Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hard times

These are hard times all over and Tel Aviv is no exception. One friend told me about a friend of his who has just been dismissed from a high-tech company . The whole exercise was carried out like a military operation. The unlucky emplyees recieved a dismissal letter and were expected to vacate the building within minutes. When they staggered downstairs they found two ambulances and a line of taxis waiting to take them home. I heard another story about 5 guys who are about to be sacked by the kibbutz factory but meanwhile have been invited to a holiday at a Turkish resort at the same factory's expense!!

Despite the economic downturn and at least in the near vincinity of the rooftop (yesterday an example of inner urban blight today a sexy real estate location) the clatter of building is still audible over the traffic. The whole area is being revitalised by a combination of conservation of old buildings hand in hand with new construction, especially of tower buildings.


Here's the back of an old building a few houses up the road that dates back to the early years of the century and the very beginnings of Tel Aviv (Ahuzat Bayit) . The bulldozer is probably digging an underground parking space for the new building that will rise behind the old one.





This space on the corner of Herzl and Lillienblum streets is slated to hold a 30 storey hotel - 'Dan in the City'. Only the facades of the old buildings on the perimeter of the site facing the road will be retained and restored.

Only the fronts of these houses will be saved. Some of them have some attractive features.


Until the hotel is built, graffiitti artists have been using the dilapidated space as their canvas. One of them had played on the words tov lamut be'ad artzenu ( "It is good to die for our country") reputed to have been uttered by the dying lips of Zionist leader Joseph Trumpeldor in the battle of Tel Hai. Instead of that uplifting patriotic motto the artisthas written tov lamut - artzenu be'ad or "It's good to die - our country is for."Not a slogan likely to go down well with the occupants of the new hotel but by then the place will be all prettied-up.

And while on the subject of dilapidated spots about to undergo great changes, here's a picture of an open piece of land called kiryat sefer . Some of the local residents are battling to turn it into a park. Since an earlier promise to do just that has never materialised, the municipality obviously has other plans. I read that the locals had done some planting and we went over to check it out. But instead of fresh green shoots we found only this disconsolate woman in front of a deserted building carrying the sign "This is the Kiryat Sefer democratic ecological park." In case you were wondering, Ron Huldai was re-elected mayor of Tel Aviv (by 52-34% if I remember correctly). Dov Khenin's supporters put up a great fight and have as many seats in the local council as Huldai's Tel Aviv 1 party. Now let's see if they can use their political power to turn the asphalt green in the democratic -ecological park in Kiryat Sefer.