Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Israel: Shalom, for now

I fly back to the UK today, Israeli security permitting. Last year I was questioned for nearly 90 minutes at Ben Gurion. After a lot of nonsense my Oral B dental charger was detained, only to justify the time wasted cross-examining me, body searching me and delving into my luggage. The charger was returned on a later flight the next day. But Israel is surrounded by enemies: I would not board a plane to and from Israel if security here did not make a great nuisance of itself. Tip to deal with security: memorise your hotel name, do not joke or be smart. On your return, memorise a few places you've visited. Name a friend or contact in Israel if you can. They seek signs of the non-tourist, among other things. Be the holiday-maker with them.

Last night I drove to the seaside city of Haifa from Carmel, down long winding roads, past the fearsome Carmel prison with its crown of barbed wire, down towards the glittery plain of this tiny city. Tel Aviv is known as a city of colours - you can find and see anything there: racial, sexual, cultural. Haifa is the "city of labour": on a generalist level, people work hard here, life revolves around family; it is suburban, cohesive. It must boast more wedding clobber shops than any other city in the Middle East. The result - or one of the results - is that Haifa is manicured, clean, well maintained: it has many clubs and bars, excellent restaurants: I begin to think that I should have started this break in Haifa and not Tel Aviv: something for next time.

Thank you for travelling with me.


Anonymous said...

And no juicy gossips about Israeli public personalities? That's weird. I'm quite sure there's much to say.... Don't tell us you travelled to Israel just to talk about the Kemps and Stefano Hatfield with other British tourists!

Arcati said...

I fear that my Israeli public is far smaller than my US/British one. But of course Arcati is no mere gossip.