Tuesday night I was here, wearing a suit at the Tel-Aviv opera house, applauding the cast of Jacques Halevy's operaic masterpiece "La Juive".
Wednesday morning, a mere ten hours later, I was here, documenting the Tel-Aviv sewage system for an article and applauding its special emergency task force.
I later went down into the raw sewage myself and took this gentleman's place, removing clumps of hygenic pads, moist wipes and tampons which clog the pipes. All the while I was thinking back to the opera. The profound vocal combinations at the end of the second act haven't left me even when I was in shit up to my navel.
These ten hours are a good metaphor for life in this country. We keep moving between the truly wonderful and the perfectly sinister. An even greater contrast lurks ahead. Monday is Israel's memorial day, observed as an annual day of national mourning. Tuesday is independence day. The switch between the two occasions occures Monday evening at sundown, when suddenly the flags are brought back up from half mast and fireworks begin to shoot into the air.
The contrast doesn't end here. Independence day itself is also the Palestinian day for commemorating the Nakba or "catastrophe" of 1948. This year, Israel passed a law forbidding its citizens from observing the Nakba day as a memorial day. This infringement of our freedom of speech makes many of us want to do exactly that, if only to spite the authorities.
Call us juvenile, but this is a good opportunity for us to learn of what the Palestinians have been through as consequence of the war and to empathize. We'll also be celebrating our liberty to view history in any way we choose, a liberty of which the right-wing government currently seeks to deprive us.
With all due respect for family barbecues and our handsome flag, The only substantial thing we lose by trading independence day for Nakba day (or at least with Nakba-law day) is that sudden bipolar shift we are so used to. Hopefully, we'll survive the deprivation. This land is anyway sure to provide us with some unprovoked contrast which would baffle and confuse us. All we need to do is wait for it with open arms.
(last shot is by chief documenter of local contrasts: Alex Levak)