Thursday, 8 September 2011

Tel Aviv Beach: No apartheid, no posturing pride

I think that Wednesday more than any day of the week is really Gay Day on the beach. I could be wrong. Every day is Gay Day! Around the cornerfrom me, at the end of Independence Park, is the beach. Across a major road, along which reside the British Embassy (now being renovated,) the Swiss Embassy and the Turkish Embassy. Last year there was a noisy demonstration outside of the Turkish Embassy after the Mavi Marmara fiasco. This year, notwithstanding the grandstanding by the Turkish Prime Minister, 'who cares about $10 million or $150 million worth of bilateral trade so long as we have our pride' Erdogan, no one is loitering. They still have their walls around the rather dilapidated building but no one is paying them attention. I think that everyone is rather contemptious of the Turkish government at the moment. Had the Palmer Report (that they themselves had inititated) exonerated them, then they would be shouting from the rooftops. As it is, they're just throwing their toys out of the pram and making lots of noises about law suits and flotillas and attacking southern Cyprus and continuing their massacres of the Kurds in northern Turkey and Iraq but as no one in the world gives a fig, they can get away with it.

Anyway. So the walk across the park, past the picnic tables and the childrens' playground and the adult open gym and the Hilton halls, where they host weddings and the like, the view is of the most magnificant blue Mediterranean Sea and the pristine sand. To the left, looking past the sea with its myriad yachts and swimmers and lifeguard huts and breakwaters, is the marina and the Gordon outdoor pool, surrounded by towering palm trees and the new Gordon gym. To the right is the dog beach, the segregated religious beach and Mezzizzim beach, leading up to the Port and the new baby 'Borough' Market.

But the Gay Beach is most definitely fun. There's a mixture of gay and straight; families; singles and the occasional dog that strays along and whose owner is then shouted at by the lifeguards who make it plain that the dog has his/her beach and this one is not for him. Many of the beachgoers are regulars, the same as for the swimmers at the Gordon municipal pool. They've been coming here for years (even before the new pool was developed.) They've established enduring friendships and have watched their kids grow up and have kids and the grandkids are now in the pool alongside them. At the Gay Beach there are a number too who have obviously been worshipping the sun for many years. Among them is 'Mrs. Brown.' We call her that because she's there every single day. She's probably even there during the winter months (or maybe she goes down to Eilat for her daily fill.) She's unusual because she's topless. She also wears a teeny, tiny thong. She's all one colour. The colour of the husk of a coconut. She's about 60 odd and her breasts are small droopy additions to her rather lumpy body. She stands on the sand and speaks to her pals. She goes into the water and gets wet. She lays herself down on her chair (she brings her own) and she goes walkabout, up and down the beach, catching the rays. She's quite a sight.

Further down towards Jaffa, there's another stretch of beach that's recently been redeveloped. It's just after the Dolphinarium where, in June 2001, an Islamic Jihad terrorist suicide bomber blew himself up outside and murdered twenty-one Russian teenagers who were waiting to enter the nightclub. Another 120 kids were wounded. The building is still there but it's unused and there's a small monument erected in front on which is written in Russian and Hebrew the names of all the kids who perished. A very poignant sight. Just past here the beach is frequented by many Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Arab Israelis. Their kids play together at the swings and roundabouts. There are many picnics and lots of cookouts and the smells are divine on a summer evening. Zatar and humus and techina and large, flat pitta bread; challas and hard boiled eggs and crackers and cheese. Everyone munches along and the runners and cyclists and bounding dogs pay them no attention. Nor do they pay attention to the gays on the Gay Beach or anyone else especially. Everyone does their own thing. Perhaps someone from the Turkish Embassy should pay a visit. Go across the road and check out the beach and the tayelet and just see how everyone gets along. No pride involved.

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