Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shift Your Image of Tel Aviv: Buzzing & Financial ?

The last few posts' feedback bring up again the gap between image and reality of Tel Aviv. The main reason I write about this has nothing to do with "righting the wrong" in our world. There is no reason to prove CNN or NBC wrong about their reporting emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Mainstream media highlight of military skirmishes, storm casualties and political meetings among world leaders is their version of the news. Blogging specifically and the Internet in general has validated a whole different view of the news. One that is much more relevant to most people most of the time. There are so many other important issues to deal with on a daily basis. To most people the traditional news content has almost become irrelevant. I say almost because the older population and the consumers of TV news are not going to replace their cable TV with a laptop connected to the Internet. Commuters on the way to work are not going to turn off the radio and listen to podcasts on their iPods (MP3 players.) As radio survived all these years in the shadow of TV, so will TV continue in the shadow of the blogging, Internet sites, podcasts, video clips on YouTube, networking with FaceBook, Twitter and Linked-In... add your own favorite Internet format here.

Tel Aviv and Israel in general has never been treated fairly in the mainstream press. That is the average Israeli's opinion at least. In my opinion this issue has more to do with the openness of Israel to foreign media plus the ongoing skirmishes between Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinians are simply stuck in limbo and have had bad luck with their leadership. It does not seem like this will change. The Israelis are simply strong militarily and have absolutely no place to go. So CNN TV reporters and London Times photographers are having a field day here. Israelis only see this part of the equation and are as mad as hell. OK, enough with the bad news... here comes the good news. (PLEASE do not write comments on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, there are plenty of other blogs to do that.)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jerusalem Mamila Street Statues - Part 2

This is the second installment of the Mamila Street statue exhibit (see the first part here.) Also notice of great deal of compression and loss in contrast in the editing process. If you would like to have the original JPG image with more detail for your site, please contact me directly. When posting on the blog in low resolution (a few hundred K size JPG) the color and texture are reduced. Especially the marble looses texture in low resolution. But than again there is no substitute to seeing it live in person!       E N J O Y


Lonely Planet's Israel Guide Book (an Palestinian Authority)

Today's Ha'aretz English edition (29-Sept-09) has an article titled: "Why Israelis shouldn't read travel guides to their country" By Yotam Feldman, Haaretz Correspondent [link]. The article cautions against Israelis reading the lonely planet travel guide on Israel. Although it does not condemn outright the writing. The quote about Tel Aviv is a hint of Feldman's overall view of the Lonely Planet's style:

The Lonely Planet guide depicts residents of Tel Aviv as idle and relaxed: "After a few days in Tel Aviv (or TA as it's affectionately known by expats) you may start to wonder if there is such a thing as a weekend. The city seems to be on permanent holiday, and at any time of day or night you can saunter down a main street and find crowded cafes, joggers, beach bums and dog walkers."

If you are a regular reader of this blog I hope this is not the impression you got. But truthfully, this article does remind me of the continuous impression of Tel Aviv tourist and expats pushed on me. It does seem that people come here to relax and forget that Tel Aviv is also a center of a vibrant country. I have a few stories that would make the point, they will be left for a bar or a drink on the beach (any takers?) From an outsider's view this impression of Tel Aviv as a laid-back coffee sipping and idle / lazy den is certainly understood. I mentioned the cafes and bars in Tel Aviv on more than one occasion.

Lonely Planet's web site, to some the authority on travel on a budget for independent individuals (no tour groups and air-conditioned buses here) says this about Israel introduction of Israel and the Palestinian Territories latest edition:

Like the patchwork of new arrivals at Ben-Gurion airport, Israel is an amalgamation of peoples who arrived over centuries of time, each one staking their claim to the land. Territorial disputes led to violence, which in turn made for some epic accounts in the Bible – not terribly dissimilar to what is playing out on nightly newscasts where you are today. But contrary to popular belief, Israel is not a war zone to be avoided, and it has such rigid security that travel is surprisingly safe. Somewhere along the line, politics and the bitter facts of life in this uncertain land will nudge their way into your trip. And while Israelis and Palestinians love nothing more than to argue, muse and prognosticate over the latest political currents, it’s best to leave your own opinions at the door. Enter the Holy Land on a clean slate and you’ll never watch the nightly news the same way again.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Retirement in Tel Aviv: Better Than Florida or Ibiza? Judge for Yourself...

