Saturday, April 03, 2004

My last post must have given the impression that everyone is hungry in Israel. This is not the case at all. It’s a big mitzvah to give to the poor in Passover, and it could be that a lot of the ultra-religious charities are going overboard.

I truly fear that the long queues are more a result of a breakdown of values than of real economic difficulties. Some people have no shame to stand in queue for a free box of matza and disposable nappies. I know a few people like that. They don’t care where it came from, as long as they get a piece of the action.

I get the feeling that an alert photographer would probably be able to snap a photo of the same little old Yemenite lady with the flowery headscarf in every queue he visits. One newsreel actually showed someone coming out of one of these food places with a parcel and loading it into the baggage compartment of his shiny new car, which was parked round the corner.

Yes, things are bad and people have to cut their expenses, as in any recession, but the malls and the markets are full, and everyone seems to have a cell phone, surely a luxury item. And as I said yesterday, hi-tech is reportedly picking up, and the foreign investors are coming back.

So are the tourists, apparently. A friend just came back from a few days in one of Eilat’s more expensive hotels, and said it was packed full of English and French speaking people. I asked him if they were Jewish. He said the French were, but that the English speaking seemed to be mainly, surprisingly enough, non-Jewish Brits.