Jerusalem — It was 102 degrees here earlier this week, but that didn’t deter a few hundred Israelis, Palestinians and others from gathering outside the Old City of Jerusalem for The Jerusalem Hug, an annual event designed to open hearts and heal the world.
International pressure causing some Israelis to question sanctions.
Tel Aviv—Amid heavy international pressure on the issue, domestic political support for Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip border passages has badly frayed.
Once confined largely to the Israeli left, criticism of a policy that banned basic goods such as fresh meat, margarine and plaster has spread to security hawks who acknowledge the closure is not serving its original policy goal of weakening Hamas. That may make it easier politically for the government to make concessions on a blockade that, until now, has enjoyed widespread popular support.
With loss of Turkey — once a leading vacation destination — life in the Jewish state feels even lonelier.
Jerusalem — There was a time, not very long ago, when Israelis had a friend in the Muslim world. As bad as things got with the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Lebanese, Israelis could point to Turkey as a solid bulwark against near total isolation in the Muslim world.
Israel’s public relations problem can be fixed,
experts say, but not by clinging to the old narratives.
F irst, the good news.
Despite frustration among Jews in Israel and North America that the country is losing the public relations battle because of the recent Gaza war and its current hard-line government, recent surveys show remarkably robust support for the Jewish state.
The Gallup 2010 country-favorability rating ranked Israel fifth, trailing stalwart allies like the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Canada. Israel enjoys a favorability rating of nearly 50 percentage points over the Palestinians.
The current Israeli-Palestinian situation seems a tolerable — even a desirable — alternative,
but perhaps only for now.
The main shopping mall in Kfar Saba, a suburb of Tel Aviv, was bombed by a terrorist in 2002 during the most recent Palestinian uprising. It’s been more than seven years, but glass barriers still ring the mall’s perimeter, forcing shoppers to pass through a security check — a reminder of the uncertainty that nags Israelis even though the uprising has long since died out.
Sampling the club scene in Israel’s capital of culture.
Tel Aviv — After more than a decade living here,
I’ve long ceased being a tourist in this city. But after nearly five years of fatherhood, I might as well be one as far as Tel Aviv nightlife is concerned.
Bars have opened and bands have matured all just a few steps away from my central Tel Aviv flat. A tiny but fruitful funk scene has sprung up. I hear there’s also an ample selection of indie rock. Meanwhile, I can’t remember the last movie I saw or the last band I saw live in a bar.
E in Gedi — The first time I visited Israel more thaN 30
years ago, I treated my copy of “Israel on $50 A Day” (or whatever the amount was at the time) as if it were a bible. I used it to book cheap hotels, to find cheap restaurants and heeded its advice to flash my student ID card anywhere and everywhere.