I do not mean to undermine Florida's and Arizona's retirement residents. Or ask English and Germans pensioners to give up Spanish and French beaches. Now that the baby boomers in western countries are in their retirement age, options where to live are everywhere. When it is harder to move from rust belts to sunny resorts all over the world, you don't need a Tel Avivian bashing at you. BUT Tel Aviv IS better for some (and for good reasons.) Thanks to its geographic location Tel Aviv offers great weather year around. If there is a complaint about the weather it comes in the hot summer days of August, when the temperature touches 100°F (47+°C) and the humidity is at 90%. If you can't take the heat, hop to Switzerland or Scotland for a month. Geography has another pleasant surprise: location. At first impression you may not think of location as a crucial factor in a retirement decision, think again. From Tel Aviv you are only a short flight away from Europe, Africa and even India and central Asia. Here you are much closer to China or Japan than San Francisco or even Stockholm. If you like exotic locations in Asia, Tel Aviv is served by over 50 Asian airlines (125 international airlines in total.) If you like adventurous locations a visit to Africa can be a bus ride to Egypt or a short flight to eastern and central Africa.

If city life is your cup of tea, you do not need to travel. Tel Aviv offers more than most medium US and European cities. All night restaurants and bars, world class shopping and entertainment. More museums and concerts in Tel Aviv and the surrounding cities than many regions in the US. Why is Tel Aviv such a cultured metropolis? Because of the people and the mission set upon European Jews 150 years ago. Israel's population came from all over the world. With large percentage from Europe and the middle east (Muslim countries.) The mission of the people is even more intriguing, Theodore Herzl said: "If you will it, it is no dream." Actually translated literally from the Hebrew "If you desire it, it is not a fairy tale". Herzl meant that a NEW JEWISH STATE can be vibrant, proud, strong and a wonderful place to live. Not because it was hard in Europe, because if you want to build a great place, you work hard and aim high... it will happen. So people came to Tel Aviv starting in the 1880's and set out to build a dynamic and vibrant new city. Literally a place that a children's fairy tale would pale in comparison. That was the aim of building Tel Aviv, from it's official declaration in 1909 up to today. How did it turn out? Well, not exactly a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale but pretty amazing by most accounts.

Back to the retirement story... Tel Aviv is not the cheapest place in the world to live in, but it is certainly competitive with US and European cities. You can rent a nice apartment in the north of the city or blocks from the beach for about US$1,000 a month. If you go out about 25 miles the price drops by half. You can have a great meal for two in a nice restaurant for about $50 to $80. If you are a good cook there is fresh produce to rival most agricultural regions and imported goods from most places in the world. A trip to the market will cost anywhere from 200 to 500 shekel's for a week's supply for two ($50 to $125.) You can shop at fashionable boutiques or bargain basements as if you were in Milan or Moscow. Prices and selections vary. A woman's shirt at Zara goes from 200 to 300 shekels ($50 to $75) the same shirt is half at a non-brand name shop. Health care is on leading edge level, both in availability and standards. Tel Aviv now attracts cosmetic surgery tourists all the way to complex heart surgery patients from less developed countries. One clinic offers a tour of Israel and cosmetic surgery all in one week. You can subscribe to a private or national medical plan and get coverage at a basic or comprehensive levels. On both the lower to the highest economic scales your lifestyle in Tel Aviv is still a bargain.

The people and cultures in Tel Aviv are accommodating beyond your expectations. Tel Aviv is truly a melting pot. In the 1990's a million Russians came to Israel, there were predictions of economic collapse, families raising children in tent cities, hunger to rival a drought in Africa. As the Russians started to arrive people took in boarders, it was cozy but soon enough apartments were built and a small economic boom was created. Fears of doom and gloom did not materialize. The exact opposite happened, Russian engineers and scientists strengthen the Israeli economy. No engineer in Israel would even think of what the technology sector would have been with 1/2 or 1/3 of the engineers if the Russians didn't come. Russian musicians, dancers and actors flooded Israeli orchestras, ballet companies and theaters. Today there is more music, art and culture thanks to the Russians than in many European and American cities. When the Ethiopian Jews were brought from a culture reminiscent of 16th century Europe. There was talk of no resistance to "modern diseases", fear of complete demise of this old, fragile tribal community. Today you will be hard pressed to find a lively Israeli wedding without a troupe of "drumming Africans" getting everyone dancing. The tribal life is gone and the transition to modern life started for Ethiopians. Second generation Ethiopians are contributing to Israeli society. You can see them in military uniform, running businesses and in governmental positions everywhere. There is still some prejudice, but we can certainly hold our head up in comparison to many places around the globe.

