What's Tel Aviv like? It's not real life. That's how I feel being here. One day in the early afternoon I received a frantic call from my mother, it must have been around 5 or 6 am in New York. "What's going on, are you alright?" I had gone to a bar the night before with friends; I drank, danced, had a romantic night swim. The problems I was faced with in the morning were getting the sand out of my bed and switching between turning the AC on or off, did she sense my distress at being too hot or too cold?
I hadn't read the news yet and seen that the entire Middle East was in an uproar over an ignorant, incitable video about the prophet Muhammed. The US ambassador to Libya had just been killed, American embassies the Middle East over were hotbeds of protests. What then, was happening in Israel? Nothing really to my knowledge. I walked onto the street and it was business, or lack of business because of Shabbat, as usual.
When it comes to the obvious question of "who wants to destroy Israel today," I saw that most Israeli's didn't preoccupy themselves with the answer. One reason for this is the lack of influence people feel in the decision making progress. Israeli's obviously don't want to go to war, but they don't want to be destroyed either, what can one really do? The more popular conversation I've come upon is discussing current social and economic problems in Israel. In another conversation with my mom she said to me, "It must be so interesting to be over there at this time." She was referring to normal Middle East uproar. I, in turn, wanted to shame her in her ignorance over not thinking Israel had internal problems just like any other country.
"What's so interesting here?" I brattily asked, also being tired and cranky from not having my afternoon nap. I wanted my mom to be interested in the divide between Israeli's. That the time now is interesting because people are talking about the shortcomings of their own government, of how their society should run, what works and what doesn't. What's interesting is that now, as opposed to any other time, Israeli's are dealing with the problems that plague societies the world over. Affordable housing, universal healthcare, opportunities for advancement, immigration, taxes, accountability in government. Being an American and from New York, these are topics I rarely stop hearing about, and it's interesting for me to be here now and here these issues discussed with a new excitement and urgency. Also, one can't deny the Israeli passion for confrontational arguments. Its not only the discussion being had but how Israeli's express themselves that breathe new life into these conversations.
So I'm still not in real life. I can go out every night and sleep all day. I can explore the city and try and meet new people. I can talk to them and hear their views and insights for the first time and ask questions, and try to understand, and put forth my own thoughts. I'm still a visitor, still a tourist, the most interesting thing is experiencing something and someone new every day.