Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rotschild Boulevard

'If I were a Rotschild... if I were a richman', sings Tevye , the poor jewish milkman in the famous musical  "Fiddler on the Roof".
Rotschild is a magic name,  the name of the well-known jewish banking dynasty which has always been associated with wealth and charity.

Rotschild Boulevard, named after the french Baron Edmond de Rotschild, is a lovely and popular boulevard in Tel-Aviv . I happened to be there two weeks ago; enjoyed a stroll and  took some pictures. While there, I thought about the stormy protest demonstrations that started on this very street, in July 2011.

pedestrian zone

A few details about the boulevard. The central, middle part of it, lined by trees , is a pedestrian zone.  It has walking / bike paths, and various recreational facilities : benches, small tables, spots for hiring as well as for parking bikes, kiosks selling sandwiches and beverages. 
The usual daily views include parents and children,  dog walkers, people resting on  benches watching the world go by,  bikers , friends sitting around a kiosk for a bite, drink and chat, etc..,

parenta and children

dog walker

chatting, eating and drinking

The street itself, which displays a blending of old and modern architecture,   houses cultural institutions (the national theater 'Habima' and the concert hall  'Mann' at its north end), culinary establishments (fine restaurants and cafes on both sides of the boulevard), and banking offices (headquarters of israeli and foreign banks :  Bank Hapoalim, HBSC, U Bank).

old (Bauhaus style) building

HSBC  bank offices

Ironical or not, the fact is that it was on this Rotschild boulevard where 'the rich and beautiful'  feel at home, that the Protest Movement for Social Justice broke out in Israel of July 2011. It expanded in August , and then faded away in September. People who saw themselves as middle class were protesting against the high cost of living (high prices of food, fuel, electricity, housing) and calling for social justice- which would mean higher taxes for the rich, reduction of indirect taxes, and the establishment of some sort of new social order.

Now, three years later , all I remember of that event is that two of its three young leaders joined the Labor Party and got themselves seats in Parliament . In other words, the protesters became politicians.

The high prices are still here, social justice is still waiting to be rescued. It seems to me , that even the first mayor of the city sitting on his horse, looks dissappointed.

statue of first mayor of  Tel Aviv overlooking the boulevard