As the World Turns

I would have had to go to a remote polar island to get away from the Trump inauguration, and even then someone would have wandered by wearing a red Trump cap. The obsession is global, as if we ever doubted that we were one world.

Israel has been an interesting perch from which to watch.   Israelis are confused – “How did you Americans elect someone so vulgar?  She should have beat him with her left finger.”  While admitting their reigning state of confusion, they are absolutely opinionated (some for, many against).  And in this state of opinionated confusion, anguished about their own political isolation, Israelis push along the daily pathways with dizzying energy, making life fast and bright.

Haifa, the high-tech and innovation city, shines from its perch on a glittering Mediterranean bay; it’s built on several hillsides, the winding corniches reminiscent of the splendor of Nice.  Ships carrying European market goods – high-end goodies from Paris and London – move in and out.  They satisfy the national hunger for design – by restaurants, coffee shops, lofts.  So long to the old laid back style – it’s move, move, move.

Built on insecurity and full of inequality, Israel is a society on the move.  On the train to Tel Aviv, I see teenage soldiers lolling around everywhere, back and forth on trains with their guns and phones, with their cigarettes and chewing gum.  They get out at Tel Aviv – as the saying goes: Haifa works, Tel Aviv plays, Jerusalem prays.   Tel Aviv is exploding.  Neve Tzedek, an artist neighborhood a decade ago is a pricey though charmingly beautiful Soho, and hipsters have made the old Arab village of Jaffa an explosion of creative fashion and food, with designers working every edge, every burst of imagination to its limit.

Israelis inhabit the famous contradiction, “Things couldn’t be worse.”  Then, add with a grin (even on January 20): “Eh, life is good.”

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