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The Beaten Path: The unholy hierarchies of Nazareth (part 4)

If the heart of Nazareth is sacred, its outskirts are very much the opposite. If anything, they provide a perfect example of a system that stubbornly preserves a hierarchy of communities: Arabs below, Jews on top. The third stop on the reconstructed tourist trail.

Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami Nazareth

There is a painting by an Italian master, the great Pierro della Francesca, called “Madonna del Parto.” Two angels hold up the folds of a tent in which Mary stands. She is pregnant, wearing a blue gown with a crack in it, just where her belly pokes out the furthest, allowing for a white undergarment to show through.

The eye, when looking at this painting, follows a carefully crafted trail. It first sees the white cloth at the heart of the matter, then moves out to the outskirts, discovers the tent and the angels, and then begins its journey back inwards, to the very center of the painting, to the hint of things to come, to the soon-to-be born son of God.

There is a church by the eccentric 20th century Italian architect Giovanni Muzio. It stands in the middle of the city of Nazareth, and is the only thing most tourist see of the town. The church is concentric. The bottom level of this massive 20th century concrete monster is a large empty space, centered on the grotto of the annunciation and the ruins of three earlier churches that once stood on this site. On the top floor a large hole gapes over that same central point. This is where all eyes are drawn.

Comparing the Madonna del Parto with the Basiliaca of Annunciation would be an injustice to both. I wouldn’t dream of doing that. Instead, I am comparing the Madonna del Parto with all of Nazareth. When architecture says “Look this way!” it’s a good idea to oblige before looking another way, then looking that way again. The same applies to touristic conventions point anywhere.  With your permission, I will explore Nazareth and its church today following the pattern designed by Pierro: Starting from the white glimpse of divine motherhood, moving on to the outskirts, and then moving back in.

City on a hill

In the middle, then, is a large black cone, towering over the site in which a unique encounter between divinity and humanity is said to have taken place. Muzio,...

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The Beaten Path: Baha'i Haifa, Banana St. and the ultimate Other (part 3)

From afar, the flight of the fancy complex and the boxy city appear rather harmonious. It is upon close inspection that they are revealed to be made up of entirely contradicting notions. The second stop on Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey to deconstruct Israel’s well-worn tourist trail is something of an exception, in every sense of the word. Welcome to Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens.

Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami Haifa

The view from the Baha’i Gardens (Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami)

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Osnat had an interesting experience on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. It happened when she came to visit the famed Baha’i Gardens: an astounding pillar of greenery rising up from Haifa’s port district, crowned by the golden-domed Mausoleum.

The group climbed down the higher tiers of the garden, descending toward the Tomb of the Bab – the Baha’i faith’s major prophet. There are 18 tiers in all. They reflect the pillars of faith as described by the Bab, and also provide a fairly nice framework for a guided tour. A basic introduction is given at the top, with a splendid view of the bay. A few steps down, features of the garden can be pointed out, and one or two tiers later it’s time for a Q&A session.

Osnat asks: “So say I would like to become Baha’i, how would I go about it?”

This was a real conversation killer. The tour was in Hebrew, and Jews are deeply sensitive about proselytizing, while the Israeli state frowns on it severely. Consequently, all religions besides Judaism practice extreme care not to offer a pathway to the light. Osnat says she heard the group fall uneasily silent. Some may have suspected that she was “planted” to bring up the question. The guide had to quickly make clear that this is not the case. “The Baha’is do not accept Israeli converts,” she said, “so as to not meddle with the already complex fabric of this country.”

Fair enough. To the best of my knowledge, Osnat has no real inclination for becoming Baha’i (she beautifully described her very real journey of identity as a second generation Russian-Israeli here). She is, however, an authentically curious person. And so a few tiers down, on the central platform of the garden surrounding the tomb, she came up with an even more risqué...

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The Beaten Path: The Western Wall as military parade grounds (part 2)

It’s still beautiful and moving, but recent decades have done something strange to the ‘Kotel,’ our first stop along the deconstructed tourist trail. What happens when a site is the object of both religious longing and military identity?

