast our vote for their party.

Vote for us and we’ll promise you the world!

Not every voter was convinced of the promises she or he was hearing and regarded them with different levels of curiosity and skepticism.

 

You REALLY want me to vote for YOU and your pals? Come on!

 

Say that again and this time, look me in the eye!

 

I’m serious! Explain to me in simple words the long spiel you’ve just delivered (or can you?)!

However, notwithstanding the untruths and all the rest of the nonsense, a majority of the voters carried out their civic duty and went to the polls and put a piece of paper with the party symbol into an envelope and thrust it into the ballot box to be counted.   (Some others exercised the privilege that a democracy extends to them and elected not to vote.  I frown on this reluctance but in retrospect, the breadth of the choices placed in front of us made the decision —— to vote or not to vote — a difficult one.)

The Israeli floating voter takes a bow and makes his presence felt

And I might add that once a decision had been made and one had chosen to vote, things didn’t get any easier.)

Secret votes are part and parcel of the democratic process, so let me get on with it and hump off!

Of course, the whole point of the election as well as aiming to provide stable government, is to produce an fairer society or at least one, the members of which, are able to live with one another.

Peaceful coexistence

And so we went to the polls…

Yes, that’s the way we are!

… and performed our civic duty and after the process of opening envelopes and tallying their contents, we were officially informed of the unenviable political impasse that we had cast ourselves into.

Some people were so shocked that it made their hair stand on end.

Others made light of it.

It’s just a bad joke — nothing to get upset about!

Yet others were saddened by the whole thing and had sleepless nights over it

I feel like crying all day and all night long

As for stable government, it’s not going to happen.

Stable government? It would be so boring!

And that’s because immediately the results were announced, the illusion of stable government frittered away and we were left with what has become par for the course in Israeli politics — horse-trading, replete with blinkers.

In the sort of horse-trading (or dog-trading, it seems) that goes on after an Israeli election, the rule of the game is:

 

And then the search for suitable coalition partners begins in earnest.

It think that we might be able to work well together!

 

The less said, the better!

But keeping control of the beasties that make up Israeli politics and what makes it so exciting is that some of them stick together and are unwilling under any circumstances to attach themselves to other parties.

We have promised to stick together — you can’t separate us!

Others sit on the fence and wait to be approached by one party leader or another.

 

I’m waiting. Someone must want me with them.

Others wait patiently, expecting someone to recognize their usefulness.

Foreign Ministry? Finance? OK, I’ll settle for Natural Resources. Just give me a job.

There are those who walk around in festive dress and just know that nothing can happen without their being there.

My leader says that you can’t do without me!

Others just want to hide away and have nothing to do with what’s going on.

Bottoms up!

 

And while the larger parties need smaller ones in their coalition and while they say without interruption that they will honour all their agreements and promises, what they’re really thinking about is something else entirely.

Do as we say or else this is what you can expect!

 

The long and the sort of it is that we have thrown ourselves into a stockpile of pig shit!

Pig and pigswill

And I hate to say it, but the problem might be soluble

HaYarqon Street, Tel Aviv. Election campaign 2013

And to those of you to whom it concerns, have a happy Pesach and be careful with the matzah.  And in case I don’t manage a post next week, to those of you who celebrate Easter, have a happy holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cellphones, coffee, cockroaches

I know, I know.  I promised that I wouldn’t write anything about the once-again-upcoming Israeli election until the final results are published and so I won’t.  Having said that, I was sent one of these things that circulate on WhatsApp and other such outlets that was so apt that it seemed a pity to miss out.  So without writing about the election, I will just post.  (Readers of Hebrew can plough straight ahead; I provide translation/explanation for others.). Though Mr. Netanyahu has been courting Arab voters of late, I shall reserve comment on that for another time perhaps.

The caption reads:  “Netanyahu arrived at a Bedouin settlement and asked the mukhtar (village chief): “What is the most pressing problem in the settlement?”.  The mukhtar replied: “We have two problems”, to which the Prime Minister responded “What’s the first one?” and the answer was: “We have a clinic but we don’t have a doctor.”  At this point, the PM borrowed the mukhtar’s cellphone and spoke aside for about 20 seconds, returned it to the mukhtar and said “It’s all sorted”.  “And what’s your second problem?” asked Netanyahu, to which the mukhtar replied: “We don’t have cellphone reception in this settlement.”  And that more or less sums up the situation!

