Monday, June 27, 2016
|"Mossad the Greatest Missions..." is on sale, NIS 50 (about $12.50) in this year's Israeli book fair week, D-A Vider 2016|
Israeli veterans are secretive about their military experience. They say a little about where they served (unit and position). Sometimes they blurt out a few small details about an extraordinary experience in "the war" (one of many they participated). But real details about missions (real battles) are best read in books or seen on TV. In general, Israel does not publish specific operational details. This is true for other countries, but in Israel, there seem to be more curiosity about the neighbor next door. There is always a strange feeling when a former army officer "suddenly shows up" as a CEO of an obscure company. Usually companies related to security products or services. But this curiosity does not lead to any real information. There is a term in Israel about hiring executives with military background: "friend brings a friend". Literally, bring a friend from your army unit, get a hiring bonus and the company will be happy. You two have a bond beyond work friendship. Nothing said out in the open, but certainly a feeling of "something is going on here, but I don't understand". If you are curious about secret Israeli military and espionage operations, turn to books. In Israel there are few good fiction espionage writers, but the real stories with fictionalized names and places are told in wonderful detail. See these books:Read More...
Thursday, June 16, 2016
|Graffiti mural on an old building, Carmel market, south Tel Aviv / D-A Vider 2016|
Many Israeli millennials seem jaded and negative when it comes to traditional Zionism. Not the Zionism which drives passion toward the state, evoked in daily conversations about terrorist attacks and economic success rivaling any country the last century (the worst and best of Israel). The 120 year old idea popularized by Theodor Herzl [Wikipedia] in Europe long before Jewish communities in Eastern Europe organized immigration to this land.Read More...
More on this somewhat hidden aspect of Israeli millennials and Zionism in future posts.
- What do Israeli millennials "Sabras" (the Hebrew term for a new generation of Jews born in Israel) know or believe that Herzl did not? Why do they not believe what their grandparents believed?
- Why is traditional Zionism, with a rich history and decades of success making young Israeli think "old, out of date, not relevant today". Why a century changed our thinking so much?
More on this somewhat hidden aspect of Israeli millennials and Zionism in future posts.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
|Traditional secular wedding ceremony performed by a rabbi under a chuppa. Modern style ktuva displayed to the gathered family and friends. 2016 D-A Vider|
Spring is wedding season in Israel. Families gather in glitzy halls, parks or back yards, and in most typically rural settings. The most desirable rural locations are old kibbutzim (communal settlements) and moshavim (communal agricultural villages). Israelis still feel nostalgia in life cycle ceramonies. Bar mitzvahs, a man's right of passage into the community is celebrated with great difficulty by reading a Torah portion in a synagogue prayer. This in an era where up to 70% of Israelis could not find their way in a sidur (prayer book) to save their lives. Well, most Israeli brides look for a rural green and preferably agricultural setting for their weeding ceramony. Luckily many defunct agricultural settlements have gotten into the ceremonial business. Most weddings are considered small affairs. They host from 200 to 400 guests. The traditional wedding ceramony starts out the affair. This element is most representative of traditional Jewish ceremonies practiced the the last millennia in communities around the world. The modern elements are a meal and dancing to Israeli "middle eastern" style music. A fusion of Arab sounds and rhythms with Hebrew poetry. Dancing and music, always an unique part of community celebration has stayed and evolved, much like other celebrations in Israel today. In the last hundred and thirty years Jews have brought tradition and fused it with new inventions, a blend as vibrant as any from modern countries around the world.Read More...
Sunday, June 5, 2016
|Only the brave & adventurous para-sail Tel Aviv's coast on windy afternoons, yet plenty of foreign millennials are on the beach watching, May 2016|
When you live and work in Tel Aviv, especially if you are a millennial, you notice the number of young foreigners here. The most surprising observation is the wide range of people from different countries (I go by languages) these millennials represent. Not only European and American, also Asians (especially Japanese, Korean and Chinese) and South Americans (especially Argentinians and Mexicans). With a few Africans and eastern Europeans thrown into the mix (Russian tourists still come in some numbers). Granted most come to visit or on business. Some come from curiosity, bucking the trend of staying away because of negative image. What will get all these millennials, energetic, optimistic, curious and a bit adventurous to come live and work in Tel Aviv? Besides the image of an active entrepreneurial center, there was a sense of adventure and maybe risk taking when coming to Israel. This is especially the image Israelis try to portray. Israelis also portray an image of a modern economically developed country. Almost on par with western European countries. Yet most western European and Americans see a different picture. Israel is still a small country somewhat isolated from Europe and completely apart from the surrounding middle east. This makes for a bit of an island mentality. Economically Israelis are still struggling to catch up with western Europe. Israeli standard of living is also below US middle class. Yet in culture, technology, architecture (especially residential construction), personal freedom, modern legal and government standards and many business sectors (particularly retail, banking and corporate structure) Israel has come close to many western countries. To most Asians and south Americans this is good news. Although adopting to Israeli culture takes effort and to some it's a steep learning curve, the benefits of living and working here are worth the effort. The same goes for most eastern Europeans, where economies and technology slowed to a crawl for decades, Israel is a breath of fresh air. The story of millennials in Israel is rich and interesting. More to come...Read More...