Read part one of The Beaten Path, ‘An introduction, or how to ruin a good story’

Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami

(By Yuval Ben-Ami)

There are so many advantages to not being a tourist. For one, I know the best way to get to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv. Busses only reach the main terminal, which is located on the western outskirts of town and requires a further trip by the light rail. The Sherut minibuses, however, go all the way to the city center, a mere five minutes’ walk from the Old City’s ramparts and the beauty therein.

I actually hop off earlier, because, not being a tourist, I know a good little hole in the wall Mizrahi restaurant in which to stop for lunch (“Ta’ami” on Shamai st. Their menu hasn’t changed since 1957). Not being a tourist, I also know a shortcut, so within 15 minutes I make it all the way from the restaurant to the Western Wall, and walk my very full stomach through the metal detector.

From this point onwards, however, I would much rather be a tourist.

The religion of longing

It’s perfectly alright for a historical site to come with baggage. One would be hard pressed to find one that isn’t in this country. Still, I’m a little more sensitive when it comes to the Western Wall. I guess I just deeply love it. It is an authentically Jewish symbol, and I love Judaism.

I love Judaism for the same reason I love the blues. Picture the cliché of an old timer blues musician, taken to an extreme. He’s poor, he’s blind and he’s the victim of a severly racist system. His girl left him and his drinking habit won’t. What does he do with all that? He makes art, beautiful art. Here is what Judaism has been for over two millennia: a creative response to a being extremely unlucky.

There once was a religion that centered on a temple, where sacrifices were performed by priests. The last and finest of those temples was destroyed in 70 AD and left the people irrecoverably scarred. Rather...

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The Beaten Path: An introduction, or how to ruin a good story (part 1)

In a new series of adventures, travel writer Yuval Ben-Ami sets out to deconstruct the Holy Land’s most famous and heavily trodden tourist attractions. To begin, he deconstructs the entire country.

Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami 13 mhuzak

(By Yuval Ben-Ami)

The Holy Land has no history. I mean it. It is a land without any history at all, insofar as “history” can be said to describe what is past. The wheels of history keep turning, of course, but the past, you will agree, is what most people mean by the word, especially when they travel. Rarely will someone roll into a town and say: “I’m here for the history. Where is your newest high-tech industrial park?”

In the conventions of tourism, history is what is over, and here nothing is over. Wars fought five millennia ago are still being fought. Old beliefs die hard. It is also a land without archeology. Where there is a ruin, people weep over it; where an ancient monument stands, it stands shrouded in controversy.

True, we have managed to encircle a few sites with fences and we demand entry fees, creating the semblance of touristic normalcy. But more often than not, even those sites are still in the midst of their own stories. Ethnicities claim them, scholars debate them and clerics denounce their status as attractions. Ideologists demand more excavations. Families are evicted, bulldozers trample walls, stones are thrown, blood flows.

Tourists have little choice but to ignore much of this. A short visit to the country hardly permits dealing with its countless political complexities, scholarly debates and philosophical paradoxes. Almost everything that lies outside the anticipated experience must be overlooked — is overlooked.

This project is meant to cut a small window into that reality. Over the next few weeks, I intend to visit a number of the country’s most famous and heavily trodden tourist sites, and jollily deconstruct them. I will attempt to observe them with an open mind and offer fresh perspectives: an atypical political point of view, a new aesthetic notion. One take may be religious, a second social, a third historical. I’ll even look for new ways to view the geography itself — anything that isn’t part of the typical tour guide gab.

Of course, those gabs vary. Several tourist trails intertwine here, from the Russian or...

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WATCH: The boy who put equality back on the agenda

Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin did what no other Israeli leader is doing. He heeded the call of a tender Arab boy – and followed him in support of tolerance and equality. This is how George Amireh and Rivlin pose an alternative to an entire society,

We were presented with a pleasant surprise this week from the Presidential residence in Jerusalem: A video of Rubi Rivlin and a boy from Jaffa named George Amireh sitting together and silently presenting, through placards, a message of tolerance and denouncement of bullying. Amireh recently became famous for producing a similar video, in which he used the same Bob Dylan-like method to expose a series of harassments he is subject to at his school. The video with Rivlin is a re-enactment and continuation of the original video’s success. (To turn subtitles in video on, click on icon on the bottom right bar, to the right of the clock.)

