Culture, Global, Israel, Politics

Video: Tel Aviv at 100, looking back

Tel Aviv is celebrating its centennial this year. When in Israel I am often struck by a sense that the histories of the land, or rather the various narrative strands emphasized different groups, are almost visibly overlaid. Like overlapping stencils.

In some places, such as Jerusalem, this is more visible and well known. In others, like Tel Aviv, the prior history of the place is far more submerged under the modern city. The other day I found an email in my inbox. It was from a woman named Amy York Rubin with a link to this video, where she has three different narratives on Tel Aviv history told parallel to each other on screen.

In her introduction to the video she writes, ” Trying to achieve peace in Israel without addressing the past is akin to trying to find a cure for cancer by treating the symptoms without ever considering why the cancer developed in the first place.”

I can only add that I believe that we (Jews, Arabs and everyone else in this world) have very slim chances of moving ahead if we can’t take a clear, honest look at history.

On another note, it is odd to think that this profoundly mid-nineteenth century modernist city is now one hundred years old. Bis a hundert und zwanzig! and hopefully much more.

4 thoughts on “Video: Tel Aviv at 100, looking back

  1. a clear, honest look at history
    Does such a “clear, honest look at history” presuppose the inviolability of the Arab narrative, or the original sin of the Zionist one?
    Like many of you, I’ve spent years in Israel advocacy, interfaith dialogue, peace round tables, etc. In my experience, the consequences of reexamining 1948 history – not so much from analytical data, but from Arab “first hand accounts”, which really are second and third hand accounts being retold by grandchildren and great grandchildren – is that Jewish participants empathize with the Palestinians. This empathy is then channeled into delegitimizing the Zionist narrative, and from there, anything goes.
    I must say, in all these years, I have never experienced a Palestinian empathize with the Jewish experience in the levant. The classic case of “acceptable empathy” is often with regards to the Holocaust, where Palestinians feel they can empathize with the Jews without undermining their essentially political agenda. In fact, this Holocaust empathy is often turned around on the Jews – we empathize with you about the Holocaust in Europe, now you should empathize with us about the Holocaust in Gaza.
    But to exhibit a real understanding, much less empathy, for the situation in which the Yishuv found itself in the early part of the 20th century and leading to 1948… I have never seen a Palestinian do so. Indeed, thinking about it now, I’ve never experienced a Palestinian question the actions of their community leading up to Israel’s birth, besides bemoaning that Arab disunity meant it could not be aborted.
    I am left to understand that such considerations would be anathema for “the other”, and this makes me question what purpose such an exercise in history serves, when the empathy of one, becomes a weapon for another.
    Perhaps others have had different experiences.
    I would love to hear them.

  2. “I can only add that I believe that we (Jews, Arabs and everyone else in this world) have very slim chances of moving ahead if we can’t take a clear, honest look at history.”
    It’s very fitting that the writer of this line goes by “Diaspora Mentality,” because this is not the way people–at least any people I’ve met–think in Israel/Palestine.
    Instead of arguing about who did what to who–and in that case almost of the Jews will say that it’s the Arabs’ fault, and vice versa–let’s talk about ways to move forward.
    Let’s focus on dividing the land into two states. Then, they can move on with their lives and we ours. Let’s finally get this divorce over with.

  3. And, regarding Tami’s comment that Israel was founded because of the Holocaust, let’s start teaching our children that there is more to Israel (being a Jew really) than the Holocaust. Enough with the Hollywood Holocaust movies and the emphasis on the Holocaust in our Hebrew schools–and let’s move Yom HaShoah to the Three Weeks while we’re at it.

  4. et’s start teaching our children that there is more to Israel (being a Jew really) than the Holocaust
    Amen! If we spent the same amount of communal time and effort to teach children Yiddishkeit that we spent teaching them to be righteous victims, we would go a long way in combating assimilation and plain ignorance.
    Using the Holocaust as a justification for the creation of Israel – ostensibly as a Jewish state – should be seen for what it is: a strawman argument. The day the world forgets, and that day is coming, that straw will burn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.