Thursday, June 14, 2007

Finally in Israel

I finally arrived yesterday afternoon in Jerusalem. My flights from Boston to Milan and Milan to Tel Aviv were uneventful, marked only by the lack of the kosher meals that I had ordered (I'll have to be more persistent about that for my return flights). At the airport I managed to get minutes added to my Israeli cellphone (miraculously, the battery had not drained over the course of the year so I was able to use it). I got to Jerusalem at about 6 p.m., and to the apartment that I'm renting for the summer, which is very nice. I'm sitting here and listening to the birds and looking out my porch onto a garden. In the distance I can hear the sound of someone inexpertly practicing a piano.

The view out the mirpeset (porch)

I'm staying on Ithamar ben Avi St. in Katamon, one of the older neighborhoods of Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. Before 1948 this was a predominantly Arab neighborhood, but as a result of the 1948 war, the Arabs left and the Jews came in (other nearby neighborhoods were largely Jewish before 1948). Some were Jews who had been living in the Old City until they had to leave when it was taken over by the Jordanians. This apartment building, however, is not pre-1948 - I think it was probably built sometime in the 1960s.

The garden outside my door.

I went out this morning for one of my favorite Israeli activities - sitting in a cafe, drinking cappuccino, and reading the newspaper (in this case Haaretz in English). The big news is that Ehud Barak is now (again) the head of the Labor party and Shimon Peres is now President of Israel (this is a largely ceremonial post). Other big news is that Hamas seems to have defeated Fatah in the fighting in Gaza. What this means for Israel I don't know, probably nothing good.

The path leading to Ithamar ben Avi St.

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