A few positive things stand out: Amireh wasn’t necessarily suffering from racism. He was attacked for being a boy with gentle mannerisms and a soft voice, for which he was labeled, among other things, a “koksinel” (derogatory Hebrew word for transvestite). This issue isn’t highlighted in the video, resulting in a confluence of struggles against various forms of discrimination. Amireh confronts the camera not as an Arab but as a human being, though in the context of our society he is obviously facing it also as a Christian Palestinian Arab from Jaffa (if I am mistaken and he’s a descendant of Slovakia’s Jewry, correct me).

Harassing an Arab and harassing a “koksinel” derive from the same place that breeds misogyny, hatred of Mizrahim (Jews of Arab descent), hatred of refugees and migrant workers and hatred of Orthodox Jews – if only to name a few – which all feed into the dehumanizing of the occupation and the siege on Gaza. It is this infected place that needs treatment. Tolerance is exactly what this country requires, and up until the notably loquacious Rubi Rivlin took the presidential seat, no one bothered to spread the word; not the previous president, the part lover, and certainly not our prime minister, who promotes fine values such as “revenge.” I almost could not believe it when Rivlin held up a poster reading “equality.” Equality!!! Forget tolerance, equality! Try to imagine someone in the government...

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Good Lorde! Now we're fighting New Zealand!

In the world of Israel’s ‘anti-diplomacy,’ anything is possible — including the extremely improbable.

Maori warriors (Image by Wikimedia Commons)

Once were worriors… soon once more. Maori presentation at an NZ Navy base (Photo by New Zealand Defence Force)

There comes a time in every Israeli’s life when he or she must undertake a great challenge on behalf of the Zionist endeavor. This morning I learned that my country has found itself at the center of a diplomatic debacle with New Zealand, and it appears that I may have to be the one to tie the bungee rope around my waist, step into the ravine of international relations, and resolve it.

First, though, let us ask: how in the world does one run into conflict with New Zealand? It must take so much imagination and innovation to even start to ruffle kiwi feathers. Of course, the French sank a boat in Aukland harbor in 1985. It was the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior, which threatened to temper with the Republic’s South Pacific nuclear experiments. Les Français actually ran a commando operation on New Zealand soil, killing one activist. Indeed, they are known for being avant garde, and that fiasco is up there with Duchamp’s Pissoir.

But how did we, a far more conservative nation, get the New Zealanders mad? We are experts on fighting our immediate neighbors – but they are so far away, and so famously peaceful to begin with. What could we have possibly done to irk them? Or how did they manage to irk us?

It fits right in with most of our famous cases of faux pas; it has to do with refusal to share. In this case: the refusal to share an ambassador. It appears that, in a is not at all unusual arrangement, New Zealand’s ambassador to Turkey also serves as its ambassador to Israel. He is based in Ankara and is in charge of contact with several regimes of the Levant, including Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

As new Ambassador Jonathan Curr arrived in Turkey recently, he was due to present his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In addition, he was due to present a letter of introduction to the PA. New Zealand does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, hence the lesser ceremony.

Upon learning of the Ramallah...

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A voice calling in the wilderness: A journey to the 'Castle of the Jews'

Five hundred words and three photos from one place. This time: a church in the middle of a minefield, water you can walk on, an international border with no soldiers and a legal limbo that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else.

What is the strangest place in the world? Depends how you define “strange.” In English, one must differentiate between strange, weird, bizarre and my personal favorite: eerie.

If there ever was an “eerie” place in this delusional country between the river and the sea, it can be found close to the Jordan River. In the following photo one can see tourists waving hello at a site called “Qasr el Yahud” (“Castle of the Jews” in Arabic). These women are sitting in the Kingdom of Jordan, but the photograph was taken from the West Bank of the river, under Israeli control.

Photos from Qasr el Yahud. (Yuval Ben-Ami)

Two years ago, Israel began granting access to the river east of Jericho, once it realized that many tourists could visit the place Jesus was baptized by simply going through Jordan. There is already a road leading to the river between minefields, and once a year the Greek patriarch leads a procession through it. All that’s left to do is grant access to anyone who wants it, build a parking lot for buses and place a soldier to ensure that nobody walks across the river to the other side.

