Monday, February 22, 2010

Dark by Night, Dark by Day

This week kicked off with two very interesting trips. The first was to Yad Haroutzim, one of Tel-Aviv's roughest nightlife districts. On Thursdays and Fridays the streets of the compound are the site of many a stabbing. Real life metal detectors are placed outside the clubs, and the music is as aggressive as the atmosphere. For some reason working class suburban kids love these vibes and descend on these streets by the thousands.

We came on a Saturday, as chaperons for our friend Goni, who had to take photos for a magazine article. The compound turned out to be dead. The dangerous energies gave way to the blues. It was thick blues, the sort of which I haven't felt in this city before. Yad Haroutzim felt like a container into which Israel's augmenting violence, waning education and diminishing values are dumped. We were there just as that trashcan was emptied, walking though the gloomy void that was left.

The following day we traveled 70 kilometers away, to Hebron. I used to come here often, mostly assisting the organization "Breaking the Silence", which gives tours of the city from a human rights perspective. For nearly a year I stayed away. As I expected, not much has changed. In fact, the only visible difference was that soldiers are no longer wearing full combat gear in the city. the destructive status quo, whereby Hebronites are perpetually held hostage, has rooted. No one threatens it.

Palestinians are still not allowed to walk on the main streets. The center of the city is a ghost town, in which 300 Jewish settlers are free to terrorize the Palestinian populatio with support of the army. Hebron feels like a container into which Israel's augmenting violence, waning education and diminishing values are dumped. Its streets at noon are as silent as Yad Haroutzim's streets on a Saturday night. Again that feeling of walking through an empty, dirty trashcan. Here it is, as photographed by Itka.

It's not too difficult to stay away from both Hebron and Yad Haroutzim. Israel looks great from the cafe in which I write this. Everyone is well dressed, educated and polite. We all enjoy liberties and rights similar to those of our brethren in Europe and North Amorica. Outside the window, good looking cars are climbing lazily up the tree-lined Ben-Zion Boulevard, passing the newly renovated national Theatre as they reach the top.

In reality, ours is a society in a state of crisis. The dark side of Israeli existance is getting darker. Many Israelis are struggling to cast more light: teachers, activists, volunteers et al. The government isn't helping much. It's more concerned about buying fake glasses and eyebrows and sending hit men for murder vacations in fancy Dubai hotels. Oh well, at least someone around here is having an authentic good time.

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