Israel has a modern feel, yet it respects tradition and culture. The world here is not perfect, but we certainly aim to be a shiny example to others. Add to the infusion of Jews from around the globe cultural diversity of business travelers from Africa, Asia and Europe. Foreign workers from caretakers to the old from the Philippines to accountants and diamond sorters from India. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem you see Christian and Muslim pilgrims from all over the world, not just on holidays and religious occasions. And finally, the "stuff of culture everywhere". Tel Aviv has fashion, flavors, aromas, house goods, sounds and movements from near and far. In Dizengoff center you can find a Moroccan household goods store next to a custom T-Shirt stand with Disney characters. April perfume store with aromas from Paris' most exclusive names next to a music store blaring hip-hop. On the streets of Jaffa every Friday you can find antiques from renaissance Europe next to old Russian World War II medals. On Dizengoff street, where wedding dresses sell for € 10,000 you can still enjoy humus lunch for 22 shekels (€ 4.5) There is variety for sure, but also consistency. Neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and the surrounding cities are small islands of cultural uniformity. The Iraqi Jews are found in Ramat Gan. In Ra'anana you will find the Anglos. Bnei Brak is religious. Tel Aviv center is business and commerce. Givatay'im and Holon are bedroom communities. While some communities are 2 or 3 generations removed from their origins, you can choose from a wide range of lifestyles and values not seen in most retirement communities.

So is Tel Aviv better than Miami or Sedona for retirement? Can we give Ibiza or Sri Lanka a run for the money? If you have a spirit, want a great place to be and to enjoy life, give us a try. For most of the people who came, long ago or just last year, there is no going back ~ this place is just too good to give up for a condo in Boca Raton. After a burger at "the magic burger" you can still enjoy a French desert in as close as you can imagine Parisian bistro, just up Ibn Gvirol street*.


* stay tuned to more on the street Tel Aviv stories for retirees. Read More...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tel Aviv Cafes Fed Up With Bloggers

OK not JUST Bloggers. Basically anyone with a laptop buying a cup of coffee and sitting for two hours and just taking space (electricity and internet bandwidth too.) Some cafes are definitely shooing away customers loitering with laptops. Now that the economy has turned down and every table and seat is a potential cash cow. First cafes shut down the power outlets. Without power, laptops last at the most two hours but in reality from 30 minutes to an hour. This supposedly would limit the digital loiterers to laptop battery life. This did not bother enough digital loiterers, at least not in the popular spots like the Coffee Bean & Tea on Ibn Gvirol, a long time watering hole for the digital set. Then some cafes allowed laptop seating in less comfortable areas. Again in the Coffee Bean the high tables with a tiny space were designated "laptop tables" instead of the comfortable leather seats by the windows. In another cafe not far from Dizengoff center the couches and coffee tables set up like a living room only short time newspaper reading customers were "allowed" to sit there.

The "problem" with the loitering bloggers is an interesting phenomena. Just as the Israeli economy was recovering in 2007-2008, wireless networks were spreading in restaurants, cafes and hotels here in Tel Aviv. While the economy was strong, digital cafe creatures* were spending money and bringing life to the cafes. As soon as the economy slowed down so did the cafe spending. After all if you can go to the same cafe and spend 13 shekels (US$3) on a Cappuccino instead of the 50 to 100 shekels for breakfast... why not take advantage of the situation? The shift from spenders to loiterers - contributors to parasites is obvious in hindsight. But sometimes when such shifts in the economy and people's behavior are taking place, it's hard to pinpoint who is right and who's toes are being stepped on.

There is an important lesson to learn here. How do we handle fast shifts in the economy and in people's behavior? When Henry Miller was writing in Paris cafes nobody was too worried about seats being taken by artists, writers and "wan'-na-be" loiterers. Why? Because nobody took them seriously and in reality cafes did not lose anything. Tel Aviv cafe seats are not that valuable today either. There are plenty of empty cafes and some are very nice in good locations (with beach views or in good residential and commercial locations.) We also learned that technology does not always compensate for basic economic conditions. When a writer or SEO specialist does not have cash to buy breakfast he will go with a cup of coffee and a croissant. Finally, there are people who see trends and some that don't. Laptop computers are becoming smaller with a new name 'Net-Books'. The Internet is becoming more useful and eventually will become a source of income to more people. Businesses will adapt to people's desire to sit for a few hours in a nice cafe - somewhere. If it is not in the Coffee Bean it will be at Hillel's, or Cafeneto, or Arcafe or Greg's or a no-name cafe. The name does not matter, how you are being treated matters. If the cafe needs a few shekels to compensate for the bit of electricity and wireless networking, put out a cup or sell an hour's worth of service for a shekel (US 25 cents.) Maybe cafes will take on a style ~ the digital ones and the analog ones (or is it dead tree reader ones?) There is room for more than one type of cafe in Tel Aviv. I am sure that is true for London, Paris and even San Francisco. Thanks for reading ~~ AmiV@TLV