Yes, I wrote “walks.” There is no need to swim. The depth of the “river” at this point is approximately a meter and is, on average, only five meters wide. It is surrounded on both banks by one of the less predictable views this world has to offer. John the Baptist was, in the words of the Gospel, “a voice crying in the wilderness.” The desert remains, flat and rocky, full of churches removed from any city, town or village. One is made of fortified concrete, while three others have sparkling, golden domes. An onion-shaped Russian dome decorates a large building as if it were uprooted from St. Petersburg and gently placed here.

Qasr el Yahud. (Yuval Ben-Ami)

Another church, near where the buses park, is entirely surrounded by mines. The small, destroyed chapel is surrounded by a rosy, stone wall. Near it are signs that read “beware of mines.” Not...

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Between elegance and desolation: A short journey to Qalqilya

Eight hundred words and three photos from one place. This time, the city from which the muezzins sing over the rooftops of the settlements of Kochav Yair and Nir David.

Here is the closest thing that I will have to a Passover vacation: a hop for one morning to a city that is not especially attractive, though pleasant, smiley and delicious. The separation wall, hated by me as it is, split me from my obligations. So I submitted to sweet tea and pastries (sinning with hametz), to the atmosphere in the street, and to the interaction with this close, yet far away place.

Actually, it’s inaccurate to say that Qalqilya is unattractive. It may not feature many fine buildings but it does have, for instance, wonderful greenery: both banana trees and large patches of grass – two things one won’t find in the better known, mountainous Palestinian urban sprawl. It’s fascinating to peek into the small orchards in each home’s courtyard.

A courtyard in Qalqilya (Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami)

A courtyard in Qalqilya (Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami)

The city boasts an elegant topography: it possesses patience atop a moderate hillside, and its slope fans the densely populated urban cluster. The streets intertwine interestingly, the market is cute, and the similarity of several of the neighborhoods to parts of Jaffa and south Tel Aviv makes one wonder. “Yesha” [the Hebrew acronym for the biblical names of the occupied territories, Judea, Samaria and Gaza, also meaning “salvation”] – is truly here, for better and for worse.

>Read Yuval Ben-Ami’s ‘Round Trip’ travel series through Israel and Palestine

The depth of the tranquility found in the side streets, contrasted with the commotion found in the minds, also generates a form of beauty. I was reminded of Ocosingo, a sweet and unique city I visited in Mexico. Both cities are graceful – Qalqilya even more so. Like Ocosingo, Qalqilya is poor. It was once slightly less poor. Residents of the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and other towns in the Sharon region, along with settlers from the area, used to come here to do their shopping. The signs in Hebrew remain; the customers have disappeared. The Second Intifada created a total disconnect; the separation laws and the ensuing threatening red signs, stating, “they will kill you here,” completed it.

Qalqilya became a place...

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The world's only ethnic time zone

For the past month, the Holy Land was the only place in the world where time zones are delineated not by geography but by ethnicity. 

World time zones (By Shutterstock.com)

As of this morning, for the first time in a month, all the residents of the Holy Land are living in the same time zone. In late September, the Palestinian Authority switched to winter time, but the West Bank’s Israeli settlers continued living in line with Israel’s clock, which only made the switch today. Thus, for one month, the West Bank became the only place in the world where time is not delineated by geography but rather by ethnicity: different people went about their lives on different clocks, despite the fact that they live in such close proximity to each other within the same territory.

In other words (For the sake of clarifying such strange reality, I add here with thanks a point used in the comments by reader Haifawi) a visitor to the West Bank would be in a different time zone, depending on whether he or she was with Jews or non-Jews.

Settlers today make up over 15 percent of the West Bank population. This means that about every sixth West Bank resident thought an hour ahead of the other five. Drivers passing each other on Route 60 drove in different time zones, depending on to the color of their license plates. Meanwhile, while Israelis on both sides of the Green Line shared the same clock, the Palestinian people was divided in, and by, the dimension of time. Palestinians in Israel and East Jerusalem continued to live according to Israeli time, while Gaza went with Ramallah, switching off daylight savings on September 26.

