Saturday, May 19, 2007

A weekend away

Last weekend had always had a big mark on the calendar as the one weekend where I was always going to get away from the Kibbutz. This was down to a triple birthday occuring of the weekend as over a space of two days Richard, Ruthie and Sara (from AJ6) all had their birthdays. The general plan had always been to try and get off work early on Friday and go up to Tel Aviv until Saturday night, an incredibly short space of time. However, as good fortune would have it we were to have more of a break than we thought. For on Thursday there was to be a MASA event and we were all being sent up to Jerusalem for the day.

If you cast you minds back to October time, I mentioned being sent to a MASA event and this one was not very different. MASA was a fund established by Ariel Sharon to subsidies and support foreigners in Israel on long term programs, because of this MASA is a very good and worthwhile organisation (Iwould say that being one of the people it benefits), its events however are a total and utter waste of time. They must spend thousands of dollars on these events and the money in the opinion of everyone there is totally wasted. It would be far better spent on providing more financial support to those who need it. Before the actual event there was entertainment from moving statues, a circus etc. and a chance to see friends from other movements.

I was very surprised to see an old friend there, Ben is at Yeshiva in Jerusalem and I have seen him very few times throughout the year, the last time was Pesach and as he had not been at the previous MASA event I had not expected to see him there. He told me that he was here with his Yeshiva but if there was anything that they found against Orthodox Religious ruling the head of their Yeshiva would have everyone leave. When asked what this included he said mixed dancing and women singing, I told him he might as well leave now.

The event itself was to take place in the Sultan's pool an open air theatre in a valley outside the walls of Jerusalem. Inevitably it took ages to start the reason for this was we were waiting for the main speaker to arrive. The main speaker just so happened to be Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He was greeted with polite applause (the crowd was never exactly enthusiastic) and some booing, but then what do you expect for someone who has a 0% popularity rating. The show consisted of several speakers including the head of the Jewish Agency (this was I think the third time I had heard him speak), the mayor of Jerusalem and Olmert. Olmert spoke in very good English cracked a few jokes (some were almost funny) and told everyone to move to Israel. Other than the speeches there were several musical acts which included rather unsurprisingly mixed dancing and women singing, Ben left (of his own accord most people from his Yeshiva stayed) but then so did many other people. To be honest good taste was a better excuse to leave and I was seriously considering leaving myself. The event finished (thank God) with a fireworks display.

After the event we wandered up to Zion Square in the centre of Jerusalem an assigned meeting place where we were meant to meet lots of other people before we were to all go out drinking together. However, more important things were afoot as blocking up Jaffa Street a main road that runs along side Zion Square was a mass student demonstration. The Israeli student body has been on strike for about six weeks now, because of increases in tuition fees, and so this protest was part of the general disruption caused. It seemed relatively peaceful, even though an entire road was blocked, and then the police and army arrived. They seemed cheerful until they drew ranks and went right into the heart of the protesets. I was among the throngs of spectators on the sidelines, baying for blood in the collisions between the authorities and the people. A few people were dragged out and some were even carried out and although fists were thrown the violence never really escalated. With that excitment over we wondered down to a bar named Sol where we had a few drinks, and then moved on to a club called Underground. Whilst it has a reputation for being one of the seediest clubs in Israel it is one of the favourite haunts of many people in our group. I left there at about three and I went with Richard in a sheroot to Tel Aviv, as we had decided to stay in the MDA flat.

I had assumed that I would be sleeping on the floor, however I was very happy to see that Nir's bed was vacant, and although I felt very bad about sleeping there without his permission I assumed he wouldn't mind and I quickly fell asleep. Nir did arrive at about 7:30 but he left immeadiatley and happily didnt seemed to mind seeing me in his bed. I woke around 11:30 and then did nothing for a couple of hours even though I was meant to be at Reg's flat in Jaffa at about 1. Finally Richard, Yoav and I decided to leave and we were made even later by the bus which of course took ages to come back. Lunch was very pleasant and afterwards I had a relaxing walk back with Yoav. This included going through Nachlamat Binyamin a lovely market very much the Covent Garden of Tel Aviv. Back at the flat we watched High School Musical "Oh the pain the pain, why do I do these things to myself", and then did nothing for a few hours until dinner.

Finally a group of us went out for a burger before meeting lots of others in a bar down the road. Here we stayed for many hours drinking, talking and catching up. Eventually we decided to move on, unfortuneatly on Friday nights most bars and clubs have a habit of being over 25, and so we spent much of the time wandering aimlessly around Tel Aviv in the small hours of the morning looking for something to do, thus it was just like any other night in Tel Aviv. Finally around three I went back with Richard to the Jaffa Hostel (rated 15th in the Best Budget Places to stay in the world by the Independent). The Hostel is a lovely quaint place to stay, and even though I was on a very shaky and rather uncomfortable top bunk I still had a very nice nights sleep. I woke the next morning and after visiting the famous Jaffa bakery I walked to the old port, a sight I had not visited since Tour, and then I walked leisurely back to the appartment.

After lunch, a bagel one of the few I have had in Israel, I went with a group of about 7 or 8 to see Spiderman 3, dont bother. After the movie I had a quick dinner with Annabel and Richard and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone as we had to catch 8 o'clock bus back. The bus journey was uneventful excpet for the fact that I almost got left behind at a stop as I was on the loo, and everyone had dozed off and so had failed to notice that I was not there. I sprinted out just as the bus was leaving, and sat down rather disgruntled.


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