Monday, December 07, 2009

Tel Aviv Good Times - is it escapism?

Tel Aviv is one of the world's unabashed gay capitals, according to Matthew Teller's report in the British Independent, which examines a shooting incident in a gay teen club last August. Teller questions whether hate crimes can be looked at outside of a political context in today's Middle East, especially considering the sharp divisions between the secular and the religious components of society.:

Tales abound of gay Palestinians being blackmailed into collaborating with the Israeli security services, or even into spying for one Palestinian faction against another, often with fatal consequences.

Nitzan Horowitz, the only gay Knesset member, is blunt. "People in Tel Aviv think the struggle is over – not at all!" he says. "More than 50 per cent of kids in first and second grade are in ultra-orthodox or Arab schools, where LGBT rights are not addressed. In 10 years' time those people will vote. I don't see this liberal paradise."

Every Saturday night, there's a party atmosphere-- singles, couples and groups, gay and straight, mixing in pursuit of a good time. Going out is an obsession. It lends a unique vibrancy – but one person described it to me as national escapism. To journalist Lisa Goldman, her home city is starting to feel like Weimar Berlin. "I'm worried," she says. "This exuberance is inarticulate. We've become used to hopelessness."

Uzi Even's observation about a common enemy conceals the possibility that the greatest threat to Jewish Israeli society may lie within. In Chen Langer's words: "We want others to acknowledge Israel as the home of the Jewish people, but we ourselves cannot define what 'Jewish' is."

For many secular Jews – both within and beyond the Tel Aviv bubble – Israel's religious right has corrupted society and continues to hold the country back. For many religious Jews, secure with the occupation, contemporary secularism – exemplified by advances in gay rights – represents the gravest threat to the nation's well-being.

The shooting at the Aguda – apparently a one-off atrocity, possibly committed with inside knowledge – should be a wake-up call. It has exposed fault-lines running right through Jewish-Israeli society. If unbridged, they could pull the country apart.

1 comment:

Beach Concerts said...

Thanks for the informative/thoughtful post. I really enjoy your blog. I thought I'd share this...

Good For The Jews with special guests DeLeon and comedians Morgan Murphy, Seth Herzog, and Rachel Sklar is happening at the Highline Ballroom tonight! It’s going to be a great time, hope to see you there!
December 7, 2009
Concert starts @ 8PM
Doors open @ 6PM
Tickets $15.00

Discount code: GFTJ

The hilarious music duo Good For the Jews bring their national tour to New York for a night of unorthodox music and comedy on December 7, the minus-fifth night of Hanukkah.


Jewish music for people who don't like Jewish music.

No songs about dreidels.

And no Israeli folk-dancing.

“Good For the Jews is a hilarious musical act. Don’t miss them.” National Public Radio

“Like Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart, Good For the Jews is wickedly hilarious.” Village Voice

“Good For the Jews: a Jewish Flight of the Conchords.” Denver Westword

“Like Adam Sandler with a few additional IQ points.” The Onion

“Good For the Jews is part of the sharp new culture presented by such talents as Jon Stewart, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Sarah Silverman.” Washington Post

DeLEON makes “Spanish-Jewish indie rock” by infusing 15th hcentury folk music with the entrancing cadences of the ancient Sephardic tradition. They have toured with Gogol Bordello and recently completed a 20-city tour with Brazilian legends Os Mutantes.

MORGAN MURPHY has been a writer for the TV shows Crank Yankers and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She has performed standup comedy on Premium Blend and Last Call with Carson Daly, and is currently writing for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

SETH HERZOG has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Chappelle’s Show, and VH1’s Best Week Ever.