Tel Aviv

Town and Country
May 05, 2011

In April, the southern Israeli town of Sderot hosted its eighth annual French film festival, which was an achievement more impressive than it sounds. Sderot is a small town, and it is also a poor one; it has only 20,000 residents, many of them immigrants from former Soviet Asian republics. But Sderot’s biggest challenge may be the missiles. For the past ten years, not long after the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas has launched thousands of Qassam missiles over the border from Gaza, barely a mile away.

The Liar as Hero
March 17, 2011

The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700-1948 By Ilan Pappe (University of California Press, 399 pp., $29.95) Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel By Ilan Pappe (Pluto Press, 246 pp., $22) The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine By Ilan Pappe (Oneworld, 313 pp., $14.95) I. At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two. Here is a clear and typical example—in detail, which is where the devil resides—of Pappe’s handiwork.

Rumor Debunked
February 28, 2011

Herzliya, Israel—For years, American neoconservatives have been accused of being lackeys for Israel, namely the Likud party. In 2008, Time’s Joe Klein wrote, “The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives—people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary—plumped for [the Iraq] war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S.

Watching Cairo
February 15, 2011

For nearly three weeks as I watched the exhilarating news coming from Cairo, I had in my head four great canvases by Delacroix that hang forbiddingly in the Grande Galerie at the Louvre: The Massacre at Scio, The Bark of Dante, The Death of Sardanapalus, Liberty Leading the People.Each of them is a passionate semblance of the threat of death or of death itself. I cannot imagine anyone who has seen these impressions ever having them completely out of his head. I know the images in the Dante very well because I happen to have in my house a Cezanne oil study of the Delacroix original.

January 17, 2011

Consider three recent items from the awful universe of human rights violations. According to Reporters Without Borders human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, having been held in solitary confinement and denied visits in Tehran’s Evin prison for more than 100 days, began her third hunger strike in December. Then, as her health deteriorated, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, she called it off.

Most Jewish Israelis Want To Live Separately From Their Ultra-Orthodox Brethren. And The Haredim Don’t Want To Live With Modern Jews Either.
January 14, 2011

Of course, the issue of residential segregation in Israel comes up mostly between Arabs and Jews. And the fact is that it is the pattern but not the law. Arabs are a communal group with tight bonds among the generations. These bonds are often frayed—and often more than frayed—by what are sometimes multi-generational feuds.

Merry Christmas from Abu Dhabi, $11 Million Dollars Worth
December 22, 2010

We've been reading over the past year that Abu Dhabi and the other emirates are having financial difficulties. But troubles at the bank are always relative. These are not the worries of Spain or Greece and not even the worries of this emirate's poorer cousins, which are far less than that of the now nearly bankrupt European states.

Andre Geim, Nobel Laureate In Physics: “Israel Has Several Characteristics Which Result In An Especially High Proportion Of Less-Stupid People.” Wait A Minute, Please.
November 28, 2010

I've been in Israel already for six weeks on my teaching gig at the Bialik-Rogozin School, a K-12 in a poor neighborhood, perhaps the poorest neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Almost half the pupils are children of foreign workers, some of whom—but only some—are at peril of deportation because their parents' and/or their own documents have expired or were illegal (i.e., forged) in the first place. Still, the school is an incandescent place, with excited learning and sweet, sweet behavior.

Culture Notes From Tel Aviv: I Didn't Need "The Lonely Planet" To Tell Me That "The White City" Is The Third Most Wonderful City In The World
November 05, 2010

When I spent almost half a year here a decade ago, I came to my own conclusion that Tel Aviv was one of the world’s most splendid cities.   Compassable, young, highly cultured, loose (even “hot”), exquisite food at both the high and outdoor cafe end, grand boulevard streets, a beach that really is part of the town and used by virtually the entire population.

In the Name of the Mother
October 09, 2010

To the End of the Land By David Grossman Translated by Jessica Cohen (Knopf, 577 pp., $26.95) There are three major Hebrew novels that record the anguished way-stations of the Zionist experience: S.Y. Agnon’s Only Yesterday, a masterpiece published in 1945, which deals with the early settlers in the first decade of the twentieth century, when he himself came to Palestine; S.