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July 09, 1993 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-07-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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The flagship of the southern
beachfront construction mania
is the Opera Tower, a 26-story
shopping mall, office and con-
dominium building. Slated to
open soon for residential and of-
fice use (the mall is already
drawing huge crowds), it will be
the most prestigious address in
the city.
Directly across the street, at
the corner of Allenby and Ha-
yarkon, is the second-best spot
in Israel to pick up a prostitute.
(Tel Baruch beach in North Tel
Aviv is the best.)
The hookers walk freely up
and down the street, and pull
their customers into the sleazy
motels. With the prostitutes
come pimps, drug dealers,
thieves, and a host of other un-
savory characters. On nights
when soccer games are being
televised, scores of men crowd
together outside the cheap
cafes, standing in the gutter if
the sidewalk is full, and watch
the TVs.
In the middle of the night,
the hookers are slumped over
tables in the cafes, dunced out
from heroin. Right across the
street, Israelis will be living in
$1 million condos in the Opera
Tower.
There are many possible ex-
planations for this mentality,
this willingness on the part of
the Israeli rich to live smack in
the middle of grime and un-
couth behavior, to send their
kids to public schools — there
are essentially no private
schools here — together with
the children of the working
class, to mingle daily with the
great unwashed.
One explanation might be
that there is hardly any old
money in Israel — virtually all
of the rich are nouveau riche —
so they weren't brought up to
be snobs, and find it an unnat-
ural identity.
Another explanation might
be the leveling influence of the
army, which all 18-year-old
boys do for three years, and con-
tinue with a month or so of re-
serve duty until they're 50. In
the army, the Israeli rich get
comfortable living in close quar-
ters with all kinds.
Another reason might be the
intense social life of Israelis, the
great amount of time spent with
members of the extended fam-
ily, with school friends first met
in elementary school, with army
buddies — the rich and the poor
— all of which augurs against
the need for exclusivity.
But maybe the best explana-
tion is the simple physical size
of the country — there's not
much room that the hoi polloi
can reserve for themselves. Rich
Americans might find this dis-
tressing. Most rich Israelis find
it natural. Those who don't
move to Los Angeles. ❑

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