Anyway, to move on from there.  Yesterday (Thursday, or at least I think it was), I sat in a café with a friend for the first time in what seemed like a very long time.

So when I got home, I decided that I would perform a reality check and yes, the last time I was in a restaurant or café was on Sunday March 8 2020.  Over a year ago.  I find it quite incredible but it did happen.

And looking back on the calendar from last March, what I read seemed somewhat familiar.  It read as follows:

March 2: Election Day (and that was only the third one, the previous two having been on April 9 2019 and September 17 2019)

March 3: Fly El Al to London at 09.05; then receive grocery delivery in London at 17.00 (grocery delivery was yesterday afternoon in Tel Aviv)

March 5: Meeting

March 7: Concert, Israeli Chamber Project (missed because I was in London); their next concert in tomorrow evening down the street.  I’m going!

March 8:  Lunch with friends and Dinner with a friend (the last visit to restaurant)

March 10:  Purim.  David Hockney exhibition. Afternoon tea with friends.  Dinner with more friends.

March 12: Fly back to Tel Aviv

March 13: Start a fortnight’s self-isolation

March 27: End quarantine

March 29: Start lockdown

Sound familiar?  And that was a year ago!

 

L. O. C. K D. O. W. N.

Meanwhile I’ve sort of settled into a routine.  Awake at 05.30.  Listen to the news at 06.00, which is thankfully a short bulletin that lasts at most 7 minutes but which provides me with much of the information I need to get through the day ahead and a lot more that I don’t need to hear at all.  This usually include the results of the latest election forecasts based on polls of small samples and which, in Israel, are usually inaccurate anyway, because I suspect that many of the people polled are not forthright with the answers they give.  I am also updated as to how many murders have been committed in Israel’s Arab sector (seems like two or three every night) which is just the kind of news one likes to hear on awakening), which public figure is suspected of sexual harassment or worse, and most importantly, whether to not I need to take a sweater or just a teeshirt when I go out for my morning walk.

As I’ve said, Israel is opening up again.  Shops and malls, cafés and restaurants are open again and full…

The clients haven’t arrived yet but they’ll come for sure. Tel Aviv Port, mid-March 2021.

… which makes a big change from just a couple of weeks ago.

There won’t be any clients today but they’ll come for sure some day soon. Tel Aviv Port, early March 2021

Yarqon Park provides its usual complement of early morning exercisers and their instructors.

I’ve been spotted — but there’s little she can do about from that position. Yarqon Park.

The park also provides us with any number of free riders that pass by the photographer and his camera.  All that is needed is awareness and alertness.

There’s also barefoot in the park but unfortunately, there’s no Jane Fonda or Robert Redford to go with the pair of feet that obviously will need a thorough scrubbing and cleaning when he gets home.

 

In addition to riders and runners, one also comes across others—  surfers in full battle dress, for instance, on their way back home from some fun in the sea.

I also keep an eye of this hydrant guy, who I photograph from time to time and whose giant Afro seems to have got out of hand recently.  Perhaps the stylist who attends to his coiffure hasn’t yet heard that lockdown is coming to an end and that he can go back to work!

But it’s not all fun and games.  Occasionally, a walk through the park makes you aware of history and historical geography and that things change over time!

And this blog wouldn’t be this blog without a couple of bird pictures.  This time round, I’ve chosen two images of Israel’s national bird, the hoopoe — or to use its Hebrew name — du-khi-phat.  It’s not a easy bird to photograph as it has a tendency to stay still only for a very short time before it prods around with its beak looking for goodness only  knows what.

However, having said that, occasionally one will choose to open up its distinctive “crown” of feathers and it’s always something worth seeing and catching an image of, if you can.

And back on the street after coffee yesterday, this WOLT delivery man isn’t wasting any time while waiting for the traffic lights to change en route to bringing his goodies to a hungry client possibly from some popular eatery or maybe a top-class restaurant.  Pandemic or no pandemic, somebody has done well out of the situation.

WOLT deliveryman (and others) in traffic at Dizengoff Circus, Tel Aviv

And as the weather was fine yesterday, some people took advantage of it, like this young man amidst the traffic and throng at Milano Square, just about 400m from the house …

    

And walking the streets, if you keep your eyes open, you come across all sorts of interesting things such as this neighborhood notice board of which there are hundreds around the city …

… or what seemed at first glance to be some large stick insect untilI looked a little closer and saw that it was something else entirely.