The lives of West Bank Palestinians who work in settlements or with Israelis, or who have any connection at all with Palestinian citizens of Israel or East Jerusalem residents, became highly complicated. Some of them moved between time zones a few times a day. Many had to wake up at unthinkable hours in order to travel to work across the wrinkle of time. Palestinians who live on one side of the separation barrier and work on the other must anyway calculate the travel time to the checkpoint and the wait at it; this month they were forced to add...

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Scenes from a guided tour

1.

Hotel manager in Tiberias: Two members of the group you’re guiding had to move to another room last night. It’s because of all the noise the cousins made in the pool.

Me: Why do you find it necessary to point out that those were “cousins” [Hebrew code word for Palestinians]?

Manager: What do you want me to say? “Arabs?”

Me: Why don’t you just say “some people”?

Manager: But they’re Arabs; it’s their identity.

Me: Being human is also part of their identity.

Manager: To you they’re human. Anyway, the couple that moved will either have to move back to their room before you leave this morning, or to a larger room on this floor.

Me: They’re Jewish.

Manager: What?

Me: They’re Jewish, you forgot to mention that, it’s part of their indentity.

Manager (smiling): Forget Jewish, just say “human.”

Me: To you they’re human.

2.

On a break in the tour, I am walking down Queen Helene Street in West Jerusalem. Ahead of me walks an elderly Palestinian woman in a long, traditional, embroidered dress. She holds a heavy sack in her hands, while balancing on her head, without any manual support, an equally large parcel.

It’s been a long time since I witnessed such a balancing feat. As a child growing up in Jerusalem, the sight was more common. We kindergarten kids would stand by the fence surrounding the playground, looking out to a path that led to the Palestinian neighborhood of Shu’afat. Whenever such a lady passed, we sang to her:

Arabi’a kushkushi’a
Yesh la tachat
Shel gavi’a

Which can be loosely translated from the Hebrew as:

Silly Arab woman
She’s got an ass
Like a wine glass.

I remember singing this at home one day. My parents became extremely angry. I didn’t understand. Why would they be angry? At kindergarten everyone sang this and it was fine. Later in life, I forgot the song. It only came back me when reading Richard Wright’s “Black Boy,” a well-known memoir of growing up African-American in the American south. At one point,Wright tells of how he and his friends used to harass the town’s only Jewish resident with an anti-Semitic ditty.

At first I was in shock. How, I thought, could I continue reading a book by someone who did...



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Israel as a public embarrassment

Are the embarrassments Israel’s diplomats produce truly unintentional? They appear to be part of a deliberate policy, intended to promote our sense of isolation.

Facepalm at the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In an episode of the brilliant Danish television series “Borgen” (“The Castle”), Denmark’s fictitious Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg travels to the imaginary African country of Kharun. Hoping to broker a peace accord between warring factions in that land, she rushes from the airport to a meeting with the local prime minister. He, however, fails to attend.

Angered, Nyborg demands to be taken back to the airport. One of her ministers, the Arabic speaking Amir, turns to a Kharunian dignitary and says: “Hadi fadiha.” This is when my girlfriend Ruthie and I burst out laughing in front of the screen. Fadiha! A familiar word! The Arabic expression for “embarrassment” or a “faux pas” was borrowed by Hebrew and is used incessantly in our culture. “Hadi fadiha” – “this is an embarrassment.” Indeed.

Not only do we know the word, we are also amply familiar with the situation, from a Kharunian, rather than a Danish perspective. Fadihas committed by the state have become habit around here, particularly since Avigdor Liberman was instated as foreign minister in the previous government. Liberman brought with him an anti-diplomatic approach that has since turned Israel into a state-sized fadiha. A famous example was the 2010 summoning of the Turkish ambassador to the Foreign Ministry, where he was offered a low chair. The low chair was meant as a public punishment, since the Turkish government allowed a certain television channel to air a drama series critical of Israel. Then-Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon soared above the ambassador on a taller chair and the media was invited to photograph his triumph.