* I do not know what to call these wondering digital workers. Every city has them, they come in many level of sophistication: sandal wearing designers to suite and tie salesmen. The reality is simple, people need their laptop while on the move, sitting on a park bench or a car is not a place to do work in today's digital world.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jerusalem Mamila Street Statues

MAMILA STREET in Jerusalem is a new outdoor boutique mall. Mamila street is short passage with a nice collection of upscale boutiques and stores (from Gap to original jewelry). The biblical architectural design is a nice change from glass and steel malls copied like mushrooms all over Israel. Two Saturday's ago (September 11, 2009) I took a few pictures of the statue display. Israeli sculptures are a mixture of modern and traditional style. The exhibit is outside which limits the sculptures to stone and metal. Mamila street is also small, so the statues are small (20cm to 2meters). But these two limitations did not limit the artists imagination and skill. I will post more pictures in later posts as they are processed. Enjoy...


Sunday, September 13, 2009

George Gilder on Israel and World Economy

I usually write and photograph what I see and hear personally. It seems useful for readers to read and see from first hand accounts. This article and book came from a friend in Sunnyvale CA (DG). DG follows the technology investment world and has been involved in investing for over 20 years. He is also deeply aware of the image Israel has in the media and I suppose wonders who is behind the hard to explain gap between Israeli contribution to the technology business world and the negative portrayal of Israel in the media. This is an excerpt from an interview with George Gilder about his recent book and conference "The Israel Test". [Amazon].

This is an excerpt from the Gilder interview on the site/blog [original here].

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is George Gilder, an active venture capitalist, [Gilder/Forbes Telecosm Conference host], co-founder of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, and the author of 15 books. His new book is The Israel Test.

FP: George Gilder, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Tell us what the Israel Test is.

Gilder: The world faces it. It tests one’s response to excellence and achievement. Do you envy and resent people who excel you? Or do you admire and emulate them?

In the 20th Century, this test chiefly applied to Jews around the world. But today Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any moral flaws or legal infractions but because of its manifest virtues which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere.

FP: Illuminate for us the successes of Israel.

Gilder: Of all the nations in the world, Israel ranks first in per capita achievement and excellence. By any per capita measure it is preeminent, whether in technological innovation and invention, venture capital investment and creativity, share of GDP produced by technology companies, or number and quality of scientific papers. But even more impressive, Israel ranks second only to the U.S. in companies on the NASDAQ stock exchange and in achievements in such fields as telecom, microchips, software, biotech, medical instruments, and clean-tech. Israel today
represents and symbolizes capitalist excellence and freedom.

FP: Israel has a powerful and progressive government. Why does the left hate Israel so much?

Gilder: The left loved Israel as long as it was socialist and utopian, pacifist and beleaguered. The left loved the Kibbutzim with their fatuous and always unfulfilled dreams of transcending family and property. The left loves Jews as victims. When Israel emerged as a leading capitalist state, capable of defending itself from deadly enemies, and pragmatic in its policies, the Left turned against it.

But whether in Russia, Hungary, Germany, or Israel itself, socialism has always brought catastrophe for Jews. Socialism focuses on gaps between groups rather than on achievements of superior individuals. Socialism concentrates on equalizing excellence rather than promoting it. Historically, equalizing excellence has always meant suppression of Jews. This rule applies everywhere, whether by quotas as in the United States, or by pogroms in Stalin’s nationalities policy designed to equalize ethnic groups in the USSR.

FP: But isn’t hatred of Israel chiefly an effect of anti-Semitism?