The more observant of you might have noticed that not all the pictures that I’ve posted today have been taken in the past 10 days.   However, as I mentioned in my last post, I will include some more older photos that appealed to me as I trawled through my collection, and add some comments as to how and why I bothered.

One morning a few years ago, while walking north along Ibn Gvirol Street, one of Tel Aviv’s busy north-south arteries, the traffic was stopped at the traffic lights at Arlozoroff Street.  Out of nowhere, from a little behind me, this guy came running out into the middle of the street and chose a car, one with a woman driver, to perform his precious act of bible reading.  The cars must have been stuck there for a good 90 seconds and I have no idea of what the driver thought of the scene that was being acted out on the hood of her car as she waited to pull away.  I can’t remember but I assume that the scene ended when the traffic started to move again but a picture is a picture!

And while one waits to cross a street at a junction, one never has any idea of what is about to appear.  I was waiting for the light to change to allow me to cross Pinkas Street in Tel Aviv at the junction with Ibn Gvirol.  Just before the light changed to allow me to cross, this is what I saw ride up.  As the camera was primed, I didn’t waste any time; there wasn’t even any to look in the monitor or the viewfinder; I just clicked and hoped for the best.  And as I crossed, the ride with helmet, mask, jacket and riding pants asked me “Did you just take my picture?” to which, as I moved on, I responded in the positive— and I’m glad I  did [take the picture]!

 

A few years ago, we drove down to Regent’s Park in London.  On the east side of the park, there is (or was) a sculpture garden and as my eye is always attracted to symmetry, I took several photos of this one.  What I liked about it was that the metal on the periphery of the side on which I stood is in sharp focus whereas what is on the other side of the tubing is—naturally—out of focus.

Inner Rings? Outer Rings? Regent’s Park, London

 

I took this photograph while she was sitting on a bench just off Yehuda HaMaccabi Street in Tel Aviv.  What attracted my attention at first was the sound of very loud wheezing and a rasping cough. When I eventually located where the noise was coming from, I pointed the camera and focussed.  Not what I would call a pretty picture but certainly an interesting one, one that cries out about the dangers of smoking to one’s health.  The cigarette has just been lit and the necessary equipment to light the next one is at hand, too.

A propos this picture, a fascinating read is the following:

Published in 2005, the book relates the invention of mass marketing which led to cigarettes being emblazoned in advertising and film, deeply tied to modern notions of glamour and sex appeal. No product has been so  deeply entrenched in American consciousness and none has received such sustained scientific scrutiny. It was the development of new medical knowledge that demonstrated the dire harms of smoking that ultimately shaped the evolution of evidence-based medicine with the tobacco industry engineering a campaign of scientific disinformation in order to delay, disrupt, and suppress these studies. Well worth the read!

The final picture is one that used to greet us when we returned home from a longish stay in London, especially in summer.  Dead cockroaches do not provide a particularly pretty or interesting picture, but I took this one at the bottom of the stairwell of the building not long after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had met.  Looking at the original picture, I decided to embellish it and then looking at the enrichment I had given it, I came to the conclusion that instead of being a picture of two cockroaches, it represented the pair of presidents cracking up after they had managed to fool the world into thinking that perhaps they had discussed something serious when, after all, it was just a fun meeting between two serious people who happened to hit it off!

Good luck on Tuesday to those of us voting and let your conscience rather than tactics sway you !

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Birds, zebras and hydrants (among other things!)

I was reproached last week by an old friend who has recently–[fairly recently, I might add]—become a reader of this blog.  She told me that the anger that I feel inside of me is palpable in the words I write; in fact, it’s too strong.  I guess that she didn’t have to be over-preceptive to detect that, and as I no longer have a live-in toner-down of what I write, I do tend to go overboard sometimes.  And yes, I do get angry from time to time, mainly as a result of the actions and the inaction of politicians and the general way in which in a democracy, many of them are incapable of seeing past the next election.  Still, I think I prefer to be in that situation rather than to suffer what unfortunates in dictatorships have to live through.  Nevertheless, having written that, as I was walking home through the park this morning, as is their wont, my eyes fell upon a sign, which, for the non-Hebrew readers of this blog, reads: “Danger! Constructing a Dictatorship here!”

