Unfinished Business

Jaffa – and several parts of Tel Aviv – are undergoing gradual gentrification. I was surprised at the extent of this.

One block back from the somewhat rundown King George Street, for example, there are newly built, modern apartment blocks, with a price that partly explains why the city is supposedly one of the top ten most expensive in the world.

The old and the new. Near King George Street in Tel Aviv.

In Jaffa, just by the famous Gesher Theater, a tree lined shopping plaza with extensive underground parking, and a mix of boutiques and restaurants, is slowly building in popularity.

Jaffa mall, early morning, before the crowds

For all the challenges this young country has, there is plenty of good news.

There is also plenty of evidence that Israelis still haven’t figured out that asking a native English speaker’s advice is worth doing when it comes to signage.

Suits what exactly?

Do we really think Dor’s groom suits something or somebody? Himself? His bride? Being dressed up? Sold here?

Well, it made me laugh.

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Daft Parker of the Week

On the way home from the office, I saw this and nearly wept.

“It’s my car, and I’ll park where I want to, park where I want to…”

Bear in mind, this is no quiet side street. It’s one of the two main roads in and out of the commercial area in Ra’anana. This idiot – and I have full politeness mode on – decided to park half on the pavement, half off, directly blocking the pedestrian crossing.

Also note, this is one of the most dangerous pedestrian crossings in the city. (And, believe you me, there are plenty of close contenders.) It is badly signposted, with insufficient warnings, is partly obscured by nearby parked cars, and the white paint sorely needs a touch up.

What happened?

I indicated to the gentleman driver (I may have called him something else. and I may have plumbed the deepest depths of my knowledge of Anglo Saxon expletives …) that he should park elsewhere. He resisted. I insisted. (I gave him some helpful physical indications as to what he should do.) He took the hint. He moved his car. I crossed the road, and wondered at the sheer stupidity and selfishness of the driver.  By the time I arrived home, I was still troubled by it, hence the post.

Now I feel better!

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Independently Hostile

The Independent‘s headline about the flareup in Gaza is, in a word, disgraceful.

The Independent is vying for a new low in journalism standards

No-one wants civilian casualties, but outside of video games, that’s what happens in war. And, of course, none of this would have happened if Hamas hadn’t been firing missiles and mortars.

Imagine the outcry if a similar headline had been posted by the Independent about, for example, British bombing attacks in Afghanistan and their civilian casualties. (Funnily enough, you may have missed the detailed coverage. There wasn’t any of substance.) .But, because it’s Israel that is (deliberately) targeted by this vile narrative, whatever criticism is raised will be ignored, and the demonization will continue.

They hate us. And they want everyone else to as well.

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And now for a little good news

From Harry’s Place:

The PSC site has this in their commentary on the defeat:

Campaigners are concerned about threats to freedom of expression in the UK on Palestine as well as Westminster overreach in local democracy.

Yeah, right. BDS is all about freedom of expression. So long as you have the same views as BDS, that is.

I would be pleasantly surprised if the PSC went bust. Probably some crowdfunding campaign will ride to the rescue. Even if they do go bust, they will rise from the ashes, walk away from their debts, and reform as the Campaign for Palestinian Solidarity, or the People’s Campaign for Palestinian Solidarity, or something similar. Judean People’s Front, anybody?

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Tomorrow’s Headlines

Source: WikiMedia

Exhibit One (from the Times of Israel):

Hamas threatens to launch 5,000 fire kites, balloons Friday

Terror group prepares for fresh protests on Gaza border, warns Israeli communities will ‘live under a siege of kites’

Hamas on Thursday threatened to send 5,000 fire kites and balloons deep into Israeli territory on Friday, when the Gaza border will see another of the weekly “March of Return” mass protests, Palestinian and Israeli media reported.

The Palestinian terror group, the de facto ruler in the Strip, said at a press conference that the incendiary devices will be launched from various locations in Gaza during the protest, which will also mark the first day of the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday.

And here is Exhibit Two (also from the Times of Israel):

IDF fires warning shot at Gazans preparing ‘fire balloons’, launches airstrike

Palestinians say missile launched by Israeli drone caused no injuries, in second such incident in less than a day

The Israeli military fired a warning shot at a group of Palestinians who were preparing to launch an incendiary helium balloon toward Israel from the central Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, followed by another airstrike on “infrastructure” to prepare the arson devices.

“A short while ago, an aircraft fired a warning shot at a cell that was preparing to launch incendiary balloons in order to drive them away,” the military said in a statement.

A short while later, the Israel Defense Forces said it carried out an airstrike in the same area. The army identified the target as “infrastructure,” but would not elaborate.

According to media reports, the “infrastructure” was an outdoor facility that was being used by the cell to inflate the balloons and make the incendiary devices.

So tomorrow, the kite offensive will continue, and Israel will have to take serious military action.

I could be wrong, but I don’t see any meaningful outrage from the West about this naked terrorism. I don’t see so called pro-Palestinian supporters rising up in their masses, fessing up that this is an act of war, not to say counter productive, and denouncing it. The threat somewhat flies in the face of suggestions that these protests are peaceful. But never mind that. For now.

