Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Israel , or the Holy Land, has always been a magnet for messiahs (meshichim) and messianists of every weird shape and hue. Of course most of the messiah-action takes place in Jerusalem but the messiah, I was reminded this week, can also be found in Tel Aviv.
On Sunday I ate a felafel in Florentine at the Massiach Ben David restaurant (above). The proprietor who carries this illustrious name (the messiah according to Jewish tradition is descended from the House of King David) was a little orthodox guy who made one of the best (and biggest) felafels I've ever tasted. It did take him about 20 minutes to prepare but what's that in the life of a messiah? This little religious enclave (the simple restaurant is glatt kosher) seems to co-habit happily with its very secular surroundings.
This building was built by the German Christian Templer sect that set up flourishing communities throughout Palestine at the end of the 19th century.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templers_(religious_believers) A group of these buildings near the Neve Tsedek Tower, ( see earlier blogs) are now being conserved, as "compensation" for the rape of the skyline. This Templer settlement was called Valhalla. The Templers, like the Jews, believed that settling the Holy Land would hasten the coming of the messiah (different messiahs, same idea)
When Hitler came to power many of the Templers joined the Nazi party (apparently as a way to reconnect with their Germanness). The house in the photo was part of a factory compound owned by a Herr Wagner who was the leader of the Nazi Templer faction and who was being groomed to rule Palestine under nazi occupation. The problem was "solved" by the Palmach who, (according to an interesting documentary on the Templers on TV) assassinated Wagner on Levinsky Street.
And today, a new messiah appeared before the cameras. Arkady Gaidemak, the Russian oligarch who launched a new "social" movement and advised us to vote for Netanyahu.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Not Gaza or Cairo but a long-neglected building snapped this morning in south Tel Aviv, in Florentine to be exact. Sometimes landlords deliberately neglect the buildings in order to encourage protected tenants to move out and allow them to sell the property to developers. Sometimes, the residents are too temporary, poor or disorganised to tackle the job of a renovation. Tel Aviv municipality wants to force all apartment owners to renovate their properties every decade or so. But will they receive financial help?
Talking of Cairo, yesterday we visited the Yoav Hot Springs near Asheklon, emerging with glowing skin and that lovely ironed-out feeling you get after a (too rare) massage. At the entrance to the spa we came across this strange sight.
A memorial to the Anonymous Egyptian Soldier! Click on the photo and you'll see that the plaque is in Arabic only. Presumably this is a memorial to the Egyptian soldiers killed in the war against Israel in 1948. We are in the same area of the kibbutzim Yad Mordechai and Negba where there were fierce battles in that war. I wonder if there a memorial to the Anonymous Israeli Soldier killed in Egypt in 1973 or in 1967?
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Sunday, February 4, 2007
We came across this this house yesterday on a Shabbat morning stroll around the old streets (Kalisher, Mohilever) running down to the Carmel market and the sea south of Neveh Tzedek. I later learned that it was part of a compound built shortly after the start of the British Mandate for the employees of the first British bank in Palestine.
Caught this kitty on top of a wall nearby.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Pretty much the same picture appeared on the front page of The Marker, Ha'aretz's business magazine, yesterday. It turns out that the building was purchased by a group of British businessmen for $7 million. After it is renovated the entrepreneurs hope to sell the luxury apartments at prices starting at $2 million! (or they're just saying that in the hope that it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy).
At any rate it looks like we're going to have some rich neighbours . I can't help wondering how much increased value this might project onto our modest building.
Regardless of finances, the renovation of the building opposite is certainly going to beautify this end of the road. There are still lots of architectural pearls to be found around here waiting for a major cash investment. According to the article , market forces, combined with the edgy fear of European Jews looking for a pied-a- terre in Tel Aviv will do the trick.
This is what the same building will (hopefully) look like a night in a few year's time.
There are many other project development projects financed by prosperous Jews from France, the UK, Belgium and Italy who have either recently made aliyah or who have one foot in the country. Most of their customers are other real or potential olim with a taste for an elegant home with a European feel to it and enough strong euros or pounds to pay for one. This property invasion of the 'outsiders' is mainly being conducted abroad but is already having a deep effect on our environment. Sometimes it is for the good, like the house across the road, and sometimes the result can be ruinous, like the Neve Tsedek Tower built to grab money from foreign Jews while also ruining our view, our light and the low-rise proportions of the neighbourhood.