Notwithstanding aberrations such as thuis, as I wrote over five years ago when I began writing this blog, I’m basically a likable and essentially a happy individual (I hate to think of myself as a chap)—it’s just that as I grow older, unlike some fruit and other things, I appear not to mellow and I feel increasingly frustrated with many events that are happening around me and over which I have no influence whatsoever.

At any rate and come what may, I’ve decided to refrain from any further comments on Israel’s upcoming election and the people and parties contesting it——at least until after the coalition talks appear to be concluding and then, who knows what?  So what do I do meanwhile?  Well, I revert to the aims I set out with over five years ago, i.e., use the blog as an outlet for some of my photographs.  As  I wrote then, “… an SW photography blog — something where I could show and explain some of the many images I have taken over the past few years”.  And now, to my horror, I find that I have 44,000 to choose from, which, in itself, means that I’ve got a lot work to do thinning these out or else the new disk that was installed recently on my computer will be full before I know it!  So that being the case, I’ll use the next few weeks at least to mix some recent photographs (taken over the 10 days or so prior to each post) with some of my favourites from through the years, with short appropriate comments on why I took the photo and what there is to see in it.

So as the announcer on the BBC Light Programme used to say 70 years ago at a 1.45 p.m. for Listen With Mother, “If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.”

It’s a Tuesday morning but two days ago, at breakfast, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a small bird perched on the railings. There was nothing particularly unusual about that; birds often fly in and then fly out.  This one—I think it’s a wagtail—didn’t fly out and it’s been there for three days already!

Not being sure what to do to convince the birdie that I would prefer that s/he not hang around, I thought that it might be hungry so I took a Pringle’s potato crisp from the packet (I very occasionally indulge) and put it on the window ledge.  The little thing  pecked and pecked until it had bite-sized pieces to match, consumed them in front of my very eyes and then looked at me longingly as if to ask for more.

Later in the morning, when I came into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, s/he was still there and then as I sat at the table, I heard a “ratatattat”, which continued without any discernible rhythm and I looked up to see the nudnik (because that was it was rapidly becoming) pecking away at the window.   And when I went to look, I saw that not only was there a “ratatattat” but the little pieces of Pringle’s that s/he had pecked down to size, after which it had flown off for a few minutes to help its digestion, had flown back only to leave on the window ledge a generous deposit that perhaps had been Pringle’s so that in addition to the ratatattat, there was a generous helping of shittyshatshat!

By afternoon, the knocking was still going on.  Where this tiny being found the energy to peck away at the window is beyond me; there’s obviously no word for “glass” in Wagtailese.  In short, it was beginning to get the better of me.  And then I hit on the idea of closing down the kitchen blinds.  Alright — that meant that I would have to turn on the lights but maybe it might have stopped the little bugger from looking in.  And when I returned to the kitchen a little later and peeped through the blinds, there was nothing there and I regarded myself as triumphant.

No way!  Next morning, there s/he was again going through same act.  Not only that, but while flying off to take a break from looking in through the kitchen window, s/he returned with two friends and there were now three of them outside the window.  So I was left with no alternative but to close the blinds again and hope that the issue might have vanished.

It hadn’t, in that today (Tuesday) the third day, there she was again.  Note that I have applied a gender to the bird not because I know how to distinguish between the male and female of the species but because I was convinced that no male bird would have brought two buddies to stare in through the window at an aging male member of the human species.  (And if you think that the birdie is sweet just from looking at the photographs, I beg to differ!)

However, I decided to put the male/female issue to the test.   So after my shower this morning, having dried myself, I went into the kitchen wrapped only in a bath towel.  I waited until she looked at me face to face and then I dropped the towel briefly (ensuring in the process that I was visible only to Winny Wagtail and not to any of the neighbours).  And imagine my shock when this bird, which had hitherto just sat and shat, suddenly perked up and went into an ecstatic frenzy, wings fluttering at an incredible speed as she flew up and down in the small space between the bars and the window, feathers flying all over the place.  I’d never had much success with birds before and never such an effect on one—and I didn’t even have the camera to record this little incident.  Were I a Buddhist and a believer in reincarnation, where the soul of a person transmigrates to another body after death, I might have thought something else… but unfortunately, this is not the case.

And these weren’t the only bird pictures of note this week. (Somehow, in the general absence of people doing “interesting” or just mundane things, I seem to have a plethora of avian photographs.  Anyway, last week walking home after a morning walk to the sea and back, I came across three crows perched on a bar near the first playground I encounter on entering the park (which is, coincidentally, the last one on the way home.  Normally, three crows don’t interest me and in general, crows have little to commend them.  However, I noticed that one of them had a twig in its beak so I got the birds into focus.  Then, the two unencumbered ones flew off and the crow with the twig remained and, more importantly, remained in focus.