Anyway, I predict that tomorrow’s later headlines will include something along the following lines:

Gaza Kite Club Blown Up by Israeli Jets

Hamas Cultural Wing Youth Leader (Kite Section) Killed by Israeli Sniper

Innocent Kite Flyers Shot by IDF

Peaceful Kite Protesters Badly Wounded by

Palestinian Youth Burned by Petrol Set Alight by IDF

EU Criticizes Israel for Disproportionate Response to Kids’ Kites

I am sure you can come up with your own suggestions. Unfortunately, based on past events, the real headlines are bound to include some that are more offensive.

Hey BBC, the Independent and the Guardian, I am looking at you…

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Quote of the week

“Beyond the opinion that each one may have in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the cancellation of this party [game] is a victory for hatred, fear and terrorism. The World Cup has not started yet, but the Argentine national team has already lost its first points.”

Argentinian journalist Gabriel Chocron, as quoted by the Elder of Ziyon, here.

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Chelsea to Tel Aviv?

“I created one super successful football club. Maybe I should do it again. In Tel Aviv.” Picture source: WikiMedia

This may not be the most mature response to Roman Abramovich’s new status as an Israeli citizen, now that he has pulled the plug on the Chelsea stadium project, and there are rumors he is trying to sell the club and quit his commercial ties to the UK. However, I cannot help hoping that Israel’s richest citizen does sell Chelsea and then buys Maccabi Tel Aviv, turning it into a European giant of a club that puts Israeli soccer on the map, big time. Boy, would that seriously trouble the BDS activists in Europe!

I know it’s very unlikely, but it’s an intellectual and emotional pleasure playing with the possibilities. I mean, if deals could be done fast enough, the dream outcome would be the double signing of Gareth Bale and Cristian Ronaldo…

[Not so incidentally, if you look at the mainstream media discussion boards about this – for example, the Guardian – you will see that some of the comments are infused with what can only be called antisemitism. It seems that a certain group of people were glad to have Roman while he was their team’s benefactor. But when he is said to be departing, suddenly he is evil, corrupt, and Jewish. As I have said before, the ability of people posting on these boards to hide behind pseudonyms, gives them the ‘courage’ to post vile hate and naked antisemitism. If they were forced to give their true identities, I wonder how many of them would be so bold? Or, is it better that they vent their spleen? Not a short topic. But it needs dealt with.]

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The Toughest Challenge

“I think I’m being followed.”

Sovev Yerushalayim (“Around Jerusalem”) is a mountain biking event that was originally started as part of the celebrations to mark the opening of the Tachanah (“Station”) complex in Jerusalem, where the old Ottoman era train station was. It has continued each year since then, with a range of events – 8, 20, 40, and 50 km – to suit riders of all abilities.

Susan, Shosh and I have habitually done the 40 km event, starting and returning to the Tachanah, and feeling totally exhausted. Last year, Susan suggested we should aim to do the 50 km event in 2018. So, that’s what we decided to, though I was fearful that the extra 10 km was a bit too much.

Then real life interfered:

First, Susan had too many bouts of illness to properly train, so it was left to Shosh and me to live up to Susan’s suggestion!

Second, the event was postponed from 27 April (due to bad weather) to 11 May. It was bound to be hotter.

Third, they changed the route to keep us away from the Tachanah and the center of Jerusalem. Instead, we started and finished at the zoo. It was a much harder route even without the extra 10 km.

So, on the day, Shosh and I turned up ready for the 6.45 AM start we had in our welcome pack. Unbeknownst to us, the organizers had brought the start forward for the 50 km riders to 6.30 AM. As we were late, and ignorant of this, it meant we were caught in the much bigger mass of 40 km riders. The effect was to slow us down. Not that we would have been riding too much faster, but we would have avoided the stop-start delay at various choke points on the route, where the trails were not wide enough for everyone to pass at the same time.

The 50 km route included a circular 10 km add on to the 40 km route. When we eventually got to the start of that add on, many of the 50 km riders were finishing it. Needles to say, the add on was 10 km of hard, mostly uphill riding. And the sun was starting to make its presence felt.

Between gasps for breath and prayers for the pain to stop, I could admire the beautiful scenery: stunning views, fantastic panoramas, a glorious impossibly blue sky, and the buzz of a great biking event. Then back to the pain… Keep pedaling!

Shosh and I persevered, helping one another keep going until, eventually, we made it to the finish.

At the end, having long since drunk my water dry, I gladly accepted a bottle of water thrown to me by the staff at the finishing line. I took off the top and poured it over me. Unfortunately, the bottle had clearly been out in the heat too long, because it gave me a hot shower. Oh dear. Well, you cannot get everything you want, can you?

I was so exhausted, that I could not raise my bike enough to get it on the bike rack. I had to put it down and grab a five minute nap, to add a little charge to my drained batteries. I also drove home much more slowly than usual, conscious that I was not at my most alert.

“Five minutes rest, then I’ll put you on the rack.”

That 50 km event was the most physically demanding challenge I have ever faced. Immediately afterwards my feelings were along the lines of I’m never doing that again. In fact, I’m not doing the 50, the 40, the 20 or any part of the Sovev next year.

Of course, with the pain and effort slipping from my memory, I am not that sure what I will do. One thing is for sure though: next year, Susan is joining in, no matter what!

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