Israel 62nd Independence Day: Pictures from the Beach

“Matkot” literally means paddles, is a fast game played on the beach. Using a hard rubber ball, each player hits as hard as he can toward the other side. The idea is to keep the ball going as long as you can. Good players can volley back an forth for 10 to 20 minutes easily. /© 2010

Brezlev religious movement is founded on Rabbi Nachman from Brezlev, they dance and blare music on the promenade next to the Tel Aviv Beach. These are interesting believers bringing back happiness and lightness in practice. / © 2010

Tel Aviv “tayelet” literally means “a path for a trip”, is a promenade along the Mediterranean coast. Running along all of Tel Aviv’s western edge, there are a few hundred meters of beach all the way to the water. The promenade is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. On a warm day the area is full of beach goers, trourists and locals out to relax and people watch.  / © 2010

Parts of the Mediterranean beach are covered with beach umbrellas. They are extensions of bars and restaurants or run by local vendors renting an umbrellas and beach chairs. On a hot weekend day, Tel Aviv beaches attract a variety of people and are full.  / © 2010

Tel Aviv’s marina is situated at the middle of the city’s beach section just below Gordon street. It is a relatively small marina. Close proximity to the city center makes it a unique place to enjoy both the sea and all the city has to offer. / © 2010

More Pictures of Tel Aviv (March 2010): Port, Lights, Olive Flowers, Storm

Two previous picture posts [First] and [Second] on this blog
On a warm spring evening, as the sun dipped behind the horizon, Hilton hotel guests, mothers with strollers and small children and a few couples ended up at Independence park. Just north of the Hilton hotel, the park is a tiny piece of land on a cliff between the Hilton and the renovated Tel Aviv port. It overlooks Tel Aviv’s beaches and the city from the highest point on the coast.

Azrieli tower complex (a round, triangle and square buildings) is one of Tel Aviv’s most visible landscape. It stands by itself at the eastern border of the city just at the Ayalon highway. The Kaplan-Begin intersection outside Azrieli is one of Tel Aviv’s busiest. The light flag faces the south and can be seen by drivers on the highway going north.

This spring seemed like a more intense bloom following a wetter and colder winter. As if the trees are saying: we liked the winter so here comes the spring. More rain fell than in many years, which gives hope to the drought of the last five years. Rains help the trees and shrubs not watered by man (drip irrigation systems or by hand.) Most trees around Tel Aviv are not irrigated so when springs comes the rains from the last few months show in bigger blooms. What I can not show is the wonderful fragrances. Even a tiny olive flower has intense fragrance. When you walk by the trees in spring it’s a wonderful feeling.

Israelis Worried About International Image

Israel is viewed in a harsh light recently with the media accusing the country or actually it’s leaders, in not cooperating to come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians. President Obama is being betrayed as the proverbial “bad guy”, at least here in Israel. After receiving a Nobel Peace Prize (some say prematurely), Obama is said to be pushing hard for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This situation does not bother Israelis. Plenty of leaders from the time the state was founder in 1948 and even before have tried to make Israelis and Palestinians to stop fighting. The ones who succeeded, Carter and Clinton, were not necessarily great international statesmen, but they somehow got the leaders of the two sides to stop for a moment, shake hands and sign an agreement.

Israelis have a different problem: THE MEDIA! Israelis are very much connected to international media. Newspaper, magazine, TV, radio and Internet news are on here all the time. Israelis consume news and current events from international channels more than local channels. To some what CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and Pravda says is more important than what the Israeli government says. Israelis feel horrible when the country’s leaders are blamed for being war mongers and insensitive to Palestinian needs.

In general Israelis do not seem to hate or complain about Palestinians. Maybe because of the media, Israelis do not like Palestinian leaders. Maybe due to international media, Nasrallah and Haniah are more feared than the Palestinian people. Israelis also do not exactly understand why the Palestinian people themselves have not done better since 1948 and 1967. This is specially in light of the Palestinian people’s ability in many areas. To some extend Israel is to blame for the situation in the Palestinian Authority lands, but most still wonder why Palestinian workers can build wonderful buildings in Israel and there have not been one new modern city built by Palestinians for themselves. These are just some of the difficulties Israelis and Palestinians have in understanding each other.

Back to worrying about Israel’s international image. Israelis compare our situation and our history to other countries. While Israel has held higher moral standards by all measures, very little of this is taken into account. Here are a few facts about Israel’s situation and standards:

  • Israel is one of the only democracies out of most countries who gained independence the last century: there has never been a revolt, a coup de tat or a non-peaceful change of government.
  • Israel has the most open freedom of press policies especially compared to middle-eastern countries and countries in a state of war.
  • Israel has one of the most secure and peaceful internal environment with very little crime and minuscule level of hard crime.
  • The country has a proud legal history and compared to most countries one of the most honest and transparent legal system.
  • There is very little corruption and the state police and military are rarely accused of wrong doing.

These are just a few of the qualities Israelis bring up when accused of all kind of crimes against Palestinians. The high moral standards are also talked about when Israeli leaders are accused of crimes against Palestinians. When a British judge issued an arrest warrant against Tzipi Livni for accusations of war crimes for involvement during the second Lebanon war (she served as a secretary of state in Ehud Olmert’s cabinet) most people here were not angry as much as puzzled. Clearly Livni was not an extremist and did not deserve such an isolate treatment, if you want someone go after Amir Peretz who was the secretary of defense or Ehud Olment. That affair embarrassed the British government to no end. But it also showed how the British legal system can reach beyond it’s borders and create a horrific situation in Israeli citizen eyes.