Knowing that these birds don’t generally remain still for long periods, I just waited with the object of my interest in focus until the decisive moment arrived, which is when I got the picture I wanted!

 

So much for the past week.  However, as I had promised some older favourite photos, I wondered when I took my first picture of a fire hydrant. It turns out that with the exception of one below, which I took on weekend trip to Pennsylvania with an older friend in the summer of 1978 and which I kept all the years because, kitschy though it is, I liked it …

… the first one I took in the “modern era” dates from February 2008.  Long since passed on to wherever ancient fire hydrants are disposed of, I find that I’m attracted to these things because I see faces in them.  This one at Tel Aviv Port, and this is what attracted me, just looked so old and sad that I had to record the picture and I photographed it several times as the rust caused its demise and destroyed any “life” that had been in it.  And once I had detected the “faces” that are part and parcel of the character of the fire hydrants, I was up and running and now have a “collection”about 1,500 of them.

Tel Aviv Port, February 2008

However, there is a problem in that I tend to see faces everywhere and in all sorts of places you don’t expect to see them!

Chocolate Yogurt top

 

 

 

 

I’m not what you think I might be!!!!!

 

Corporate Man, City of London

It’s not just fire hydrants that have attracted me.  Although most of the photos I took before I retired pretended to hav some sort of didactic logic to them, there were some that were just decent photos, was photos go.

Jerusalem. Pre-Six-Day War, 1966. High density living

Then, years ago I was fascinated by this road sign that appeared on Parkhill Road, in Belsize Park, in London.  What could it mean?

 

 

A visit to the zoo and little manipulation of the image solved the issue for me …

Humped-back zebra 

and eventually led to the image below,

Humped-back zebra crossing

And several of the photos found their way into the “book” that I wrote with grandchildren in mind.

Faces on the Street Draft 4 March 2018

Bottoms Up!!!

Regent’s Park, London

And by the way, in case anybody’s interested, the little birdie is still at the kitchen window — and it’s 16.30 on Tuesday afternoon!

 

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Lily Waterman, age 8, on a bright spring morning

I was going to begin this post with a deep philosophical issue but then I received a copy of the photo above the day before yesterday and thought it might be better to start with something positive before I move on to an issue that has been bugging me on and off these days before I return to the issue of springtime later on in this post.

The big question is this: Why do I appear to be more cynical as I age?  In order to try to answer this and enlighten you on what is for me a serious matter, I thought you might like to share in my frustrations of one day last week!  However, before I enter that saga, let me say that releasing my frustrations through being sardonic about things has a distinctly cathartic effect, which can be magnified by screaming and/or weeping.

So the story is thus. In early September 2020, before travelling to London, I filed Vivien’s will with the Ministry of Justice in Tel Aviv.  It had been written 11 years earlier and was a holographic will (one handwritten without witnesses) and was in English, with wording based on a formulation recommended to us at the time by our lawyer.

The Ministry of Justice granted probate on January 23 2021 and a copy of the will appears on my personal area on the Israel Government website. However, last week, I needed to renew the car’s vehicle licence prior to bringing it for its annual road test.  In the course of trying to accomplish this task online, something which is supposed to make life more efficient and less troublesome by absolving one from the requirement of going to to a bank or post office to make payment, I  discovered that this proved impossible. My ID number was unacceptable and Vivien’s ID number was no longer recognized (that’s efficiency!).  So it turned out that before I could renew the vehicle licence, I needed to transfer ownership of the vehicle and although the Ministry of Transport suggests that this can also be accomplished online, it also proved impossible, for same reason that I seemingly couldn’t renew the vehicle licence.  (Although I was listed as the second owner of the car, it had been registered in Vivien’s name so that over the past decad we could pay a reduced rate for the annual vehicle renewal because of her physical disabilities.

