Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Guest Blog - On Gay Pride and Visiting Jericho

My friend and colleague, Arnie Zweig, was in Israel last week.  He has contributed a guest blog...thought some of you might enjoy it:

So besides the usual unusual encounters in Israel, two events that Sherry and I attended may be worth your read. 

On Friday morning we made our way down Ben Yehuda Street to join together with about 100,000 others from Tel Aviv to celebrate Ga'ava;   gay pride parade in Israel;  in a county where some believe  to have been founded on the Torah and where the Torah forbids homosexuality, it is especially worth noting the outwardness of this  parade and the intensity that it is celebrated by those in Tel Aviv.

I say Tel Avivians since the rest of the country seemed not to have cared less.   When we spoke to others in Jerusalem or from other cities in Israel, they dismissed the parade as something that was foreign to them and not part of "true" Israel;   Of course, each Israeli has their own version anyway of what is true Israel;

It was virtually impossible to distinguish the gays from the non- especially in the parade-(on the gyrating beach on Hof Gordon-it was not so difficult to distinguish)-but the marching of the parade seemed to be for everyone;  anyone that wanted to walk was able to walk and join in with the heat, with the water spraying guns and with the dancing;

There were some major "floats" in which the obvious talented gay dancers displayed their acumen; however after 20 minutes of heavy techno music with no variation in the songs nor in the rhythm, the parade became a bit on the boring side;  there was no creativity in  the floats or the costumes or in its presentation;

The message of celebration of the manner of living gay was pretty evident;  it would have been a lot more fun if the celebration was thought through and presented with some clever costuming, themes or even outlandish dress;  Not even a gay Homer Simpson?  boring.......

After a restful Shabbat , we headed off for a bit of a desert adventure in the Negev;  since we have been to the Dead Sea before we decided to do the north part and headed to a resort called "Bianquini."  Good thing we didn't read the Trip Advisor before, otherwise we would never have spent a second there.  Trip Advisor gave it 9 out of 100.   The food and accommodation, lack of cleanliness, lack of service all added up to a failing grade.  However the two macho guys who had rented their tsimmer (room  for rent) beside us with their quite voluptuous blond busty prostitute didn't seem to be quite as picky as us. (Not sure if that would have increased the rating or decreased it - I will leave that one to the reader. )  

However we made up for the experience by going to the oldest city in the world-Jericho- for dinner.

When we entered there is a big red sign "NO ISRAELI CITIZENS PERMITTED TO ENTER".  so we kept our Canadian passports close to us and entered Palestinian Authority territory. 

We were told about a restaurant called "Limona" as the best in town; the town by the way is quite small being only a population of 18,000; very poor, no alcohol that we saw; no movie theatre that we saw.

Limona however turned out to be a great restaurant and the food was plentiful and excellent from the great grilled fish to the roasted potatoes and rice and baskets of wonderfully tasting pita as well as the 12 salads they brought out as an appetizer and ending with a huge bowl of fruit as part of the meal included.  You couldn't eat everything.  There was no rush to leave as eating a large meal and sticking around for a couple of hours is part of the culture and there is nothing else to do anyway.   So we hung out and watched a large screen television of "Arab Idol" until we headed back to our one star accommodation at Bianquini before heading out the next day for a hike in Wadi Qelt in 33 degree weather.  

As always-many different worlds live in a small country.  

Arnold Zweig

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