Gilder: Anti-Semitism is chiefly a virulent form of anti-capitalism. In my book I closely scrutinize Hitler’s Mein Kampf . His fundamental objection to Jews is their superiority to Aryans as capitalists, as financiers, as entrepreneurs, as “middlemen.” Thomas Sowell has shown in several books that during bad times such hostility to “middleman minorities” flares up wherever an identifiable ethnic group outperforms the rest of the population in the economy. In Asia the overseas Chinese have so dominated Moslem economies and incurred such brutal massacres that they are called “the Jews of Asia.” But the overseas Chinese are so numerous that Jews might well be termed the “overseas Chinese” of Europe.

FP: Is Israel a battlefield? What is the battle over?

Gilder: It is over the survival of democratic capitalism and freedom. The Israelis just face the battle more directly and undeniably. But ultimately the battle is over the survival of the United States as a free nation and global influence.

The golden rule of capitalism is that the good fortune of others is also one’s own. Wealth does not cause poverty or environmental degradation or ethnic oppression. It opens horizons of opportunity for all. Without recognition of this rule capitalism cannot prosper, whether in Europe, Israel or the United States.

FP: The left claims that this is like saying that the United States produced a golden age for the native American Indians or even that bringing slaves to the U.S created a golden age for African blacks in America. They even offer an analogy between the American Revolution and the Palestinian Intifadas? How do you answer these arguments?

Gilder: Unlike the African blacks, the two million Arab Palestinians settled freely and prosperously on the West Bank and in Gaza, attracted by the economic opportunities created by the Israeli settlers before Bill Clinton and the UN surrendered the hapless Palestinians to the control of Yasir Arafat by making the PLO the world’s leading foreign aid recipient. Unlike the Indian tribes on the American continent who for awhile underwent violent displacement and deadly diseases, the Palestinian Arabs drastically improved their health and wealth under Israeli administration. Unlike the U.S. colonies, moreover, if the Arab Palestinians had desired a state, they could have created one peacefully at any time. From 1948 to
1967, the territories were under the control of Jordan and Egypt, without any gesture toward statehood.

If the Arabs wish to live in peace with Israel, they can work out any number of different forms of constitution and self rule. The eventual solution should include some kind of federation of the Arab Palestinians with Jordan, which was formed essentially as a state for the Palestinians. It is only Arab hatred toward the Israeli state that makes an Arab Palestinian state currently impossible and undesirable.

FP: We see, on many fronts, the West crumbling in the face of the Islamic jihad. Could the rescuer be Israel? If so, then, in the long run, the U.S. might need Israel just as much as Israel needs the U.S., no?

Gilder: In World War II, just a comparatively few Jewish scientists saved the West by leading and executing the Manhattan project that created the atomic bomb. Jewish scientists also played a key role in the prosperity of the United States which has been heavily fueled by the rise of the computer industry. All computers are based on the essential architecture invented by John von Neumann and most microchips use the field effect transistor invented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in the 1920s. Over the last several decades, U.S. technological leadership has been heavily dependent on Jewish inventions and Israeli designs. Intel has so benefited from its Israeli talent that its chips could be labeled “Israel Inside.”

Today, while the U.S. suffers from economic and financial turbulence and recession, Israel is developing into what is perhaps the world’s most creative and promising economy. Benjamin Netanyahu is the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced warrior against terrorism and most learned economic leader from his early days at the Boston Consulting Group. Israel is vital both to the future of American capitalism and to its defense.

FP: What are your thoughts on Obama’s treatment of Israel?

Gilder: Obama is becoming nearly irrelevant to Israel. He knows little or nothing true about Israel or its history and he is incredibly na├»ve about Israel’s enemies. As long as he does not deprive Israel of indispensable military support, he probably will not do irreparable harm. At present, I think he is furtively ducking his Israel test and trying to farm it out to Rahm Emmanuel.

At some point, Obama is going to have to recognize that an Iran that is willing to bomb Israel can also destroy American cities. There is no chance for peace unless the U.S. moves massively and conspicuously toward war with Iran or the Israelis succeed in destroying or frustrating Iran’s nuclear goals.

As I explain in my book, pacifists in power nearly always blunder into war.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Torah Scroll Initiation in Spharadi Synagogue

Yesterday in a small ceremony the neighborhood Sephardi synagogue initiated a new Tanach scroll (old testament) (see wikipedia Sefer Torah). This event happens only once in a few years. In a small neighborhood synagogue it may happen once every decade or so. Tanach scroll are read as part of the daily and Shabbat (Saturday) ritual prayer. Jews real the Torah in weekly portions covering the first five books in one year. The scroll itself is copied by hand by a trained scribe. This is a tradition of disseminating the books with complete accuracy going back two thousand years (or more). Torah scrolls cost a great deal (in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars). They take months to years to write and apparently there are more prominent scribes than others. Overhearing one of the conversations apparently this Torah scroll was commissioned two years ago (or has been written in the last two years) and is a work of the third most capable scribe in this area. The silver box to the scroll is also a highly prized ritual item with dedicated craftsman showing their skills to the world. The box for this scroll is more ornate than the older scrolls currently used. Some scrolls do not have ornate boxes at all, they are simply covered with a cloth wrap (embroidered felt or silk).