This being the case, I called the Ministry of Transport several times at the number that their website had provided and left my details. After two days of trying to reach a human being with brain and voice attached in order to hear what I was supposed to do next, I was called one evening by an employee of the Ministry and informed that someone would call me on February 23 at 11.05 [exactly] to arrange transfer of ownership.  “It’s a simple procedure”, the guy said, “it’ll only take a couple of minutes.” When I rang again last week to confirm, I was informed that I might have to wait up to three hours from the appointed time of 11.05.  And so it turned out.  Eventually, at 12.40 on the appointed day, I heard a woman’s voice on the phone and in the course of conversation after I had explained why I was calling, she asked me if there was a will.  I responded that there was and then she said “Oh, I  see it on the screen in front of me.” (as I could also for I was looking at my personal area on the http://www.gov.il website in front of me).  It all seemed so efficient — until the next utterance from the Ministry of Transport bureaucrat,

She said “But the will is written in English”, to which I responded “Probate was approved by the Ministry of Justice over a month ago and they didn’t see any problem!”  Her response?  “We (the Ministry of Transport) need the will to be translated into Hebrew because we don’t deal with documents written in a foreign language.”  [Hebrew is the only official language of the Jewish and democratic state in which I live].  Then she said: “I’ll do you a favour and grant you temporary ownership for this year so that you can renew the vehicle licence and the car can have its test.  After that, you’ll have to go to the Licensing Office in Holon (once it opens again physically!) with the translated will so that you won’t have this problem again next year.  I’m sending you the proof of transfer now in the post.” I asked her if she could perhaps send it to my email address as the post in this part of the world is irregular at best but her response was quite definitely negative.

However, by the following day, I managed to renew the vehicle licence (using Vivien’s defunct ID!) although there was nothing doing with on the transfer of ownership, which, apparently, will have to be done physically, whenever and if the licensing authority should reopen its office.

That took the best part of the morning and then the afternoon was taken up mainly (and unsuccessfully) trying to download an app to my iPhone.  Apparently, this particular app, the “Green Passport”, is something that I will need to show in order to prove that that I have been vaccinated. It seems as if the certificate from the Ministry of Health that I downloaded a few weeks ago is susceptible to forgery so an app, on which the images move, has been designed instead.  I tried repeatedly for over an hour but kept receiving a notice that no such app existed, at which point I surrendered to Google and discovered two things.

The first was that the two numbers which appear on the Ministry of Health website and to which one is directed if having difficulties downloading the app do not lead anywhere, least of all to a human who might (or might not) be able to assist.  The second thing I learned is that each country or region in the world has a different App Store and my iPhone used the UK one (as that is where I purchased my first iPhone several years ago) and I had not had a problem until this one arose, because the Ministry of Health had decided to make the app available only on the Israeli App Store but, I read, that if there was sufficient demand, they might consider making it more widely available.  I googled again to find out how to migrate my App Store to the Promised Land; I followed the instructions to the letter but up to this point, it all turns out to have been in vain.

Several days later, I discovered that hidden on the Ministry of Health website is a means of down loading what is called the Green Passport, which you then print out, which IO did.  So let’s wait and see what happens when I’m asked to produce it!

(Even the birds were screaming!)

 

However, not everything last week was as black as I have painted it here.  On Thursday mornings, for the past few weeks, I spend an hour and a bit on Zoom with my two London grandchildren. Normally, it’s English comprehension, grammar, punctuation and the like but last week I was asked if I  would spend some time talking to Tal (who will be 11 next month) about “something political”.

That something was a piece of work in which he was required to present the arguments for and against lowering the voting age to 16.  I was impressed by what he had prepared and by what he knew about voting and suffrage.  Towards the end of our half hour together, I decided to present a slightly different argument from what we’d been talking about just to see his reaction.  So I mentioned to Tal that if he was considering lowering the voting age to 16, perhaps he might also consider taking away voting rights from people who reach perhaps 80 or maybe 85.  “Why?”, he asked.  “Because most of them don’t work but take money from the state in the form of pensions, &c.”, said I.  “But they’ve got experience; they understand things “, he said, “something that lots of 16-year olds don’t have”.

“OK”, I said, “but lots of them are in care homes”.  His response to this comment was that people in care homes sit on armchairs around the TV sets and listen to the news and read newspapers, so can they follow events.  Sensible argument.  When I mentioned this exchange to my almost 86-year old cousin later that day, I was told that I should have mentioned to Tal that 15 minutes after hearing or reading the news, many of these these older folks will probably have forgotten that they did so anyway.

