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ToraTravels: A-party-heid in Israel

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My last night in Tel Aviv happened to be on Israelís Independence day, which is on a different date every year. From what I knew before about Goa parties, LSD and MDMA, the Israelis love to party and the night of Independence Day confirmed this idea. Tel Aviv was going crazy. Similar to Memorial Days and Victory Days in Europe, the previous day is one of mourning en remembrance of the dead, and in the morning they sound the air alarms in commemoration. The next day is one of celebration. From what I knew before about Goa parties, LSD and MDMA, the Israelis love to party and the night of Independence Day confirmed this idea. Tel Aviv was going crazy. The streets of the city were full with mostly young people hitting the nightlife, cars blasting celebratory and patriotic music, and a general atmosphere of excitement in a city thatís known to be bustling during regular weeknights. I donít think anyone living in the city centre has any delusions about getting a good nightís sleep on this day. Would be cool if I knew some locals and got to go out with them.

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MURICA!

Being in Israel you are continually reminded of the heavy military presence in society. Youíd almost call them insanely paranoid if it werenít for the fact that a large number of Arab states have tried to wipe the country off the map a couple of times. Armed soldiers are everywhere, most of them kids in their early 20s serving out their conscription, which is mandatory for everyone, both men and women. Cute Israeli military girls have become one of the internetís fetishes and I confirmed that indeed many of them are cute. Not sure if their loaded assault rifles makes them more or less sexy. No pics, unfortunately.

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So here's some nice graffiti instead.

Checkpoints are ubiquitous, especially at the international airports. Americans are always complaining about their TSAís lengthy and annoying procedures, but I found the security checks here to be very smooth and efficient. It didnít take any more time than it usually does at most airports, even though normally you go through only one check and here you get about three. First, whenever you enter and leave the country, you get a mild Ďinterrogationí by a civilian-dressed security officer, who usually appear pretty friendly and normal. They ask you a few questions about yourself and your travel purposes. No big deal, really. They determined Iím not planning to blow anyone up and let me go through the next few checks, which went very fast. Because Iím usually wearing Timberlands boots itís a bit annoying to have to take them off at most airports, but there was no need for that here since they got a machine for that. All in all, Iím impressed by their security setup because itís elaborate yet efficient at the same time.

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And some more graffiti in your basic residential neighbourhood.

Israel is a small country and there are two areas that are administered by the Palestinians, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Both have big concrete walls with barbed wire constructed around them by the Israeli government, to keep the Palestinians out of Israel and to reduce to threat of bombings. You can go inside these territories after passing a few checkpoints. Itís generally safe and stuff like food is generally much cheaper in there, but the standards of living are also much lower than in Israel. Youíre not allowed to take the food back past the checkpoints into Israel, though. I havenít been in the Gaza Strip, but from what Iíve read itís a much bigger trouthole than the West Bank, with even access to clean water being hard to come by. Upgrading these poor living conditions in these regions probably isn't very high on the Israeli government's agenda and it doesn't really help that the Palestinians can't really get along with each other. However, I experienced the Israelis as very friendly and helpful people, though on a first look you'd think they're assholes.

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You're better off this side of the wall. Note the flags. They're everywhere.

The food is pretty good. I had hummus most of the time, which is much cheaper here than in Europe and comes in big tubs rather than the small packages we have in our supermarkets. You can get half a kilo for less than $3. Itís very good in combination with Israeli bread, which is kinda flat and chewy. Other foods Iíve had include falafel and a grilled sandwich with cheese, paprika, olives and whatnot. Also common are big, puffy pastries, but as temperatures went above 35C most of the day I was definitely not going to try those - way too heavy on the stomach. Hummus is ideal because itís so light and tastes super refreshing with some olive oil and lemon juice squeezed into it.

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All of this for about $1.50 per sandwich! You get to enjoy the sights of partying Israelis for free.

My total stay lasted only for about three days. The area my hostel was in is in the oldest part of town called Yaffo. A lot of Arabs live here too. Still, the Israeli flag is omnipresent in the weeks leading up to Independence Day. At least their shops are still open during the Sabbath, when most of Tel Aviv is empty because everyone is at home. It would be cool to go back sometime and stay longer, and it doesn't seem like a bad place to work and live, either.

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Them streets of Yaffo, not far from the beach.

Also went to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Can't believe people have been fighting for centuries over this boring, touristy crap-filled piece of real estate. As a whole, Jerusalem just doesn't have that energetic vibe you get in Tel Aviv, but I guess it has its attractions if you believe in invisible bearded men in the sky.

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So here's another picture of Tel Aviv instead. In a lot of parts it's kinda what I imagine LA to look like.

Updated 05-20-2014 at 10:57 PM by kotora

Categories
Personal Life , News & Politics , Miscellaneous

Comments

  1. Quintuky fied Chicken's Avatar
    Disappointed with the lack of cute military girls. I refuse to follow your journey any longer because of this. *storm off*
  2. kotora's Avatar
    Not sure I like your cultural hegemonic oppression through cisgendernormative cognition bias, Quin. The reification of the gaze is, and yet is not, the systemization of the gendered body.
  3. Quintuky fied Chicken's Avatar
    trout you're right, I am a .
  4. Psychotic's Avatar
    Fascinating stuff, really enjoyed hearing about another culture. Thanks for posting it.
  5. Calliope's Avatar
    Great pictures and write-up; I will gaze at that first street art shot as I eat falafel for dinner. Safe travels!