Friday, May 27, 2016
|Daniella Lehavi is a well established luxury leather accessory brand in Israel, bags after shopping, Givatay'im May 2016|
Tel Aviv is trying desperately to lure local luxury item shoppers. But with cheap travel to Europe and plenty of imported global branded items, the job is a tough one. Israeli designers have tried to establish a local luxury market for years, yet many fail. One success story is Daniella Lehavi [site here]. Still a relatively small retail chain with ten shops in central Israel. The shops are small boutiques with a few selected items from each category. The site and catalog show many more items available. The luxury accessory shoppers don't mind small boutiques, they happily support them. With the growth of mall shopping, essentially making them the primary shopping destination in Israel, Lehavi is taking advantage of the exposure. Israelis are not living the luxury lifestyle yet, but when they get there, Lehavi is happy to offer them local leather accessories.Read More...
Saturday, May 14, 2016
|Fireworks may be the last holdout of government spending in independence day celebration, Israelis prefer government spending on more practical and realistic social programs|
Israelis want local and state government to spend less on independence day celebrations. The days of soviet style military parades and folk dancing in public squares are long lost memories. Most Israelis today remember the patriotic showmanship as children or stories from old relatives. Israel is no longer the state of patriotic struggles and socialist idealism. The issue of independence day celebration is even rearing it's head in the political discussions. Just two days ago, Ha'Aretz, Israel's mainstream daily, reported on a comment made by Benyamin Netanyahu, the somewhat misunderstood prime minister. According to a short article, Netanyahu commented on this year's celebrations and reminisced on the military parades of his youth. Apparently the newspaper decided to spin the story as his desire to "bring back" military parades. Realistically, most Israelis take this kind of reporting as political jabs. The days of parading tanks and marching soldiers are faded memories. Yet these stories, truthful, honest or fictional, still make the headlines. It is a sign of changes in the Israeli press, a sign of not only ridicule in the face of out of touch government. While Netanyahu's perspective of Israel as a regional military and economic powerhouse fits well with optimism, his comments on showing power as a sign of strength seems to be taken as a joke. That is a change in attitude, maybe for the better.Read More...
Saturday, April 30, 2016
|A 250 shekel fine imposed on bicycle riding on Tel Aviv sidewalks - Ibn Gvirol at Arlozorov, April 2016|
Police in Tel Aviv now stop and fine electric bicycle riders on city sidewalks. On a few main streets, I have seen police officers stop riders. This seems to be happening on large streets with narrow sidewalks (Derech Ha'shalom into Tel Aviv, Ibn Gvirol Street). On streets in Givatay'im in early afternoon when high school children ride in packs through commercial streets (Katzenelson and Waitzman Streets). Besides terrorizing pedestrians on busy commercial streets, an accident can cause real trauma. Up to now accidents caused a few bruzed muscles and broken bones. But as more bikers ride on sidewalks, the inevitable serious accident it just a matter of when not if.
The electric bicycle trend has taken Tel Aviv by storm. At first electric bicycles were a curiosity, maybe another alternative transportation mode in a city with chronic parking shortage and commute time grid lock are an annoyance for years. But the electrified models came at a time where government efforts to introduce more bicycling seemed like a good idea. Tel Aviv introduced a bicycling rental by the hour program. Copying London's program, a resident can sign up for a yearly pass and pay 280 shekels (see city bicycling rental page, HE). The Tel-O-Fun program is adding a few biking enthusiasts to Tel Aviv streets, but seems more of a publicity effort than a real transportation solution. There is talk about adding bicycle lanes, but besides bicycle traffic lights along the beach path, to me this seems like a long term political babble. So if you come to Tel Aviv, and see "everyone" biking on sidewalks. Look for the marked bike paths. Or give the police a story how in London and Amsterdam bikes and pedestrians have equal rights. It could get you off a 250 shekel fine (about US$ 62.50). Otherwise just ride the streets and as they say "be careful out there!"Read More...