September 23rd, 2002
Although more bombs have gone off, more aggressive reaction from Israel, more Palestinian deaths, and Arafat is under siege, this is not what ‘inspired’ me to put finger to key.
I was having lunch today with my wife in the Azrieli Centre. This is Tel Aviv’s version of the World Trade Centre. For us, it’s a modern mall, full of all the usual shops, stores, restaurants etc. Through the glass roofs above us we can see the 2 skyscrapers.
Originally 3 were planned, one round, one triangular and one square. The first 2 were completed, and they are very beautiful. They are different from every angle, with optical illusions as to which is in the foreground etc. They go up maybe 40 or 50 floors.
The square one was stopped after 3-4 floors, and that’s where it remains, with pin-reinforced columns, girders etc. sticking up towards the sky. There are so many versions as to why this was never finished, one actually being that the ground could not take the weight….
At the time of the WTC attack, we all looked towards Azrieli and wondered.
Today, we ate at what one can call a typical Israeli restaurant – what ‘we’ call ‘oriental’. It could of course be in Cairo or Amman; the menus would be similar: Humus, falafel, kubbeh, Turkish salad, various types of eggplant salads, brochettes of various meats from the grill, etc,
‘Avas’, meaning ‘duck’ is Arab-owned. Half the staff are Arab – Israeli Arab. Not only is the place so well-run (as is the original ‘Avasi’ in Tel Aviv’s old part), the service is really a pleasure to experience.
So what’s the big deal. Normally none, but this IS Israel, and people on the outside need to be reminded what everyday life is like.
You want a contrast? On the same subject? Over the weekend, in ‘Um-El-Fahm’, a primarily Arab town in Israel proper (where there was a car bomb 3 days ago), there was a meeting of Hamas supporters. Children were there too, and all shouted as one would expect: death to Israel, death to Jews etc. etc. These are Israeli citizens, officially with all the same democratic rights as there fellow citizens.
Yes, we all know about ‘2nd-class citizenship’ – happens in every country.
In a peaceful country such as Holland, one could perhaps argue that the Moluccans, Indonesians, Surinamese really should be treated the same. Here, I would have thought, under the crazy circumstances, it’s unbelievable that they are treated equally. Their brothers want Israel gone, and they themselves (OK – ‘some of them’) hold meetings that would be banned in many ‘civilized’ countries.
I feel myself to be objective, leaning to the Left, but I would draw the line as to which organisations have the right to public protest in this country. (There are some right-wing Jewish settlers whom I would include in such a ban).
But I want to end on a positive note. Despite the understandable fear we have of anyone ‘Arab-looking’, we do have an Arab population here in Israel with whom we have a normal, neighbourly relationship.
[Wow, my wife has olive skin – back in the 80s, my Egyptian customer grabbed her around the shoulders and exclaimed “you remind me of my daughter-in-law”! What should I do now?]