Saturday, July 3, 2010

4th of July on the 1st and White Night Tel Aviv

PART 1 - The 4th of July

On the evening of July 1st, we attended a reception at the US Ambassador's home in the ritzy town of Hertzliya Pituach (where all the embassy people live.  we looked at a couple places up there, but the value for the money was terrible).   We received our invite from the Dept. of Commerce guys who work with Ford to relax import restrictions on goods from the U.S.  I couldn't help looking at the whole evening from an events planning perspective.  It was big, apparently 2,000 invitees.  It was held on the back lawn (VIPs could go in the house, but we weren't on that list).  We wondered how they funded such a large event, but quickly realized it was a lot like a corporate employee fair.  Sponsors had tables, where they were giving away branded items.  Avis, Carribean Cruises, and the local ambulance company were there.  A Brooklyn Lager beer was being promoted, as well as a small local brewery run by Americans.  McDonald's and Dominos provided the main sustenance via free burgers and pizzas.  What a disgraceful representation of American food!  The only redeeming vendor was Ben & Jerry's, which is all the rage here from what I've seen.  The funny thing about that is, there appear to be many excellent gelato stores, much like in Italy.  Ben & Jerry's is good, but Italian gelato certainly can give them a run for their money!

At 9pm the ceremony started, which was the most interesting part of the evening.  US Ambassador Cunningham welcomed everyone, and briefly talked about the idealized significance of US Independence Day.  He attempted some poorly pronounced Hebrew, but then this was in English (of course, his Hebrew was still better than mine!). 

Then he introduced the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, who talked about his experience visiting with JFK after he was first elected but before he took office in late 1960.   Apparently Peres has always been one of the moderates here who worked with Rabin in the 1990's to try to bring peace via concessions to the Palestinians.  Finally, he introduced the guy with real power, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.  He used the opportunity to reiterate comments about the ideals of America being good for the whole world, and then made a public call for the leaders of the Palestinians to meet with him and get back to negotiating peace.  After about 30 minutes of these little speeches (which reminded me a lot of the warm fuzzy US history curriculum we got in high school), they concluded with a 5 minute fireworks show, set to the USO band.  Being only a day and a half in the country, that was quite fun, knowing that I'm missing all the great 4th of July parties at home.  For those of you prepping this weekend, try not to burn the forests down! 

PART 2 - White Night - UNESCO

After the 4th of July on the 1st, we drove back into Tel Aviv, parked the car, and got on our walking shoes at about 11pm.  Tel Aviv has decided to take advantage of their UNESCO site status, bestowed on them in 2003 for the profusion of ‘white’ Bauhaus buildings, by holding a White Night.  Although these seem to be all night events held in northern cities, many mediterranean ones have launched their own (it's a great excuse for a city-wide street party).  To learn more, check out  We attended one in Rome several years ago by dumb luck.  This one was nicer however, as the events were well spread out so while it appeared that every Israeli within 50 miles was out on the streets, it wasn't over crowded.  We walked around for 3 hours, down Rothchild St with live bands and street performers, then into the Shuk ha Karmel area for a midnight snack of shwarma and a potato buraka.  On our way toward the beach we walked through a random street party where a DJ had set up on a small side street between two restaurants.  Everyone was drinking and dancing (no open container laws here).  A motorcyclist tried to break through the "dance floor" but didn't have much success.  We walked home up the beach where every beach bar had a party going.  Instead of pushing our way through the crowds on the boardwalk, we took off our sandals and walked along the water's edge.  Had to watch out for a few beached jelly fish, but otherwise it was wonderful! 

We got up late yesterday, Dan worked for a while and I measured spaces for Ikea furniture.  Then we went to a Thai lunch and Ikea before they closed at 3pm.  We stopped by Kuki & Ohad's place after and hung out with Benchik (their son).  Then came back into town for dinner at a good seafood restaurant, Goocha. 

A beautiful little black and electric blue bird with a long beek, not much bigger than a hummingbird, just landed on our balcony and chirped at me.  Good morning Tel Aviv!

1 comment:

  1. You have the makings of political commentary here. Good writing! Looks pretty accurate.