For some reason, in the last month I haven’t updated because life here has become normal. Before, every bar was exciting and every encounter was newsworthy. Now, I don’t know…
So I’m making a concerted effort to explain, in a manner which still makes things seem exciting, the day-to-day happenings of life in Israel. Right around my last post, about the stone-throwing incident in Jerusalem, it was Sukkot and various other holidays, which meant that there were lots of long weekends spent in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends in the middle of last month. We sent him off with lots of hugs and alcohol and a good time 🙂
I finally stayed, for my first time, in a settlement. In fact, I’ve stayed multiple times in settlements which appalled my mother when she first found out. I stayed twice in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which is the third largest settlement in the West Bank, with a friend who has reluctantly been forced to live there due to financial circumstances, and I stayed twice in the settlement of Gilo which, as previously mentioned, is considered by the State of Israel to be a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem rather than a settlement. Both are very beautiful, well-kept areas and I can see the appeal of of living in a cheaper, beautiful, safe area for those who are politically unaware or uninvolved. However, this does not justify anything.
Speaking of Ma’ale Adumim, there have been some interesting developments in the news about it. For one, in the face of the recent Palestinian UN bid, Netanyahu has approved building in a number of settlements, among which Ma’ale Adumim and Gilo are included. However, in more exciting (and positive) news, Ma’ale Adumim will now recognize the rights of its Palestinian workers under Israeli law instead of continuing under 1965 Jordanian law (which does not include any of the positive changes made in Jordanian labour law since). This is a precedent-setting case which could see Palestinian workers across the West Bank who work in settlements demanding higher wages and compensation as well as better work conditions. My friend who lives in the settlement told me that a Palestinian friend of his working in the settlement’s mall (yes, there’s a mall) makes 80 to 100 New Israeli Shekels a day, around half of Israeli minimum wage (and approximately CAD 22 to 28.5 per day).
Between my long weekends in Jerusalem and my short work weeks (now resumed to normal length) in Tel Aviv, I had some big problems with my roommate in Jaffa. Unfortunately, due to her racism, bigotry and general abrasive nature (and attempts to charge my friends for staying with me on the weekend) I was forced to look for another place to live. As a result, I had to leave my apartment in beautiful, beautiful Jaffa and move back to Tel Aviv. My new apartment, though in a less beautiful (and safe) neighbourhood, is a much more pleasant living situation and I’m only 5 minutes by bus away from my beloved Jaffa.
Though I am still seeing and visiting new places, I haven’t been to any new cities. I did go clubbing for my first time in Tel Aviv at Allenby 40 and, despite some aggressive bartenders and absurdly high alcohol prices, I had a wonderful time. It was sleazy and dirty, which, for anyone who knows me, is my favourite kind of place. However, I’m not sure I would necessarily return.
The following morning, exhausted and very much sleep-deprived, I met some German friends from Jerusalem and took them to Abu Hassan in Jaffa for what is proclaimed to be Tel Aviv’s best hummus. We stood outside while one of my friends bypassed the line and returned with four plates – two of hummus and two of masabacha – and five cans of coca cola. We sat by the street, overlooking the sea, and ate ravenously. My friend, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, proclaimed the masabacha the best he’d ever had but, unfortunately, we were unable to polish it off as strong winds blew sand and dust into our dish. We then had to hide inside the bathrooms while it poured rain to stay dry. When the sun came out again we stepped out to a rainbow and proceeded to walk through Jaffa and Florentin, stopping off for coffee at Kasbah, before heading home.
Another night during the last few weeks I finally managed to get to the Jaffa port before sunset and watch it from my favourite location, on the breakers of the Old Port. This was followed by an exceptionally over-priced and mediocre meal at The Container. Though the atmosphere is wonderful and it’s an amazing place as a bar, my friend’s salmon was undercooked and my gnocchi was exceptionally bland. Of the four dishes ordered, only one was really stunning and worth returning for (salmon risotto).
My most recent weekend was full of broken plans and sleeping in the afforementioned settlements. It was lovely but nothing worth reporting, except a failed attempt on my part to find graffiti on some gravestones in Bamamila Cemetery on Friday night because Haaretz reported a price-tag attack there on Wednesday evening. However, Sunday night I did enjoy a delicious meal at a very sweet cafe in downtown Tel Aviv called Lilush which is absolutely divine. I’m looking forward to a second visit! Hopefully, the next few weeks before Christmas holidays will be more eventful and there will be more to write about!