roland@equalpartners.ca
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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCCII. A Return Visit (17 of 19)

November 2

Despite his busy schedule, Zouki took Monday off to drive me around.  On the program were Tel Aviv, Jaffa (Yaffo in Hebrew), and, if time permitted, other places.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv (Hill of Spring; incidentally, there are places called Springhill in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S.) is the new kid on the block.  Forget about the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, religious shrines, and archaeological digs.  Tel Aviv is the child of modern Israel.  It started its life as a suburb of Arab Jaffa in 1909.  A number of events led to its development:  The Balfour Declaration in 1917, anti-Jewish Jaffa riots in 1921, and the dark cloud of Nazism that hovered over Europe in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s.

It is difficult to imagine modern and vibrant Tel Aviv as empty sand dunes; even harder to believe that in 1948 it became the provisional seat of government.  (Jerusalem became the official capital of the nation in 1980, but Tel Aviv still retain some government departments, the Histadrut, and many foreign embassies).

Metropolitan Tel Aviv, also known as Gush Dan, is the heart of Israel today with a mostly Jewish population of over 3.2 million (42% of Israel’s population):  Tel Aviv – Yaffo has a population of 410,000; Rishon Le-Zion, 230,000; Petah Tikva, 211,000; Holon, 186,000; Bnei Brak, 155,000; Ramat Gan, 150,000; Bat Yam, 130,000; Rehovot, 116,000; Kfar Saba, 86,000; Lod, 70,000; and a few other municipalities with smaller populations.

Dizengoff Boulevard is the equivalent of Broadway in New York; it is full of stores, cafes, pubs, and theaters.  If you want to see a cross section of Israel, just walk along Dizengoff on a Saturday night; you’re bound to observe that Israel is not a worried nation, this despite the multitudes in the neighborhood and across the globe who wish it ill.  If you get hungry, restaurants abounds; if you’re low on cash, a falafel sandwich, and a soda will fill that gap; then again, if you forgot the anti-acid tablets, you’re advised to go to a bakery!

Other downtown streets:   King George which has some museums; Ibn Gvirol, named after a medieval philosopher and poet, is a lively street with restaurants and bars and two well-known chocolatiers; and Allenby once the heart of Tel Aviv, but now shunned and somewhat seedy in some parts.

Despite being a modern city with no extensive past history, there is a lot to see and do in Tel Aviv.  The promenade is the long walkway by the beach.  Shuk Ha-Carmel is a lively and colorful market offering the best in fruits and vegetables, and it doesn’t stop there, the variety of cheeses, cold cuts, and fresh fish will make your heart sing.  There are many museums, examples:  Etzel Museum, Haganah Museum, Museum of Art, Eretz Israel Museum, and Man and his Works Museum, and the Wax Museum.  Add to that Tel Aviv Aquarium, the Lasky Planetarium, the Botanical Garden (part of Tel Aviv university), the Tropical Garden and Bird Safari (part of Hayarkon Park), and the African Park/Zoological Centre (if you’re willing to go to Ramat Gan).  Finally, there is the high tower to see the whole city; the Shalom Tower sitting on top of a skyscraper fulfils that function.

When I came back in 1996, I was able to give Tel Aviv its due; but on that day, with the time we had available, Zouki was simply trying to show me how much Tel Aviv has changed since I left.  And I did find the changes astounding.

New houses were no longer the basic types that were built many years ago; they were modern and attractive to look at.  There were shopping centres everywhere; what a difference with the days when there were only a handful of big department stores.  I remember a few tall buildings; now, they had skyscrapers, the tallest was for the Diamond Stock Exchange.

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