We had a generally mellow day today, reading, resting and witnessing the timeless flow of commerce at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market.
As you can see in the pictures, the market has everything from cathedrals of carefully placed strawberries to rows of hookahs to green yarmulkes with the words “Israeli Army” stitched on them to the largest blocks of halvah I’ve ever seen.
The stand’s owners hawked like some of the finest I worked with and near when I was selling Green Monster and Bleacher Creature T-shirts for the D’Angelo family on Fenway Park’s Landsdowne Street in the summer of 1990.
Calling out to us in heavily accented English-“Hello, my friend, come here,” giving tiny samples of pomegranates, and very likely overcharging us based on their accurate assessment that we are not natives, the vendors fulfilled time-honored traditions of the customer-seller relationship.
I loved it.
Forty two years ago, the future of Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel was in serious doubt.
Surrounded by hostile and seemingly united Arab nations, Israel pulled off a spectacular and lightning-quick victory in June 1967 that both led to its boundaries growing by three-and-a-half times and set the conditions for much of the bloodshed and downward shift in world opinion that has followed.
Today, I read Michael Oren’s Six Days of War, which provides the back story for, build up to, and consequences of, Israel’s landmark victory.
Oren writes in the introduction that he set out to change how people wrote about the conflict by incorporating analysis of the military campaign with the war’s social and political consequences.
I enjoyed reading this energetically written and intricately researched work.
Among many salient aspects was a reminder of how towering a figure Yitzhak Rabin was in Israel’s first 50 years as a nation. In this period, he nearly suffers a nervous breakdown before pulling himself together, and, along with Moshe Dayan, leading the army to victory.
Rabin was assassinated a short distance from here, and I am confident we will get there before we leave.
Oren also writes about the fight for Jerusalem that took place during the conflict.
We will be heading to the Old City tomorrow morning.