At any rate, when I compared what Tal understood with what I remembered on a similar topic 65 years ago, all I knew about politics was the headmaster at the primary school I  attended, Zion School, on Bloomfield Avenue in Dublin, Joseph Barron, was a city councillor and a member of a political party called Clann na Poblachta, a Republican Party led my Seán MacBride, the son of Maud Gonne, a woman with whom the poet W.B. Yeats was infatuated .  Mind you, when I was 10 or 11, I didn’t know any of this. Joe Barron stood unsuccessfully for election to the Dáil in 1948 for the Dublin South-Central constituency and unsuccessfully again in 1951, 1954 and 1957.  But he was persistent, if nothing else.  He was finally elected a member of parliament in 1961 and as the only member of his party and (Seán MacBride had lost his seat at that election), Joe became the party’s leader.  However, t his political career ended in 1965 when he lost again and three years later, he died.  End of story.

I’m writing this on Sunday morning as Israel emerges from [yet another] mini-lockdown, which marked the festival of Purim, which fell this year on Friday.  As a consequence, the government instituted a night curfew (from 20.30 until 05.00 the following morning) in order to prevent undue, unseemly and unwanted gatherings over the holiday (which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman the Agagite, an official in the Persian Empire, who was planning to kill all the Jews, as recounted in the Book of Esther until his plans were foiled by Mordechai (Morduk?) and his cousin Esther (Astarte?), who had been inveigled into becoming Queen of Persia. This day of deliverance (whether it’s true or not is hardly relevant) became a day of feasting and rejoicing.

In normal years, Jews celebrate Purim by exchanging gifts of food and drink, donating charity to the poor, eating a celebratory meal, reading of the Scroll of Esther” publicly (usually in synagogues).  It is also generally a fun day, marked by dressing up and having a little too much to drink.  This year was somewhat different (and it’s the second year things have been like this at Purim.  However, it didn’t turn out quite as the health authorities and the government planned, with the two great offenders being Chassidic sects, many of which insisted on carrying out their expansive public gathering indoors and at high density as is their wont and, not to be outdone, a vast number of teenagers and twenty-somethings congregating over the Purim holiday and generally having fun on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere in even greater numbers than usual.  Jerusalem (as a walled city— or at least parts of it are) doesn’t celebrate Purim on the same day as the rest of the country but [usually] on the day following except that the day following Purim this year was a Shabbat and Shushan Purim, as it is known, was celebrated on Sunday, instead—all of which meant that police were kept busy trying to shut Jerusalem off from the rest of the country for all of Sunday for reasons that should be quite obvious to everyone by now.

So I return to my initial question—why am I becoming more cynical in my old age?

I’d better put up some photos before I go completely bats (I suppose I’m not supposed to write “bats” in these Corona times so “bonkers” will have to do.). (The images bear little in common with the text that has preceded them!)

Corona Time. Tel Aviv Port, February 24 2021

It’s time to bet back to walking around the city — but meanwhile, the park birds provide photo opportunities galore.

Gulls, too, form a multicultural society of their own! Yarqon Park. February 2021

 

The Night Heron is still hanging about waiting for a bite …. maybe. Yarqon Park, February 28 2021

 

And the mynah is quiet, too, for once.

Purim means parties and parties mean people and people mean discarded matter — lots of it …

 

 

… but the other side of Purim is fancy dress and Tel Aviv Port did its damnedest to get in on the act.

 

And as I stated at the outset, there’s spring in the air, to be experienced all over the park.  What a difference a week makes!

       

 

And spring time means more exercisers than have been seen in the past four months — and people take exercise in many different ways.

Every morning, come rain or shine, between 07.30 and 08.30

 

Happy families!

 

Carrying your pooch is exercise, too.

 

 

 

 

Finally, the image below is a photo that I took at the the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv four years ago.  I’d forgotten all about it until it turned up one day last week as a “memory” on Facebook.  I quite liked it after I took it and four years on, it looks even better.

 

And that’s it for now.  Many people in Israel are expecting the next lockdown to coincide with the Passover holiday in four weeks’ time.  Before that, we are due our fourth General Election in less than two years and I’m wondering whether the only people who will be permitted to vote will be those who can produce a Green Passport. I wouldn’t rule it out. The government is meeting today to discuss whether or not to permit the return to Israel of an estimated 25,000 Israeli citizens currently abroad and who have expressed a desire to exercise their democratic right to vote!  It really is time to enter the 21st century and to institute into the Israeli political system an absentee or postal ballot!  Just a thought.

Have a great day and an even greater week!