The singer in the market and the ex-PM in jail: A study in masochism

Published date22 February 2021
Masochistic Personality Disorder "is a pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior, beginning by early adulthood nd present in a variety of contexts. The person may avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which he or she will suffer..."-

It was getting to be the end of my five week sojourn in Israel, some years ago.

After a month of dazzling views of the sea up on Mount Carmel's Ahuza neighbourhood in Haifa, I was staying for a week in Tel Aviv at the Metropolitan on Trumpeldor, down near the sea.

I was supposed to be working on my new book, but there was something in the air that seemed to make my writing that day somewhat superfluous. The day before, Hamas or one its related organizations had fired rockets on Eilat and then the Jordanian town of Aqaba. Doubtless an attempt to disrupt the chances of the Arab Palestinians accepting Israeli offers, and American demands, that direct face to face talks replace the indirect nonsense that was getting nowhere.

The maximum summer heat and humidity had rolled in with the month of August. Walking with the tourists down at the water's edge, one could get a breeze that made the hot, humid air bearable.

But the last day of my stay for the summer saw me heading up Ben Yehuda Street and over to Allenby Street. Allenby is Tel Aviv at its most gutsy, stripped down to its historical barebones – older buildings with shops of all sorts, falafel and shwarma stands, working class and middle class shoppers, not the high end from North Tel Aviv. Africans on bicycles, old ladies with Philipine aides, gorgeous young ladies and all of middle Israel. All sweating on this shopping street that stretches from the hotel district all the way into the South Tel Aviv - that stagnant crime-ridden area of illegal infiltrators, massage parlours and downscale shops whose owners, while awaiting customers, peer out at the soldiers walking by on their way to the old bus station.

I thought I would walk Allenby as far as the "shuk" – the Carmel market. I don't know why I was drawn to the market, and why not any store would do; it had to be the shuk. I wanted to have a last memory, not of tourists walking the promenade, the tayelet, by the seashore, but of the regular people, trying to get some bargains.

On top of yesterday's attack in the South, things had flared up along the Lebanon border, up north. Ah yes, the Lebanon border, where in 2006 Israel had tried to remove the Hezbollah rockets and infrastructure that had so traumatized the residents of northern Israel, Jews and Arabs alike, as Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at civilian targets from border communities like Kiryat Shemonah down to the large urban area of Haifa. Having just spent a month in Haifa, and talking to some folks about what it was like during the rocket attacks, had certainly sensitized me to the threat on Israel's border.

Israel had tried to remove the Hezbollah threat, but the world and the UN of course, rose up to criticize, as usual, Israel's attempts to protect its citizens. The clever terrorists had embedded their rockets in civilian areas, so attacks on rocket launchers were necessarily resulting in civilian deaths, even if those civilians were complicit in Hezbollah's existence and positions. At the end, Israel contented itself with a ceasefire, with United Nations forces charged with the responsibility of preventing Hezbollah bringing in more rockets from its patrons Iran and Syria.

Of course, in breach of the UN resolution, Hezbollah used the ceasefire, to bring in about 150,000 rockets all aimed at Israeli civilian areas. The knowledge of those rockets sitting there, and Iran's probable intention to order their launch as a way to take attention from the final work on the nuclear weapons, all seemed to hang in the hot, humid air. My shirt was developing patches from the inevitable perspiration, my hair was getting moist and my tongue dry.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, not yet 3:00, and yet the sidewalks were busy. The cars raced down the road, weaving in and out of lanes, and playing their horns like musical instruments. Mixed in were the inevitable curses and angry hand signals of drivers who disapproved of the driving styles of other drivers. I had been in Israel long enough that I no longer was bothered by the cacophony of horns and squealing tires and brakes, and motorcycles.

The incident at the northern border was apparently started when the IDF, with full cooperation of the UN soldiers, was clearing some tree branches away from the border area, so that these branches could not provide cover for infiltrators or enemy marksmen. Suddenly they were attacked by a squad of Hezbollah fighters, and when the dust settled, one Israeli soldier was dead, and a couple of Hezbollah men, along with a journalist who for some reason had been...

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