Category: Double Life (English monthly column)


Just over a week ago, a large number of Tel Aviv citizens and tourists who are able to read Hebrew were caught in the typical act of scratching the top of their heads, looking for answers to a very big question mark hovering on Kikar Rabin. Small groups took selfies, other people posted and tweeted pictures worldwide and made quickly viral the source of the confusion and amusement: a six floors tall, white based sign saying “soon opening: Embassy of Iran in Israel”. In the Kikar, of all places. Chutzpa.

The phone number right under the oversized flags of Iran and Israel was absolutely tempting: to call or not to call? Well, I called, twice. “Salaam, you have reached the Iranian embassy in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately we cannot answer the phone right now, but your call is important to us, so please leave your name and number after the tone, and we’ll get back to you.” Twice, I hung up. And the theories started flowing: art installation, private initiative, new exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum, political party beginning a new campaign against Bibi, Iranian refugees now long time Israelis being suddenly nostalgic. To me, the political angle was particularly likely, since the sign appeared days after the signing of the new big Iran agreement, and Bibi expressing all his dry disappointment to the world.

Turns out, it’s a comedy. Not Bibi, he is real and present and not funny at all. The sign. The PR operation is aimed at preparing the public to a new Israeli comedy movie coming to theaters right before Rosh Hashana. So first of all chapeau to the creative. Turning Tel Aviv’s favorite living room into the backyard of the new Iranian Embassy, even if for less than two weeks, shows the mind of an evil little genius. If in New York we used to say “location, location, location”, here the blend of location, surprise and timing is delightful.

Then the topic, literally ticking as you read: “Atomic Falafel”, the title of the movie. Judging by the trailer – but we never judge a film by the trailer, do we – the film is viciously funny. Expectations on the rise on the entertainment side, just as much an actual stability with Iran is less and less realistic. But as Kubrick taught us, we can learn how to stop worrying and love the Bomb. Because one thing is clear: the Bomb is not going away, not on screens and not in real life.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.

– See more at: http://moked.it/international/2015/08/30/double-life-iran-in-tel-aviv/#sthash.9MweoVOY.dpuf

On my way to a meeting last week, to a place I had been before in the heart of Yafo, I found my way blocked by something that looked a lot like an archaeological camp. Too curious to simply find another access to my destination, I stopped and went closer. Yes, definitely, young men and women under a canopy made with thin net, wearing hats that covered their necks as well as the head, were quite clearly scooping the sand and stones in what was until weeks ago a normal, boring secondary street. I was absolutely mesmerized, for a second a thought of joining the youth in the sand, forget about the high heels and office outfit.

Turns out, this is the most normal thing happening every time the city renovates anything that touches the ground: streets, buildings, parks. Really, being from Italy I should not be surprised of the need to check what lies under our feet. But this was the first time I had such a close encounter with the actual compulsory search. Funnily enough, everyone hopes to find absolutely nothing. If anything unexpected, other that garbage, comes out of the sand, oy vey: goodbye street and welcome months and months of lock down area, archaeologists, experts, and workers going deep into the dust. I wonder if the fact that the young people under that canopy in Yafo were high-school kids from the area has anything to do with the hope of finding a zero archaeological interest.

But of course the past here in Israel is so present, so available, that even a new stunning discovery would be digested quickly. A visitors’ center would be built, a “kiosk” selling cold drinks would open, and the travel guide books would only have to add yet another page to the never-ending list of sites offering unprecedented and exciting chapters of remote past.
And since the new underground line is now being built and will cross all Tel Aviv, the little camp I stumbled upon the other day is quite likely only a very dusty beginning.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.

– See more at: http://moked.it/international/2015/07/19/double-life-present-past/#sthash.lqqgG35W.dpuf

As if we didn’t have enough misunderstandings with the biggest (and heaviest) of our rather few allies, in Israel the “State of the Union” was until last year a television show: the comedy/political “Matzav Ha-Uma”. As soon as my Hebrew became good enough to understand about 60% of what said in the one hour program the 4 comedians plus guest stars, I got addicted. For way too long I was missing some witty para-journalism and Jon Stewart was a painful nostalgia of my New York days – and nights, when I used to leave any weekday event or evening out, in time to be in front of the tv by 11.00pm o’clock.
This year, the show has moved channels, and changed name into a much less evocative “Gav Ha-Uma” (something like the backbone of the State), but the fab four stayed the same and that’s what matters. My favorite part is when redhead presenter Lior Shlein invites the group to come up with imaginary laws that should make Israel more advanced, clean, educated, friendly with the neighbors and so on.
This week, like every Saturday night, I left every other distraction to follow the show which still engages all my attention and focus: the wit is so quick and games with words and expressions so deeply rooted in the language, that I find myself glued to the screen. Then something bothered me. A too-well-known red strip appeared on the top right of the screen, holding a number. My brain made a click, and I reminded to myself: “this show is new, it is not a re-run from last summer”. Therefore, NEW alarms are sounding in the areas marked by those numbers in the South of Israel. Now, while I watch. The commercials gave me occasion to check on-line. Rockets on Ashkelon, nobody hurt and no damage.
One year after the war, all I want is to watch in peace a smart show.
Oh, how silly, it’s the “peace” part we are missing.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.

– See more at: http://moked.it/international/2015/06/07/double-life-smart-shows/#sthash.vnAE1lVx.dpuf

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