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.

Earthquake about to hit Tel Aviv

Not a real one, of course. But this has the potential to be devastating:

Bicyclists to be fined for riding on Tel Aviv sidewalks

Cyclists will be fined up to NIS 1,000 for more severe violations starting May 1.

The Tel Aviv municipality today [17 April 2016] announced that starting on May 1, Israel Police will begin enforcing the law banning bicycle riding on sidewalks.

Tel Aviv is swarming with bikes – electric and standard. And while there is some bike path infrastructure, most bikes are ridden on the pavement. Unfortunately, many bikes – especially electric bikes – are ridden in a manner that is dangerous to pedestrians, as well as the riders. It is a plague. This action is long overdue.

As Globes’ report continues:

Before enforcement begins, the Tel Aviv municipality, the police, and the National Road Safety Authority will conduct a major public relations campaign, to begin this Sunday. The campaign will include billboards, a video clip, and green graffiti on sidewalks. During campaigns, explanations will be given by policemen, municipal inspector, and stewards, who will distribute information sheets about proper riding and enforcement measures to bicycle riders and pedestrians.

When enforcement begins after the Passover holiday, policemen will begin enforcing the law against riders of bicycles and electric bicycles riding on sidewalks instead of on marked bicycle paths. Enforcement measures will also be taken against severe violations, for which the fine will vary from NIS 100 to NIS 1,000, including going through a red light, riding in the wrong direction, using a mobile phone while riding, and disturbing pedestrians in crosswalks.

Punitive measures will include fines, taking the air out of bicycle tires, and confiscation of batteries (for children under 16 illegally riding electric bicycles).

I just wish they would do the same in Ra’anana. The plague of electric bikes is terrible. And Pesach seems like a good time to sort out a plague!

Honest Avi

“I have a feeling (I did not count, I admit, but every Israeli journalist is quite familiar with this gloomy state of affairs) that the large majority of the journalists is of Ashkenazi background, resides in Tel Aviv and lives in a left-wing bubble. We like to listen to the same radio programs that nobody in the periphery listens to, watch cool current events programs that have next to no viewers, and read the so-called “thinking people’s” newspaper (Haaretz) even though all relationship between it and the State of Israel is purely coincidental. We will sit in a cafe in downtown Tel Aviv and go on and on about Bibi and his wife without realizing that most of the country admires them.

Maybe that is because we are cut off from the State of Israel and tuned in to the State of Tel Aviv. We have no clue what is happening in Bat Yam, Holon or Ashdod, not to mention Netivot, Sderot or Kiryat Shmona.

To Likud’s joy, Labor and Meretz also have barely a clue what is happening there.”

All credit to Avi Issacharoff for his honesty, for it is his post at the Times of Israel (here) from which the above quote is taken. It’s a piece offering another explanation about why Bibi won. I think it’s a highly important piece of information that helps understand, not only why Bibi won, but the dynamic within Israeli society – or at least one of them.

We have, in the main, a media that is disconnected from the population. Sound familiar?

Foreign media, in the main, connects with Haaretz. That’s the only media establishment in town. (I suppose the UK equivalent would be the Guardian.) No wonder Israel gets a crap deal at the hand of these people.

So far as our own media is concerned, maybe that’s why they are so hateful of Israel HaYom and its pro Bibi stance? It’s a mile away from the Tel Aviv perspective.

I’d like to pretend that I can work out what this will mean in the future, but I don’t know. I suspect that the so called Yedioth Achranot (Ynet) law – effectively banning free newspapers like Israel Hayom – is dead and buried. I happen to think that’s a good thing. But what else will be impacted? I wonder how these coalition negotiations are progressing…

Letting the train take the strain

Today I took the train to work for the first time in years, and for the first time since making aliyah. What a pleasure it was. Instead of fighting the traffic into Tel Aviv, I only had to fight the traffic to Herzliya. I popped on a train and twenty minutes later popped off again, to begin the short walk to my destination. When I was finished for the day, despite the rush hour traffic, I reversed the process. How was it on the way back? Well, let’s just say I was so relaxed, I had to make a sharp exit for fear I missed my stop!

There is no train station in Ra’anana. However, next year two of them are due to complete. I only went in to Tel Aviv for work for a special meeting, and unless I change companies that is unlikely to happen much in the future. But a decent train service would make leisure trips into Tel Aviv (and beyond) a lot more palatable.

I don’t want to wish my life away, so I’ll be patient. But I will be glad when Ra’anana joins the train network.

A Yom Kippur option

If you are a Tel Avivian and not of a religious bent, you may be interested in this piece from Globes:

Tel-O-Fun offers free Tel Aviv bicycles on Yom Kippur

Subscribers with annual membership can use bicycles for free from 11 am Friday through 1 am Sunday.

Tel Aviv bicycle rental initiative Tel-O-Fun, which on regular days limits free rentals to half an hour, will allow unlimited free rentals on Yom Kippur.

The special offer will go into effect on Friday, the eve of Yom Kippur, at 11:00 am, and will be valid until 1:00 am Sunday morning.

The offer is only for subscribers with annual memberships – in other words, primarily Tel Aviv residents. Occasional users who do not have an annual membership will be charged the regular rate.

No, I am not tempted! But riding a bike on the empty streets on Yom Kippur must be a fun thing to do.

[The full article is here.]

From the “Video” department

I’m in a department kind of mood these days. I bet you suspected… Anyway, courtesy of the Israel Video Network:

Check out Tel Aviv and Yaffo in this super upbeat clip based on the Pharrell Williams song “Happy”. Whether skateboarding, shopping, sitting on the beach, playing at the park, hula-hooping, working at a high-tech company or eating with a friend at a cafe – you’ll love watching people in this great Israeli city just being – HAPPY!

Cool! Be happy, one and all.

[Thanks to Lori for the tip.]

It’s a long way to Tel Aviv

It took an hour and a quarter to drive to Tel Aviv from Ra’anana last night. There did not seem to be any special reason for this exceptionally bad traffic, which made it worse. On the down side, it meant Martin and I had less time in the big city. On the plus side, we had a nice long chat in the car, and the air conditioning was working.

The main point of the excursion was to introduce Martin to one of the better quality music stores in town, and though he was happy to browse, he refrained from making any further injections of financial stimulus to the Israeli economy.

Then we had dinner at a meaty restaurant near Sarah-Lee’s flat, and she joined us later on for a drink and some of our chips.

We finished off the evening with a walk and a voyage of discovery. The walk took us past Habima – Israel’s National Theatre Company and its brand new home premises – which was the subject of recent (failed) boycott attempt. You may get an idea from the snapshots in this post that it is a wonderful building. Hopefully, one day my Hebrew will be good enough that I’ll be able to attend a performance and understand it! (As I dislike the theatre – as a concept and form of entertainment – I should stress this is not something I am losing sleep over. But it would still be nice.)

As for the voyage of discovery, that was the return journey home: I missed the turnoff, and ended up doing one big circle to get back to the right road, and give Martin a free tour of parts of Israel he would otherwise not have seen!