To finish off my quartet of Tel Avivian blog posts is this two-part trip to two sites lauding past prime ministers. The first one being Rabin Centre, just outside of Tel Aviv University’s train station, which I took the opportunity to visit on my to the Yarkon Park.
Inside the large centre filled with libraries, conference centres and more is a museum dedicated to the life and death of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Starting off with sombre video footage from the night of his assassination, poignantly portrayed in a large dark room, the exhibition then opened up to a chronological timeline of Rabin’s life.
From childhood to his role in the Palmach, from his appointment of Chief of Staff in 1964 to his inauguration as prime minister in 1974 – the exhibit showed it all. Complete with numerous videos scattered throughout the timeline replaying historical footage, I will admit finding frustration keeping my sensor-triggered headset playing the right audio at the right time. A nice assortment of personal items were on display at increments, including various forms of identification, military paraphernalia and even the blood-stain paper he had in his pocket when he was assassinated, after a rally supporting the Oslo Accords. His living room, left exactly as it was the night of his death, was transferred to the museum, replaying the same soccer match he watched.
After the lengthy timeline there was a whole slew of pictures, both family- and career-oriented. At the very end of the exhibition is a memorial room with electric candles and then a graffiti wall for guests to write on, sharing their sentiments. Looking into the whole matter of Rabin’s assassination, there seems to be quite a large number of irregularities and suspicious moments, particularly in the lone video recording of the event – known as the Kempler Video (see HERE on YouTube). I tend to take both official statements and conspiracy theories with a grain of salt, so I’ll let you be the judge for yourself. Outside the museum I found another exhibition dedicated to Operation Entebbe, the rescue mission of 106 hostages held in the Entebbe Airport in Uganda performed by Israeli commandos in 1976. Showcased are the behind-the-scenes of the top secret operation, formulated in the course of one day, as well as other thematic presentations. What I found most interesting was the short film about the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 and the subsequent rescue operation, as narrated by one of the mission’s commandos – the point man to enter the hostage room. The film is called Cohen on the Bridge: Rescue at Entebbe and the animation style reminded me a lot of a French film called Renaissance, I highly recommend it.
Outside the exhibit, parked on a balcony of sorts, is the black Mercedes Benz used in the operation to mimic a visit by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
When I was done with those two museums, and after looking at a small photographic art gallery upstairs, I was ready to leave. I took some quick photograph of the view of Tel Aviv and the Yarkon Park in the foreground and then made my way to the port area to walk the length of the park.
The next day, after completing my exams, I headed over to a kosher branch of Aldo, eager to at last taste one of Israel’s premier ice creams. That particular day was unworldly dusty and turned into a sandstorm that lasted several days, even obscuring Israel from NASA’s satellites. All of the photos from that day have a weird orange-yellow tint to them due to the heavy saturation of sand in the air.
Of the three ice creams that I chose, only the Ferrero Rocher chocolate one impressed me – and just to justifiably complain, my ice cream was heavily melted by the time I paid and sat down to eat it. I then continued walking down Ibn Gabirol and then cut across to Ben Gurion to visit my next site: the Ben Gurion House. Just look at how strange it looked outside in this photo taken on the corner of Ben Gurion and Dizengoff.
I arrived at the house sweating profusely (just like everybody else walking about in the orange gloom) and began my tour of the old house which offered both air conditioning and free admission. This humble house was the Tel Aviv residence for Israel’s first prime minister, and it was between here and his desert home in Sde Boker that he divided his time.
Built in 1930 with renovations done in 1946, the house is preserved and filled with original furniture but with decor set as it was in the later years. There was a huge amount of awards, gifts and the like from personages and institutions the world over, as well as a collection of photographs featuring David Ben Gurion and various heads of state. But what impressed me most was his personal library upstairs which boasts an astonishing 20,000 books in eleven languages.
I gathered a lot of these facts and numbers from a very helpful docent whose name I forgot, if he in fact gave it to me at all. I found it interesting to see how many Judaica books he owned, and wonder how often he opened them. Finished with the museum I headed back over to Ibn Gabirol to visit a liquor store I had passed earlier and purchased some very interesting craft beers which I haven’t seen anywhere else in Israel (including a Noctus 100 and St Bernardus Abt 12, for those interested in details). With my precious liquid cargo safely double-bagged, I boarded a bus to the Independence Hall area just north of Florentin where I found an interesting Turkish restaurant called Turk Lahmajun to eat late lunch at.
I enjoyed a very tasty lamb döner in a laffa, very similar to the classic Israeli schwarma, and then took a bus to the train for the long journey home.