Glimpses of Israel - Tel Aviv

by Joseph Hunting

Birthdays are normally a time of gaiety among family friends especially among the young. Understandably those creeping up in years are not always keen to remember their age.

Tel Aviv is one exception. At 70 years of age the city is looking better now that it ever did. Signs of squalor and hardship which marked the early years of development have given way to attractive buildings and city squares where modern Tel Avivians add colour and life to Israel's second largest city.

Few alive today would remember the days when camels padded up Allenby Road and over the sand dunes that were hopefully called "the Hill of Spring". Only the sandy foreshore along the Mediterranean has remained the same. This is where Israelis relax in their own peculiar way on the Sabbath by exercising vigorously with bat and ball or jogging endlessly along the water's edge. And even this simple enjoyment seems threatened by marinas and hotels that seem to swallow up the last vestiges of real estate along the foreshore. Just south of Tel Aviv is one of the most ancient cities in existence, Jaffa, dating back to pre-Biblical days as a centre of commerce when Phoenician mariners explored the coast-line of Canaan. A few miles beyond lie the ancient Philistine cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, now thriving Israeli cities. Three miles to the north of Tel Aviv are the excavations of Tel el Qasila on the banks of the Yarkon river. The inhabitants of Tel el Qasila 3,000 years ago would have witnessed the huge rafts of cedar that had come down the coast from Lebanon being dragged up the river on their way to Jerusalem for the construction of Solomon's Temple.

Each of the three great cities of Israel -- Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv have their peculiar charms. Tel Aviv is usually the first acquaintance a visitor has with modern Israel and, if first impressions are lasting, those impressions are likely to be warm and pleasant ones.

L'Chaim, Tel Aviv. Seventy years is but a fleeting moment of time in Israel's history. But the late start came at the right time and sets the pattern for the Old-New State of Israel.