Israelis are not naive to believe in great changes with the international media reporting. After all, these are organizations which report on what they can in the best way they can. By that I mean, very little can be said about the government of Myanmar (Burma) and the freedom of speech there. The same is true for all the civil wars in Africa. Or the clear abuse of freedoms in the last election in Iran. The world expects Burmas, Africans and Iranians to abuse human rights, fix elections and slaughter themselves; which in turn, most governments, including the British legal system, is not going to spend energy and resources going after Burman, Iranian or African leaders or accusing them of war crimes. But Israelis do expect private citizens, bloggers, government officials and even state leaders to chime-in once in a while. Very few British members of parliament went on record even to point out that one British judge does not represent the British people or it’s government. This only occurred after many back and forth accusations on both side.

Well, I usually do not like to comment on political events and international affairs. There is plenty of that buzz on the Internet and thousands of bloggers buzz back and forth incessantly. Hopefully this article will shed some light on how Israelis feel about the international media. We do not have a perfect society but it is better than most. We also try hard to keep high moral standards, and do not like to be accused falsely. Which by itself is a great achievement.

Spring Flower Pictures of Tel Aviv (April 2010)

Roses in bloom, first new flowers blooming in Tel Aviv’s Wolfsohn park. The first roses are starting to bloom in early spring / © 2010

The first colors of spring flowers amaze with almost plastic look. Colors are brightest in the early dawn and late dusk when the sun is not as bright / © 2010

A flower floating in the shade, Wolfsohn park, Tel Aviv, Israel. At first look we assume perfect symmetry, but a closer look shows unique asymmetric construction in each flower. / © 2010

A flower floating in the shade, Wolfsohn park, Tel Aviv, Israel. Spring flowers come in lots of colors and shapes. Pay attention behind and below eye level. / © 2010

A flower floating in the shade, Wolfsohn park, Tel Aviv, Israel. These flowers construct wonderful and unique geometric shapes. Each bunch slightly different than the next one. / © 2010

A flower floating in the shade, Wolfsohn park, Tel Aviv, Israel. These are big flowers with bright colors from red to yellow to white. Red is the most common color. / © 2010

Building, Inventing and Innovating: Positive Attitude Under Stress, Israel’s Culture

How do you describe a country’s personality? How do you explain to someone how things are done in a different culture? or business environment? Israelis have been doing things their own way for such a long time, it is hard to most people to understand a unique and very different culture. Israelis are not at all like their American Jewish cousins, also they are not like their European Ashkenazi ancestors and certainly not like the Arabs surrounding cultures (and the Arab countries from where the Israeli Sephradi population came from.)

Israeli culture of creating is unique and can help others in becoming more creative, productive and constructive. Israelis have an 120 year record of building, inventing and innovating intensely. That attitude of doing the “hard-fun work” or what here is considered the “important work” gives Israelis pride and confidence. Some say over-confidence (or false bravado) at extreme cases. Israelis are known to be overly optimistic about their abilities. For most Israelis culture and history also gives a sense of reality and a “can do” attitude. I think this is the most crucial difference between Israeli and people in other countries. In some countries, like the US after World War II this was the case. American won the biggest world war so now Americans felt like they could do anything. For a generation, this attitude propelled the American economy and society which became the envy of the world. Attitudes are developed in Israelis as a cultural element from early age. It makes sense when you are here and you see and experience how Israelis think and work. It is very strange for foreigners with different cultural attributes to understand (or even believe) Israelis describe this attitude. A combination of historical success and strong personality gives the country a truly unique behavior.

A related point is how Israelis bounce back after a low. Recoveries here are slow but steady and well thought out. Israelis suffered tremendously after the second Lebanon war. All of northern Israel was under attack. Israel’s defense forces (IDF) could not beat Nasrallah and Hezbollah even with massive bombing and ground offensive, one third of the country was under siege. What the international media did not show was hundreds of fires specially in forests (hand planted over a century.) Some families afraid for their children moved to tent camps in the central region, even in Tel Aviv in front of the central train station. Then the war ended with no real resolution, the IDF withdrew without a commitment from Nasrallah to stop the shelling in the future. The whole war started over the capture of two soldiers, it turned out that they were deal all along. What did Israelis do? Did they go into a state of anger or depression? Not at all!

Israeli workers and managers actually worked through the whole war. At many Israeli companies managers vowed not to miss any days due to the shelling. After the war the mood was dark but everyone started slowly to feel better. Government officials were blamed for mistakes in decisions and there was a public debate on who to throw out. The defense minister and the commander in chief (in Israel it is the highest ranking officer not the president or prime minister) were eventually ousted. But Israeli workers and managers did not let the war push them down. Factories continue to work (Intel’s semiconductor factory promised their US headquarters not to miss one day of production,) offices stayed open, transportation continues except for trains running to the northern most city of Afula, government offices ran as usual. While the world was holding it’s breath, Israel continued to run. How does this relate to innovation and building? It shows that even the threat of war does not serve as an excuse to stop working and to keep a positive attitude. This is specially relevant today where economic and security reasons affect many people’s attitude towards being creative and toward doing the “hard-fun work”. Here there are no reasons to feel down and depressed. Even during war and shelling, it is just an excuse not to do great things.

Pictures of Tel Aviv (April 2010): Child, Flower, Cat