he southern area of Tel Aviv has been in and out of the Israeli news cycle in 2013. Headlines have highlighted an environment of crime and fear, overcrowded housing, inadequate infrastructure or, most likely, Israel’s migration woes. The picture painted is one of deterioration and despair.
As someone who’s end-of-workday journey home includes a trek through the wretched maze of streets that lead to the infamous architectural marvel that is Tel Aviv’s New Central Bus Station (it is sad that this monstrosity is still referred to as “new”), I have no choice but to concede to this sentiment.
During my travels, I have seen: a man defecating on the sidewalk; a man passed out in a heap of trash with a needle still stuck in his arm; a man lying unconscious on the street at the corner of Hagdud Haivri Street and Har Tzion Boulevard, with the neon Kingdom of Pork sign looming overhead. A female Israeli pedestrian pours water into his mouth, crying that she can’t just leave him to die, until a paramedic arrives and tells her that he sees this all the time; a gleaming black Mercedes with tinted windows parked outside the run-down street-level brothels, beside the forty and fifty-year old women braving the daylight to share a smoke outside together.
I have seen more but will stop here.
And yet, the fact that the area is decrepit—perhaps more so than any other area in the country—is not what startles me most. It’s the totality of my evening walk that has impelled me to set pen to paper.