It’s Official: Tel Aviv is Cool. But Where are Tel Avivians Really From?

by Brian on May 31, 2012

in In the News,Only in Israel

It’s now official: 60 Minutes has declared Tel Aviv one cool city. The venerable CBS television news magazine ran a 12-minute report on Israel’s beachside metropolis and Tel Aviv came out glowing.

Of course, this being television, 60 Minutes had to “frame” the segment. It starts out:

We went looking for a place of calm in the Middle East, a place not wracked by violence, anxiety, torment. Not an easy mission these days but we found one in the unlikeliest of spots – Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv – bordered on all sides by danger.

Why are we a most unlikely spot? You were expecting Damascus?

The piece continues:

Anything can happen anytime. But somehow Tel Avivians have learned how not to worry about tomorrow. For them, the only time is now.

Yeah, that seems pretty true.

The video, produced by CBS’s Bob Simon, features a variety of interviewees – from Tel Aviv Mayer Ron Huldai to startup guru Yossi Vardi. One guest speaker attributes Tel Aviv’s hi-tech success to the Jewish mothers who drive their children crazy, push them, challenge them and inspire them.

Cute, maybe even a little bit true (shout out to you, Mom!)

My only main peeve: the juxtaposition of war footage with sexy Sabras on the beach and the ominous voice-over: “little more than an hour away.” Yes, there are a lot of missiles aimed at Tel Aviv, but using footage from Operation Cast Lead is misleading.

Etgar Keret also had a piece online this week, in The Daily Beast, where he asks where all those young and trendy Tel Avivians are from. He writes:

The average Tel Avivan, as I imagine him, was born somewhere else, went to the local high school there, was in the scouts, served in the Army—until at some point, he had enough and decided to move to the big city. The reasons that brought him to Tel Aviv were varied: maybe he came to find a drummer for his band; maybe he had a great idea for a startup and thought he could find a serious investor there; maybe it was because, where he comes from, they didn’t like his hairdo or his nose piercing or his views about the occupation and he believed that in Tel Aviv no one would hassle him…The average Tel Avivan fell madly in love with the city at first sight.

Unfortunately, continues Keret, ultimately that Tel Aviv transplant meets a woman and falls in love.

The get married…and now that he has kids, his small, run-down rented apartment just doesn’t suit his needs anymore. The boy wants a dog, they need a backyard to play in—and where can he even find a house with a backyard in Tel Aviv, much less at a price he can afford?

And before he knows it, our Tel Aviv boy is back in the suburbs, maybe even the town he came from. But for a brief spell, he was the stuff 60 Minutes so grandly paraded in front of its U.S. audience. And that suits me – and hopefully Keret – just fine.

I posted about Tel Aviv, 60 Minutes and Etgar Keret earlier this week on Israelity.

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