Brussels these days feels as if it is being blow-torched by the sun, and there is nowhere to hide or escape from the humidity and the layers of creamy fleshy limbs filing through the streets. It is quite a thing to behold. I am glad however that it is the summer, and I can relax on the terrace. The parliament is a buzz with people and this afternoon the S&D group did an excellent panel discussion on Iran with a number of Iranian intellectuals. Abbas Milani was by far my favourite.
Anyway, seeing as it is the summer, and many of you will be keen to get away for a vacation, I have to make a suggestion that you give Tel Aviv a try. I love Tel Aviv more and more because it is a haven in the Middle East where anything goes; people can feel at ease and enjoy terrific nightlife. It is a hub of calm in a sea of crazy, because its open nature allows Israel’s civil society to flourish. There one can find terrific book shops and drink coffee al fresco all year round. It is also the centre of Israeli cinema, which is undoubtedly, worth celebrating. These days Israeli films are hot contenders at international festivals. Some real gems include: Waltz with Bashir, Beaufort and Broken Wings. There are plenty more, and worth a look, if you want to know what makes Israelis tick.
Whenever I travel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, sectarian tensions seem to melt as soon as I get out of the central bus station. It is as if I swallowed an alka seltzer. I feel at ease and I can’t wait to go meandering around the streets. I love the iced coffee, which you find everywhere. I love how everyone walks their dog along the beach front, and of course, I love going people watching. Israelis are very attractive, and without a doubt, Tel Aviv is where one finds the Kens and Barbies of the Sabra world. It does make one terribly envious.
The wonderful thing about Tel Aviv is that it is a place for everyone. Your religion, your colour and your sexuality are of no issue, and that is the way it should be. It is the reason that people should come and experience it.
Whatever one may think about the Arab-Israeli conflict, one cannot truly understand the Israeli culture without dipping into Tel Aviv society for a while. It is a melting pot for all those who came to Israel to make something new and fresh. Its melange of architectural styles is a testament to its evolving identity and restlessness. It is the city which captures the essence of the Israeli dream envisioned by Herzl. It is why I want to see it thrive, and maintain its open and diverse feel. And these are just some of the reasons why I love Tel Aviv.