So I was walking to the bus today near the intersection of Allenby and Rothschild when I noticed a group of Birthright kids getting off their bus. I thought Allenby was a strange place to take a bunch of young Americans, but I figured they had simply parked there and were going to explore Rothschild.
To my surprise they started walking the other way, in the direction of Yehuda Ha-Levy. As the bus was pulling away I noticed a group of them grabbing some lunch at a bakery where Allenby intersects with Yehuda Ha-Levy.
What, are we trying to scare the crap out of these kids? Is Birthright choosing the grimy and dirty parts of Tel Aviv over the nice parts? I just don't get it. Rothschild was two steps away with all its cafes and pretty buildings and yet some madrich pointed these kids in the opposite direction.
This is just another example of a larger problem. I once heard a friend complain that the new Terminal at Ben Gurion Airport was too nice, to clean, and to high tech. Israelis are constantly saying that the recent progress here isn't real and that everything is dysfunctional. I think Israelis have some sentimental attachment to their country being a poor and underdeveloped place. They feel they have to show the poverty that exists because somehow that is more "real."
To me that's BS. G-d forbid anyone should see the potential in this place. We wouldn't want anyone to think that this city and this country could become beautiful and prosperous. No, because if that happened the Israelis would have to learn to stop complaining about everything that happens here.