Meanwhile, around the world, anti-diplomats were given prime posts. Among them are Israel’s ambassador to Ireland Boaz Modai, and his activist wife Nurit Tinari Modai, formerly of the Foreign Ministry herself. Last Christmas, the two sent the world a Christmas message of hate. On a Facebook page managed by the embassy, they posted an image of Jesus and Mary with the caption: “A thought for Christmas… If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in...

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Bringing the Green Line to Sir Paul McCartney

The bathroom at the Glozman family home in the settlement of Givon Hahadasha. (Image from the book “The Round Trip”)

The sea is vast, which is probably why I seldom meet people I know when I go in to take a swim. Another reason is that the sea wets people’s hair and I don’t recognize them quite as easily.

A few days ago two wet-haired people called my name. It happened among the Hawaiian-sized waves of Alma Beach, north of Jaffa’s promenade. They turned out to be my two friends Orna and Loren. We chatted about what’s new and I told them I have a new baby: “The Round Trip,” my new book, and the first ebook to be published by +972 Magazine.

“I feel a little detached from it,” I confessed, “the proper version is available on iTunes for viewing on iPads. I don’t own an iPad and the iTunes bookstore isn’t active in Israel/Palestine, so I haven’t actually seen my own book. To me, it’s a bit like having it released on Mars, via some form of futuristic technology not yet known on earth.”

We all ducked under a huge wave.

“And I don’t know anyone on Mars, either!” I kept on complaining, “I have five free copies to send for promotion. I sent three to friends who sometimes write for the media, but I have two more, and my list of American and European media people is waning.”

“Forget promotion. It’s your first book in English? Send one to your English teacher,” Loren suggested.

“I did have English teachers in elementary school, but the truth is I learned my English from the Beatles.”

“So send it to Paul McCartney,” Loren said.

Buy The Round Trip here>>

Under the gush of the next wave I gave it some thought, and realized it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Of course Ringo is still with us as well, but he composed much fewer lyrics, and would thus count as a beloved teacher’s aid. Here, then, is the letter I wrote Sir McCartney upon returning to land.

Dear Sir Paul.

This is a letter of thanks. Attached to it is a book I’ve written about borders. I grew up in the strange land of Israel/Palestine, surrounded by countless borders: real borders, imaginary borders, international borders, unrecognized...

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'Not born for happiness': Israel as a Russian opera

The ultimate tale of a missed opportunity, now staged by the Bolshoi on Tel Aviv’s opera stage, resonates strongly in an Israeli heart that still recalls an old hope.

The scene at the opening of the the first act, in the Bolshoi’s traveling production of Tchaikowsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Photo by Yossi Zwekcer, Courtasy of the Israeli Opera

It does not end like an opera. No diva is sprawled on the stage, a dagger in her heart and a high D♭emerging emerging from her throat. I remember stepping out of “Eugene Onegin” stunned. Could there really be an opera that dealt with real life, rather then the melodramatic opera universe? Did Pushkin and Tchaikovsky both just send me off with the message: “life sucks, deal with it?”

It was a typically mild winter day in Eilat. The Marinski Opera House, from Saint Petersburg, visits the city yearly. Back in the 90s, its legendary director Gregeiev dreamed up a tri-national music festival. He hoped that borders would open up, following the Oslo Accords, allowing a flow of spectators into the resort city. That never materialized, but Eilat remains pleasant in winter, so the Russians keep coming.

I remember sitting in the port hangar where a concert performance of the piece was given. At first I didn’t care much. There was an old lady lamenting her lost youth, then a choir of the harvesters returning from the fields… I sank into my notepad and doodled. Then something caught my ears, the most strikingly beautiful theme I have ever heard. Tania, the village girl, was composing a letter to Eugene Onegin, a visiting city lad with whom she had fallen in love. Her letter was over the top – the kind of thing for which the “undo” function on Gmail was invented. She had just met Onegin, and was clearly making a mistake.

Still, we must be swept with her, and so Tchaikovsky composed Tania’s very emotion. He made love into music, a phrase (first appearing in this clip, taken out a production at the Met, at 4:48) that repeats in different intensities, until Tania stops singing and only the orchestra expresses her burst of infatuation (8:36). It was so gorgeous I nearly dropped the notepad.

An aloof Onegin rejects Tania’s words of...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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