The procession ended at the synagogue and evening prayer took place. Afterwords a big meal to celebrate the event was held. It is customary to hold a meal sponsored by a community member in every big event. Sometimes the congregation women cook and share, in this event a catered meal was served. The commissioning of a Torah scroll is a big event for a community. In Israel today it may seem trivial since the state sponsors synagogue costs and pays Rabbis. But this tradition of a community keeping a religious tradition and having the community resources to do it with style is crucial to the continuation of local synagogues. Like many neighborhoods in the central region of Israel, people here came from different countries. The Sephardi community is made up of families that chose to live in this neighborhood. The communities gathered around a synagogue in Israel do not carry the traditions of hundreds of years in the same village. Sephardis (Sepharadim - plural in Hebrew) came from different countries from as far east as India to the western north African countries with a small minority from Turkey and Greece. They adjusted to the new structure of the state while keeping as much as their communities together as possible. Three generations since they immigrated there are not many communities as a whole that can trace their ancestry to the same village or even region. But their religious practices are similar enough. An Iraqi Jew may have a slightly different melody to a song than a Moroccan but the prayer book and the ritual services are similar enough to feel comfortable.

Judaism is Israel's official religion. Americans feel a little strange, since the US does not have an official state religion. Britons and French do not have a problem at all here. As most countries, Israel is officially Jewish with most of the population secular. Small communities of more religious people gather around a rabbi or a synagogue. They make up less than 10% of the population. For the most part the state covers basic costs of buildings and related costs (prayer books, furniture, etc.) Rabbis serving a congregation receive a salary, which they usually supplement with other work. Like other state sponsored services, there is always someone that wants it better. This community certainly has done "better".


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pictures of Tel Aviv - Park on Derech Ha'shalom / September '09

Trees and dry grass in Wolfson park (Tel Aviv, Israel) / © 2009

End of summer and beginning of the school year. Park lawns are dry. Israel has been conserving water this summer, the trees are fine for the most part. In the parks maintained by the city, trees and bushes are irrigated with drip systems. Lawn irrigation is not allowed, you see it in some private homes once in a while. Tel Aviv maintains parks in residential areas. Wolfson park on Derech Ha'shalom (road of peace) is one of the bigger parks in this part of town. Just at the border of Givatayim on the eastern side of the city. The park is well maintained and serves the local residents. This summer was not terribly hot, the bushes and trees seem to have survived. The main grass section in the middle of the park has not been watered for two or three months. Now it is completely dry.

Eucalyptus trees along Derech Ha'shalom heading east / © 2009 Tree line separating residential buildings from highway. Derech Ha'shalom, Tel Aviv, Israel / © 2009 Read More...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Meir Ariel - Neshel Ha'nachash

Meir Ariel (1942-1999) [wikipedia / HE] [wikipedia / EN]was one of Israel's loved singer-songwriter. Most people remember him for his sad ballads. His style reminiscent of Bob Dylan, in blogs you see comments on his songs "it's the words..." His first song was written during the six day war, Jerusalem of Iron [HE] was influenced by the Neomi Shemer song Jerusalem of Gold [EN] [HE]. The song's success lead him to the belief that his role as a soldier in the fight for Jerusalem and the war's success contributed to the song's success. He called his song's success "just a gimmick". This lead him to return to his kibbutz (Mishmoret) and to normal life. He married and volunteered for a mission to the US where two children a boy and a girl were born. In the US he was influenced by the music of Bob Dylan. He wrote in his style and kept that style for most of his life. In his return to Israel he tried his hand at the movie business in Tel Aviv. In 1973 at the break of the Yom Kippur war he served in the Suez canal. He returned to his kibbutz and was appointed the kibbutz's secretary. In 1978 he released his first album "holiday and event song and falling". The album contained three hit songs which put Meir on the Israeli pop map. -- For more on Meir Ariel's story see the wikipedia page in English [also Hebrew]