Fear, Trembling and Madness After Bibi’s Re-Election

In Which the Author Finds a Ticket to Paradise

Isi Tenenbom

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published April 17, 2015, issue of April 17, 2015.

I’m in Tel Aviv. I love Tel Aviv. Who doesn’t? I’m in a boutique hotel on Gordon Street, facing the Gordon Beach, and I’m ready for breakfast.

“What would you like to order?” asks the waiter.

I like the waiters at this hotel. They are young and handsome, they look intellectual, and all of them seem to be post-Zionists. In short, they are very cool.

What do you recommend? I ask the waiter.

“Israeli breakfast.”

“What is Israeli breakfast?” I ask, as if I have never been to this part of the world before.

“Benedict with bacon.”

I never knew that bacon is an Israeli staple, but I guess I don’t know everything.

Like many of Tel Aviv’s youth, this waiter seems to think that Israel is an occupying power and that the Palestinians are great, warm and kind. He opposed Israel holding onto any piece of land it captured in 1967, and to him Jerusalem is somewhere near Mecca — two places very far away that he would rather not visit. For the life of him, he can’t grasp the logic of any Israeli who would want to live in Jerusalem when he or she could have good bacon by the sea. To him, Israel starts somewhere near Gordon Beach and ends somewhere after Jaffa.

Just a few kilometers away from us lies the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, the city I was born in, and a place many a Tel Avivian would love to be annexed by Poland, Lithuania, Egypt or Libya. The people of Bnei Brak don’t see eye to eye with anyone from Tel Aviv. For them, not only is Jerusalem quite close, but heaven is also just steps away.

It’s Election Day and I want to see the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews going to vote, so I drive to the local headquarters of Shas, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party, hoping to get to see the party’s voters there.

“How can I help you?” a man at the entrance asks me.

“Is my friend here today?” I ask.

“Who’s your friend?”

“Aryeh Deri,” I say, referring to the leader of Shas

“You are a friend of Rabbi Aryeh?”

“Best friend! I was at the wedding of his daughter. Were you there?”

I have no clue what I’m talking about, but it’s worth a try.

Luckily, it works.

“What an honor to have you with us!” the man says. “Did you vote for him already?”

Not yet.

“Here, take this.” He gives me a card. On one side of the card there is a quote by the deceased rabbi of Shas, Ovadia Yosef: “He who votes Shas will go straight to Paradise.” On the other side of it is a big golden key, the key to paradise.

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